Artropolis is on the scale of the kind of things Chicago used to do just to prove it could. The art show, which closes on Monday, takes up more than half a million square feet in the gigantic Merchandise Mart, and includes thousands of works from thousands of artists from all over globe, in no fewer than five different shows, from insider artists, to outsiders, to the undiscovered, and the antique. You could camp out at the Mart for every one of the 28 hours the show is open and still not do it justice. (But you wouldn't starve - there's a wide selection of often high-end food and drink.)
There were a large number of works that grabbed my attention, but I'll concentrate on just four with an architecture tie-in that caught my eye.
The Robert Koch Gallery is exhibiting the work of photographer Michael Wolf, whose work on exhibition at Artropolis includes the hyper-realist shot, shown above, of Marina City, which contrasts the rigid form of Bertrand Goldberg's towers with the intimations of humanity - visible clearly in the supersharp photo, reproduced in large scale - within the lighted units.
The Linda Durham Gallery of Contemporary Art of Santa Fe includes this photograph by Michael Eastman. Titled Fidel's Stairway, it's part of a series depicting architecture in Cuba. In contrasting one of dictator's proclamations with the decaying grandeur of the colonial-era staircase on whose wall it is inscribed, the photo manages to combine history, reportage, architecture and poetry all in one shot. Eastman's own website offers up a very generous gallery of his strikingly evocative work capturing architecture, from the monumental to the mundane, from both the U.S. and across the world.
The Priska C. Juschka Fine Art Gallery in New York City's Chelsea district is showing the work of Dana Melamed, the Israeli born artist, now living in New Jersey, who creates dense, three-dimensional surfaces "by dipping printing waste and film into acrylic and glue, torching and melting them, then drawing and scratching into the layers with a razor." Melamed says the destructive techniques reflect urban life, and especially on a day when I'm slightly overwhelmed by it, I'm not one to argue. The portfolio of her work, which you can sample here, has a hypnotic Piranesi-like complexity that reads city life through its decay and destruction. The detail shown here is from a 2007 work titled, When The Sky Turned Grey. What shows up here as flat is actually an intricately layered assemblage of materials. You can see a sequence of photographs of Melamed at work here.
Finally, at the Next show section of Artropolis (at the south end, right next to the food), Galerie Vernon is showing the mesmerizing work of Jakub Nepraš, a Czech artist who makes boldly colored, fantastical videos, such as his Babylon Plant, in which corpuscles that are actually - if I understand it correctly, moving vehicles and people - pulsate throughout the arteries of large, amorphous organisms.
Atropolis is open on Sunday from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. If you can find a way to play hooky from the office on Monday, April 28th, it's open from 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. (3:00 P.M. for The Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair, The Artist Project and the Intuit Show of Outsider and Folk Art.)