With the holidays upon us, the latest crop of art events, exhibitions and talks provide a soothing respite from the innate hustle and bustle of the season. Think: an exhibition exploring notions of anxiety, a new Pilsen gallery offering a “meditative experience” and probing installations examining everything from police work in Detroit to the surveillance of black people in America.
Total Information Objects at Roots & Culture
As holiday season approaches, our feelings of exhaustion can be palpable. This exhibition of new work by local artists Colin Matthes and Christopher Smith plays on notions of anxiety, isolation and other sad emotions that come with the dreaded repetition of daily labor—but with humor, so consider a visit akin to a salve.
Open Eyes // Deep Words at The Yards
This inaugural group show at this new Pilsen gallery purports to offer a meditative experience of sorts; you might feel like you’re “lost in deep woods,” per a press release. At the very least, consider it an opportunity to learn about up-and-coming talents, as the participating artists mostly consist of current and recent students of the School of the Art Institute.
Every Manner of Humanity: Inside the Exhibition Break a Rule at the Block Museum
The Block Museum’s current show explores the teaching practices of the late Ed Paschke, a member of the Chicago Imagists, who urged his students at Northwestern University to break rules when making art. Dive into this refreshing approach to the painter’s life with this gallery talk, led by Block Museum Fellow Beth Derderian.
Details: November 29
This is What we Know at Chicago Artists Coalition
What is the value of the archive, particularly for minority communities? This exhibition of artists of color examines family troves and other methods of collecting and preservation that form outside of institutions—centers of knowledge that are important, but rarely entirely inclusive.
Details: November 30
Flatfiles Viewing Night at Goldfinch
If you’re unfamiliar with this Garfield Park gallery, this is a great chance to get to know its personality and tastes. Dig into its flatfile cabinet during this casual event, where works by artists like Edra Soto, Minami Kobayashi and Bill Conger are available for purchase—many for less than $500. Bonus: wine and light snacks will be offered.
Details: November 30
Artists + Archives: Pilots at Leather Archives & Museum
For nearly a year, three local artists dug into three different institutional archives across Chicago to create new artworks, as commissioned by the Chicago Archives + Artists Project. This exhibition—the initiative’s inaugural one—displays the fruits of their labor; opening night will also feature a tour of this museum dedicated to the leather subculture.
Details: December 1
Ben Schonberger: Beautiful Pig at Filter Photo
For two years, photographer Ben Schonberger worked with a former Detroit policeman to produce this body of work. “Beautiful Pig” is a study and interpretation of the ex-officer’s personal archive, which includes photographs and notes that offer intimate glimpses into his decades of police work. The results are disquieting and deeply complicated; this is your last chance to see it, before the show ends December 1.
Details: Ends December 1
Emma Rozanski: Specimens of Chance and Play at International Museum of Surgical Science
The medical museum comes to life with video works and animations by its current artist-in-residence, who has spent the last few months engaging with its unparalleled collection of surgical artifacts. Don’t miss this show, which features works like an animation inspired by x-rays and a metaphysical video eye-test, before it ends December 2.
Details: Ends December 2
Rooms of their Own: Women Artists’ Organizations and Collectives at Columbia DEPS
This year saw a rising tide of art collectives and spaces run by and for women across the country. In Chicago, these efforts have a number of historical precedents, as Joanna Gardner-Huggett, an art history professor at DePaul University, will discuss in this talk. Hear her speak about feminist artist-run initiatives that have emerged since the late 19th-century through the present-day.
Details: December 6
Screening: The Area at Weinberg/Newton
Released earlier this year, this documentary follows the struggle of black families on the South Side against displacement by a railroad company. This screening will occur in conjunction with the Weinberg/Newton gallery’s current, thought-provoking show on block club signs; its directors will be present to lead a discussion along with activist Jamal Cole about the film and the exhibition.
Details: December 6
If We Could Turn Back (Real) Time
Watch artists expand the use of various technologies in this evening of live new media performances. With over a dozen video and sound artists gathering to participate, you’ll experience all sorts of newfangled ways to interact with analog and digital equipment, from experimental noisemaking to hardware hacking.
Details: December 8
Krampusnacht 2018 at Co-Prosperity Sphere
Every year, this cultural center teams up with the folks at Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar to lead a raucous, art-filled procession to celebrate the folkloric Krampus creature that’s followed by a party. At this sixth annual extravaganza, exercise your creativity at a mask-making station, catch a Krampus-themed puppet show, and enjoy performances by local bands.
Details: December 8
What Remains at MCA Chicago
The MCA has an off-site warehouse that houses its archives; in this space, typically off-limits to the public, encounter a performance staged by poet Claudia Rankine and creative choreographer Will Rawls. A blend of dance, video, music and language, it wrestles with the ugly history of surveillance of black folks in America.
Details: December 5-9
Martino Stierli talk: Montage and the Metropolis at Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
The word “montage” might make you immediately think of film or photography. But learn about the principle of montage as it applies to modern architecture and urbanism in this talk by Stierli, the Museum of Modern Art’s chief curator of architecture and design, whose book on the subject was published earlier this year.
Details: December 10
How to Draw in Museums at the Smart Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago
Have you ever stopped to admire an artist sketching a painting or sculpture in a museum? Well, try flexing your own skills in this two-part program, in which participants will learn drawing techniques applied by the Hairy Who on the occasion of two current exhibitions that celebrate the visionary Chicago group.
Details: December 13 and 20
Pocket CON 2018 at Chicago Cultural Center
You probably know about Comic Con—but make sure this comic book convention is also on your radar. Dedicated to showing the work of creators of color, LGBTQ artists and women, this free festival will also feature performances, a video gaming lounge and a cosplay b-boy battle.
Details: December 15
Invisibly Visible خفِي مرئيّ at SITE GALLERIES
The Abaya, that long, robe-like garment worn by many Muslim women, is a charged article of clothing, to say the least. In this exhibition, which ends December 15, Kuwaiti artist Farah Salem considers the abaya not only as a uniform but as an experience, and has both created and curated artworks that reflect on its complexities.
Details: Ends December 15
An Occult Xmas Pop-up Shop at the Den Theater
Are you still missing Halloween but can’t wait for Christmas? If so, this is the pop-up for you. Get to know dozens of artists as they sell their witchy creations, from prints to pins to unique pieces of jewelry. It’s also a prime opportunity to have your tarot or palm read before the year’s end.
Details: December 16
Jessica Campbell at MCA
If you’re a comics fan, chances are you know the smart, biting work of Jessica Campbell. The Chicago artist also creates carpeted murals, and her new body of these plush textile works that engage with the life of painter Emily Carr will be on view in this exhibition—Campbell’s first solo museum show.
Details: December 18