Chicago’s Least Loved Buildings Get Their Own Art Show

What was Once a Home (South Throop Street), 17" x 25.5", Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2015  (Courtesy of Jennifer Cronin)

What was Once a Home (South Throop Street), 17″ x 25.5″, Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2015
(Courtesy of Jennifer Cronin)

The shiny, new, spectacular bits of Chicago’s urban landscape have long held esteemed places in museums and art galleries around the world.  Now Chicago’s least-loved buildings are getting some attention.

An exhibit called Shuttered opened over the weekend featuring the work of local artist Jennifer Cronin.  It focuses on Chicago’s neglected, abandoned, and foreclosed homes.  If we were art critics, we’d probably describe the pencil sketches as “haunting” and “evocative.”  Because we’re an architecture blog, we’ll describe them as “very cool” and “most definitely art.”

Ms. Cronin’s work is on display at the Elephant Room Gallery at 704 South Wabash Avenue in the South Loop.  Read more about it following some more samples of her work.

What was Once a Home (South Laflin Street), 11" x 17.5", Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2015 (Courtesy of Jennifer Cronin)

What was Once a Home (South Laflin Street), 11″ x 17.5″, Carbon pencil on toned paper, 2015 (Courtesy of Jennifer Cronin)


“Shuttered”, New Drawings by Jennifer Cronin Opening November 13th

CHICAGO, IL – The House: image of the home, family, and community. It exists as the most personal space of our lives, and yet in its nature as a piece of property it is also a political subject. In a new series of drawings Jennifer Cronin engages these subjects with carefully wrought portraits of foreclosed houses located on Chicago’s far south side. Their cold density clashes with the idea of a home which we wish the houses to fulfill. Emotive in their stillness, the houses call us to see the conspicuous absences; the pieces missing in communities, families, and in ourselves. The echoes of lives not led but taken away.
“Landscapes can tell a story about the larger world they inhabit. These houses were once cherished beauties, filled with life and warmth. A beacon of the American Dream. And now, these drawings show the houses as they are, as shadows of their former selves. Still standing, as symbols of what they they once were, and the people they once held. They are relics of a culture of inequality, in which the most privileged are enabled and encouraged to live in excess, while the most vulnerable are forced into increasingly desperate situations.” – Jennifer Cronin
The show will be up at Elephant Room Gallery located at 704 S. Wabash Ave. in the South Loop from November 13th to January 2nd. An opening reception will be held on Friday, November 13th from 6:30 to 9:00pm. The gallery is open Saturdays 11am-5pm or by appointment. More information can be found on the gallery’s website:

About the Artist

Jennifer Cronin is a Chicago-based artist, born and raised in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she earned a dual BFA in painting and art education, and studied painting at Camberwell College of Art in London, completing her education in 2009. Since graduating, Cronin has become known for combining an uncanny realism with psychological depth to create large paintings that capture extraordinary encounters amidst the backdrop of ordinary, everyday life. She has exhibited widely in the Chicago area, as well as nationally and internationally. She has had solo exhibitions at Elephant Room Gallery and 33 Contemporary Gallery, among other galleries. She has been featured in many publications, including New American Paintings, and has earned numerous awards for her work.

Location: 704 South Wabash Avenue, Sout hLoop

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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