Chazen Museum of Art


Art Now

Posted March 20, 2020 by John Berner

Art is important right now for the same reasons that art has often been important when we aren’t in moments of crisis. Art has always been a method for documenting our moment in time and expressing who we are. Through art’s evolution, it has become a way to react and express our view of the world around us in uncommon ways. Whether it’s painting, or dance, or a deeply researched piece of esoteric culture expressed in some minimalist sound installation, art is often having a conversation of ideas and feelings that can’t be expressed with other forms of communication. In times of relative peace and calm it allows us to expand our thinking and charge ourselves creatively. In times like the one we’re currently experiencing, it allows us to express emotional weight that we may be feeling, frustrated about being left unintelligible in our daily conversations with friends and family. Regurgitating news cycles, disaster planning, and memes. It allows us to feel connection in the past social climates that have similarly dealt with traumatic moments, and it encourages us to find our own ways of expressing these ideas, even providing us a platform for imagining the future.

There will be a significant amount of art being made about this time in the world, I’m sure, and like the rings of a tree, its thin brief layer builds upon those that came before it and will tell a story of expanding and adapting, laying down the foundation for where we go next.

Fall 2019 Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen

Posted September 18, 2019 by

Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen Museum of Art • Fall 2019


Chicago Film Society Presents!

Founded in January 2011 by Becca Hall, Julian Antos, and Kyle Westphal, three Chicago based projectionists and programmers, the Chicago Film Society was created to “to promote the preservation of film in context.” The CFS’s successful regular screening series at Northeastern Illinois University, the Music Box Theatre, and other locations in Chicago, was, according to their mission statement, launched out of a conviction that “films capture the past uniquely. They hold the stories told by feature films, but also the stories of the industries that produced them, the places where they were exhibited, and the people who watched them. We believe that all of this history–not just of film, but of 20th century industry, labor, recreation, and culture–is more intelligible when it’s grounded in unsimulated experience: seeing a film in a theater, with an audience, and projected from film stock.” The CFS has also established a significant and eclectic archive of 35mm and 16mm film prints that we have drawn upon for the purposes of this series tribute to the Society’s cinephilic accomplishments. Our Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen series from September through December will present an international selection of 15 feature films and several shorts from throughout film history, all on 35mm, from the collection of the Chicago Film Society! Additionally, Julian Antos and Becca Hall will appear in person on September 28 at our regular Vilas Hall venue to present a CFS restoration of Hal Hartley’s American indie classic Trust.
SUN., 10/20, 2 p.m.


USA | 1997 | 35mm | 119 min.
Director: Alan Rudolph
Cast: Julie Christie, Nick Nolte, Lara Flynn Boyle
Middle-aged marrieds Phyllis and Lucky (Christie and Nolte) find themselves in separate affairs with a younger couple (Boyle and Jonny Lee Miller). Romantic, mildly melancholic, and filled with numerous visual grace notes, this quirky dramedy from independent auteur Rudolph (Choose Me, Trouble in Mind) is particularly notable for Christie’s haunted performance, which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Preceded by a 35mm print of Sade’s Smooth Operator music video (1984, 4 min.)
SUN., 10/27, 2 p.m.
Halloween Horror


USA | 2012 | 35mm | 92 min.
Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck
In the troubled small town of Blithe Hollow, young Norman Babcock has developed a, shall we say, sixth sense that allows him to communicate with the dead. Norman, teamed with a small group of friends, sets out to face ghosts and zombies in order to lift a centuries-old curse on his village. Stop-motion animation studio Laika followed-up their debut feature hit Coraline with this equally spooky and funny visual feast. Preceded by Betty Boop in  Minnie the Moocher (1932, 8 min.)
SUN., 11/3, 2 p.m.


USA | 1993 | 35mm | 98 min.
Director: John Dahl
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Dennis Hopper, Lara Flynn Boyle
A drifter (Cage) wanders into a small Wyoming town and immediately gets mistaken for a hitman hired by a wealthy rancher (J.T. Walsh) to kill his wife (Boyle). From there the twists pile up higher than a soft-serve cone in this razor sharp neo-noir from director/co-writer, Dahl. Originally slotted for direct-to-cable and home video release, the film attracted enough positive attention at the 1993 Toronto Film Festival to warrant a limited theatrical release. It then went on to become an art-house hit. Preceded by a Nicolas Cage trailer reel!
SUN., 11/10, 2 p.m.


USA | 1957 | 35mm | 90 min.
Director: Douglas Sirk
Cast: June Allyson, Rosanno Brazzi, Marianne Koch
A young American woman in Europe (Allyson) falls for a successful symphony conductor (Brazzi). She soon discovers he has a wife, but there is a lot more to the story. A remake of John Stahl’s 1939 melodrama When Tomorrow Comes (screened at the 2019 Wisconsin Film Festival), Sirk’s Interlude was sandwiched between the release of his two other Stahl remakes, Magnificent Obsession (1954) and Imitation of Life (1959). This screening provides a rare opportunity to view an original 35mm IB Technicolor print of this hard-to-see Sirk gem. 
SUN., 11/17, 2 p.m.


USA | 1942 | 35mm | 90 min.
Director: Curtis Bernhardt
Cast: Ann Sheridan, Ronald Reagan, Alan Hale
The sassy Sheridan shines in this wartime entertainment as Lola, a juke joint B-girl in a working class Florida backwater. Reagan, in a genuinely charming performance, is an itinerant fruit picker and labor leader who falls for Lola. Together they risk their lives to defy the tyranny of big money and defend the dignity of honest work. “Sheridan’s lightning transitions from cynicism to sweetness and back again suggest the range of her personality and the agility of her performing style” (Dave Kehr, Museum of Modern Art). Preceded by Tex Avery’s Wacky Wildlife (1943, 8 min.)
SUN., 11/24, 2 p.m.


France | 2009 | 35mm | 104 min. | French with English subtitles
Director: Alain Resnais
Cast: André Dussollier, Sabine Azéma, Anne Consigny
At 86, French New Wave icon Resnais graced us with one of his most purely pleasurable films, an effervescent lark that kicks off with a lost wallet. It’s discovered by a married suburbanite, who in turn becomes obsessed with its owner, a dentist-cum-avaitrix played by the director’s wife and frequent collaborator Azéma. The plot soon spins gleefully past plausibility, keeping pace with the film’s candy-colored design and whimsical characters. “A funny, soulful movie about love and other agonies… among [Resnais’s] finest movies in years” (The New York Times). “The most sublime film I’ve seen in Cannes in years, a hallucinatory, entrancing work in which each scene is surprising” (Variety).
SUN., 12/8, 2 p.m.


UK | 1953 | 35mm | 81 min.
Director: Jack Lee
Cast: Joan Collins, Yvonne Mitchell, Kathleen Harrison
This simple, melancholy picture is about three women who get out of Holloway Prison on the same day in rainy, somber London: Monica (Mitchell) landed in jail because of her low-life thief of a boyfriend, Stella (Collins) is a prostitute hoping for a better life, and Granny (Harrison) is an elderly woman with a weakness for shoplifting.  Were it made a few years later, Turn the Key Softly might have been impossibly grim. Instead it’s a film as delicate and honest as any Powell and Pressburger production, made right before England’s cycle of Angry Young Man films turned the industry into something much more dark and hopeless. The gorgeous inner city location photography—from cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, better known for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey—is reason enough to come, but it also balances lives of poverty, loneliness, old age, and occasional optimism and hope in a way that feels very tangible without being excessive or clichéd. (JA)
SUN., 12/15, 2 p.m.


USA | 1988 | 35mm | 131 min.
Director: John McTiernan
Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
NYPD Detective John McClane (Willis) arrives in L.A. for a rapprochement with his career-driven wife (Bedelia) at her company’s Christmas party high atop a skyscraper. Interrupted by a band of terrorists/thieves led by the diabolically suave Hans Gruber (Rickman), McClane decides to play cowboy and take on Gruber and his gang while saving his marriage. Die Hard skyrocketed Willis to movie stardom and set the standard, to-date unmatched, for cop action pictures. Preceded by Tex Avery’s The Peachy Cobbler (1950, 7 min.).

Past screenings Fall 2019


SUN., 9/1, 2 p.m.
USA | 2007 | 35mm | 160 min.
Director: Andrew Dominik
Cast: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Rockwell

Pitt stars as Jesse James, the troubled legendary outlaw living out his final days in the American Midwest. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Affleck is Bob Ford, whose lifelong dream of riding with Jesse’s gang leads him towards an act of betrayal that will seal his own tragic destiny. Overlooked upon its original release, don’t miss your opportunity to see this grand and beautifully photographed masterwork on the big screen. The astonishing supporting cast includes Rockwell as Charlie Ford, Sam Shepard as Frank James, Jeremy Renner, Mary-Louise Parker, Michael Parks, Zooey Deschanel, and Nick Cave, who also composed the score.


SUN., 9/8, 2 p.m.
Sweden | 1985 | 35mm | 101 min. | Swedish with English subtitles
Director: Lasse Hallström
Cast: Anton Glanzelius, Tomas von Brömssen, Anki Liden

Hallström’s adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel by Reidar Jönsson tells the seriocomic adventures of 12-year-old Ingemar, sent to live with relatives in Småland, Sweden after his mother is hospitalized with a terminal illness. Warm-hearted, emotionally rich, and filled to the brim with grace notes for its many characters, My Life as a Dog is directed and performed with an abundance of sensitivity. In particular, Glanzelius, as Ingemar, delivers one of the finest, most lived-in performances by a juvenile actor in the history of cinema. Preceded by the stop-motion animated short Budulinek and the Little Foxes (1950, 10 min.). (BR)


SUN., 9/15, 2 p.m.
Iran, France | 1996 | 35mm | 75 min. | Persian with English subtitles
Director: Moshen Makhmalbaf
Cast: Shaghayeh Djodat, Hossein Moharami, Rogheih Moharami 

The portrait of a young woman on a gabbeh - a type of Persian rug - springs to life to tell her story of life with a nomadic tribe and a romance with a man on horseback. Makhmalbaf’s fantasy “is a delightful treasure chest of colors, costumes, landscapes, magical-realist details, and very simple characters--all of whom tend to have the allure of trinkets and living legends” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). Preceded by the animated short, Pictures at an Exhibition (1972, 10 min.).


SUN., 9/22, 2 p.m.
USA | 1961 | 35mm | 96 min.
Director: Jerry Lewis
Cast: Jerry Lewis, Helen Traubel, Kathleen Freeman

For his second feature as director, Jerry Lewis plays the handyman and sole male resident at a boarding house for young women who is determined to resist the opposite sex at all costs. One of Lewis’ many virtuoso strokes as a filmmaker is the camerawork around a three-story cutaway set that later influenced other directors like Godard and Scorsese. Preceded by a Jerry Lewis trailer reel!


SUN., 9/29, 2 p.m.
USA | 1987 | 35mm | 118 min.
Director: Andrei Konchalovsky
Cast: Barbara Hershey, Jill Clayburgh, Martha Plimpton

A NYC-based photo-journalist (Clayburgh), accompanied by her teenage daughter (Plimpton), travels to the most remote corner of the Louisiana bayous to research a magazine story about her distant relatives. Konchalovsky’s follow-up to Runaway Train for Cannon Group explores the dramatic tensions that develop between the stern Southern matriarch (Hershey, in a performance that won her the Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival) and her visiting urban cousins. “One of the great visionary films of recent years, a film that shakes off the petty distractions of safe Hollywood entertainments and develops a large vision” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times). Preceded by a reel of 1980s Cannon Film trailers.

SUN., 10/6, 2 p.m.


Australia | 1989 | 35mm | 97 min.
Director: Jane Campion
Cast: Genevieve Lemon, Karen Colston, Tom Lycos
Writer/director Campion’s first theatrical feature was this offbeat, pitch-black comedy about two sisters in their twenties: reserved, deliberate, and gangly Kay (Colston) and the younger, uninhibited, mentally disturbed, and plump Sweetie (Lemon). Just when Kay is about to get her life in order, Sweetie reenters, throwing everything into turmoil and digging up long-repressed emotional scars. With bizarre plot twists and a strong, poetic visual style, Campion’s debut won her early acclaim. Preceded by an Australian Movie Magazine newsreel (1960, 8 min.).

SUN., 10/13, 2 p.m.


Hong Kong | 1999 | 35mm | 89 min. | Cantonese with English subtitles
Director: Stephen Chow
Cast: Stephen Chow, Karen Mok, Cecilia Cheung
Before he wowed international audiences with his audacious spoofs Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, writer/actor/director Chow starred in this exuberant comedy as a clumsy aspiring actor and extra who keeps getting banned from film sets. Soon he finds work and romance when a club girl (Cheung) hires him to help her feign interest in her clients. Preceded by a reel of 90s Hong Kong trailers!

Woven Records: Stories from the Shelter exhibition

Posted December 04, 2018 by Ann Sinfield

Woven Records: Stories from the Shelter exhibition

This fall the Chazen Museum of Art will host the exhibition, Shelter: Crafting a Safe Home. Organized by Contemporary Craft, an arts organization in Pittsburgh that has been presenting craft media by international, national, and regional artists for over 40 years, the exhibition signals a new direction for the museum. As an art experience that aims to increase awareness and create dialogue around an urgent social issue, Shelter engages the Chazen as a forum where artists respond to issues of home and housing insecurity that are global and local in scale, public and private in scope.

As an introduction to the exhibition, let's look at the work of three of the artists who are included: Kathryn Clark, Consuelo Underwood, and Tali Weinberg. All of these artists work with textiles, each uses a different process and materials, yet all tackle difficult subjects in complex and thoughtful ways.

Tali Weinberg, It’s Not Just About the Rain, 2015, California-grown organic cotton dyed with madder root and cochineal, 20 x 145 x .5 in., photo by Phillip Maisel.

Weinberg is represented in the exhibition by the work It’s Not Just About the Rain, a woven interpretation of historical climate data sourced from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Using regionally-produced cotton, locally-sourced natural dyes, and minimalist visual terms, the artist presents--in six woven panels--average temperatures in California from 1895–2014, a span of about 120 years.

The work is a visual expression of the warming temperatures of the region. It is also a landscape in the abstract—anyone who is familiar with California will recognize the oranges, reds, yellows, and browns that color the state’s topography, plant life, and destructive fires. In addition, the work forms a new kind of documentation: created by a Californian who experiences the effects of higher temperatures every day, it is a personal exploration of historical data using local materials that, because of their origin, have also been impacted by the very data they are put in service to represent. In this work, Weinberg turns a very large dataset into a localized narrative. She considers her immediate environment and what is known about it, and lays bare a startling story. In our changing climate, what happens to daily experience, to our ability to create shelter for ourselves, or to live safely and securely?

Kathryn Clark, Before/After Night Sky of Aleppo, Syria, 2016, embroidery and acrylic on linen and cotton voile.

Another artist who turns to textiles to represent data is Kathryn Clark. Utilizing embroidery and quilting, Clark develops art work about topics such as migration and housing. Although it seems an unlikely pairing, in the work from her Refugee Stories series that is included in the exhibition, the artist adapts a medieval narrative form to explore the current Syrian refugee crisis. Reaching back almost one thousand years, Clark looks to the fragile format of the embroidered, storyboard-like Bayeux Tapestry to tell the powerful story of a contemporary humanitarian catastrophe. Hand-sewn panels convey the overwhelming numbers pictorially; through careful handwork and layered fabric the experience of over 11 million people displaced by violent conflict is articulated, mapped, explored, and recorded.

Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, One Nation Underground, 2013, fiber, fabric, leather, threads, 56 x 90 x 1/4 in., photo by Bill Apton.

A different kind of story-telling is evident in the work of Consuelo Underwood. Calling upon her experience of the US/Mexican border Underwood explores identity and expands the boundaries of what can be understood as “home.” With family in both countries, the borderline, la linea, splits her existence and snakes through her weavings. A constant fixture of daily life within the region, Underwood reconsiders this almost 2,000 mile-long political division via imagery of the constellations that stretch over both countries, plants and flowers that flourish throughout the region, the barbed wire that marks the rift, and the flags of the neighboring nations. With indigenous ancestry, the artist’s heritage resides on both sides, she is from both countries. Her work defines home and self in a way that encompasses a multi-national knowledge and represents a complicated identity that is held by people all over the world.

In transforming data and experience into textiles, these artists create something personal and intimate that is also immense in reach. Fabric and textiles are the things we wear next to our skin, they are the rugs in our homes, they cover the furniture that supports our bodies in rest and in sleep. When information about the world or large amounts of data are transformed into woven form, the hard realities and cold numbers become approachable. Textiles bring the abstract formulas and spreadsheets into a human scale, they make visible the stories of people and environment that are hidden, obscured within the columns, formulas, and abstractions of lived reality.

Shelter: Crafting a Safe Home will be on view at the Chazen Museum of Art from November 24, 2018 to January 6, 2019.

Ann Sinfield
Exhibition Manager
Chazen Museum of Art

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