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If you know Chicago art, you know Tony Fitzpatrick is one of its mainstays. “The Wonder” captures everything the artist loves about the city—both its postcardworthy landmarks and its tawdry underbelly—through his signature collages and a single sculpture. Curatorially speaking, there’s nothing extraordinary about the show, but it’s a fine, straight-up survey of Fitzpatrick’s beautifully intricate work.
Most of the collages have the same format as Chicago Snake, which features a border of red, white and blue stripes; Fitzpatrick’s poem about the snake winding its way through the city; and flowers, bubbles, snippets from old cigarette packages and images of dolled-up women—all with shiny black hair, plucked eyebrows and red lipstick—scattered throughout. Araña’s subject is a spider-woman hybrid wearing fishnet stockings and surrounded by images such as a hobo with a bull’s head and a ten of spades. The collages’ titles only relate to their central characters, so the other elements appear to be randomly chosen decorations: Ghost of a Chicago Fish Shack’s red, mermaidlike creature—adorned with flowers and topped with a grotesque fish’s head—floats amid a piece of meat, sexy dancing girls, Kewpie dolls, a matador and a drawing of the Drake Hotel.
Such wacky combinations seem formulaic after a while, but Fitzpatrick’s attention to detail is impressive. And as most artists turn to digital techniques, it’s refreshing to experience work created by the hand alone.