Opening January 17, 2023
Collage for the Arts Club is the fourth chapter in the Collages for Mies van der Rohe project in which the artist has been installing monumental photographs on the famed architect’s buildings. Following the McCormick House, The Esplanade Apartment, and S.R. Crown Hall, this is the first interior installation in the series. Evron’s photographic installation will intervene on the glass-boxed historic staircase of the Arts Club of Chicago. The steel and travertine marble staircase was designed by Mies in 1949-1951 for the Arts Club’s Rush St. location and was repositioned in 1998 by Architect John Vinci to its current location at 210 E. Ontario St. The image of the semi-transparent conch shell installed on the glass windows corresponds to the form of the enclosed staircase and echos the ancient past and geological history of its stone cladding. This project is based on speculative paper collages made by Mies van der Rohe in his American period, from the late 1930s and on. In these collages, Mies was experimenting and negotiating the relationships between landscape, artworks, and materials interacting on his minimalist architectural stage.
Assaf Evron is an artist and a photographer based in Chicago. His work investigates the nature of vision and the ways in which it reflects in socially constructed structures, where he applies photographic thinking in various two and three-dimensional media. Looking at moments along the histories of modernism Evron questions the construction of individual and collective identities, immigration (of people, ideas, images) and the representations of democracy.
His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally as The Museum for Contemporary Art in Chicago, Crystal Bridges Museum for American Art and The Israel Museum in Jerusalem among others. Evron holds an MA from The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel-Aviv University as well as an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where he currently teaches.
Image: Suzanne Jackson, Bilali’s Dream (detail), 2004
Suzanne Jackson has been making art professionally since the 1960s—first in Los Angeles, California, where she founded the artist-run space Gallery 32, and eventually in Savannah, Georgia, where she moved to teach in 1996. Her paths in painting included moments as a dancer on tour in South America and as a Yale School of Drama graduate, working as a scenic designer in national theaters. Jackson’s relocation to the south in the 1990s marked a shift in her visual idiom, which became more abstract, three-dimensional, and environmental. She worked intensively, yet in relative obscurity, during this period of her life in the building that remains to this day both her working and living space. The paintings and related drawings made in this era developed physical layers, warped surfaces, or projecting forms that incorporated materials of the studio and domestic life. Most recently, Jackson’s paintings have taken a radical turn by lifting the pigment and medium off the canvas substrate, as no artist has done before. These partially transparent works suspend color, light, material, and form in mid-air, literally removing painting from the constraints of the support. Listen’ N Home conjures the imagined soundtrack to Jackson’s artmaking referencing blues, swing, and what she calls “Classical African American Music”. Through a selective representation of pivotal works from the past twenty years, as well as a newly made monumental installation, the exhibition at The Arts Club of Chicago presents Jackson’s turn to environmental abstraction, marking the territory and trajectory of her late-life breakthrough paintings.
Suzanne Jackson (b. 1944, St. Louis) lives and works in Savannah, Georgia. From 1969–1970 she ran Gallery 32 from her live/ work studio at 672 South Lafayette Park Place in Los Angeles. Recent solo and survey exhibitions include In Nature’s Way…, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2022); You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby: The Sapphire Show, Ortuzar Projects, New York (2021); Off the Wall, Mnuchin Gallery, New York (2021); News!, Ortuzar Projects, New York (2019); Five Decades, Jepson Center/Telfair Museums, Savannah (2019); holding on to a sound, O-Town House, Los Angeles (2019); Life Model: Charles White and His Students, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2019); West by Midwest, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2018–19); Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Brooklyn Museum, New York and the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (2018–20); Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, MoMA PS1, New York, and Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts (2011–13); Gallery 32 & Its Circle, Laband Art Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles (2009). Her work is in the permanent collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. She has been granted awards by Anonymous Was a Woman (2021), New York Foundation for the Arts (2021), and the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2019).
Photo credit: Michael Tropea
The Arts Club’s Artist Exhibition is a beloved tradition that brings great pride and prestige to the institution and its membership. Following an inaugural exhibition of paintings by John Singer Sargent, the second exhibition ever mounted at The Arts Club was of work by our members in the year of our founding, 1916. Although its structure has changed over the past 106 years, the goal of the Artist Exhibition remains the same: to celebrate and showcase the artistic efforts of our artist members across a range of media, styles, genres, and forms.
In an effort to keep the Artist Exhibition a current and dynamic representation of our members’ practices, participants were asked to submit work that was completed since February of 2020. All of the art in this exhibition was made, consequently, during the COVID-19 pandemic — an event that continues to test the perseverance of working artists. It is a remarkable accomplishment of the institution and its communities to have reached the 90th Artist Exhibition. We celebrate most sincerely our artist members’ capacity to thrive and to make new and exciting work in this challenging environment.
Installation Photos: Michael Tropea
In an installation at once humorous and grave, Artist Adrian Wong brings his ongoing engagement with the clown community to The Arts Club of Chicago’s garden. Large-scale, egg-shaped sculptures that feature clown facial designs will populate the space. These works derive from Wong’s in-depth conversations with practitioners of the clowning arts, and his recognition of the complex identities that these performers occupy.
The origin of this research was a chance encounter with John “Jay-Jay the Clown” Joseph, during the installation of Wong’s 2019 exhibition, Three-Legged Dog, at 4th Ward Project Space in Hyde Park. (Mr. Joseph was hired to provide his services as a professional children’s birthday entertainer.) At the time of their meeting, Joseph was the sitting president of the Midwest Clown Association (2018-2019) and would subsequently be elected for a term as president of the International Shrine Clown Association (2019-2020).
Through Jay-Jay, Wong was introduced to the clown community and was immediately struck by the intersectional identities of many of its participating members. For example, certain clown unions require co-membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AAONMS), colloquially known as the Shriners. Many are also military veterans; work in public service; and self-report that their dedication to the art of clowning is a by-product of trauma experienced earlier in their lives. He also discovered that contemporary clowning has a deep relationship to counterculture and radical movements—for example the protest activities of the Situationists, the Yippies, the Insane Clown Posse / Juggalos—and subsequently, Wong has expanded his conversations to other noted clowns such as L.M. Bogad, Hilary Ramsden, and Zoe Young (founding members of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army—C.I.R.C.A.).
The present project seeks to engage this community for the purpose of examining the craft of clowning as a means of healing, self-preservation, and reinvention. The title, Oogenesis, describes the biological process of the development of life via an ovum—but metaphorically references the use of eggs, symbols of re-birth, as a traditional method to trademark clowns’ unique facial designs.
Adrian Wong was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1980. Originally trained in psychology (MA, Stanford 2003), he began making and exhibiting work in San Francisco while concurrently conducting research in developmental linguistics. He continued his post-graduate studies in sculpture (MFA, Yale 2005). Wong relocated his studio to Hong Kong in 2005, but recently returned to Chicago, where he is an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited at The Drawing Center (New York), Kuandu Museum (Taipei), Kunsthalle Wien, Kunstmuseum Bern, Kunstverein (Hamburg), Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul), Palazzo Reale (Milan), Saatchi Gallery (London), and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam)—and can be found in public and private collections worldwide, including the 21c Collection (Chicago), DSL Foundation Collection (Paris), K11 Art Foundation (Shanghai), Kadist Foundation (San Francisco), M+ Museum (Hong Kong), Sifang Museum (Nanjing), and Uli Sigg Collection (Lucerne).
Kamrooz Aram: Privacy, An Exhibition presents a series of new works that use techniques of abstraction and installation to question false oppositions between painting and sculpture, foreground and background, or public and private space. Aram starts his canvases by mapping their structure with a grid. He then develops botanical motifs inspired by decorative arts like carpets, tiles, or ceramics in response to the grid. In one work, actual ceramic vessels are juxtaposed with painting inside a glassed-in shelf as might be found in a museum, thus turning a painting into a sculpture or a display.
Aram’s artworks are placed strategically in the space in combination with a variety of decorative elements—drapery, furniture, and wall painting—to draw attention to the ways in which images and objects are prioritized depending upon their relation to each other. Monochrome fields of paint appear on the walls of the gallery, as well as part of individual works, thus leveling the differences between backdrop and fine art. Similarly, the pattern from a household object shifts scale within a mural-sized oil painting. Such relationships remain in flux within the galleries, where the status of each object is never certain.
Privacy Screen for Public Architecture, 2022, the monumental five-part screen in the West Gallery responds to Nathalia Goncharova’s Spring, 1927/28, a significant painting of similar dimensions in the collection of The Arts Club of Chicago. The functionality of the screen signals Aram’s rumination on notions of privacy and enclosure and how they intersect with modernist, as well as Iranian, domestic architecture. With sculpture, paint, drapery and furniture, the installation entitled Phantom Architect, 2022, fully converts the gallery into an intimate space. Aram’s careful selection and placement of art works and design objects thereby liken the exhibition to the home as a response to the hybrid public/private nature of The Arts Club.
Kamrooz Aram was born in Shiraz, Iran and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, USA. Recent exhibitions include: Lives of Forms: Kamrooz Aram and Iman Issa, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture, Hasselt, Belgium; The New Arabesque, Nature Morte Gallery, New Delhi, India; An Object, A Gesture, A Décor, FLAG Art Foundation, New York; In Memory of the Arabesque, Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE; Focus: Kamrooz Aram, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Ancient Blue Ornament, The Atlanta Contemporary; Ornament for Indifferent Architecture, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium.