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Best social media manager with the fastest response time

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Museum of Contemporary Art’s Abraham Ritchie

If life gives you a paper marked down as “too personal,” too “sounding like the way you would speak,” do like Abraham Ritchie, MCA’s Social Media Manager: take it as a compliment and make it a profession. With a BA in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MA from the School of the Art Institute in New Art Journalism, and a natural talent to communicate with all sorts of people, Ritchie is perfectly suited to a job that demands clear, short and entertaining statements to popularize an often obscure matter. At the MCA for two and a half years now, he’s been involved with social media “since Facebook was invite-only” and was once an editor for ArtSlant.com and Flavorpill.com (he also contributes to Newcity). His work made the museum more accessible, and his fast responses create a dialogue almost in real time.

Best of Chicago 2014

Best bricolage

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Isa Genzken: Retrospective, Museum of Contemporary Art

By most accounts, Genzken’s retrospective was more thoughtfully installed and developed clearer claims about the German iconoclast’s enduring influence than the previous iteration at MoMA. Genzken was a brave force amidst the male-dominated art culture in Germany’s reconstruction. Her later works from the aughts forward underscore the trash in Eurotrash and develop a formal language apropos to a world inhabited by problematic assemblages like the great Pacific garbage patch.

220 E. Chicago, 312.280.2660, mcachicago.org

Best of Chicago 2014

Best art exhibit in the last year or so

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Amalia Pica, Museum of Contemporary Art
This past spring and summer, MCA visitors were introduced to an artist they’ve probably never heard of, with a large career survey of the Argentinian-born, London-based Amalia Pica. It was a treat to see so many of her artworks in one exhibition; they made sense as a body of work by an artist with a vision. Pica’s work is a friendly type of conceptualism. She abstracted the way we communicate, from secrets to media outlets, and asked viewers to piece them back together, in our minds. Maybe we never reassembled her puzzles perfectly, but that may have been the point.

AUDIENCE CHOICE: “Picasso and Chicago,” Art Institute of Chicago

Best of Chicago 2013

Best exhibition design

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“Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes” at the Museum of Contemporary Art
The MCA filled its comic-book survey of the work of Daniel Clowes with customized reading nooks, where gallery viewers could browse the cartoonist’s books the way we all love to: alone, with our feet up, as if in bed.

Best of Chicago 2013

Best art exhibition catalogue design in the last year or so

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Jimmy Robert, “Vis-à-Vis”
Produced by the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Design, Publishing, and New Media Department for the MCA Monographs series, the exhibition catalogue for Jimmy Robert’s solo exhibition integrates three varied paper sizes and stocks to present three streams of information within one book.

Jimmy Robert “Vis-à-Vis,” $25, mcachicagostore.org

Best of Chicago 2012

Best crowd-sourced event in a museum

Culture & Nightlife, Near North, Pilsen No Comments »

Bring Your Own Beamer at the MCA

BYOB is a potluck for video artists, who contribute to this one-night group show by bringing art and a projector (beamer). Although it first debuted in Chicago at Pilsen’s Kunsthalle New in March, the BYOB event at the MCA in October was meaningful because artists chose the art exhibited in the museum, at least temporarily.

Bring Your Own Beamer
byobworldwide.com

Best of Chicago 2011

Best creative use of an arboretum

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Andrew Bird & Ian Schneller’s Sonic Arboretum at the MCA

Could anyone but Andrew Bird mix horticulture with orchestration? In December, the whistle blower had everyone heading to their dusty dictionary when he introduced a Sonic Arboretum exhibit at the MCA. With sculptor collaborator Ian Schneller, the duo planted the seeds for a forest of seventy “plant-shaped audio horn speakers powered by custom-made tube amplifiers” that covered the museum’s atrium. Even better, Bird performs two special concerts with the sonic sculpture doubling as his P.A. Looks like there’s a new king of the forest.

Through December 31, 2011
Concerts on December 21 and 22, 2011
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago
(312)397-4010
mcachicago.org/exhibitions

Best of Chicago 2011

Best art exhibit in the last year or so

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife, Loop, Streeterville No Comments »

“Touch and Go: Ray Yoshida and his Spheres of Influence” at the Sullivan Galleries

Ray Yoshida forged a distinctly mid-century Chicago style and this retrospective proves it. Curators John Corbett and Jim Dempsey once again tapped their deep knowledge of Chicago art history by including Yoshida’s circle of influences and peers within the exhibition. What emerges is not only a comprehensive survey of how Yoshida developed Imagism, but also how it stuck in the works of his friends and became a new milieu that artists still learn from today.

33 South State, 7th floor
(312)629-6635
saic.edu/exhibitions

Audience choice:

“Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy”
220 East Chicago
(312)280-2660
mcachicago.org

Best of Chicago 2010

Best 12×12 solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Culture & Nightlife, Pilsen, Streeterville No Comments »

Ben Russell

This year marked the MCA’s one-hundredth 12×12 exhibition, the museum’s showcase for emerging artists based in Chicago. These coveted shows grant artists exposure to a broad audience, which is why Ben Russell, who is well liked in experimental film circles and by visitors to his Pilsen apartment gallery, was this year’s best; he is deserving of greater exposure.

Ben Russell
1716 South Morgan
dimeshow.com

Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago
mcachicago.org

Best museum store for jewelry

Audience Choice, Goods & Services, Loop No Comments »

The Art Institute of Chicago

The entire back section of the Art Institute’s gift shop is nothing but jewelry: an international compilation of worldwide imports and wearable art. Beneath the glass counter, choose between trinkets made from kimono fabric, paper-mâché, precious gems, recycled birch bark and patina bronze. If you’re on a cheaper budget, above the counter are hand-blown glass pendants, amber earrings and pop-art bangles. The varied selection reflects the museum’s multiplicity: necklaces can be reproductions of everything from African fertility dolls to Salvador Dali’s “Daddy Longlegs of the Evening.”

111 S. Michigan
(800)518-4214
artic.edu

Audience choice
Museum of Contemporary Art
220 E. Chicago
(312)280-2660

Best of Chicago 2008