Finding Beauty: The Art of Lee Godie

September 12, 2008 - January 3, 2009
Curated by Jessica Moss and David Syrek

Photo booth self-portrait of Lee Godie pointing to paper she’s holding

This first major retrospective since Godie’s death in 1994, Finding Beauty featured more than 100 of her works of art. Godie’s work consists mainly of paintings and drawings, but included a number of photo-booth photos with Godie posed as other personae. On many photographs, she added color, embellished eyes, hair and lips. Born Jamot Emily Godie in Chicago on September 1, 1908, she shortened her middle name Emily to Lee. It was not until 1968 that she was noticed selling her paintings on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago, flashing open her ragged coat stuffed with rolled-up paintings and announcing in a toothless but engaging way, "Would you like to buy some canvases? I'm much better than Cezanne."

For the next 24 years, Godie could be found selling her art from along north Michigan Avenue and Water Tower Park. Intuit’s chair of exhibitions, Jan Petry reminisced, “It seems like only yesterday that some of us were having sun tea with her in Water Tower Park or bartering and bantering on the Michigan Avenue bridge. Many Chicagoans would look for her on their lunch hours or on the way home from the office. Sometimes we had to make a mad dash to the cash machine to get back to her before Lee sold that special piece to someone else.”

Click here to view photos of the exhibition on Flickr.

Sunday Painters: Discarded Paintings by Gifted Amateurs

July 11, 2008 - January 9, 2009
Works donated by the Ricco/ Maresca Gallery and Richard Rubenstein

Painting of nude reclining woman holding a glass and framed by red curtains

Every year, Intuit presents an exhibition composed of recent gifts to its permanent collection, but never before has an entire exhibition been donated. In 2007, Ricco/Maresca Gallery and Richard Rubenstein did just that when they donated 25 thrift store paintings by unknown amateur artists. Acquired from collectors and collections from 1999-2003, these paintings were part of a larger exhibition of the same name at Ricco/Maresca Gallery in 2003. Each painting represents the maker’s attempt to communicate through art, and range from surreal to banal, comically absurd to erotic. Lost and rediscovered, they are attempts by unknown Americans to communicate through their art; and presented at Intuit to an audience the artist may never have dreamed of reaching. These paintings are ready-made works of art with no creator to claim them and give them context. As such, they become a record of Americana and documents of an experience to which many can relate.

Chris Hipkiss: Drawings

Grayscale drawing of small female figures in a large field

April 23 - August 30, 2008
Curated by Annie Carlano

Annie Carlano curated this solo exhibition of Hipkiss’ work, which featured Doddington, the first large-scale drawing created by the artist and on display for the first time in the United States. British-born artist Chris Hipkiss began drawing at an early age. When he was 2 years old, he covered his pillowcase in black spiders drawn with a ballpoint pen and created a hand-made illustrated book at the age of 16. Over the years, he has evolved into a very sophisticated self-taught artist. Focusing on the environmental danger our society has created, his work features incredibly complex, large-scale renderings of a post-apocalyptic future. His images depict a haunting future world of decreased human activity; results from excessive abuse to our surroundings. Although his skillful art techniques are self-taught, Hipkiss was inspired by his wife Alpha to return to school and was awarded an honors degree in Geography and American Studies at Canterbury Christ Church College in 1999. Hipkiss currently lives in France where he continues to build his oeuvre.

Click here to view photos of this exhibition on Flickr.

Henry Darger Exhibition

January 18 - June 28, 2008
Henry Darger Room Collection was co-curated by Jessica Moss and Lisa Stone

Black and white photograph of artist Henry Darger

In conjunction with the opening of the Henry Darger Room Collection, Intuit presented an exhibition of 13 collage watercolors by Henry Darger. In spring 2000, Intuit took possession of the contents of artist Henry Darger’s living and working space, which was located at 851 Webster Street in Chicago. Intuit’s Henry Darger Room Collection includes tracings, clippings from newspapers, magazines, comic books, cartoons, children’s books, coloring books, personal documents, and architectural elements, fixtures, and furnishings from Darger’s original room.

Least Wanted: A Century of American Mugshots

January 18 - April 12, 2008
Curated by Mark Michaelson

Black and white profile and head on mugshot of young boy taken in Oakland, California on February 14, 1957

Punks, sneaks, mooks, and miscreants. Hookers, stooges, grifters and goons. Men and women, elderly and adolescent, rich and poor, but mostly poor. These are the Least Wanted. Their portraits make up a small part of Mark Michaelson's collection of over 10,000 American mugshots from the 1870s to the 1960s. Created as utilitarian instruments, and meant to be destroyed when obsolete, they survive as remnants of a bygone era of hard-copy originals, extraordinary visual windows on the past, and riveting physical artifacts, often accompanied by municipal ephemera. They are glued to cards and manuscripts, typed on and rubber stamped. Each suspect has been measured and fingerprinted, documented and classified. Bored, sheepish, proud, coy, tough, defiant, bounced, bloodied, bruised, broken and innocent faces—innocent until proven guilty—stare back at the camera with unmistakable individuality. This is central casting for the Late Late Show of unvarnished reality, and the lineup is full of small-timers, those who have fallen through the cracks. Each subject, each image, is a person, a portrait, a trace, a crime, a clue, a moment, an expression, a frame, a mustache, a mother, a father, a son or a daughter. Each image is evidence, documentation. A record of people and of stories dismissed by history and rescued here. A century of American souls, filed and forgotten, until now.

Click here to view photos of the exhibition on Flickr.