Aug 26th 2021

Chester Alamo-Costello: Chicago Portrait Project

@ University of St. Francis Art Gallery

25 E Van Buren Street, Joliet, IL 60432

Opening Thursday, August 26th, from 5PM - 8PM

On view through Tuesday, October 5th

Most will agree that there’s something rather curious when one reflects on what one is regularly drawn to over time in life. Now, at middle age I see there have been cyclic encounters and interests throughout. There’s been those noise band sets in dank basement and abandoned warehouses, artist studio visits in obscure (off the beaten path) places, random meetings in meadows filled with 100,000 plus people, and a flurry of undefinable, yet memorable, moments of pause. This, in part, has been how I have engaged Chicago. Yes, my experience can be defined as cursory and random. And yes, there’s a tinge of tension in this exhibition delivery. I see the city as a complex character, full of hope and despair, ebbing and flowing, leading me through its’ grid-like maze, without regard.

Materials included in the Chicago Portrait Project date back to my arrival in 1993. Shortly after landing I found myself in a warehouse (not zoned for living) set along the south branch of the Chicago River near Chinatown. The building was filled with an array of artists, musicians, small businesses, and transients. That moment and my purpose were chaotic at the highest level. I began document the residents and place to locate balance.

Presented here are works taken from a handful of series that date back more than 20 years. There are drag queens in Union Park, passengers on the Red Line, street note criticising our leadership, important artists/musicians that have better defined the present than myself, and artifacts I see impacting the city and my experience.

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