It's Chicago Artists Month, so it's Local Artist Week | Bleader

It's Chicago Artists Month, so it's Local Artist Week

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Self-portrait
This week's Variations on a Theme celebrates local artists, in conjunction with Chicago Artists Month. All week long, check back here to read Reader writers on Chicagoans who are making (or made) art that you should be checking out (and if you missed Ideas Week, last week's Variations on a Theme, you can read it here).

For my introduction, I'd like to throw a little shine on a Reader contributor. Todd Diederich has shot photographs for a few big features, including Mick Dumke's "Besieged" and Elly Fishman's "Pariahs Amid the Rainbow" and "Grit & Glitter"; in the lattermost story, Todd contributed a particularly spectacular slideshow.

I've known Todd for around two years, and ever since a friend of ours showed me his Tumblr, I've been following his work closely. I find him to be particularly skilled at spotting unusual-looking situations or people and framing them in stark, lovely compositions. This portrait of a nude walking through a marsh reminds me of Titian or Monet more than it does any photograph I've ever seen. And a recent photograph of a man in a jet pack propelling out of the water is equal parts hilarious, odd, and graceful, the kind of randomness that Todd is able to transform into something simple and moving.

To introduce this week, I'm going to highlight one work in particular. Last year, Todd had a show and people were pointing out a number of photographs they liked. But there was one in particular that really got me and I was surprised not to hear others mention it. It's simple: the legs of a couple dangling off the edge of a stair, below the sky. It's not a noteworthy situation, but the way Todd's framing is skewed but balanced, and more than any other photograph there, it made me feel happy.

12th Street Beach

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