Early Spring Art Preview: From Frida Kahlo to Disney-Inspired Paintings

Photo courtesy of Bill Talsma

The onset of a new season brings forth an array of fresh and innovative art openings in Chicago. From a solo show repurposing litter from East Garfield Park and a Disney-inspired exhibition of cuteness to street projections at an after-dark art experience, here are some of the best events to check out this month.

Courtesy of Lariel Joy/Co-Prosperity Sphere/Facebook

“If You’ve Got a Blacklist, I Want to Be On It” at Arts Club of Chicago
Despite their moniker, the conceptual artist duo known as Industry of the Ordinary makes work that is anything but ordinary—their projects are more likely to intervene with public routines and activity in utterly bewildering ways. For the past week, they have overtaken and reimagined the Arts Club, and their residency culminates in this durational performance with acclaimed Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Katinka Kleijn.
Details: March 10

“Open 24 Hours” at Heaven Gallery
Since 2017, Chicago artist Edra Soto has been collecting litter and other detritus around her neighborhood of East Garfield Park. Much of this is composed of liquor bottles, stripped of their branding; in this solo show, Soto presents materials and research accumulated so far—a record of consumption, cultural marginalization, and socioeconomic environments.
Details: March 13

“Butterfly In You. Walking Miracle. Living Wonder” at Co-Prosperity Sphere
Experience the opening performance of this solo exhibition by Lariel Joy, as well as a screening of the artist’s experimental videos. On view are three bodies of work, informed by the passing of Joy’s grandmother, generations of collective traumas, and diasporic experiences.
Details: March 14

“At Sea” at Lillstreet Art Center
Cassie Tompkins’s fiber works are bright and absorbing environments of swirling energy. In this solo show, she presents items made during her residency at Lillstreet—abstract fabric pieces that reference water, flowers, and skyscapes.
Details: March 20

“Play All Day” at Rotofugi Designer Toy Store & Gallery
There is no other word to describe Nellie Le’s art than cute. The Los Angeles–based illustrator, who is heavily inspired by Disney shorts, paints some of the happiest cats you’ve ever seen, along with dogs, birds, and inanimate objects with their own little faces. See some of her latest pieces in this solo exhibition, where everything is for sale.
Details: March 21

“Playing in the Dark: 2005 or 2006” at Roman Susan
For an after-dark art experience, head to this Rogers Park gallery to check out a street projection of selected works by the late Chicago artist Bill Talsma. He was a multihyphenate maker, producing drawings, sculptures, sound work, performances, and music. Consider this flickering homage an invitation to dive further into his rich and deep archives.
Details: March 25

Courtesy of Matan Golan/Facebook

“A Pinch of Salt” at Amazigh Contemporary
In what is his first solo show in Chicago, Matan Golan sheds new light on objects of daily encounters. “What happens when a mundane instrument is not merely a passive object but an active participant?” he asks. Drawing on the charged stage of the common dining room table, Golan presents whimsical sculptures that contemplate the relationships between objects and bodies.
Details: March 29

“Frida Kahlo: Her Photos” at National Museum of Mexican Art
You know her paintings, and you’ve seen countless photographs of her. But Kahlo’s own collection of art is lesser known. This show spotlights her personal archive of photographs—which includes such luminaries as Man Ray, Edward Weston, and Lola Álvarez Bravo—offering a new lens through which to understand the revered artist.
Details: April 3