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 this time of tentative gatherings, Maya Bird-Murphy and Stephen Cortez, of Mobile Makers Chicago, have designed configurable furniture for The Arts Club of Chicago garden. Employing modular, geometric forms in bright color, they transform the tranquil setting into a playful, interactive space. Each practical, moveable shape is designed to be used independently or in combination with others to make individual seating, play-form, or bench. Throughout the coming months, the Arts Club will host outdoor sound and performance, as well as open hours for meditation or social gathering.
Schedules will be posted on-line and via social media.
Hannah Levy’s precisely-rendered sculptures exist between the realms of danger and corporeality. Crafted of such evocative materials as steel and cast silicone, her forms at once evoke inanimate decor and sensual beings. In Hannah Levy: Surplus Tension, Levy departs from the specificities of the Arts Club’s Miesian aesthetic of shiny terrazzo, travertine cladding, or sumptuous silk and velvet drapery to reflect upon the underside of mid-century modern. She delves into the details of an architectural moment that is commonly held to be characterized by clean lines and white walls to find corsetlike leather ties around tubular metal chairs or mirror surfaces in black marble akin to reflecting pools. Levy further calls into question the gendering of that aesthetic by acknowledging the contributions of Mies’s longtime collaborator Lilly Reich, who early on used textile to inventively demarcate space as Mies did in his design for The Arts Club rooms. With hanging, pendulous works, grounded elements, and anthropomorphic details, Levy skirts the edges of risk to embody the gallery rooms from floor to ceiling.
Hannah Levy (b. 1991, New York, New York) lives and works in New York, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include the High Line, New York (2021); Casey Kaplan, New York (2020); Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin, Ireland (2018); Fourteen30 Contemporary, Portland, Oregon (2017); and White Flag Projects Library, St. Louis, Missouri (2016). Notable group exhibitions include Wege zur Welt – Hildebrand Collection, G2 Kunsthalle, Leipzig (2019); Campi Magnetici (Magnetic Fields), Gió Marconi, Milan, Italy (2019); The Artist is Present, Yuz Museum, Shanghai, China (2018); I See You, Savannah College of Art and Design Museum, Savannah, Georgia (2018); Being There, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2017); Past Skin, MoMA PS1, New York, New York (2017); and Things I Think I Want. Six Positions of Contemporary Art, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (2017).
What Means Light
Paola Cabal’s installation for The Arts Club of Chicago begins with the observation of light. Eight reflective and illuminated towers portray the visible shifts in the garden’s light and color spectrum throughout the day. Over the course of 11 hours in the spring of 2019, Cabal positioned herself on St. Clair street across from The Arts Club garden and recorded the passing sun on the brick façade. On alternate days, she set herself up in the interior and watched the same scene from the other side. This exacting, durational activity on her part facilitates an avenue of thought about the cultural meanings of light and darkness that have now come up against an intensified cultural context as the country faces a pandemic and calls for racial justice. Cabal expresses her questions in philosophical terms: “What means light? Since when has light been equated with virtue? Who will we be when the viral threat recedes? Who will we be in the wake of a ferocious wave of awakening to inequity? Who will get to the other side alive? By what means?” To observe is to understand, she further explains. And if Cabal’s thoughtful engagement attests to her powers of observation, then these carefully placed towers point toward the subtleties of vision that lead to clarity of understanding.
In a moment when the formerly radical act of “self-care” as it was imagined by the poet Audre Lorde has become an obvious marketing strategy deployed to capture the disposable income of yet one more generation of femme-identifying, self-objectifying subjects, this exhibition proposes that daily acts of care should be understood as quietly, yet decisively, disruptive of the status quo. Historically linked to the feminine, caring for others—either in personal or professional capacities—has garnered scant social capital. Yet increasingly, artists have turned to subtle and overt means of encoding alternatives to the sanctioned brutality of interpersonal interaction that has become ordinary in the early decades of the twenty-first century.
Following the thinking of writer Maggie Nelson, who reminds us that an “aesthetics of care” should not seek for the work of art to care for us, this exhibition gathers works that approach care as a complicated nexus of generosity and coercion. Caregiving, Nelson tells us further, has yet to be socialized beyond the maternal, even though its capacities have been valorized in other guises—when the very acts associated with conventional maternity are dissociated from gender but proposed as a form of freedom. In this exhibition, we seek to consider how slight gestures, open questions, repetitive acts, distant memories, and subtle refusals register alternate value systems. Co-curated by Janine Mileaf and H. Daly Arnett, the exhibition features works by Elliott Jerome Brown, Jr., Lenka Clayton, Sara Cwynar, Bronwyn Katz, Chancellor Maxwell, and Lily van der Stokker.
Upkeep overlaps in both time and topic with The Renaissance Society’s exhibition Nine Lives. Both group shows partake in the Feminist Art Coalition, a national initiative to generate cultural awareness of feminist thought, experience, and action.
Elliott Jerome Brown, Jr. (b. 1993, Baldwin, NY)
Elliott Jerome Brown, Jr. has had three solo exhibitions to date: Arms to Pray With (Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, New York, 2019); Never in a Hurray (Staple Goods, New Orleans, LA, 2019); and a simple song (Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York, New York, 2019).
Notable group exhibitions took place at The MAC, Belfast, Ireland; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Leslie Lohman Museum, New York; Columbia University Leroy Neiman Gallery, New York; Platform Gallery, Baltimore; Galerie AMU, Prague; Forum Art Space, Purchase, NY; Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia; Polifórum Digital Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico; and upcoming at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
In 2019, he won the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. With Devin N. Morris in 2017, he curated Rock Paper Scissors and a Three-Armed Shovel, the 7th Annual Zine and Self- Published Photo Book Fair.
Brown lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Lenka Clayton (b. 1977, Cornwall, England)
Lenka Clayton’s notable exhibitions include The Grand Illusion (Lyon Biennial, Lyon, France, 2020); Fruit and Other Things (57th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 2019); Apollo’s Muse (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2019); The Distance I Can Be From My Son (Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, 2018); Object Temporarily Removed (The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, 2017); State of the Art (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, 2014); as well as solo showings at Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco (2016, 2019). With collaborator Jon Rubin, she produced a major commission for the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum in 2017, entitled A talking parrot, a high school drama class, a Punjabi TV show, the oldest song in the world, a museum artwork, and a congregation’s call to action circle through New York.
Clayton is the founder of An Artist Residency in Motherhood, a self-directed, open-source artist residency program that takes place inside the homes and lives of artists who are also parents. There are currently more than 1,000 artists-in-residence in 62 countries.
Clayton lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Sara Cwynar (b. 1985 Vancouver, BC, Canada)
Sara Cwynar has had seventeen solo exhibitions in international venues, including most recently Gilded Age (The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 2019); Image Model Muse (Milwaukee Art Museum, 2019); and Marilyn (The Approach, London, 2020). Her photographs and videos have been included in several group exhibitions, including You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred (Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, Russia, 2019); 99 Cents or Less (Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, 2017); Never Enough: Recent Acquisitions in Contemporary Art (Dallas Museum of Art, 2014); Talk to Me (Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2011).
She has received commissions from the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Public Art and Amenities Framework (Toronto), and her work is held in the permanent collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Guggenheim Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others.
She received a BDES in Graphic Design from York University in Toronto, Ontario (2010) and an MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (2016).
Cwynar lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Bronwyn Katz (b. 1993, Kimberley, South Africa)
Bronwyn Katz has held five solo exhibitions to date, including Salvaged Letteri (Peres Projects, Berlin, 2019); / // ! ǂ (blank projects, Cape Town, 2019); and A Silent Line, Lives Here (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2018).
She has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including NIRIN (Biennale of Sydney, 2020); Là où les eaux se mêlent (Where the water mingles) (Biennale de Lyon, 2019); The Empathy Lab (Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, 2019); Material Insanity (Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Marrakech, 2019); Sculpture (Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, Port Louis, Mauritius, 2018); Tell Freedom (Kunsthal KAdE, Amersvoort, 2018); Le jour qui vient (Galerie des Galeries, Paris, 2017); and the 12th Dak’Art Biennale (Senegal, 2016).
In 2019, Katz was awarded the First National Bank Art Prize. She is a founding member of iQhiya, an 11-women artist collective which has performed across various spaces, including Documenta (in Kassel and Athens), Greatmore Studios, and Iziko South African National Gallery.
Katz lives and works between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Chancellor Maxwell (b. 1973, Chicago, IL)
For almost a decade, Chancellor Maxwell has been making artworks in the Open Studio of Thresholds Bridge South, an environment conceived for artists living with mental illnesses to realize their creative visions, develop technical skills, experiment with media, and exhibit their artwork. Since 2012, Maxwell has exhibited regularly at such spaces as Gallery H, Thresholds, Chicago; Henry’s Gallery, Thresholds Bridge South, Chicago; Ravenswood Artwalk, Chicago; Judy A. Saslow Gallery, Chicago; Project Onward at the Chicago Cultural Center; The Adler School of Professional Psychology, Chicago; and most recently at Left Field Gallery, San Francisco.
Maxwell’s artworks have been acquired by public and private collections. This is his first non-commercial exhibition.
Maxwell lives and works in Chicago, Illinois.
Lily van der Stokker (b. 1954, Den Bosch, Netherlands)
Exhibiting since the 1980s, Lily van der Stokker has had countless solo exhibitions. Notable among them are friendly good (Stedelijk museum, Amsterdam, 2018); Hammer Projects (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2015); Sorry, Same Wall Painting (The New Museum, New York, 2013); Terrible (Museum Bojman van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2010); The Complaints Club (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2005); as well as gallery exhibitions with Air de Paris, Paris (2014, 2005, 2000); Koenig & Clinton, New York (2014, 2010); and Kaufmann Repetto, New York and Milan (2019, 2012, 2010, 2005, 2002).
Her work has featured in a broad range of international group exhibitions at such institutions as the Beaufort Triennale, Oostende (2015); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2011); Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Schiedam (2011);South London Gallery (2010); Centre National d’Art Contemporain, Grenoble, France (2009); and De Appel, Amsterdam (2008). Van der Stokker has also undertaken a number of permanent public installations including The Pink Building in Hannover (2000).
Van der Stokker lives and works between New York and Amsterdam.
Image: Lily van der Stokker, Pulling out Hairs from the Drain, 2015. Acrylic on wood panel. 42.52h x 49.61w in. Courtesy of the artist and kaufmann repetto, Milan / New York