Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick will have final museum show in Glen Ellyn this fall. ‘It is time for me to get out of the way.’
Many people rejoiced at the news that the Cleve Carney Museum of Art in Glen Ellyn will be presenting a museum exhibition by Chicago multimedia artist Tony Fitzpatrick.
The show is slated to open Oct. 16 and runs through the end of January. It is titled “Tony Fitzpatrick: Jesus of Western Avenue” and will feature more than 60 new mixed media works, and an accompanying book of the same name. Of this the museum’s curator Justin Witte says, “While Tony’s artwork is deeply influenced by the Chicago area, it is recognized around the world. (He) is one of the most well-known artists working in Chicago today and we are thrilled to be able to feature him as we launch our first full season.”
Some people were worried, eagle-eyed folks who focused on one word, final.
“That’s the way I want it, the way it should be,” Fitzpatrick told me Tuesday afternoon by telephone from his studio at his Dime Gallery on Western Avenue in the Wicker Park neighborhood. “Look, I’m 62. I’m a middle-aged white male. It is time for me to get out of the way, time for me to help open up gallery walls for people who don’t look like me.”
Fitzpatrick chose the Cleve Carney Museum, located in the McAninch Arts Center on the College of DuPage campus, for specific and marvelously sentimental reasons.
“So much of my creative life began at the College of DuPage,” says the artist, who grew up in a large Irish Catholic family in nearby Lombard. “I did my first acting here. I started to seriously write poetry here. I made art making my life here.”
His creative life has been active and quite public for the last four decades. He has been a radio host, actor on stage and in films, poet, activist and on and on. He has published a shelf-full of books that feature his words and his art. He has his art in hundreds of homes, many museums and plans to still have gallery exhibitions.
“I have had, and am grateful for, a great career,” he said.
During the COVID-19 clampdown, he was forced to shutter his gallery for a time but did not take it easy. With the help of his wife Michele and adult children Max and Gabby, he created and sold a series of quite popular puzzles based on his art. In June he proudly watched the installation of a massive mural of his on the exterior of Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s new arts and exhibition center. It is an eye-grabbing personal tribute to his friend and mentor, former Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey, who died in 2017.