Home Videos, Frank Lloyd Wright & Zoo Toys Provide Inspiration for These Art Experiences

Emil Bach House; Photo courtesy of Corey Smith/Facebook

From immersive gallery shows and musical tours of a Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie House to a free lecture with the folks behind Prada Marfa, these are some of the most unique, immersive and downright can’t-miss art events coming up in Chicago this season.

Photo courtesy of Julius Caesar

David Sprecher at Julius Caesar
Oddly shaped and marked with curious dents, the sculptures in this solo show have an unusual source of inspiration: “behavioral enrichment objects,” or the toys in zoos given to large cats to amuse themselves with. Some are small and some are as tall as a human; in creating these alien objects, Sprecher makes us confront and contemplate forces of nature typically unseen.
Details: January 12

Kay Hofmann and Daniel G. Baird at PATRON
The River West gallery is mounting two strong shows that converse beautifully with each other: sculptures by Kay Hofmann and Daniel G. Baird appear as geological fragments, but their approaches are entirely different. Baird’s 3D-printed and fossil works bring to mind mythical archaeological treasures, while Hofmann’s handcarved alabaster pieces are reminiscent of archaic objects of devotion.
Details: January 26

Small Gestures at Heaven
This group show invites you to look close, and carefully, to appreciate the small gestures of painting. It’s a celebration of abstraction worth checking out—especially since it’s an all-female show, and abstraction has long been a genre where men get all the recognition.
Details: February 1

Jun Fujita: Oblivion Catalog Release Party at Japanese American Service Committee
Fujita is a fascinating character you should know. The first Japanese American photojournalist, he was born near Hiroshima and moved to Chicago, where he documented major but devastating events. But he was also a published poet working in the traditional tanka form. At this posthumous book release, celebrate his writings with a panel discussion of his vibrant and creative life.
Details: February 1

Photo courtesy of PATRON

Elmgreen & Dragset lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
You know of their Prada boutique in Marfa, Texas, and you’ve probably heard of their rocking horse sculpture in Trafalgar Square or upright swimming pool titled “Van Gogh’s Ear” at Rockefeller Center. Now, hear the renowned duo of Elmgreen & Dragset speak about their artistic practice at this free lecture. It’s bound to be biting and thoroughly humorous.
Details: February 5

Home Video Day at the MCA
Binged everything on Netflix and every other streaming service you have? Why not hang out at the museum instead and catch some old films? This is a screening of home video preserves by local archives, and you’ll undoubtedly find much joy, humor, sadness and depth in these unscripted vignettes of past lives.
Details: February 8

Documentation of Art by Telephone, 1969, showing David Katzive, the MCA’s first curator © MCA Chicago video archives. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art/Facebook

Smalls to the Walls at Galerie F
The Logan Square gallery is hosting a can’t-miss party and sale for lovers of street art and graphic art. Dozens of artists, many from Chicago, will have small 2-D and 3-D works for sale, including exciting names like Derek Erdman, RWK and Kawaii Suga, aka Isamar Medina.
Details: February 8

Essay on the Emil Bach House
Wander through one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s last extant Prairie Houses in a totally novel way. Performance artist Corey Smith has dreamt up this immersive musical theater and architectural tour to explore the revered architect’s vision and ideas. In this original experience, rooms will come to life as musicians perform scores. You’ll want to document every moment, but maybe try to put your phone away?
Details: February 9

Copies and Transfers: Printmaking Workshop at Gallery400
There are many printmaking classes you can take in this city, but this one will definitely be thoughtful, intimate and special. Create works from discarded materials through an array of techniques taught by photographer Tamara Becerra Valdez, like rubbing and pressing, treating paper like sites for marking memories.
Details: February 16