Thursday, October 20, 2011

New City Review: El Stitch y Bitch/Antena Gallery

This exhibition of work from the group El Stitch y Bitch reminded me of the essentially “relational” aims of feminist work of the 1970s and eighties, specifically Judy Chicago’s Birth Project, a series of embroidered depictions of birth stitched by women, non-artists, from all over the country. While the work on display at Antena in Pilsen looks good, the process out of which the work arises—groups of women stitching, sharing stories, discovering common traditions and discussing the impact on their lives created by the issues of the day—is key.

The meetings of the group El Stitch y Bitch and the relationships among women which develop out of a shared interest in textiles is a crucial but not necessarily visible component of the aesthetic project. Some of the work on display was accompanied by stories: A toilet-tissue cover in the shape of a large lacy crocheted skirt with a doll on top revealed memories of visits to a widowed Abuelo whose rural neighbors probably gave him the decorative crocheted item, or at least that was what Naomi Martinez who reproduced it, speculates about its feminine presence in a man’s house. Adriana Baltazar crocheted a soft sculptural installation of weeds common to city sidewalks along with a street sign (18th Street), commenting that the beautiful, ubiquitous chicory, dandelion and thistle are like local immigrants to Chicago, non-indigenous. Claudia Marchan, whose project was the most technically polished in keeping with its retro spirit, embroidered a garland of roses around a sentimental poem and the portrait of a Mexican movie star from the forties, Pedro Infante. Not all of the work tied the women to their Abuelos and Abuelas: a door crocheted out of “plarn,” plastic bags recycled into crochet materials, with text and photographs worked into the piece, offered a contemporary green and funky take on the theme of home, an old feminist standby. One of the strongest aspects of this small exhibit, aside from color and texture, and the multiple threads informing it (Latino identity, DIY, feminist process) is the display of a diverse group of objects which have been stitched, ranging from soft sculptures, objects which have the attributes of paintings, a coverlet made out of scraps (the only functional object in the gallery) to finely embroidered portraits. (Janina Ciezadlo)

At Antena, 1765 South Laflin, (773)340-3516, through October 22

Monday, October 17, 2011

Antena @ MDW

MDW Fall Showcase
October 21st- 23rd
 at The Geolofts 3636 S Iron St.

Vernissage: Friday October 21, 8-11pm
Saturday Noon to 6pm
Sunday Noon to 6pm

$5 admission

Artists representing Antena: Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan

Edra Soto (b. Puerto Rico) is a Chicago based artist. In 1995 Edra received the Alfonso Arana Fellowship to work in Paris for one year. She attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she obtained her Masters of Fine Arts in 2OOO. Immediately after, she attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work has been feature in New American Paintings and her show at Ebersmoore was selected Best Solo Exhibitions of 2010 NewCity Art of Chicago. Soto has lecture at El Museo de Puerto Rico, Harold Washington College and The Art Institute of Chicago among others. She is a member of the collective ED JR. with Deborah Boardman, Jeroen Nelemans and Ryan Richey. She is also the founder a fashion blog dedicated to artists with a flair for fashion called ModaMasters  at

Locally she has exhibited at Roots and Culture, , Longman and Eagle with Harold Arts, Ebersmoore, curatorial work for Dock 6 Design & Art Series and the UBS 12 x 12 at The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago among others. This summer, Edra completed a two-week residency at Ragdales newly renovated Meadow, granted by the 3Arts Foundation. Also this summer, she lectured at Beta-Local, an international contemporary space located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Current presentations include: CoLaboratory with ED JR. and (f)utility curated by Annie Moorse at The Glass Curtain Gallery, Columbia College, Core Values at North Branch Projects and  New Ways: An Exhibition of Ragdale Fellowship Artists both  curated by Regin Igloria. Upcoming presentations include:  Archival Impulse at UICGallery 400,  LIVING By Example with husband Dan Sullivan, the inaugural exhibition of The Frankin projects space at NEIUFine Arts Center Gallery and Afterimage satellite exhibition at the Roger Brown Study Collection curated by Dahlia Tulet and Thea Liberty Nichols.

Dan Sullivan was born and raised in Maine, studying in Minnesota before moving to Chicago in 1997. After years working in both the trades and the arts, Dan used his experience to found Two Lights Contracting, specializing in residential and commercial rehabs, and Navillus WoodWorks, a custom furniture and millwork business. Clients include the Chicago Architecture Foundation, Drag City Records, Renegade Handmade,  and the Illinois Holocaust Museum. 

Navillus Woodworks is a member of the Dock 6 Collective, showing in the bi-annual Design & Art Series as well as with the Object Society and in The Design Harvest Art Fair.  Dan has worked closely with Kujawa Architecture to develop a modular shelving system. With his wife, conceptual artist Edra Soto, Dan has collaborated on sculptural pieces that have been exhibited widely in venues including Ebersmoore Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago. This last year Dan has been developing the Franklin Series, a furniture line for Navillus WoodWorks, and is in the process of securing two design patents. Dan is also an active musician, playing in the bands Rabid Rabbit and Arriver. Both bands are due to release new records on the Bloodlust! Label.

Chicago: on October 21st- 23rd, The MDW Fair presents a Fall Showcase of solo and duo exhibitions curated by small not-for-profits, artist-run spaces, independent galleries, collectives and curators from around the country. This iteration of the MDW Fair runs in conjunction with The Hand in Glove Conference and will highlight innovative curatorial and administrative practices happening in independent arts initiatives. The Fall Showcase will focus on the practices of individual artists, offering the opportunity for each artist to mount an ambitious project. The Fall Showcase, like the previous MDW Fair, will also feature an independent arts publisher’s forum.

Formed in spring 2011 as a collaborative project between the Public Media Institute, Roots & Culture and threewalls. The MDW Fair was conceived as a showcase for independent art initiatives, spaces, galleries and artist groups from the Chicago metropolitan area. The initial fair, which took place April 23 & 24th of 2011, drew large crowds and press from ArtSlant, The Chicago Tribune, Bad at Sports and more as Chicagoans gathered for a special focus on the visual arts in their county.

In conjunction with The MDW Fair, threewalls & Alliance for Independent Arts Organizers will be hosting The Hand in Glove Conference on the first floor of the Geolofts. The Hand in Glove Conference is a new semiannual conference for independent visual arts facilitators working at the crossroads of creative administration and studio practice. This conference is open to people engaged in the pragmatic realities and imaginative possibilities of organizing exhibitions, re-granting programs, publications, residencies, public programs, platforms for projects, and a variety of other programming that challenges traditional formats for the production and reception of art at the grass-roots level.  The Conference takes place October 20-23rd and is open to registered participants only. Visit threewalls for more information.

Participants include:
2612 Space
Alderman Exhibitions
Bad at Sports
Chicago Artists Coalition
BOLT Residency
Chicago Urban Arts
Devening Projects + Editions
Drawn Lots
Green Gallery
Happy Collaborationists
Harold Arts
High Concept Lab
The Hills
Hinge Gallery
Iceberg Projects
Trevor Martin
Abr Gallery
North Branch Projects
Old Seoul
Packer Schopf Gallery
Peanut Gallery
Reuben Kincaid
Roots & Culture
Sixty Inches From Center
Small Space
Spudnik Press
Uncle Freddy’s Treats
Linda Warren
Western Exhibitions
What It Is
Propeller Fund grantees 2010
Publishers and other organizations:
Alternative Press Center
AREA Magazine
Golden Age
Green Lantern Press
Klein Art works
Make Magazine
Neoteric Art
Proximity, Lumpen, MateriƩl
Soberscove Press

MDW Fall Showcase
The Geolofts
3636 S Iron St.