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Brian Maguire

The masterful painting in Brian Maguire's work, the subject of a new exhibition at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery, is so beautiful that it takes a minute to process the sadness depicted—the aftermath of violence and the toll it exacts on the human condition. Whether it's the large building in Aleppo, Syria, a once-thriving structure now left in ruins by war, or the skulls and human remains left decaying in the Arizona desert, the casualty of our war on immigration, the only glimpse of hope we can find is the blue sky, a reminder that nature carries on with or without us. But perhaps the saddest of all depictions are the portraits of once-living Indigenous residents of reservations in Montana based on family members' favorite photos; as the press release says, "an epidemic is quietly transpiring wherein thousands of Indigenous peoples have disappeared or have been murdered." 

I left the gallery with more information and a better sense of the toll of violence elsewhere than I feel I have living in the center of another epidemic of violence, here in Chicago. After seeing this show, along with several others nearby including the photos by 2010 Newcity Breakout Artist Jessica Labatte at Western Exhibitions and the architectural sketchbooks of Myron Goldsmith at David Salkin Creative, we ventured home, via automobile, into a city that felt chaotic amid the Mexican Independence Day caravans. While at times stressful, like when the hundreds of motorcycles ignored traffic signals and roared by us, headlights blinding, or when the firetrucks and ambulances trying to get to a car inferno on Roosevelt Road were just as gridlocked as we were, the night as we experienced it was mostly one of joyous celebration of heritage, with folks streaming Mexican flags and music out of cars and trucks. My brother said it reminded him of the celebrations of the Bulls championships in the nineties. That being said, remind me not to drive that night next year.

Brian Hieggelke

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