Artist Tony Fitzpatrick’s Final Museum Show Fuses Nature with Urban Grit | Chicago News

From a studio on Western Avenue, an artist makes operate that reflects both equally the beauty of character and the grit of the town. And nevertheless he may possibly be one particular of Chicago’s most outstanding artists, Tony Fitzpatrick grew up in Lombard. Now he’s back again in DuPage County for what he states will be his final museum demonstrate.


Tony Fitzpatrick: When you get in this article in the early morning ahead of there’s a large amount of people, you just hear to the new music of the birds, tree branches, the wind.

Character will recover you if you permit it.       

Marc Vitali: The all-natural globe and the city ecosystem share the stage in a museum exhibition that features all sorts of birds, real and imagined.

Fitzpatrick: I was truly knowledgeable by, feel it or not, spiritual art when I was a child. I grew up in a huge Catholic family, I have 5 sisters, two brothers, and my father was in the funeral business enterprise, and they’d have mass playing cards, holy cards.

There was a thing densely atmospheric about these photos that just sort of acquired to me, just sort of went through me like ice. That, and the comics. You know, Dick Tracy, Tiny Orphan Annie.

I begun drawing at a truly younger age.

The nuns utilized to convey to my mother, ‘Everything’s fantastic until he goes off into Tony Earth.’ Properly, I preferred Tony Planet. I was in demand there.

Justin Witten, curator, Cleve Carney Museum of Art: His will work are incredibly layered collage parts, and that layering includes a whole lot of distinctive things that replicates the layering you working experience in the city – the various cultures, the sounds, the snippets of poetry and language.         

Vitali: A prolific artist, Tony Fitzpatrick works with a compact group of assistants, frequently younger artists by themselves.

His major crack came in 1989 when he designed an album cover for the Neville Brothers.

Fitzpatrick is also an in-demand from customers actor – from the series “Patriot,” to his flip as the Chicago law enforcement main in Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq.” And he’s a poet and a playwright.

Fitzpatrick: I’m kind of insatiably curious.

I like to feel that I discover from anything that I glance at. I didn’t truly go to artwork university. I went to group university for a little bit and my education came through the Art Institute of Chicago, the MCA. I indicate, persons are like “Well, you under no circumstances went to university.” I experienced the greatest teachers in the planet.

Vitali: His new present is identified as “Jesus of Western Avenue.” It’s at the Cleve Carney Museum of Artwork on the campus of the College of DuPage. The late Cleve Carney was an arts advocate and an early collector of Fitzpatrick’s perform.

Fitzpatrick has proclaimed this his final museum present.

(Tony Fitzpatrick)(Tony Fitzpatrick)

Fitzpatrick: I consider it’s time for folks who glance like me to get out of the way and build some institutional wall-area for people who’ve not experienced a light shined on them. I’ve gotten mine. I’m in MOMA, I’m in the Met, in the Artwork Institute. I feel when you get to the best of the hill you hold a hand and pull the upcoming human being up.       

Witten: There’s above 90 works in this exhibition. At first he was like ‘Oh I’m likely to do 60, then 70, 80.’ Then he showed up with 90-plus is effective and most was made in the previous a few yrs. In that do the job, you see a great deal of reflection of what’s occurred the past a few years, politically, and also through the pandemic.

Fitzpatrick: You only get 1 journey around the fountain and then it is into the ditch. There’s a poem by Mary Oliver, ‘What will you do with this one treasured daily life you have?’ Very well, I selected this.

It’s developed more than 45 yrs, and I even now enjoy carrying out this each and every working day. I nevertheless get pleasure from building art mainly about Chicago, a whole lot of it about mother nature these days, I’ve grow to be sort of an activist for bird life, for avian existence.

My grandmother, who could not inform you a cardinal from a blue jay, each morning she’d toast a pair of pieces of bread, distribute some jelly on it, chop it up and toss it out the back doorway to the birds. I’m one particular of 8 youngsters, you know, and we never squandered food and I’d say ‘Why you supplying all our bread to the birds?’ She appears to be at me and claims do me a favor and be quiet. Give your ears a prospect for after. And she opens the window a minimal bit, and then I read it. I heard swallows and pink-winged blackbirds, mourning doves, and she reported ‘You know, birds are the initially audio the Irish at any time had,’ and she claimed ‘If you are quiet and you enjoy, for a piece of bread you can hear God sing.’

More on this story:

The exhibition just opened at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art on the campus of the University of DuPage. It is free of charge and open up to the public – but you must sign up for a absolutely free ticket on the internet. And you can see more of Fitzpatrick’s do the job on his web-site:

Video: Tony Fitzpatrick recollects an come upon with his old buddy, the late Studs Terkel.

Kenneth Proto

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