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December 2012 Visual Arts Calendar

Public invited to Block Museum, Dittmar Gallery and University Library exhibitions

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “Shimon Attie: The Neighbor Next Door,” an installation by internationally renowned American artist Shimon Attie, will close Dec. 9 and re-open to the public from Jan. 11 through March, 24, 2013.

“De-Natured: German Art from Joseph Beuys to Martin Kippenberger, Selections from the James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach Collection” and “Joseph Beuys: Sand Drawings,” two exhibitions exploring modern and contemporary German art, will close Dec. 9

All three exhibitions at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus, deal with issues of identity and memory in the face of social and historical change. 


The Block Museum’s Winter 2013 exhibition, “Terry Adkins Recital” opens Jan. 11 and runs through March 24. “Recital” brings together a selection of work from the past 30 years by artist and musician Terry Adkins. Combining sculpture and live performance, Adkins has described his approach to art making as being similar to that of a composer. His sculptures re-purpose and combine a range of materials, such as fiberglass propellers, wooden coat hangers, parachute fabric and musical instruments, in a process the artist calls “potential disclosure,” which aims to reveal the dormant life in inanimate objects. During performances with members of his Lone Wolf Recital Corps, Adkins activates these objects through improvisational playing and singing, spoken word, costumes and recorded sound. The events intend to uphold the legacies of immortal and enigmatic figures, including Bessie Smith, John Brown, Sam Lightin’ Hopkins, Matthew Henson and John Coltrane. Adkins not only resuscitates individuals from historical erasure. He also sheds light on willfully neglected or ignored aspects in the life of well-known figures, such as Jimi Hendrix’s military service as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s highly decorated 101st Airborne Division. To view a video featuring Adkins and his work, visit


A long-term construction project on Northwestern’s south campus has closed access to the Block Museum and Arts Circle Drive. Free parking is available in the lot directly south of the museum. For directions and parking information, visit


Northwestern’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery in Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston campus, will host Diane Kahlo’s “Wall of Memories: Las Desaparecidas de Cuidad Juarez” exhibition through Dec. 9. Kahlo’s exhibition commemorates the missing and murdered women of Juarez, Mexico.


The Dittmar Gallery will host “A Chicago Storybook: The Art of Robert Guinan,” a Jan. 10 dinner and lecture. The gallery’s winter 2013 exhibition is “Cultural Collage,” Jan. 18 through Feb. 17, featuring the works of Ning-Chiao Hsu, Lanre Buralmoh and Annette Jackson. Both are free and open to the public. For more information, call the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, email or visit


Exhibitions at University Library, 1970 Campus Drive, Evanston campus, include “Sound & Silence: John Cage Composing Himself,” which runs through Dec. 21 and celebrates the 100th birthday of one of the most influential and controversial figures of 20th-century music and art, and “Decorative Cloth: Publishers’ Trade Bindings, 1820-1920,” which is open to the public through March 25, 2013.For more information, visit or call (847) 491-7658.


Admission to the Block Museum galleries and programs listed below is free. The galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The museum is closed on Monday. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-4000.


“De-Natured: German Art from Joseph Beuys to Martin Kippenberger, Selections from the James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach Collection,” through Dec. 9, Block Museum, Main Gallery. “De-Natured” introduces recent and contemporary German art by 10 well-known artists from the mid-1960s to today. While diverse, the work of these artists has been informed by a fracturing and questioning of authenticity and representation provoked by 20th-century German history. Using unconventional materials, artist Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) addressed questions of creativity, social change and personal action. Pioneering conceptual artist Hanne Darboven (1941-2009) used numerical systems to convey the passage of time. Gerhard Richter’s (b. 1932) works in oil, photography, print media and drawing investigate what lies beneath the visible surface of a work of art. Sigmar Polke (1941–2010) appropriated images from advertisements to explore the superficiality of consumer culture. Self-referential drawings on hotel stationery by Martin Kippenberger (1953–1997) introduced an anarchic expressivity, evocatively combining the public and the personal. Other artists include Bernd (1931–2007) and Hilla Becher (b. 1934), Thomas Ruff (b. 1958), Andreas Gursky (b. 1955) and Thomas Struth (b. 1954). The exhibition is organized and circulated by the Ackland Art Museum, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with funding provided by the William Hayes Ackland Trust. Support for its presentation at the Block is provided by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany; Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; and the Evanston Arts Council.

“Shimon Attie: The Neighbor Next Door,” through Dec. 9, and re-opening from Jan. 11 through March 24, 2013, Block Museum, Alsdorf Gallery. For two decades, Shimon Attie (American, b. 1957) has created immersive multimedia art -- from photographs and video installations in museums and galleries to site-specific works in public places -- that reflect on place, memory and identity. Attie has described some of his artwork, in part, as “a kind of peeling back of the wallpaper of today to reveal the histories buried underneath.” In this exhibition, the artist has re-envisioned a work that featured archival film footage taken clandestinely by people forced into seclusion by the Nazis. In 1995, Attie projected the films onto the sidewalks of Amsterdam from apartments where many individuals actually hid during World War II. In Fall 2012, visitors to the Block Museum will view the films in a gallery installation that evokes the experience of watching from a confined space. “Shimon Attie: The Neighbor Next Door” is co-curated by David Tolchinsky and Debra Tolchinsky, faculty members of the department of radio/television/film. Support for the exhibition is provided by the Rubens Family Foundation, Alsdorf Endowment, and Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

“Joseph Beuys: Sand Drawings,” through Dec. 9, Block Museum, Ellen Philips Katz and Howard C. Katz Gallery. One of the most radical artists of the 20th century and a prominent spokesperson of postwar German art, Joseph Beuys made actions, sculptures and multiples, professing that art should be a way of life. In December 1974, Beuys traveled to Diani Beach on the coast of Kenya with photographer Charles Wilp. Beuys drew his distinctive motifs, such as animals and alchemical symbols, in the sand and inscribed the drawings with his characteristic signature. Wilp documented these temporal artworks that were later compiled into the portfolio “Sandzeichnungen.” The Block exhibition presents the portfolio in its entirety and features a rare and poetic insight into Beuys’ spiritual and aesthetic connection to nature. The portfolio “Sanzseichnungen” is displayed courtesy of Northwestern’s Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Ellen Philips Katz and Howard C. Katz Endowment, Evanston Arts Council and Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.


“Theo Leffmann: Weaving a Life into Art,” through Dec. 9, Block Museum, Theo Leffman Gallery. The fiber art of Chicago artist Theo Leffmann (1911-96) evokes the ancient and the exotic, echoing pre-Columbian and non-Western processes and forms with a distinct personal vision. Her 40-year career coincided with a revolution in textile art as the division between “high art” and “craft” diminished. The display of Leffmann’s colorful, richly textured and playful weavings, wall hangings and sculptural objects is drawn from the Block Museum’s permanent collection. The works are generous gifts from her husband Paul Leffmann.


Block Museum docents lead guided tours of the fall exhibitions at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 29 to Dec. 9. Tours for classes and groups of eight or more people are available with advance notice. Call (847) 491-4852, email, or visit for more information.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston campus, is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Admission is free. The gallery focuses on ethnic cultural art, art by emerging artists, art by or about women, artwork by Northwestern undergraduate and graduate art students, and traveling art shows.


Diane Kahlo’s “Wall of Memories: Las Desaparecidas de Cuidad Juarez” exhibition, through Dec. 9, Northwestern University’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery, Evanston campus.

Artist Diane Kahlo is a distant relative of renowned 20th-century painter Frida Kahlo. Her grandfather was a cousin of Wilhelm Kahlo, Frida’s father. Kahlo’s interactive exhibition is a compelling memorial to the more than 1,000 missing and murdered women of Cuidad Juarez -- a Mexican city that lies on the Rio Grande and across the border from El Paso, Texas. It also is a grim reminder of the epidemic of violence against women and girls in Juarez that began in 1993 and continues today. The Kahlo exhibition includes row after row of 150-plus small framed portraits of the victims of the “feminicide” -- a term the National Association for Women describes as “the mass murder of women simply because they are women.“ Sculptures in the show include two decorative six-foot-long coffins and a wall installation of small sequined skulls symbolizing the “unknown girls” whose bodies have been found but not yet identified. Kahlo’s portraits and icons remember the women as they once were -- young, carefree and alive. Also on display are bright pink crosses entwined with artificial floral vines that have become a symbol of the tragic Juarez killings. The exhibition includes a static video wall projection of an image of The Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico and a cultural symbol for Mexican identity. The audio loop accompanying the video was composed, produced and performed by Juan Carlos Buenos of “Grupo Hurakan,” a Chicago group, specifically for the installation. The music explores and celebrates the indigenous roots of Mexico. In another video, a young woman describes the history of feminicide and reads a poem about its victims by an artist/activist who herself became a victim last December. The Dittmar exhibition is sponsored in part by Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences departments of Spanish and Portuguese, Latin American and Caribbean studies, art history, gender and sexuality studies, and Latina and Latino studies. Information on the Lexington, Ky., based artist Diane Kahlo is available at For more information on the exhibition and related events, call the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, email or visit


Exhibitions at University Library at 1970 Campus Drive, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, are open to the public daily from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, or as noted. Members of the Northwestern community with a valid WildCARD can visit during all open library hours. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-7658. 


“Sound & Silence: John Cage Composing Himself,” through Dec. 21, Northwestern University Library. Northwestern’s Music Library holds one of the most important collections of Cage’s work. Because of its focus on 20th-century classical music, Cage made Northwestern Music Library the repository for two of his most important collections: his correspondence, an extensive body of personal and professional communications spanning more than 50 years, and a collection of original music manuscripts by Cage and 273 other contemporary composers. Cage obtained the music manuscripts for his groundbreaking book “Notations.” Co-curated by Greg MacAyeal, assistant head of the Music Library, and Nina Barrett, Northwestern University Library’s communications specialist, “Sound & Silence” uses the collection to illustrate some of Cage’s major achievements and to highlight some of the less examined chapters of his life. The exhibition is part of Northwestern’s celebration of Cage’s 100th birthday. For more information, visit

“Decorative Cloth: Publishers’ Trade Bindings, 1820,” runs through March 25, 2013, University Library, Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections. In the early 19th century, the development of case binding, a technique conducive to mass production, made the manufacture of books with uniform binding possible. Publishers eventually began using this convenience to their further advantage, decorating the covers and spines as a form of commercial enticement and an expression of house pride. This trend continued into the early years of the 20th century. The Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections holds thousands of examples of publishers’ trade bindings, a selection of which are on display on the third floor of Deering Library. The exhibition is arranged chronologically by decade and showcases some of the typical designs found during those decades. It is open to the public during the Library’s regular public hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday. For more on the Deering Library, visit

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