Cardboard Cathedrals & Furniture Making: Chicago’s Best Arts Events in January

Thomas Daniell; Arata Isozaki, DEME robot, 1970

Across the city, art galleries and museums are starting the new year with a bang. This month’s crop of can’t-miss events includes a furniture-making workshop, cardboard cathedrals and a gallery walk with Swedish sisters from Minnesota.

ㄅ V ㄍ M ㄍ ㄇ ㄒ II : Architecture of Consolation at Chicago Artists Coalition
Flowers tucked high in a corner, an avocado resting on a socket—Cathy Hsiao’s solo exhibition is full of delightful, small surprises. The Chicago artist has long experimented with natural dyes, concrete and sound, and here, she presents new works that also expand onto canvas and photographs, drawing inspiration from ikebana and ukiyo-e.
Details: January 7

Minami Kobayashi, A Park at Lunar Surface at Goldfinch
Minami Kobayashi often hones in on the banal—a girl’s socked and sneakered feet, a used condom, hiding—but paints these scenes so they lure you in with their gentle brushstrokes and curious colors. A recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she’s one to keep an eye on.
Details: January 13

M ㄅ V ㄍ M ㄍ ㄇ ㄒ II : Architecture of Consolation; photo by Claire Voon

Performance by Lykanthea at Roots & Culture
One of the most exciting sound artists working in Chicago right now, Lakshmi Ramgopal is set to release her sophomore EP this year that blends birdsong with South Indian musical traditions. Preview this memory-steeped album at this performance, which also features violinist Johanna Brock, cellist Erica Miller and artist Asha Rowland.
Details: January 19

Cardboard Constructions Inspired by Piacenza at the Intuit
The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art has an ongoing group exhibition that includes a display of small-scale but highly detailed cardboard cathedrals by the American folk artist Aldo Piacenza. They’re incredibly alluring, and at this guided workshop, you can create your own Piacenza-inspired structure to take home. Tickets cose $25, and all supplies are included.
Details: January 19

Coated: A Lauren Asta Solo Show at Chicago Truborn
Whether in Chicago or elsewhere, you’ve likely seen Lauren Asta’s murals before: dense and labyrinthine, they’re alive with comical figures and exclamations, all seemingly set to burst out from their fictional world into ours. Check out what the illustrator has been working on in recent months at this solo show, where you can be sure there’ll be a mad dash to buy her art.
Details: January 19

Gallery walk at Swedish American Museum
Swedish sisters Alison and Kirsten Aune, based in Minnesota, will walk you through their gorgeous exhibition of textile works that draw on Nordic motifs and techniques. Look forward to taking in their lush colors and intricate patterns, in both contemporary creations and pieces that nod to tradition.
Details: January 20

Toward the Unsound at Arts Club of Chicago
Sound artist and performer Thessia Machado will fill the gallery space with a “meta-instrument” constructed of circuits, lights, cast cement and industrial felt. The press release describes this network in plant-like terms—“electrical wire vines, speaker blooms and light-sensitive tendrils”—so I imagine the result will be ambitious, stirring and wholly unexpected.
Details: January 23

Minami Kobayashi, A girl and an aged red chair, 2018, egg tempera on panel, 36 x 24 inches, courtesy of Goldfinch

Thomas Daniell: An Anatomy of Influence at Graham Foundation
Daniell, head of the Department of Architecture and Design at the University of St. Joseph in Macau, will speak about his new book that focuses on a selection of 12 Japanese architects. Rather than merely discussing their work, Daniell profiles them, exploring how their educational upbringing, political activism and more have shaped their individual practices.
Details: January 24

Enzo Mari Furniture Building at Design Museum of Chicago
Ever wanted to build your own furniture? Maybe 2019 is the year you do it. Learn the basics of furniture building in this workshop, as laid out by the Italian modernist designer Enzo Mari, who, in 1974, published Autoprogettazione, a celebrated manual of DIY furniture projects.
Details: January 26

29th Annual International Small Print Exhibition at Chicago Printmakers Collaborative
After a two-month run, these are your last few weeks to catch this yearly showcase of prints by international artists, who represent countries from Lithuania to Thailand. New works are continuously introduced, so try to visit more than once to acquire as many original and affordable gems as possible.
Details: Before January 31