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Lindsey Liss

Lindsey Liss

FEATURES

Chicago's Art World Insiders

By Thomas Connors, Barri Leiner Grant, Tate Gunnerson, Jaclyn Jermyn & Kyle MacMillan

Photos by Frank Ishman

11.30.17

Chicago’s thriving art scene continues to surprise, with artists delving into unexpected mediums, gallerists changing the way collectors buy, and curators and art executives alike bringing new perspectives to the table. Here, a look at the top creative minds and how they are changing the city’s cultural conversation.

LIGHTING IT UP
A neon artist brightens the national scene with work that’s both playful and serious.

You’ll want to look from every angle to fully take in the cunning wordplay and playful politics at work inside the Roscoe Village studio-slash-pop-art fun house of artist Lindsey Liss. A single visit makes you feel like you have been invited to the most exclusive carnival ever assembled, and you are in for a rich ride.

Liss has not only established herself as Chicago’s noteworthy name in neon and lenticulars (a printing process using 3-D technology), but also as part of the national scene. “Delusional,” her submission selected for the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series at Gallery Guichard, gained extraordinary recognition and the attention of collectors and clients. “Words matter,” says Liss. “We have to choose them carefully.” Liss uses a mishmash of letters from old signs over her prints to turn a phrase on its head. Her upcoming show, PriceLISS, will be on display at Essentia Lincoln Park through the end of the year. A percentage of sales will benefit The Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund and the Three Arts Club. “The works are a celebration of the finer things in life; the things that can’t be bought and sold, only treasured.” 1800 W. Cornelia Ave., Ste. 104 

Lukas Machnik and Lonney White

Lukas Machnik and Lonney White

MODERN MECCA
A creative couple transform an industrial building into a stunning live-work space.

The gritty facade of designer Lukas Machnik and artist Lonney White’s industrial building near Bridgeport is a bit misleading. “When you step inside, it feels like a gallery or a small museum in Europe,” says Machnik, noting that he appreciates large-scale modern furnishings made of raw materials like bronze, concrete and plywood. “Classic minimalist without any frills.”

The stark white 7,700-square-foot interior houses not only the couple’s dwelling, but also Machnik’s workspace, White’s art studio, and a gallery and showroom, where their work is displayed alongside that of local and internationally renowned artists. “It’s about curating a space versus decorating for comfort,” says White, whose encaustic artwork is represented by Holly Hunt and sold to private collectors internationally. “It’s a way for us to live with the pieces. There’s a constant rotation.”

The couple recently hosted a dinner for 50 people in collaboration with Carpenters Workshop Gallery, a contemporary gallery with outposts in London, Paris and New York—the first of many planned events for the coming year. “We sometimes don’t leave for days because everybody comes here,” Machnik says. “This building is very alive, and that was part of the program—to be a mecca for design and art.”  

Deana Haggag

Deana Haggag

BRIGHT VISION
This former curator promotes artists in her prominent new nonprofit post.

Taking over as president and CEO of United States Artists two weeks after the inauguration of a president who has called for elimination of the National Endowment of the Arts might seem like bad timing. But Deana Haggag saw it as just the opposite. “It just continues to prove to us that our work matters,” says the rising star, who has been showcased in Vogue. The Chicago-based nonprofit distributes unrestricted $50,000 fellowships each year to some of the country’s most accomplished artists in dance, architecture, music, theater and other art forms.

After serving four years as executive director of The Contemporary, a nomadic art museum in Baltimore, the 30-year-old Brooklyn native was ready for something different. She sought a job with a more national scope—one directly connected with helping working artists. As an Egyptian-American Muslim, she was particularly impressed with the extraordinary diversity of her new organization’s honorees. “USA felt like the conversation almost didn’t even need to be happening,” she said. “The people they were funding were from all over the country—every age, race, gender identity and socio-economic status. I was really compelled by that and really eager to work with them.”