a painting with two bloodied hands visible on bottom, one is holding a sharp knife vertically and the other hand is holding a votive candle on a long stick vertically. this is all on a bright blue solid background
Black Like Black Like Ether, a 2023 work by artist Cameron Spratley, is on view at M. LeBlanc. (Acrylic, oil, inkjet prints, grease marker, colored pencil, cut paper, and UV coating on canvas; 59 inches by 47 1/4 inches.) Credit: Courtesy M. LeBlanc

“Violets and Daisies”
At M. LeBlanc through 10/29: Wed-Sat noon-6 PM, 3514 W. Fullerton, 773-360-7178, mleblancchicago.com

Fall is prime gallery season, and I’m looking forward to “Violets and Daisies,” the second solo show by artist Cameron Spratley at M. LeBlanc (3514 W. Fullerton). Spratley is a rising figure in Chicago’s contemporary Black painting community and was one of the local artists whose work was used as the protagonist’s art in director Nia DaCosta’s 2021 movie Candyman.

Like fellow Candyman artist Sherwin Ovid, Spratley went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where the third Candyman artist, Arnold J. Kemp, teaches. (Kemp is also represented by M. LeBlanc.) Understanding this helps situate the artist’s work within a larger conversation of how Black life is threaded between fine art and popular culture and which images are allowed to carry more weight.

At Corbett Vs. Dempsey through 11/4: Tue-Sat 10 AM-5 PM, 2156 W. Fulton, 773-278-1664, corbettvsdempsey.com. An exhibition by artist Josiah McElheny as well as a video from filmmaker Deborah Stratman are also currently on display at the gallery.

The violence of the AIDS pandemic and living with HIV have been central themes in the output of new media artist Gregg Bordowitz, but in his debut exhibition at Corbett Vs. Dempsey gallery, Bordowitz explores Judaism and queerness. “Tetragrammaton” features recent monotypes created by Bordowitz where the Hebrew word of the show title is traced into a blend of yellow, white, purple, and black—the colors of the nonbinary flag.

The tetragrammaton refers to a word for which there is no English equivalent. It’s never spoken and only appears in written form. The gallery notes that Hebrew letters are part of a numerological system. Their combination with the nonbinary flag—each image an edition of one—underscore both the systematized and mystical qualities of gender as much as how nonbinary identity is expressed in uniquely individual ways that can evade tidy language.

Poetry & Art-Making with William Estrada
Sat 9/30, noon, National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., $10 includes all materials needed for the workshop, 18+, nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org. Pre-registration is required to attend; email angela@nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org for details and to register.

On Saturday, September 30, poet and teaching artist William Estrada will be hosting a poetry and art-making workshop at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Estrada will guide participants through the exhibit “Carlos Cortéz 100 Años,” a retrospective currently on view at the museum.

Cortéz is one of Chicago’s most influential Latine social justice artists and someone whose practice Estrada is indebted to. (Estrada has his own career-spanning solo show happening at the Hyde Park Art Center through October 29.) After the walkthrough, Estrada will provide exercises inspired by the exhibit to encourage poems and art.

Flesh Eater, Fire-Toolz, RXM Reality, Ivy Hollivana
Sat 9/30, 8 PM, Digital Art Demo Space, 2515 S. Archer, suite two, $15, all-ages

Later on Saturday, September 30, Fire-Toolz will headline a show at Digital Art Demo Space (DADS) Chicago. The gallery is one of the best places to catch digitally-based music and adjacent projects right now.

cover art from Flesh Eater's 2023 cassette Alive at Fred Fest
A portion of the cover art from Flesh Eater’s 2023 cassette Alive at Fred Fest Credit: Courtesy the artist

While the bill is rounded out with other favorites of the local glitch/e-pop scenes—RXM Reality and Ivy Hollivana—this is a rare opportunity to see Flesh Eater, a Nashville-based project that creates music that juxtaposes moments of soft and romantic wistfulness with electric avalanches of chaos. The evening promises to be a small but generous sample of music that’s indebted to the Internet—but intended to be experienced live.