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Logan Center and Arts Incubator open The Distance Between

The University of Chicago’s Logan Center and Arts Incubator present The Distance Between on August 27–September 29, 2013.

Cecil McDonald Jr., To Be Cool, 2013. Archival pigment print, 26 x 40 inches. From the series Domestic Observations and Occurrences. Courtesy of the artist.
Cecil McDonald Jr., To Be Cool, 2013. Archival pigment print, 26 x 40 inches. From the series Domestic Observations and Occurrences. Courtesy of the artist.

The Distance Between is a culminating exhibition showcasing the work of the five artists selected as the Arts + Public Life/Center for the Study of Race Politics & Culture 2012/2013 artists-in-residence. The program awards ten-month residencies to outstanding Chicago-based artists who have an expanded social practice that engages issues of race, politics and culture. Their physical studios are at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park at 301 E Garfield Boulevard, and they have access to University of Chicago resources, such as the production facilities of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at 915 East 60th Street.

Looking at a map of the South Side these days, one might notice these two new cultural venues lying in close proximity. They are a mere six-minute drive, or two Green Line stops apart. Between them stretches the southern half of Washington Park, which can be crossed by foot in a number of ways in less than half an hour. Yet the day-to-day experience of these artists (and the curators working with them) is that the distance between these two sites of artistic activity is not so simply defined.

The Western edge of Washington Park (at the Garfield stop of the Green Line, directly opposite of the Arts Incubator) and the southwestern edge of the University of Chicago campus (which is home to the Logan Center) may be close on the map; but in terms of demographics and urban texture they are often seen as worlds apart. Indeed many people residing or working in the vicinity of one of the two institutions may have never made the short trip to see the other building. The park stretching between the two spaces is, to many, a realm of leisure and pleasure, yet to many others, a no-go zone. Between these two extremes a myriad of spatial possibilities are often overlooked.

The artists who have spent the last ten months in residence include visual artists (Cecil McDonald, Jr. and Cauleen Smith), musicians (LeRoy Bach and Tomeka Reid) and the multidisciplinary poet, artist and educator avery r. young. They have made it their daily practice to move between their two production spaces and to explore the surrounding areas—listening to the street and the diverse flora and fauna of Washington Park; collaborating with neighbors; depicting their surroundings; and envisioning alternative value systems.

This two-venue exhibition marks a culmination of their efforts, with works installed so as to invite visitors to linger, look and listen at each exhibition site; but also to travel the distance between the two venues. These works include a range of pictorial approaches, listening stations, space stations, assemblages, collaborations, and several improvised performances—creating an ambiance that willfully bends the demographic charts and finds luxury where loss and paranoia persist.

At stake here is the very perception of space—urban, pastoral, domestic, social and artistic—as both a physical phenomena and a psychological construct.

While these artists do not shy away from the fraught questions of race and class, which impact the perceptions of this particular segment of the map (and, it may be argued, the broader stretches of Chicago’s South Side and areas like it around the country or even around the world)—far from it—they ultimately aim to invent new terms of engagement.

Curated by Allison Glenn and Monika Szewczyk

Gallery Encounters:
August 28, 6pm at the Incubator: Cecil McDonald, Jr.
September 4, 6pm at the Logan Center: Tomeka Reid
September 11, 6pm at the Incubator: Cauleen Smith
September 18, 6pm at the Incubator: LeRoy Bach
September 25, 6pm at the Logan Center: avery r. young

Artists’ reception and park crossing: Sunday, September 15, 3–6pm

Arts Incubator
301 E. Garfield Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60637
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12–3pm
or by appointment

Logan Center Gallery
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 9am–8pm;
Sunday 11am–8pm