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Northwestern Visual Arts and Films in June

Block Museum, Dittmar Gallery and University Library events open to public

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The final days of “The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,” 1929-1940” exhibition and guided weekend tours at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art are among Northwestern University’s June visual arts events.

This Saturday, June 7, marks the first annual “Open Studios Evanston,” a citywide open studios event featuring more than 50 visual artists, Evanston galleries and arts organizations. As a participant, the Block Museum will hold an additional guided tour, beginning at 3 p.m.

For more information, visit Open Studios Evanston.

The Block also will host an off-campus Artists Congress potluck picnic June 22 in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood that is open to the public. 

Block Cinema will present the two final screenings in a series of socially conscious films from the 1930s that coincide with the museum’s “The Left Front” exhibition as well as a new documentary that examines the history of the “Hairy Who,” an artists group that broke new ground in 1960s and 1970s Chicago. Block also will host the 10th annual screening of Rare Baseball Films.

Northwestern’s Dittmar Memorial Gallery continues to host the 2014 Art Theory and Practice Senior Exhibition that runs through mid-June. Later in the month, Dittmar will mount a new exhibition that will honor the pioneers of Chicago’s House Music and explore its origins.

Northwestern University Library and the Deering Library are the sites of an exhibition marking 20 years of democracy in South Africa and the end of apartheid.


A long-term construction project on Northwestern’s south campus has limited 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 Block Museum.

The following Evanston campus programs are free and open to the public:


Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is located at 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the Evanston campus. Admission to the Block Museum programs listed below is free, unless noted. The museum is closed on Monday. For more information, visit Block Museum or call (847) 491-4000.


• “The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,’ 1929-1940,” in the Block Museum’s Main Gallery, through June 22, 2014, explores the work and philosophy of visual artists in the John Reed Club (JRC), who joined forces to form a “left front” with writers and intellectuals dedicated to making socially-conscious art. Artists who belonged to or exhibited with the JRC include Rockwell Kent, William Gropper, Stuart Davis and Morris Topchevsky, who embraced the motto “art as a social weapon.” “The Left Front” is the first exhibition to examine the artistic legacy of the JRC and its successor organization, the American Artists’ Congress (AAC). The exhibition considers Chicago’s industrial legacy, ethnic neighborhoods, historical associations with anarchism and labor unrest, and commitment to social reform through institutions like Hull House. For more information, visit Block Museum

• “Revenge and Repose: Classical Mythology from the Collection,” in the Block Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz and Howard C. Katz Gallery, through June 22. The exhibition looks at Early Modern prints and drawings with a focus on representing the body. This selection of drawings and engravings highlights different types of figural representation, especially through themes of warfare and passion. Whether it is the torsion of a violent gesture or the inviting repose of a goddess, the artworks show contrasts of bodies at rest with those in action. All things classical were sources of inspiration for Early Modern artists in Italy and Northern Europe, and this selection displays a diverse assortment of mythological subjects -- both common and unusual -- in works by Ludovico Carracci, Luca Giordano, Jacob Jordaens, Giorgio Ghisi and others. “Revenge and Repose” is part of a new initiative at the Block Museum that gives opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students from various departments to curate exhibitions from the collection. It is curated by Northwestern senior Joe Semkiu, an undergraduate in Italian and Art History in Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Ellen Philips Katz and Howard C. Katz Endowment. For more, visit Block Museum.

• MFA Thesis Exhibition, through June 22, in the Block Museum’s Alsdorf Gallery. This exhibition presents the work of Northwestern students Caroline Carlsmith, Jason Dixon, Raphael Fleuriet, TJ Proechel and Nicole Wilson and culminates their Master of Fine Arts (MFA) studies in the department of art theory and practice at Northwestern University. Bringing together five distinct practices, it acknowledges the artists’ shared foundations, including research, experimentation, environment and experience. The annual exhibition is co-organized by the department of art theory and practice and the Block Museum. Admission is free and open to the public.


Free guided weekend tours of the Block Museum’s exhibitions will be held at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through June 22. Tours for classes and groups of eight or more are also available with advance notice. To arrange a group tour, email, or click here for more information.

To mark the first annual “Open Studios Evanston,” a citywide open studios event featuring more than 50 visual artists, Evanston galleries and arts organizations, as a participant, the Block Museum will hold an additional guided tour at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 7.


Join participants from the 2013 Never The Same (an oral history and archive project on Chicago’s socially-engaged art practices) “Unfurling” program and the recent Artists’ Congress at the Block Museum for an informal off-campus potluck picnic. Attendees will receive a copy of the 120 page “Unfurling” catalog designed by Josh MacPhee and edited by Daniel Tucker and Rebecca Zorach that includes extensive interviews with artist, curator and community facilitator Faheem Majeed; writer, curator and organizer Abigail Satinsky; Colombian-born socially-engaged artist Liliana Angulo Cortes; and members of Extinct Entities, a Chicago-based artistic/curatorial collaborative, and a forward by Lisa Yun Kun, director of the School of Art & Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a visiting curator at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum. The Block Museum invites you to continue to conversation in June. See details below or join the Facebook event here.

Artists Congress Picnic, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 22, Palmisano Park, formerly known as Stearns Quarry, (meet at the top of the hill), 2700 S. Halsted St., Chicago. The public is invited to a summer social in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood and an opportunity to continue the conversation that was launched on May 17 during the Block Museum’s Artists’ Congress. Block’s recent interdisciplinary public forum brought together artists, scholars and activists to address contemporary issues of art and social change and included a public forum facilitated by artists/educators focused on responses to an ongoing Open Call. Bring your own food and beverage for a potluck picnic. Ginger beer will be provided by Maria’s Packaged Goods. For more information, visit Block Museum


Heroes and Hoovervilles: Films of the Depression coincides with the Block Museum’s current Main Gallery exhibition, “The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,’ 1929-1940.” This Block Cinema companion film series features socially conscious films from the 1930s, covering issues of unemployment and labor struggles, poverty and homeless camps (or “Hoovervilles” as they were known), xenophobia, anti-war sentiment and the growing need for social security and reform.

Art On Screen is an ongoing series that presents new films about the art world.

Block Cinema, Heroes and Hoovervilles: Films of the Depression, “Heroes for Sale,” 7 p.m. Thursday, June 5 (William A. Wellman, 1933, United States, 35mm, 73 minutes). Richard Barthelmess stars as a World War I soldier who returns home to find that someone else has taken credit for his heroism. After the war he struggles to make a life, complicated by a morphine addiction from his wartime injuries. Director William Wellman (“Wings,“ “The Public Enemy,” “A Star Is Born”) presents a stark depiction of postwar realities for returning soldiers and of the harsh conditions that increased during the Depression. Despite a studio-imposed optimistic ending, “Heroes” is unusually sympathetic to leftist and “Red” critiques of capitalism for a Hollywood film. The 35mm print courtesy of the Library of Congress.

• Block Cinema, Art on Screen, “Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists” 7 p.m. Friday, June 6 and 2 p.m. Saturday, June 14. (Leslie Buchbinder, 2014, United States, video, 105 minutes.) This new documentary provides an important look at the history of the artists’ group, the Hairy Who, which broke new ground in the 1960s and 1970s and came to be known as the Chicago Imagists. Buchbinder’s film includes delightful animated sequences and eye-opening interviews with many of the movement’s participants (including Jim Nutt, Karl Wirsum, Gladys Nilsson and others), plus interviews with curators, collectors and critics, and the movement’s admirers (including Chris Ware and Jeff Koons). With a rich variety of perspectives, the film gives a detailed and visually dazzling portrait of this unique group of artists and their strange, surreal and darkly comic imagery. Seating is limited. Please arrive early (admission not guaranteed). IN PERSON: Director Leslie Buchbinder, producer John Corbett and artists Gladys Nilsson and Karl Wirsum, will be present on Friday, June 6 for a post-screening discussion moderated by Block Museum director, Lisa Corrin.

• Block Cinema, Heroes and Hoovervilles: Films of the Depression, “Wild Boys of the Road,” 7 p.m. Thursday, June 12 (William A. Wellman, 1933, United States, 35mm, 68 minutes.) Worried that they’ve become a burden on their destitute parents, teens Tom and Ed decide to run away and ride the rails. The boys soon find themselves part of a community of throwaway kids on the road who beg, steal and establish their own Hooverville. But their quest for independence is stymied by authority figures (townsfolk, railmen and the law) who pursue them at every turn. Though director Wellman lobbied for a more realistic ending, his film’s stark depiction of desperate youth was a compelling call for societal reform. The 35mm print courtesy of the Library of Congress.

• Special Program, Rare Baseball Films: The Newsreels,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 13 (video, approximately 100 minutes). For the 10th year in a row, and with the baseball season in full swing, Block Cinema celebrates America’s national pastime with another edition of Rare Baseball Films, organized by curator Dave Filipi, director of film and video at the Wexner Center for the Arts. This year’s program draws again from newsreels of the Hearst Metrotone News Collection at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Come out and see such greats as Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays, as well as a fire at Fenway Park, footage from the 1919 Black Sox World Series, a 1938 victory parade for the Cubs, and games played between Hollywood celebrities, mothers and sons on an aircraft carrier, in Sing Sing prison and more! Special thanks to the UCLA Film & Television Archive for its assistance with this program. Arrive early because seating is very limited. IN PERSON: Dave Filipi.


Senior Opera House, 2:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 21, Kresge Hall, first and third floors, 1880 Campus Drive, Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. Hosted by the department of art theory and practice, this collaborative exhibition produced by seniors in art theory and practice will cover both floors of the department with artwork. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, email or visit Art Theory and Practice.


The Dittmar Memorial Gallery, first floor, 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 art students and traveling art shows. For more information, contact the Dittmar Gallery at (847) 491-2348 or Norris University Center at (847) 491-2300, email or visit Dittmar Memorial Gallery.


• Art Theory and Practice Senior Exhibition, “Purgatory,” through June 12, Dittmar Gallery, Norris University Center. This Northwestern University student group exhibition showcases the culminating work of this year’s senior class of art theory and practice majors. The show investigates the role of the in-between, encompassing moments of distancing, breaking away and fracturing. The “Purgatory” exhibition is free and open to the public.

• “The Beat Goes On: The Evolution of House Music,” June 18 through July 2, Dittmar Memorial Gallery. “House Music” is a music art form that combines electronically-generated sounds, vocals and samples from genres that include jazz, blues, disco and gospel, added to the foundation of the drum beat and synthesizer bass line. This spiritual force began in Chicago’s underground music scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the iconic club The Warehouse. It brought together cultures, races, ages and alternative orientations like no other medium of that day. The proliferation of digital and emerging electronic mediums has catapulted House Music from its Chicago roots into a global power influencing dance, fashion and media. “The Beat Goes On” exhibition will honor the pioneers of House Music, explore its origins, display original artifacts and critique the future of House Music and its evolution. It was curated by Head Archivist Lauren Lowery and Executive Director Charles Matlock of the Modern Dance Music Research and Archiving Foundation, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation based in Chicago. • An opening reception at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 18, which is free and open to the public, will include a panel discussion titled “House Music in the Continum of African American Music Forms.”A 1 p.m. Saturday, June 28, panel discussion titled “The Embodiment of House Chicago Dancers from the Early 1980s to the Present” will conclude the exhibition. For more information, visit The Modern Dance Music Research and Archiving Foundation.


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

• “Ancient Monuments of Rome: Reconstructions by the Students of the Academie Francaise de Rome,” through June 20, Deering Library, Third Floor Lobby. From the time of the French Revolution to the beginning of the 20th century, the French architecture student winners of the Grand Prix scholarship to study at the French Academy in Rome were obliged to produce reconstructions of an ancient monument. In the 1870s, a half-dozen of the best and most interesting of these were engraved and published by the French government at great expense. This display, drawn from Northwestern’s McCormick Library of Special Collections by art history professor David Van Zanten, illustrates how such an archeological reconstruction have changed conceptions and techniques.

• “From Apartheid to Democracy,” through Aug. 29, Northwestern University Library and Deering Library. Northwestern University Library is marking 20 years of democracy in South Africa. This exhibition not only explores South Africa’s first democratic election and 20 years of democracy but also looks at Northwestern’s role in the global anti-Apartheid movement. The exhibit includes artifacts as diverse as anti-Apartheid posters, an app of humorous South African political cartoons and the first 1994 election ballot. For more information about related film presentations and lectures, visit Apartheid to Democracy.

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