Archive for the category “Visual Arts”

Silence Kills

WHAT: Silence Kills (Photographic Exhibit)
WHEN: February 1 – 25
WHERE: 1431 N. Milwaukee Ave. (inside EyeWant Eyewear)
HOST: Eyeporium Gallery


Credit: Brian Leli

Credit: Brian Leli

Last week, Storefront City dropped into the Eyeporium Gallery in Wicker Park for the opening reception of Brian Leli’s photography exhibition “Silence Kills,” which also provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate the release of his new photo and essay book, “London in a Year.”

Credit: Brian Leli (August 2011: A man rests in front of a wall painted with street art at the Notting Hill Carnival.)

Credit: Brian Leli

“Silence Kills”  tells the everyday story of a city (in this case London), which seems to prove the point that an ordinary day doesn’t exist for a huge metropolis. Documenting everything from protesters in the Occupy Movement outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, gay pride celebrants in Trafalgar Square, or a coffee shop owner in Camden, Leli’s work focuses on the people that make a city tick, and their place beside these well-known monuments of old. As such, this is a snapshot of Londoners, rather than the city, and what it means to be a member of (or outsider in) a modern cosmopolitan capital.

The exhibition is located within the Eyeporium Gallery, which is, in turn, inside an eye-wear store, EyeWant. But this isn’t your average Pearle Vision. Colorfully decorated with Oriental lamps topping display cases, luxuriant plush seats, a plethora of bespectacled  mannequin heads, and fantastical representations of the ocular variety (yes, even including a hoard of The Residents paraphernalia), EyeWant is the perfect space to host a gallery, and really peer into a different kind of retail experience.

Due to the eclectic nature of this salon-style gallery, the gallery can maintain an attractive fringe quality while not being subsumed by the faux vogue of similar galleries elsewhere. Owned by local philanthropist Annette Sollars, the gallery is directed by Carron Little, who we had the good fortune to speak with at the opening. Apparently, this little gem has represented some of Chicago’s more well known visual artists, including Tony Fitzpatrick and Marc Hauser, but we’re always excited to see galleries who nurture a variety of artists, both emerging and established.

Credit: Brian Leli (October 2011: Occupy London: a woman smokes a cigarette at the steps to St Paul’s Cathedral.)

Credit: Brian Leli

Photography often ranks lower on the scale of artistry for some people, probably because it is believed that anyone can snap a photo, while only a talented few can apply paint to canvas with even a modicum of success. However, Leli’s work seems to show us that a certain artistic endowment is absolutely necessary to capture that look of proud triumph while marching with Occupy London or a state of complete defiance whilst protesting against the bombing of Yemen. Then again, the choice to close the shutter on a mundane puff of a cigarette whilst outside St. Paul’s or the pain of illness in a London hospice, seems to immortalize moments otherwise lost, perhaps because we don’t want to remember these happenings in the grand scheme of history. By being forced to remember them through photography, artists like Leli do humanity a service that any other profession would be hard pressed to emulate.

Ravishing, didactic and insightful, Leli’s exhibit will let you explore London at your own pace, and see the city (and its people) behind the monuments.

Off the Record at saki

WHAT: Off the Record (music series)
WHERE: saki (3716 W. Fullerton Ave.)
HOSTS: saki, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events




Storefront City ventured to Logan Square for the kickoff to Off the Record, a new monthly music series presented by saki, a record store/art gallery/performance space in Logan Square, and the City of Chicago’s DCASE. The first in the series featured a live performance from Brokeback, hors d’oeuvres from Provenance, beverages from Goose Island, and a DJ set from Thrill Jockey Records.



Founded in 2010, saki is by far one of the cooler venues we’ve visited in the past few months. From the outside it might just look like your average hipster vinyl record store (although, they also sell DVDs, CDs, books and other knick knacks). Inside, the bright and eclectic space beams with energy and attracts discerning clients who know what record they want. The selection is huge and includes modern LPs as well as the more vintage varieties.

Brokeback performs live!

Brokeback performs live!

Anyways, back to the music series. Off the Record’s monthly events celebrate a new record, sometimes in advance of its release. During the 2013 season, there will be live performances and sometimes even interactive portions for each event. For the opening of the series, the instrumental rock band Brokeback performed tracks from their new album “Brokeback & the Black Rock,” which is their first release in ten years, and there was even a Q&A with the band and an aforementioned DJ set.

( "Yuck" by Delicious Design League

Not good enough for you? How about this: all Off the Record events are free and for all ages. And saki provides a really amazing backdrop with remarkably good acoustics. Right now they have an amazing show going on by Delicious Design League (“Yuck”) with a bunch of their screen-prints hanging up around the store. But this exhibition space is only temporary: Amanda Olbrys’ show “Balance” will be taking its place on the walls on Friday, February 1.



So, can we even really call this a record store? Not really, considering you’ve got a performance space and gallery built in. It’s definitely the new chic when it comes to mixed media spaces–combined art forms are catching on as people realize that using a space in multiple ways has tons of benefits, from cost efficiency to audience sharing.

Definitely head over to their next event. It’s well worth the trek.

Alibi Fine Art

WHAT: Alibi Fine Art (Art Gallery)
WHERE: 1966 W. Montrose Ave.

OUR RATING: Do It! (If you’re near)



Storefront City traveled to North Center to attend the opening reception of Burkhart’s Underground, a gallery showing by Fred Burkhart at the Alibi Fine Art Gallery. Alibi Fine Art is a free contemporary gallery in Chicago intended to support new, mid-career and overlooked artists. While Alibi’s exhibition choices tend to focus on photography, they sometimes also represent other media. The Burkhart opening was our first foray into their space.

Alibi has a great location on Montrose, but as with many privately owned galleries in town, it is super tiny, and can only comfortably fit up to about two dozen people. This made the Burkhart opening claustrophobic, as the attendance was much higher, but nonetheless very exciting!

"Old Red Eye" (

“Old Red Eye” (

Fred Burkhart doesn’t fit the “new” or “mid-career” categories, but rather that of “overlooked”, as he has been part of the art scene in the city for almost three decades. Burkharts Underground, which will be up at Alibi until March 23, highlights Burkhart’s black and white photography documenting a vast array of subjects. From the Klu Klux Klan to the Gay Pride Movement, diverse and polarising topics that pulse through the modern American discourse are the focus of his work, which captures moments, rather than stories, allowing the viewer to appreciate the humanity that lies beneath his subjects.



Mr. Burkhart’s work has never been displayed in a solo gallery show before, which is tragic given the important nature of his photographs. Even more tragic is the photographer’s recent diagnosis of terminal cancer, making this possibly his last exhibition. However, his work lives afresh at Alibi and will certainly allow him to be remembered as an artist and social commentator in the years to come.

This exhibition is not recommended for children.

First Fridays at the MCA: December’s ‘White Out’

WHAT: First Fridays at the MCA: December’s ‘White Out’
WHEN: First Friday of every month
WHERE: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (22 E. Chicago Ave)
HOST: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

OUR RATING: Chance/Skip It!

Guests were encouraged to wear white at this month’s “White Out” First Fridays at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. For those of you who may not be familiar with this program, First Fridays is hosted by the museum on the first Friday of each month for anyone 21+. It’s meant to be a social-networking and cultural event and tickets ($14 advance, $18 at the door) include admission into the museum (and all of its galleries), live entertainment, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, and usually some games or crafts. There is also a cash bar for those who wish to imbibe.

Having some fun (courtesy of

Having some fun (courtesy of

This month’s event featured DJ Kid Color, MammothBooth photo and Swirlz Cupcakes. Guests were invited to make garlands at their holiday decor creation station and to search for white works of art for a chance to win prizes. There were also a few ‘white’ hors d’oeuvres passed around, including goat cheese and pomegranate seeds on small bites of toast, and chicken salad bites.

We have gone to quite a few of these events in past months, but it seems just as the economy has worsened, so have the offerings at First Fridays. There used to be a few tables of fresh veggies and dips, and other tables of hot and savory goodies and desserts, but this year there were two (or three?) not-so-hot appetizers and a table full of dry macaroons and brownies.

Alicia's sad cupcake

Alicia’s sad cupcake

Adam's sad cupcake

Adam’s sad cupcake

We hoped Swirlz Cupcakes would salvage the night. Instead, they offered three mini cupcakes that were all dry and totally boring. Alicia think’s she was supposed to have the vanilla twixie (vanilla cake, chocolate covered shortbread, salted caramel buttercream, caramel).  Not as exciting as it sounded. The other two were even less memorable.

One slight upside to the event was MammothBooth!, a photobooth of sorts where you take your own photos with a tiny remote and watch as the photos pop onto a screen in front of you. We took a few against a dizzy-ing black and white fun background. Pretty cool actually.

Kara Walker's "Presenting Negro Scenes Drawn Upon My Passage through the South and Reconfigured for the Benefit of Enlightened Audiences Wherever Such May Be Found, By Myself, Missus K.E.B. Walker, Colored", 1997Watercolor and paper on paper

Kara Walker’s “Presenting Negro Scenes Drawn Upon My Passage through the South and Reconfigured for the Benefit of Enlightened Audiences Wherever Such May Be Found, By Myself, Missus K.E.B. Walker, Colored”, 1997
Watercolor and paper on paper

Then there’s the museum itself, which as usual has a few exhibitions going on. Our favorite was probably the Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac exhibition, which brings strange and technical manufacturing structures to your everyday furniture and designs. A memorable piece was Clouds, pressed pieces of felt that were attached together to make multifaceted colorful walls.  Alicia was also a big fan of Kara Walker’s cut paper installation on the second floor, which measures 13 by 150 feet!

If you want to go to the museum anyways and have to pay an admission fee, go on First Fridays instead and mix some food, music and socializing into your night. Otherwise, this event is probably not worth the ticket price nor your use of a Friday night.

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