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Stoodio and W. Gallery celebrate Chicago Exhibition Weekend with panel discussion featuring artists from “In New Light”

If, on the weekend of September 30th, you walked around the Pilsen, West Loop, or Fulton Market areas — where Chicagoans go to immerse themselves in art — and noticed visitors intently consulting maps, there’s no need for concern. They weren’t lost tourists, but art enthusiasts taking part in the inaugural Chicago Exhibition Weekend. The Chicago Exhibition Weekend 2023, abbreviated as CXW 23, is a weekend-long celebration of Chicago’s vibrant art scene. It brings together more than 55 galleries, institutions, and artist-run spaces from 17 neighborhoods, offering unique programs, extended hours, and dinner parties. This noteworthy event partners with Expo Chicago and the cultural agency, Gertie.


Map of Chicago Exhibition Weekend 23. Photo courtesy: Gertie

Expo Chicago is recognized as a premier international art fair, showcasing leading galleries and providing a platform for contemporary art. Every spring, it hosts a diverse program at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. The fall event, Chicago Exhibition Weekend, underscores its dedication to supporting the Chicago art community year-round. In an interview with WTTW, Tony Karman, president and director of Expo Chicago, remarked, “Having Gertie as the lead partner, offering citywide components, reinforces our goals to support our community. Hosting Chicago Exhibition Weekend in a season opposite to the fair, focusing solely on bringing patrons to our galleries and museums, is essential. It offers both new and returning audiences the chance to engage with our esteemed artists, galleries, and institutions.”

Gertie, a primary partner for CXW23, is a “cultural agency responsible for building bridges between Chicago’s creative and business communities.” Abby Pucker, the founder of Gertie, stated that “CXW will welcome the city’s next generation of talented business, civic, and philanthropic leaders. They will engage with gallerists, artists, and curators through community dinners, programming, and a closing celebration, fostering relationships vital for the city’s arts scene to flourish.”

On CXW 23’s Saturday, multiple West Loop galleries extended their business hours to host artist panel discussions and artist-led walkthroughs, including W. Gallery. Their September exhibition, “In New Light,” showcases works by six Chicago artists who explore light from both physical and sociological perspectives. The exhibition is curated by Michał Dzitko, a curator and entrepreneur. Dzitko is also a co-founder of Stoodio, a Chicago-based digital marketplace that connects visual artists to collectors and institutions.

Gallery view of Sand Dunes and Sand Dune II, neon piece by Carolina Pereira; and Spring Tide, painting by Jiaming You. Photo courtesy: W. Gallery

The panel discussion featured four exhibiting artists: Steven Carrelli, Tavin Davis, Carolina Pereira, and Jiaming You. They engaged in a captivating conversation about how their work aligns with the exhibition’s theme. Both Carolina Pereira and Jiaming You discussed their multifaceted backgrounds, having lived in various countries and their experiences of acclimating to Chicago. As a neon artist, Pereira experiments with light’s physical nature through material innovation. She shared her discovery of the “glass block,” a unique architectural feature in Chicago, and its incorporation into her neon piece, “Point of View.” 

Jiaming You resonated with Pereira’s perspective, referencing her adaptation to the city by integrating visual elements from the urban landscape. You discussed sourcing imagery from her cell phone photos and found images on the internet, using them as visual cues for constructing scenes in her paintings. She also talked about the experience of navigating different cities as she exhibited internationally for this show season. Similarly, although raised in the US, Tavin Davis spoke about adjusting to Chicago’s bustling urban energy after relocating for his MFA program. With a background rooted in the serene landscapes of Montana, he described his evolution towards an “observational abstract” style focused on sunlight, skies, and horizons.

(A visitor standing in front of Blur (Bellini 3), a painting by Steven Carrelli.Photo courtesy: W. Gallery)

Another abstract painter on the panel, Steven Carrelli, showcased three abstract paintings. As a faculty member at DePaul University, Carrelli emphasized the importance of light in painting. He described a challenging assignment from his student days: “Imagine painting objects devoid of light. You can’t see anything; the only way to understand the object’s surface is by imagining how it would feel under your hand.” Carrelli’s egg tempera works present a nuanced take on classic Western painting. He aims to continue the time-honored painting technique while also acknowledging the context of the contemporary art world.

In closing, curator Michał Dzitko emphasized the success of the artist panel discussion in collaboration with the gallery and CXW23: “artist panels offer an opportunity for artists to not only provide context for their own work but to broaden the conversation. Engaging with each other’s practice and letting the audience in on the process is precious. Since Stoodio is a novel model in the art world, it was particularly valuable for us to open up a transparent discussion.”