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Chicago art


Murakami at MCA

We had the opportunity to stroll through the Takashi Murakami show at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago recently and it was a treat. The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, as its aptly called is just as queer as it is enchanting. I've been following his work since the onslaught of contemporary works took over in the early 2000s at auction. I consider Murakami in the same vein of notoriety as Jeff Koons, Ai Wei Wei, Yayoi Kusama, but even more commercial. His collaboration with Louis Vuitton and Kanye West covers prove that.

Because I love illustration and graphic novels, his anime and pop creatures have always spoken to my love of heavy linework and flat color. In his early work you can see undulating lines and texture forming a foundation for the heavily layered later canvases.


I particularly enjoyed the works around 2008 (above), where Murakami directed his works toward classical elements and figures. Japanese congi and motifs occupied much of the otherwise modern canvases. Demonic like monoliths were also a highlight with their larger-than-life presence, hovering over us like evil deities. Below, blacklights glowed a mystic light over long scroll paintings, reminiscent of Japanese decorative drawings.

Some of us enjoyed the show more than others.

Some of us enjoyed the show more than others.


Murakami's latest works were gigantic genre paintings, capturing everyday imagery of life but hyper stylized to capture the advent of technological advances in paint, layering, digital illustration. They were a bit raucous, like Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights on LSD. The application of paint was overwrought for me but the video of the process and the sheer manpower it takes to produce his ideas is staggering. Not to mention the plethora of paint and the spectrum in his palette. It's quite impressive. 

The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is runs through September 11th and is included with regular admission. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. 





Art Happenings In Chicago this Weekend: Oct 3 - 5

We got our tickets to see David Bowie Is at MCA a while back and we're excited it's finally upon us this weekend. After talking to our friend Chris, it turns out there's a ton of art events going on. 

The Great Chicago Fire Festival is being put on by Redmoon Theater with a ton of support from the City. We expect to see a lot of impromptu performance, installation and art pieces all over the city and particularly the waterfront, right where our hotel is. I can't wait to see the spectacles. 

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I'm so bummed that our tickets for Bowie are during this time but there's also the Shockingly Modern Home Tour going this Saturday. We're huge fans of architecture and I especially love to see how people dwell in these types of spaces. 

There's also the West Town Art Walk, a series of venues, galleries and spaces hosting openings along Chicago Avenue. It will be a walk down memory lane for us and I hope we can make it. Check out the long list of participants here.

And here are a few other art walks this weekend: 

Little Village, Oct. 3 -5

Ravenswood, Oct 4 - 5

Various home salons throughout Chicago take place each Saturday in October in Re-mapping the Salon.

There's no photography allowed in the Bowie show but I'm excited to do a full review when we get back next week. Maybe we'll see you around this weekend! Go out, see art. xx



The Road Less Traveled

My name is Yen and I'm half of the art and design firm, Chin-Azzaro. My husband, Nick, is my fantastic partner and we're beyond excited to finally launch this business. Here's our story. For the last seven years we lived in Chicago, building careers in the fine art (me) and the commercial photography (him) world. We were successful in the sense that we started there with no jobs and came out with exhibits, clients and dear, dear friends. After a certain point, we tired of the hustle and bustle of Wicker Park, the broken glass and occasional friendly bum mumbling for change. We wanted green, space and fresh air. After banging our heads for a while as to where to move on to next, it dawned on us that where we met, Ann Arbor, Michigan, was a grand place to return to. So here we are!

Part of the reason we decided to wander down the treacherous road of freelance was due to the fact that there weren't jobs that translated directly to what we did in the big city. I was the director of an art gallery dealing major American paintings and prints. Meaning, each piece had a market established value at auction or in the retail market. I've handled everything from Mary Cassatt to William Merritt Chase to Robert Rauschenberg. I've also written academic essays and worked with the National Academy Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Butler Institute of American Art among others. I relished surveying the historical and significant works I came across. Even the steep learning curve I had to maneuver as a young woman in the predominantly male-dominated arena was a fun challenge. I've met the most gracious and fun-loving people in collectors, curators and artists. In between I did a lot of children's and fashion illustration and designed the occasional wedding invitation or Christmas card.

Nick followed a different path altogether. Prior to moving to Chicago, he mapped out the studios and photographers he wanted to work with, called them and met with them. This proactive move got him immediate work as an assistant (setting up lighting, handling equipment, managing transport) but it also meant long hours and for a while, national and international travel. Now this may sound pretty glamourous but it was burdensome to say the least. I missed him terribly and phone calls at odd hours became the norm. After a while he switched to a "permalance" gig at a marketing firm (ongoing work also known as permanent freelance). The hours and pay were somewhat predictable but he wanted more. He has and always will be an extremely warm person but cynical artist. His view of the world is through one lens rose, one lens muddied pair of glasses. He's not going to read this that thoroughly, right? This ideology translates to his photo comic books on social inequality and dark innards of human nature. He's an exceptional storyteller and the perfect counterweight to my, at times, cotton candy-esque works. He started to create personal work and exhibited with iconic fashion photographer Stan Malinowski in 2008 along with being invited to show at numerous galleries.

While we may not be able to replicate that exact experience we can certainly bring that air of professionalism, excitement and knowledge to the art market here.

Everyday one of us will blog about a myriad of topics from how to hang art to how to light a tabletop photograph. Our homelife and work is neatly entangled and there's not an aspect of art and design that doesn't inspire us, even in the smallest way. Consider this first entry a (long) mission statement of who we are and what we're about. I hope that you'll continue to follow us down the rabbit hole...

Y + N