Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Steve Skinner, Nicholas Sistler, and Mary King



You go to most art fairs for the fair, not the art. It's fun to be out in the street on a sunny day, committing trans fat suicide and watching the people. But who needs a five-by-five-foot faux-pointillist portrait of Marilyn Monroe? The Around the Coyote Fall Arts Festival can't entirely eliminate the ugly, the stupid, the incompetent, the dull, and the sofa-sized. It can, however, maximize your chances of avoiding them. Taking advantage of the heavy artist population in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area, Around the Coyote reimagines the art fair as Halloween trek, with patrons and partyers walking from studio to studio, choosing the best places to fill their aesthetic goody bags. Here are a few of the finest treats. Watercolorist Steve Skinner (1739 N. Honore) subverts his medium even as he masters it, creating a powerful sense of the weight of water in paintings of found objects such as squeak dolls and bobble-head toys. Nicholas Sistler (1846 N. Hoyne) uses a bright palette and surreal images, Magritte-like in their precision, in his uncanny miniatures, often no bigger than a business card. Mary King (Flat Iron Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee, studio 203A) creates Matissian landscapes assembled from "puzzle" pieces of acrylic color as well as figurative works reminiscent of Lee Godie. Opening-night party 9/8, 8 PM-midnight, 1935 1/2 W. North; $20. 9/9-9/11: Fri 6-9 PM, Sat 10 AM-11 PM, Sun 10 AM-6 PM. Various locations; 773-342-6777. $5 for a visual-arts pass, providing admission to all four main buildings.

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