FACES AND PLACES: Union League Club of Chicago’s Distinguished Artists Program

Artist Theaster Gates inducted as Distinguished Artist for 2014
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Theaster Gates
Union League Club


Chicago - Illinois - US

CHICAGO - Feb. 5, 2014 - PRLog -- The Union League Club of Chicago hosted its 2014 Distinguished Artist Program on Friday, January 31.  The Distinguished Artist Program was established in 1997 to honor select Chicago-area artists for their contributions to both the visual arts and the community. If you’ve been to the Union League Club you know that their art collection is amazing.  This from their website.

"Collecting art has been a tradition at the Union League Club since 1886. Today, the art collection is a vital part of the Club's identity and a significant part of Chicago's art history. The Club's art collection is one of the oldest and most important private collections of American art in the Midwest, and it has one of the best collections of Illinois art."

"The majority of the art collection is on view throughout the Club. There are nearly 800 works in the Club's collection, which represent more than 150 years of art making in America. The collection features a range of art movements, styles, and subjects, from traditional to contemporary art, and it includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors, prints, photographs, and decorative arts."

The list of distinguished inductees are a who’s who of Chicago artists, musicians and writers, among them Ed Paschke, Dawoud Bey, William Conger, Phyllis Bramson; musicians Ramsey Lewis, Josephine Lee and Kurt Elling; and writers  Studs Terkel, Scott Turow and Rick Kogan. Inducted during the 2014 program were artists Ellen Lanyon (given posthumously) and Theaster Gates.

Lanyon studied at the University of Chicago earning her BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MFA at The University of Iowa and The Courtauld Institute University of London, UK.

Her work has been the subject of eleven museum exhibitions, including The National Collection of American Art, Smithsonian, a twenty-five year retrospective organized and traveled by the Krannert Museum to The McNay Museum, San Antonio/The Chicago Cultural Center/The Stamford Art Museum and the Ewing Gallery, University of Tennessee. A third major retrospective curated by Esther Sparks for The Brauer Museum of Valparaiso University traveled to The Washington County Museum, Hagerstown, MD.  Lanyon taught for almost forty years at universities and professional art schools.   Prior to her death in 2013 she was retired Associate Professor of The Cooper Union in New York.

Gates is the Founder of the non-profit *Rebuild Foundation (http://rebuild-foundation.org/) and is the Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago (http://www.uchicago.edu/) *.  He has developed an expanded practice that includes space development, object making, performance and critical engagement with many publics. Gates’s recent exhibitions include installations, exhibitions and performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Punta della Dogana, Venice; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Birmingham Museum of Art; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Locust Projects, Miami; Seattle Art Museum; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Milwaukee Art Museum; the Armory Show and the Whitney Biennial in New York.

In 2012, Gates was awarded the inaugural Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, the Wall Street Journal’s Arts Innovator of the Year, a Creative Time Global Residency Fellowship, and became a United States Artists Kippy Fellow. Gates has also received awards and grants from Creative Capital, the Joyce Foundation, Graham Foundation, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and Artadia.

As part of the Distinguished Artist Program each inductee is invited to place a work  in the Union League Club. Gates asked that the Union League Club also support the 75 year old South Side Community Arts Center (http://www.sscartcenter.org) (SSCAC), the last surviving WPA era art center in the country, by restoring a work from its permanent collection.   The Union League Club has both a full-time art curator and an art conservator along with a conservation studio and has agreed to conserve the painting ‘Ghetto’ by artist  Jose Williams.  It currently hangs, alongside Gates piece, ‘Civil Tapestry, Decommissioned Fire Hoses and Wood’,  on the 3rd floor of the Club.

A shameless plug for SSCAC.  As a board member I am extremely proud to be a part of an organization focused on the preservation of African American art both its past and future. Opened in 1940, with support from the Works Progress Administration (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_Progress_Administration)'s Federal Art Project (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Art_Project) (WPA-FAP) in Illinois (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois), SSCAC was the first black art museum in the United States and is the last surviving center started during that period.  In 2015, the Center will celebrate 75 years with a special performance “Off the Wall and onto the Stage, Dancing the Art of Jonathan Green, a  ballet based on the works of Art Institute graduate and SSCAC member artist Jonathan Green to be performed at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

Among the other arts centered programs at the Union League Club is the Luminarts Cultural Foundation, which recognizes, encourages and rewards some of Chicago's most talented young artists.  This effort supports the expansion of arts in Chicago. Next Tuesday evening, they will host a Luminarts-themed complimentary cocktail reception. The evening will feature a performance by one of the Luminarts scholarship winners.

A sincere thanks to the Union League Club for adding to the cultural life of our city for nearly 130 years.

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Tags:Theaster Gates, Union League Club, SSCAC
Location:Chicago - Illinois - United States
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