THEASTER GATES
 
     
Theaster Gates, She Straddles the Invisible Fold, 2014, wood, tar and torchdown
  
Artist Theaster Gates was born in 1973 in Chicago, IL. He uses sculpture, installation, performance and urban interventions to bridge the gap between art and life. His projects attempt to instigate the creation of cultural communities by acting as catalysts for social engagement leading to political and spatial change. Gates trained both as a sculptor and as an urban planner, but his works are rooted in a social responsibility. His pieces use mostly found materials, often from the neighborhoods in which he is actively working.
  
Theaster Gates, Civil Rights Tapestry 1, 2012, 
decommissioned fire hoses and wood 
 
Gates has described his work as "critique through collaboration," as he often works with architects, researchers and performers to create projects that stretch the idea of what we usually think of as visual-based "art." For the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Gates transformed the Whitney's Sculpture Court into a spare, architectural installation that functioned as a communal gathering space for performances, social engagement, and contemplation. For the duration of the exhibition, Gates collaborated with various creative practitioners on a series of 'monastic residencies', holding live events such as the session by Gates' musical ensemble, the Black Monks of Mississippi.
  
Theaster Gates, Installation view of Cosmology of Yard at the Whitney Museum, 2010
 
His most celebrated enterprise is the Dorchester Projects on the South Side of Chicago, where he restored dilapidated buildings and turned them into cultural institutions with artifacts from the South Side. Gates has also renovated two houses on Dorchester Avenue, now called the Archive House and the Listening House. The Archive House holds 14,000 architecture books from a closed bookshop and 60,000 glass lantern slides from the Art History department of the University of Chicago. The Listening House holds 8,000 records purchased at the closing of Dr. Wax Records. In January 2014 he designed a million-dollar installation for the South Side's Ninety-Fifth Street subway terminal. It is the largest public art project in the history of the Chicago Transit Authority.
 
Theaster Gates, Stony Island Arts Bank, featuring a library donated by Johnson Publishing with Ebony and Jet magazines lining the shelves
 
Gates is currently a Professor in the Department of Visual Art and Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago. He is also founder of the non-profit Rebuild Foundation, an organization that endeavors to rebuild the cultural foundations of underinvested neighborhoods and incite movements of community revitalization that are culture based, artist led, and neighborhood driven. As part of this movement, on October 3, Gates' latest project, the Stony Island Arts Bank opened to the Chicago public. The date marked the vernissage of the city's architectural biennial. The 17,000-square-foot Neoclassical building that used to be home to a savings bank now contains meeting spaces, classrooms and a majestic library that holds iconic and important archives. According to Gates, the project was inspired by a commitment to the preservation of architecture in poor neighborhoods. 

GARTH WEISER
  
Garth Weiser, Nautilus, 2011, oil on canvas

Abstract painter Garth Weiser is based in New York. His paintings mix stark geometric patterns with textured paint surfaces. His figurative and abstract imagery are inspired by and reference both pop culture and corporate design from the 1980s and '90s. With their grids and geometrical composition, his paintings challenge and explore the concept and nature of perception. 
 
Garth Weiser, Drawing #7, 2008
 
In an exploration of form versus content, Weiser emphasizes the importance of technique. His process often begins by creating a 3D model to use as a sketch from which to paint. Weiser underscores each painting with a textured foundation to emphasize the illusionary elements of scale of perspective and to give the works an architectural quality. Though his work is meticulously planned and highly structured, his work feels organic and free, blurring the lines between reality and illusion.
 Weiser received his BFA from Cooper Union and his MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts. One of Weiser's paintings was recently for sale at Christie's First Open/Online auction. 
 
 
KEHINDE WILEY
   
Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Andries Stilte II (Columbus), 2006
 
Kehinde Wiley is best known for his highly naturalistic portraits of young men from the streets posing in ways that refer to specific Old Master paintings. His works blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary representation. Wiley's fusion of period styles makes his work both familiar and surprising.
Kehinde Wiley, Femme Piquee Par un Serpent, 2008
 
Wiley's penchant for jarring juxtapositions stems from his desire to complicate notions of group identity. Initially, Wiley's portraits were based on photographs taken of young men found on the streets of Harlem. As his practice grew, his eye led him toward an international view, including models found in urban landscapes throughout the world--such as Senegal, Dakar and Rio de Janeiro, among others. The models, dressed in their everyday clothing--most of which are based on the notion of far-reaching Western ideals of style--are asked to assume poses found in paintings or sculptures representative of the history of their surroundings. This mixing of the "old" inherited by the "new" immediately provides a discourse that is at once visceral and cerebral in scope.

Kehinde Wiley, Shantavia Beale II, 2012
 
Without shying away from the complicated socio-political histories relevant to the world, his heroic paintings evoke a modern style instilling a unique and contemporary manner, awakening complex issues that many would prefer remain mute.
 
Kehinde Wiley, Saint Paul, 2014
 
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is currently presentingKehinde Wiley: A New Republic, a touring exhibition organized by the Brooklyn Museum. The show includes an overview of Wiley's extraordinary 14-year career and features approximately sixty paintings and sculptures. It is on view through January 10, 2016.