Mark Bradford's mixed-media messages | Art Sidebar | Chicago Reader

Mark Bradford's mixed-media messages 

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Strawberry by Mark Bradford

Strawberry by Mark Bradford

Some of Mark Bradford's collage paintings are like the poster-covered plywood fences you see at construction sites, their various colors and layers combining to reveal complex narratives about city life. Others resemble maps, with rows of squares that look like city blocks or skyscraper windows. A 2009 MacArthur fellow, Bradford is perhaps best known for these large-scale compositions. But he also works in other formats, including sculpture, multimedia installation, and video. The Museum of Contemporary Art is highlighting the breadth of his output with a retrospective featuring more than 35 works created since 2000. One standout piece is Scorched Earth (2006): made of bleach and billboard paper, among other materials, it uses a language of landscape, abstraction, and mapping to depict a Tulsa, Oklahoma, race riot. There's also a detail from Mithra (2008), the 25-foot-tall ark that Bradford built out of recycled plywood and installed as part of Prospect New Orleans, NOLA's contemporary art biennial.

In addition to the exhibit, the MCA is hosting the Mark Bradford Project (, a one-year residency during which Bradford will initiate discussions and community projects in Chicago. And (Re)Connect, an exhibition of final projects by local students who've been working with Bradford, is on display at Pop-Up Loop Gallery, 205 S. State (through Thu 6/2: Mon-Sat 11:30 AM-5:30 PM, closed 5/30, free).

Opening party Thu 5/26, 6:30-9 PM, $20 for nonmembers. Opens Sat 5/28. Through 9/18: Tue 10 AM-8 PM, Wed-Sun 10 AM-5 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-280-2660,, $7-$12, free for children 12 and under and military members. Also, free on Tuesdays.

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