Drawing from complex memories and an evolving sense of identity, Brenda Draney (b. 1976, member of Sawridge First Nation, Treaty 8) paints narrative canvases marked by economical brushstrokes and expanses of white space. In Drink from the river, her first solo exhibition in the United States, Draney portrays scenes of daily life, along with those of singular events, that she leaves open-ended or unspecified. The cumulative portrait that emerges references a collective self that encompasses not only her own experience but that of past generations and current community members. Recurring and recognizable motifs of specific figures, pieces of furniture, or architectural features, alongside more generalized joyful and traumatic encounters leave Draney’s oeuvre open to association and to individual connection.
Draney is Cree from Sawridge First Nation, situated by the town of Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada. Her practice is based on her experiences and the relationships formed between her current hometown of Edmonton and the northern community of Slave Lake, where she was raised.
Drink from the River was initiated, organized, and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, in collaboration with the Arts Club of Chicago; and the Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton. The exhibition was curated by Janine Mileaf, Executive Director and Chief Curator, for the Chicago presentation.
Image: Strange Invitation (2020), oil on canvas
View press materials HERE.
Saturday June 17
Artist Talk: Brenda Draney and Janine Mileaf
1:00 – 2:30 pm
Draney discusses her own associations with Arts Club Executive Director and Chief Curator Janine Mileaf.
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.
Jessi Reaves: All possessive lusts dispelled
Jessi Reaves combines iconic modernist design with an irreverent aesthetic in sculpture that toys with functionality. Reaves often begins with found furniture, which she dismantles, converts, remakes, enhances, pads, and embellishes in ways that still allow the suggestion of physical contact or use. By breaking things open, she proposes that they be examined visually and in terms of their purpose in life. The exhibition at The Arts Club of Chicago centers on the work Personal Heat, 2021, a deconstructed étagère with accompanying video that explores themes of renovation and rebellion. The sculptural aspect features a pop punk aesthetic of hot pink animal stripes, as if Reaves had been locked in a room in her great aunt’s house with a can of paint, a saw, and some wood glue. The funk and humor of this work and other of Reaves’s sculptures and wall reliefs belie a mastery of complex composition, color, and the ability to integrate disparate materials. Reaves brings to her seemingly off-handed works a range of manual skills that she uses to both humorous and unsettling effect. Jessi Reaves: all possessive lusts dispelled offers a sensuous installation of works that allow the abject to infiltrate the ontology of the object.
Jessi Reaves (b. 1986, Portland, Oregon) earned her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, in 2009 Reaves’s solo exhibitions include Going Out in Style, Herald St, London (2019); Jessi Reaves II, Bridget Donahue, New York (2019); Kitchen Arrangement, a site-specific commission for The Domestic Plane: New Perspectives on Tabletop Art Objects, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2018); android stroll, Herald St, London (2017); Jessi Reaves, Bridget Donahue, New York (2016); and Now Showing: Jessi Reaves, SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York (2016). Recent group exhibitions include Slant Step Forward, Verge Center for the Arts, Sacramento, California (2019); Carnegie International, 57th Edition, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2018); Ginny Casey and Jessi Reaves, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2017); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2017); and Looking Back, the eleventh White Columns Annual, White Columns, New York (2017), among others.
Image: A sample of the truth, 2022, wood, metal, cord, sawdust, wood glue, paper, enamel paint.
Image courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue Gallery. Photo by Greg Carideo.
Installation photos by Michael Tropea and Clare Britt
There was a time when Chicago’s Magnificent Mile was underwater, a time before settlers had filled in the lake to make land for these buildings. There was a time further back when this land of the Anishinaabe people, including the Chicago area, was flooded by a great deluge. At that time, Earthdivers – specifically the muskrat – dove into the water to retrieve some mud to repair the earth. All things dredged may be temporary. It is possible and within imagination that the land in this place, the place of the Arts Club of Chicago, may once again be held by the original people or pulled back into the water. The Waves May Break Here Still is a printed mural of a painting by the same title that celebrates the potential impermanence of the human built environment.
Andrea Carlson (b. 1979) is a visual artist currently living in Chicago, Illinois. Through painting and drawing, Carlson cites entangled cultural narratives and institutional authority relating to objects based on the merit of possession and display. Her work has been acquired by institutions such as the British Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Walker Art Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Canada. Carlson is a 2008 McKnight Fellow, a recipient of the 2017 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors award, a 2020 Artadia award, and a 2022 United States Artists Fellow. Along with several artists based in Chicago, Carlson helped form the Center for Native Futures.
(Image: Exit by Andrea Carlson, 2018. Screenprint, Highpoint Center for Printmaking Editions.)
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