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Photograph: Courtesy Johalla Projects

5 Chicago art openings to see in July

New works from street artist Don’t Fret and an exhibition of Japanese prints are among July’s best art openings

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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When you're not outdoors at a music festival or relaxing on the beach, there's no more soothing place to spend the summer than in an air-conditioned art gallery. In July, you'll be able to see new work from anonymous Chicago street artist Don't Fret and take in an expansive new video installation from Steve McQueen at the Art Institute. When you need a break from the heat, head inside and see July's best Chicago art openings.

July art openings

  • Art
  • Painting

Known for his street murals and paste-ups throughout the city, Chicago artist Don't Fret presents a collection of work that reflects on his life as a willfully anonymous figure in Chicago. “Big Shoulders” is filled with his familiar long-faced characters and distinctive urban locales, depicted on furniture-like sculptures and mixed-media installations.

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  • Art
  • Contemporary art

A group of artists considers the ways in which patriotism manifests itself in American culture, assembling paintings, sculptures and videos that explore the complex relationship many U.S. residents have with their country.

  • Art
  • Film and video

Video artist Steve McQueen presents a video installation modeled after the end credits of a movie, inspired by the life of African-American singer and social crusader Paul Robeson. Throughout the piece, McQueen depicts every document from Robeson’s recently declassified (but heavily redacted) FBI file. The thousands of documents produce 13 hours of footage, which is accompanied by a 19-hour spoken-word soundtrack—you'll need to devote some time to this work if you want to see and hear all it has to offer.

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  • Art
  • Prints & editions

The Art Institute digs into its extensive collection of Japanese prints to assemble an exhibit highlighting pieces that depict nighttime scenes. Including works by Okumura Masanobu and Suzuki Harunobu, these nocturnal depictions demonstrate the detailed aesthetic of Japanese printmaking and showcase the different ways in which artists interpret and depict darkness.

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