It Takes a Hard Heart: The Life Work of Eddie Harris

September 13 - December 28, 2013
Curated by Laura Bickford

Eddie Harris with painted tree

After living and working in and around Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood for nearly fifty years, the powerful and politically-tuned work of the artist Eddie Harris was exhibited to the public for the first time at Intuit. This exhibition explored both the breadth and depth of Harris’ work, in media and subject matter, touching on themes including Black power, portrayals of beauty and strength, the family, and the aesthetics of activism in the form of his bas-relief sculptures, paintings and drawings, and carved and painted objects.

Largely self-taught, Harris draws from memories of picking cotton during a childhood in Arkansas to his experience with the years of rage and the Black Panthers in Chicago. He uses found and salvaged materials to tell his personal narrative of the very public struggle for Black empowerment. Formally strong, with a painstaking attention to craftsmanship and gesture, his entire artistic practice shows a long dedication to both the aesthetic and cultural concerns of his life across several decades and presents a private and public address of Black power and heart.

Click here to view photos of this exhibition on Flickr.


July 12 - December 28, 2013
Co-curated by Susann Craig and Marjorie Freed

Albert “Kid” Mertz

Albert "Kid" Mertz (1905-1988), a one-time prize fighter and autoworker, lived with his family in a small house in Lilley Township of Newaygo County, Michigan. Upon retirement, Mertz spent his days living off the land and creating signs often festooned with greetings, wacky sayings and comments. He used his off-beat creations to decorate his humble home and tempt passing tourists to visit his remote property. Mertz’s manner and appearance has been affectionately described as resembling that of a leprechaun: engaging, friendly and often mischievous. These traits are also characteristic of the work he hung along the road and stored helter-skelter in his marvelous and highly personal environment. His unique painted constructions covered with backwoods philosophy often took cues from his visitors ("IYAMWHATIYAM") and the children who begged their parents to be taken home (“IWANNAGOHOME”).

Today his images and signs remain emblematic reminders of a not too distant past, one geographically out of the mainstream and fast disappearing along with much of rural American life. Co-curated by Intuit Board Members Susann Craig and Marjorie Freed, this exhibit was the most comprehensive to date of his body of work.

Click here to view photos of this exhibition on Flickr.

Beyond Influence: The Art of Little City

May 10 - August 21, 2013

Mixed media work by Harold Jeffries

Beyond Influence featured 11 artists, who over the past 20 years, have been creating work at the Little City Center for the Arts (Little City) in Palatine, Illinois. Included were pieces from artists who have exhibited both nationally and internationally, including Harold Jeffries, Tarik Echols, and Wayne Mazurek. The broad scope of work being created by these artists ranges from paintings to multimedia collages.

For more than 20 years, Little City has operated under the belief that people with developmental disabilities can have full opportunities in the arts. The artists working there comprise a diverse group in gender, age, and race. Each brings a unique perspective and breadth of talents to the studio. Little City is a place where there are no constraints in ideas, mediums or possibilities. Each artists is encouraged to push the artistic envelope and strive for innovation. The eleven artists featured in this exhibition display that they are in fact "beyond influence" - that of the mainstream art world, other's expectations, and their own limitations.

The Circus Collages of C.T. McClusky

January 11 - May 25, 2013

Suitcase with elephant and circus images

We know very little of C.T. McClusky's biography except that he worked as a circus clown and spent some of his off seasons rooming at a boarding house in Oakland, California. It was there that he created a suitcase full of collages, populated with images cut from Life magazines and newspapers, that depicted daily life in a circus setting. Many of McClusky's collages center around themes of travel, isolation and the circus as an extended family. He worked on shirt cardboard and in addition to photographic illustrations, used foil, crayon, string and cuttings from animal crackers boxes to bring his evocative images to life. C.T. McClusky died in the mid 70's and his work was discovered by John Turner at the Alameda Penny Market in California, where it was presented for sale by the daughter of McClusky's landlady.The Circus Collages of C.T. McClusky was the first solo exhibition of McClusky's work in Chicago.

Click here to view photos of the exhibition on Flickr.

Kevin Blythe Sampson: An Ill Wind Blowing

January 11 - April 20, 2013
Curated by Cleo F. Wilson

Kevin Blythe Sampson with installation

Intuit was pleased to host artist in residence, Kevin Blythe Sampson, over a two week period as he created a site-specific vehicle in Intuit's Main Gallery using recycled materials. The sculpture evolved over Sampson's two week residency as Intuit encouraged the general public to interact with Sampson while he was creating.

The sculpture is a boat-like vehicle built in three distinctively different sections. The front represents major corporations, the middle of the boat contains objects that represent the liberal elite and the rear section of the boat represents the working poor and homeless. "After thinking about the current state of politics in the United States and the current national conversation on civility, I have decided to build an environment that contains a symbolic vessel that will be powered by the wind that is blowing across the world," says Sampson. The title of the exhibition, An Ill Wind Blowing, is in reference to the history of protest, the state of America today and the popular song "Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan.

Click here to view photos of the exhibition on Flickr.