What Does River Detritus, Body Hair & Mies van der Rohe Have in Common? They’re the Topics of This Week’s Art Recs

Plus: Help Caldera Magazine Celebrate Its Fourth Issue!

Mies van der Rohe: Chicago Blues and Beyond/Courtesy of Matthew Rachman Gallery

From female-presenting figures and LGBTQ work to seductive glasswork at the Leather Archives & Museum, these latest art events in Chicago are sure to hold your attention.

Danielle Orchard, Head of a Woman, 2019/Courtesy of Andrew Rafacz

Head of a Woman at Andrew Rafacz
Danielle Orchard’s paintings of women evoke the colors, geometries and perspectives of painters like Matisse and Picasso, but these 21st-century ladies are utterly languid and apathetic—bored, even. Portrayed in bathtubs or lying nude in a park, Orchard’s subjects are often smoking while staring off into some distant space, presenting inscrutable mysteries.
Details: March 16

I’d Rather be a Hammer than a Nail at Goldfinch
Meghan Borah’s paintings of “female-presenting figures” warrant examination up close, and you’ll get a chance to do just so in this solo exhibition. Their glistening surfaces are embellished with chalk and glass beads, heightening the drama in these glamour scenes.
Details: March 17

Slit – Silt at Ground Level Platform
Leander Mienardus Knust takes over this Pilsen gallery with an immersive installation of “performative systems” composed of detritus collected from the shores of the East and Hudson rivers. There will be piles of stone that patrol the gallery floor, hung works made of paint chips and a fountain of styrofoam that gradually corrodes into a pool.
Details: March 22

Meghan Borah, Horse Girls, 2018/Courtesy of Goldfinch

Laura Aguilar at National Museum of Mexican Art
The late photographer—who passed away in 2018—was a force who captured herself as well as those in her Chicana/Latina and LGBTQ communities, in empathetic, profound images. This retrospective is not one to miss, bringing together the largest collection of her work that spans three decades.
Details: March 22

Papeles: Celebrating Print Art and Publication at 953 W. 18th St.
Come out to support Caldera Magazine, a publication dedicated to artists from POC and LGBTQIA communities, and its launch of its fourth issue. Chicago artist Yvette Mayorga, known for her frosting-covered artworks that critique immigration policies, will also be there selling a limited edition print.
Details: March 23

Fruiting Bodies at Leather Archives & Museum
If you haven’t yet made it to this museum for all things BDSM, Andrew Bearnot’s solo exhibition is a great invitation to go. Expect to see drawings of body hair and a beguiling display of seductive glass forms. Bearnot’s work will also be displayed alongside artifacts from a queer archive.
Details: March 23

Courtesy of Ground Level Platform/Facebook

Newton Harrison Lecture at the Art Institute of Chicago
In our age of the anthropocene, more and more artists are making works that consider the environment. Two pioneers of the eco art movement are Newton Harrison and the late Helen Mayer Harrison, who, for over 40 years, have embarked on projects to better our planet, from watershed restoration to urban renewal. This talk by Newton Harrison will provide an overview of their still-urgent work.
Details: April 9

Aruna D’Souza at Gallery 400
In this lecture, writer Aruna D’Souza will be speaking about the value and danger of empathy in the art world. If you aren’t familiar with her work, the best place to start is with her important book, Whitewalling: Art, Race, and Protest in 3 Acts, which grapples with issues of cultural appropriation, institutional accountability and artistic freedom through controversies such as the 2017 Whitney Biennial protests over a painting by Dana Schutz.
Details: April 10

Courtesy of Leather Archives & Museum

Mies van der Rohe: Chicago Blues and Beyond at Matthew Rachman Gallery
Fans of the modernist architect will love this presentation of his original blueprints that offer a glimpse into his thought process and consideration of structure and space. Shows at this gallery pair art with modern furnishings, so a display of Mies’ designed decor will also be on view.
Details: April 13