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Second Floor Exhibition Space

CURATED BY: Sergio Gomez

A native of Chicago, Jeff Zimmermann has achieved national and international recognition for his large scale murals featuring painted images of contemporary pop culture and sensitively rendered portraits. Zimmermann’s pop-culture references range from innocuous consumer products such as beer cans, hard candy rings, and high healed shoes, to more symbolically charged images like pistols and portraits of political figures. The images are discrete and floating, knitted together by geometric areas of flat color. The overall aesthetic is smooth and sensual: shiny metal and glossy surfaces, rendered in saturated colors. Zimmermann’s paintings have the sex appeal of commercial art, and any irony surrounding that connection is light and playful.

While rooted in contemporary life and consumer culture, Zimmermann’s work also reveals a sympathetic affinity for everyday people. And though he carefully avoids didacticism, instead playing the role of objective visual journalist, viewers may get the sense that he has reached his own conclusions. The portraits Zimmermann renders on such enormous scale enact a specific agenda in his work. In an effort to subvert the notion of what corporate and entertainment culture considers newsworthy, Zimmermann incorporates into his murals a diversity of people who live and work in the communities he visits—these are not the faces we know from the news, magazines, and television, or those whose historical or political status already qualifies them as subjects for public art.

Incorporating into his works people excluded from the aforementioned categories—what he calls real people—Zimmermann familiarizes himself with a community while allowing its members to breathe authenticity and life into his paintings. The portraits in Zimmermann’s artwork are dignified and attractive, directing the viewer conversation toward a democratic humanitarian dialog, while giving the work an emotional depth that complements the polished context of his product-based world.

Although accomplished and celebrated for his public works, Zimmermann’s studio works have not received a solo exhibition in 10 years. EVERYTHING, opening on October 19 at the Zhou B Art Center, celebrates Zimmermann’s most recent bodies of work including large scale paintings, works on paper and sculptures.

The imagery presented in the exhibition features the detritus of the abandoned lot: chips wrappers, crushed aluminum cans. “Found” artwork on plywood referencing the changing dynamics of chicago’s neighborhoods. Additionally, the exhibition presents recent “Love Knot” paintings which have become a recognized iconic symbol in Zimmermann’s work. The knot’s technical approach invites the viewer to to reach out and touch the frayed fibers of the rope. The nautical knot is created by bringing two different colored ropes together. They are pulled together with force and create tension. When forced together, the two different ropes become one and work together as a whole. From a distance, we perceive the knot shape as a heart becoming a metaphor for what Chicago and our country needs in this moment. Zimmermann has exhibited internationally at The MCA Chicago and Chicago Cultural Center. His work has been featured in national media including the Today Show and in the New York Times. He has created site specific commissions for Fortune 500 companies.

Second Floor Exhibition Space

CURATED BY: Joseph Ravens

Elegant Disruption includes photos, videos, and other works that bring together artists who embrace new methodologies of engagement and connective practices that contribute to creative transformation and the shaping of a humane world. This exhibition embraces a wide range of social practices and interventionist actions that produce powerful, poetic, and alluring works of visual art – images that beckon the viewer to learn more about the relational process and concepts behind the project. These works have in common a poetic approach to social, political, economic, or environmental transformation.

Elegant Disruption references , a theoretical hypothesis by Joseph Beuys, often considered to be the herald for participatory, socially engaged, and relational art today.


Second Floor Exhibition Space

CENTERLINE is the official biennial showcase for the resident artists at Zhou B Art Center. The spotlight shines on them and their talent.​
The over 100 artists affiliated with the center represent diverse styles and media that include traditional forms such as painting and photography; there will also be sculpture, printmaking, encaustic painting and anything you can imagine.

by ProjectArt Chicago

Zhou B Art Center is pleased to announce Kinetic Exchange, a group exhibition of 4 resident teaching artists of ProjectArt – a youth art education nonprofit – curated by Courtney Citron, the Chicago Program Director of ProjectArt. The exhibition will be on view at Zhou B Art Center on the Lower Level South, from June 15th to Aug 3rd, 2018, with an opening reception on the 3rd Friday, June 15th at 7pm. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

B’Rael Ali Thunder, William Camargo, Ricardo Gonzalez, Al-Qawi Nanavati

Kinetic Exchange is a multi-disciplinary group show that speaks to the mutual exchange of energy between artists and the communities that they work and live in. Through a year long art and social practice residency at four partnering Chicago Public Library branches, ProjectArt resident artists have fostered impactful relationships with both art students and neighborhood community members. They have created artwork in response to their experiences, reflecting on symbiotic exchange and community empowerment.

Gonzalez’s comic illustrations in La Chamba pay tribute to Chicano culture celebrating street vendors as neighborhood heroes and upholders of Mexican culture. On an adjacent path, Camargo’s photos, serve as documentation, conveying Chicanx identity as a means to create visibility in resistance to gentrification and cultural erasure. B’rael’s vibrant paintings draw from rhythm and dance. With detail and compositions designed from the figurative image of the dancer, he composes narratives that describe the African American experience, largely addressing identity and value. Al-Qawi’s 33 prints draw from her belief in Islam along with the meditative and repetitive nature of prayer.

Speaking of teaching in the residency program, Ricardo Gonzalez noted, “Teaching art in Little Village introduced me to many families and children. The community has so much pride and energy. Much of our creativity in class benefited from that enthusiasm. Discovery and practice were constant approaches to making art in class. The neighborhood became a great source of inspiration for my personal artwork as well.”

“As a Program Director for ProjectArt’s inaugural year in Chicago, I have had the privilege of watching the Chicago resident artists grow into their roles as teachers and community members. The wealth of creativity, compassion, and care that has been cultivated in all partnering branches has been a great source of joy and inspiration for us all,” says Courtney Cintron, the Chicago Program Director of ProjectArt.

Presented by ProjectArt Chicago

​ProjectArt is a nonprofit organization that transforms the nation’s public libraries into vital cultural hubs by offering youth year-round visual art classes and providing space for our resident Teaching Artists to make artwork and community connections within libraries. Through a partnership with Chicago Public Library, ProjectArt was able to bring classes to four library branches for the 2017/2018 inaugural season. Our talented Teaching Artists have truly inspired students of all ages, levels and abilities on a daily basis. We are thrilled to celebrate the work of our resident Teaching Artists in exhibition.

Second Floor Exhibition Space

Organized by Sergio Gomez and Ernesto Marenco

“Cycles of Contemporary Mexican Photography” consists of 4 individual sections: 3 photographers presenting their own works, and collaborating on one collective photographic exhibition.

Maximo Cerdio
Different forms of abandonment and Dolls for the blind

The photographic selections “Dolls for the blind” and “Of the different forms of abandonment”, by the photojournalist Máximo Cerdio, constitute a look at the universal human from the individual himself and his circumstances.

The 36 images presented by Máximo Cerdio in Zhou b Art Center, correspond to different times and different cities in Mexico, where he performs his journalistic and poetic work.
“Of the different forms of abandonment” is integrated by 18 photographs of people, animals, things in different situations. They show the different ways in which someone or something that should be accompanied or full, is now only or empty.

Each of the 18 photographs tells a latent story with its characters, times, places and circumstances. If the viewer approaches and stops long enough, it is possible that he can build his own story, sometimes autobiographical.

“Dolls for the blind” also consists of 18 images that correspond to a specific time and place. These are recycled toys located in a chinampa, in the Xochimilco delegation, in Mexico City. They document several recycled dolls, with deformations and terrifying gestures, that the owners of that place have installed to attract tourists, but that, originally, were treasured by the original duel, Julian Santa Ana Barrera, who lived there since the seventies and he died at the age of 80.

Máximo Cerdio (Huixtla, Chiapas, Mexico) is a photojournalist and writer who transposes the resources of poetry into photographic images, resulting in an image that not only documents a moment of the life of people, cities or of objects in a space and in a specific place (purpose of journalistic and documentary photography), but it goes beyond the moment: the images provoke emotions and move to reflect on the human.

Arturo Betancourt
The stories of migrants are as old as human history, social phenomenon where people leave their homeland searching a better future, whose final destination is marked by uncertainty. Thus, the photographic work of Arturo Betancourt opened a challenge to human existence from traces of human beings, whose presence absence fades against the emptiness of the scenarios that surround them, where the expression documents and explore other realities.

This photographic essay, not meant to be a mere illustration of the harsh reality, but a photograph of the critical unconsciousness of the individual, submerged by social inertia in apathy to all historical matters that surround him. The photographs try to confront the spectator between the importance of “being” and not just “to exist”, to reflect in those actions that turn the individual insensitive and as part of a society used to its own routines. These images seek to remove the inner consciousness and resurrect “the human being with a voice and sight, with the ability to hear and thus, one who possesses a criteria.”

Rene Torres Escoto
And what meaning now has the castle in contemporary culture? They existed as a refuge; a bulwark against all invaders. Now they exist as both structures and symbols, a retreat to an aesthetic long since gone. Yet, they remain: as homes, hotels and commercial destinations which give them and their inhabitants a blurry and amorphous identity.

This group of photographs may indeed give rise to more questions than answers: who lives in them, and why? Their functionality is no longer needed, but clearly, their architectural presence as an expressive force remains.

Cultural and societal hierarchies may have largely evaporated, but their icons have not: castles were where the aristocracy once lived. Now, the castles live their static lives, in a post-colonial landscape, and their functions are mysteriously diversified, giving rise to this project and its attendant probings.

This collective photographic exhibition is made up of great photographers, to young creators of the Mexican photography.
The project was defined, in black and white images, partly to demystify the color of the skin, and thus enter into a vision of images in small format, inviting us to slide into what the photographic creation or trade of the lens has for offer us in an “erotic environment”, and that in itself is something irresistible, .. because, what is more erotic than ourselves?
In these images our visual journey will begin, where we will see the body, its intimacies, unfolding, symbolism and sacrifice are part of the task of this intimate collection that will of course cross borders beyond our own skin.

Second Floor Exhibition Space

Curated by Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt

Throughout history, Venus has stood as the great archetype of love, beauty, enticement, seduction, sexuality, eroticism, fertility, desire and prosperity. As the goddess of love, she was seen as having blessed the unions of mortals by taming and assimilating the male essence and blending it with the female. As a fertility symbol, she was revered as the mother of the Roman people. As a “changer of hearts,” she was seen as a transformative force that encouraged her followers to cherish their sexuality and celebrate it in the context of love, marriage and family. In yet another incarnation, she was seen as the motivator of women on behalf of the military and the state. In all of her aspirations and intents, she is still perceived today as the embodiment of all things feminine and the complementary opposite of her male cognate, Mars. Venus, whether in a contemporary or classical incarnation, represents the female way of being, seeing and creating.

​​Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt is the co-curator of The Bennett Collection, a collection of contemporary figurative realist paintings of women that she co-created with her collaborator and spouse, Steven Alan Bennett. She is a student of classical mythology and well-known presence among collectors of figurative realist paintings..

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