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The Body in Revue: A.I.R. at ARC

CAM00847-1A.I.R. Gallery, NY presents “The Body in Revue” at ARC Gallery through June 20, 2015. Following is an essay by Lynne Warren, curator of the exhibition:

There has long been a bond between the women artists of New York and Chicago. In the 1960s as the feminist movement began to influence thought and politics and in the early 1970s as inroads were being made into the arts, women artists in both cities shared a common cause—a critical lack of opportunities to get their ideas out into the world through exhibiting their artworks. Out of networking (especially through the activities of the West-East Bag, or WEB), information exchange, and a desire for change, in September 1972 A.I.R. Gallery (Artists in Residence, Inc.) opened as the first artist-run cooperative to exhibit women artists in America. And in part as a result of the exchanges between New York and Chicago, ARC (Artists, Residents of Chicago) opened exactly one year later. Although accused by traditionalists defending the male-dominated bastion of the fine arts of offering “dabblers” undeserved opportunities, in Chicago ARC allowed a generation of women artists finally to have a voice. A.I.R., founded by a number of pioneering and now nationally and internationally significant female artists, had less overt skepticism to face, perhaps, but it was not easy to be a woman artist in the 1970s in either city. Both galleries have persevered now for over forty years, providing supportive resources for literally hundreds of women in the difficult enterprise that is a career in the arts. And while times have changed, sadly the underrepresentation of women artists is still endemic in many artworld venues. As an expression of this reality, and the strong bond that exists between the two galleries, A.I.R. arranged for an exhibition at their sister institution ARC and asked me to curate a show of the current members. Of the over one hundred works submitted by the twenty-three artists, I have chosen twenty-five pieces, including sculpture, painting, drawings, photography, and various printmaking media. It became immediately apparent that the body was a major motif in many of the submissions; I thus chose the body as the organizing concept. There are works that clearly present the body: the doll-like imagery of Liz Biddle; the darkly reworked comic strips of Francie Shaw; the compelling cast-paper sculpture of Louise McCagg. A rather malevolent figure peeks out of Daria Dorosh’s corner piece; a nude woman drawn in dramatic perspective from above reaches her imploring hand toward the viewer in Cynthia Karasek’s drawing. There are negative and positive profiles presented against geometric shapes in Catherine Mosley’s work; legs and a face surface in richly layered montage of imagery by Joan Snitzer. Barbara Siegel’s mixed media collage combines the human visage with natural forms.

And then there are the works that insinuate the body: a face emerges from Jayanthi Moothy’s abstract, linear forms. The garlands of forms in Sylvia Netzer’s whimsical India ink drawing form a delightfully silly face. The blurred, richly colored forms in Maxine Henryson’s photograph can be seen as side-by-side robed figures. Similarly, Luisa Sartori’s frieze of old-fashioned streetlamps have some of the anthropomorphic feeling of the bewitched brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice section of Disney’s Fantasia. Other works refer more obliquely to the body: Ann Pachner’s print featuring hypnotic, radiating color patterns is titled Abundant Heart and calls to mind both the physical beating and emotional emanations of that vital organ. Elisabeth Munro Smith’s abstract painting, All gone, with its cuplike shape and title evokes a baby (although it also calls to mind more adult concerns given the trickle of black that falls out of the shape). Even those works that do not depict or insinuate the body allude to it. The bow-like shapes of Erica Stoller’s scrap-plastic tubing sculptures are human scale and therefore evoke tools or instruments of some sort. Nancy Storrow’s hypnotic rendering of whirled lines and forms seems a metaphor for the tornado of emotions that can beset us. Jane Swavely’s poetic painting Hudson River June trip #1 reveals the viewpoint of an individual standing, observing a particular, and seemingly much-loved, landscape. Several works allude to the body by presenting images of houses and domestic items. Ann Schaumburger uses the most basic form of the house in diminutive but insistent geometric abstractions. Julia Westerbeke presents a viscous substance oozing out of an electrical socket in a disturbing vignette of small, everyday things gone wrong. Laura Petrovich-Cheney’s Block by Block assembles bits of recycled wood into a colorful, abstracted map of a neighborhood, the title a delightful double entendre. Kathleen Schneider’s Rosette III, a colorful mandala of flower-like forms, evokes a charming formal garden. Bodies other than human are also present: Yvette Drury Dubinsky fashions a lovely flow of forms that features fish and frogs ‘swimming’ in the blue offered by the technique of cyanotype. And finally, Mary Sweeney’s poignant White Bees, a resin rendering of dead bees, reminds us of our own mortality in evoking bleached bones, and in the consequences we human can rain down on the other creatures of the earth. It is not surprising a group of women might focus on the body and various implications of the body. “The Body in Revue” with this particular spelling is meant to evoke a showing, a parade of artworks, but it also should call to mind a review, a re-seeing. The works of the artist-members of A.I.R. have a collective weight as certainly as each artist has a unique and expertly expressed vision.

Apply to be member of ARC Gallery

ARC is accepting applications from POTENTIAL NEW MEMBERS OF ARC

Consider joining a women-run cooperative gallery that has just celebrated its 40th year of serving artists.  Be mentored by artists who have learned how to navigate the art world in a cooperative, nurturing way.  Learn how to work with others to put on exciting exhibitions.  Explore the art world outside of the commercial-gallery system.

And please feel free to pass this information on to your women-artist friends!

Click to apply for membership



Make an End-Of-Year Donation to ARC

Please Help Maintain our 40-Year Commitment to Excellence in the Arts

You can donate by clicking here

ARC is an internationally recognized not-for-profit, woman artist-run organization that is home to an exhibition space that has been part of the Chicago art scene since 1973. Founded as an alternative to the mainstream gallery structure during the pinnacle of the women’s movement, ARC Gallery has successfully and continually provided opportunities for artists working in all media without reference to gender, race, sexuality, age, religion or political views.

ARC is one of the oldest cooperatives of its caliber in the country and was the early home to such artists as Miriam Schapiro, Kay Rosen, and Betty Parsons.

T-shirt contest winner

Rhonda Thomas’ created the winning design for “The ‘F’ Word: Feminism Now” t-shirt contest.

The t-shirts will be on sale at the ARC Gallery, starting at the show reception, December 5 from 6-9pm. All proceeds go toward the ARC Gallery.

Opening Reception, November 7 2014

We had a great turn out for Ruti Modlin’s PENTIMENTO, Laura Cloud’s multi media “Sky Impressions and other thoughts” and Candace Law’s encaustic/mixed media – “Improvisus” at ARC Gallery on Friday, Nov 11. The show is running through November 22 – please stop by!

Join us – Opening Reception 11/07/14

Please join us next Friday, November the 7th, 2014 for the opening of Ruti Modlin’s PENTIMENTO show, Laura Cloud’s multi media “Sky Impressions and other thoughts” and Candace Law’s encaustic/mixed media – “Improvisus” at ARC Gallery between 6-9pm.

The ARC GAllery

  • November 7, 2014
  • 6-9 pm
  • 2156 N Damen Ave, Chicago
  • 773 252 2232
  • Drinks and refreshments will be served.

T-shirt contest and call for designs

T-SHIRT CONTEST  for “The ‘F’ Word” exhibition

In December 2014, ARC will present the juried exhibition “The ‘F’ Word: Feminism Now”.  As part of the exhibition, ARC will be making T-shirts commemorating the show.  In conjunction, ARC has decided to have an open call to design the graphic of the T-shirt. Artists and designers are being asked to create an original front image for the T-shirt.  The T-shirt must also include specific wording for the front and back of the shirt in addition to an image.  See “T-shirt Specs” on prospectus for required information.


Updated application form to apply for a show at ARC next year.

ARC GALLERY has updated the form that we are using to apply for a solo show at the gallery.  Check out the current application form.  Bugs have been eliminated, and it is working well.

Call for entries

Become an artist from of ARC Gallery! Join the new ARTIST REGISTRY page.

Become an Artist Friend of ARC Gallery.
Be seen. Be found.

ARC Gallery is now extending the opportunity to be posted on and linked from our website to fellow artists, men as well as women.

This is a great way for prospective art lovers and buyers to find you. Show them what new works you have to offer. Let them view your website.

Go to the Artist Friend page on this website to see where you will be listed.

To sign up as an Artist Friend of ARC fill out the form on this page and donate $50. We will know it is for the Artist Registry page because you will also email a photo of your work sized 189pixels wide by 289pixels long to If this is difficult for you, just send us a vertical image, and we will resize it for you. Please include in your email a link to your website.  If you prefer to pay by check, mail us a check for $50 and include on it that it is for our Artists’ Registry.

Each listing will be up for a year with the ability to be renewed.