NWI artist, curator exhibiting in Chicago

Tom Torluemke's Mr. Softee is on display at the One After 909 gallery in Chicago.

Northwest Indiana-based artist Tom Torluemke and South Shore Arts Executive Director John Cain both have exhibits on display at Chicago galleries.

Tom Torluemke, who's represented by the Thaddeus C. Gallery in LaPorte, is exhibiting "Born in the USA" at the One After 909 gallery at 906 N Ashland Ave. in Chicago. The solo show "features epic paintings that examine contemporary American society and politics through layers of horrific and humorous detail."

"As a painter, Torluemke fluidly moves between styles to convey his ideas in the technique best suited to express them. In this exhibition, he adopts a mural-like, utilitarian style to illustrate his reflections on current American politics and society based on his own observations and memories," One After 909 said in a press release. "Through the work presented in 'Born in the USA,' Torluemke encourages viewers to see beyond the details into the America that he sees, both its beauty and depravity."

It features three monumental works, including Sickly Decline and Mr. Softee.

"At first glance, Mr. Softee appears to be a nostalgic summertime scene set in a typical Chicago neighborhood like the one from Torluemke’s childhood," One After 909 said in a press release. "Indeed, the entire picture was painted from memory down to the color and model of the cars parked on the street. It is through this meticulous detail that the darkness of the image emerges, from the ominous observer at the foreground to the bully behind the ice-cream truck. In Torluemke’s vision of America, an ice-cream truck represents more than a sweet treat, it symbolizes America’s desire for instant gratification – a behavior we learn from a young age and carry into adulthood."

The exhibit is free and open to the public through June 8.

Cain curated and lent items from his personal collection to Kitsch'n Art, a new exhibit at the Jean Albano Gallery at 215 W. Superior in Chicago. Described as "a crazy mash-up of the high and low," the show features paintings, kitchenware, diner decor, lunch boxes and porcelain from 1930s to the 1960s.

Running through June 30th, it includes work from Roger Brown, Art Green, Lisa Krivacka, Elizabeth Shreve and many other artists. There also will be a folk art cow and Works Progress Administration-era Plaster of Paris food, including fake meat and fake ice cream sundaes.


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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.