Karl Wirsum got his BFA in 1961, and has been an unstoppable force in the Chicago Imagist movement ever since. His huge retrospective, entitled Winsome Works(some), at the Cultural Center (77 E. Randolph) is a cacophonous blend of sculpture, painting, photography and print-making which references everything from imaginary hectic animal hybrids to “virtual photographs” to stretched-out baseball players. He was a member of the Hairy Who group (which later came to have the less fun name, “The Chicago Imagists”) which was based out of Chicago in the 60s and whose members worked loosely in a “pop meets graphic design meets abstraction meets whatever you can imagine, really” type of style. Wirsum’s work strikes a funny chord when installed in the hallowed, wood-paneled ex-library halls of the Cultural Center, but this disjointedness also throws into relief how much fun he’s having making art. The show runs through June 24, which is a good thing, since a) the show will take you a while to get through, and, b) you’ll have an excuse to grab some free a/c at the same time. He’s an adjunct faculty member in the painting and drawing department, too, so go on and check out what Karl’s been up to all these years.
Wall about art about reading about art
Jason Messinger (BFA 1987) was recently commissioned to complete two murals for the Chicago Public Library branch at Austin/Irving, sponsored by the City of Chicago Public Art Department. His work includes abstracted, graphic, text-based, designs. Now if only they’d let artists get at the el stations…
Urban Renewal & Margaret Burroughs @ SCAC
Urban Renewal, an exhibition at the Southside Community Art Center includes work by both alumni and current students from SAIC who are developing ideas around what urbanity, change, and progressiveness have to do with one another. The show runs through May 11, in the Dr. Margaret Burroughs Gallery. Besides being an SAIC alum and painter, Burroughs (BFA 1944, MFA 1948) has been a teacher, poet, author and editor of important books on African American life in the United States (ever heard of Africa, My Africa?), community activist, and even wrote children’s books. In 1961, Burroughs and her husband, Charles, founded the DuSable Museum of African American History and she is now a Chicago Park District Commissioner. To top it off, she taught at SAIC, and former Mayor Harold Washington even named a day (February 1!) after her.
Alums, alums, everywhere
The all-alum group show at Corbett vs. Dempsey, Bold Saboteurs: Collage & Construction in Chicago, is a virtual history of some of the most successful SAIC alum around, spanning over thirty years of graduates. In addition, the show is also intended to track the development and use of collage by Chicago artists throughout the century, and we have to say, SAIC really stacks up in the ranks! Notables include Ralph Arnold (MFA 1977); Eve Garrison (BFA 1944); Thomas Kapsalis (BAE 1949), (MAE 1957); Ellen Lanyon (BFA 1948); Rodney Quiriconi (BFA 1961, MFA 1966); Ray Yoshida (BAE 1953); and SAIC faculty member Gladys Nilsson. The show runs through May 12.
She met Madonna, and you can’t really beat that
As for a more recent alum, Carrie Ayn Ruby (BFA 2002) has just started a brand-spanking-new design site. Basically, if you looked at any SAIC postcards, brochures or posters at all last year, Carrie Ayn probably designed it. Her hard-edged, yet femininely muted and pleasantly new-retro patterns are just one part of the bigger picture. Now in the “big” city for real, she’s making her way in a ton of different media, from jewelry to stationery, to plain old art, and even selling some of it! For you design blog lovers, you can also find her work on the blogosphere, as she was recently featured on DesignSponge.
Emergency! and, who is CarianaCarianne?
Though we know The Emergency Show will be closed by the time you read this, it’s an excuse to get you over to Polvo if you haven’t done so already. Started by one-time SAIC and Columbia College students, the Pilsen gallery is doing some of the better work of showing emerging artists while engaging with the community outside of the gallery walls. The group exhibition was curated by Barbara Koenen (MFA 1989) and includes the work of Kim Frieders, Miguel Cortez (one of the founders), Jaime Mendoza, and the self-declared duo CarianaCarianne (before they legally adopted the same name, Carianne got her MFA at SAIC in 2003). They, coincidentally, are also having a solo exhibition at the Hyde Park Arts Center, entitled The Embedded Body, on view through May 27.
Good work needed for a good cause
Barbara (Basia) Mosinski (BFA 1987, MAAT 2005) of Housing Works in New York City is seeking donated artwork for their new Women’s Health Center (WHC), designed to serve the needs of women living with HIV & AIDS. Donating artists will be in good company. According to Mosinski, several works have already been donated, “including Annie Wharton donating an installation and a triptych by [fashion photographer] Luqman Luzzine.” To submit work to the Housing Works Women’s Health Center, visit are their website. The submission deadline is June 1.