The Films of Tom Palazzolo at The Art Institute of Chicago

November 2, 2010 · Print This Article

Tom Palazzolo. Still from Ricky and Rocky,1972.

An upcoming event worthy of special note: this Thursday, the Art Institute unveils a new exhibition focused on the work  of Chicago experimental filmmaker Tom Palazzolo, who began making films about Chicago in 1965 while attended SAIC with painters Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, and Karl Wirsum, all soon to be known as Chicago Imagists.  Palazzolo focused on the kinds of everyday goings-on that made the city and its inhabitants utterly unique. The show will include four important films made during 1967-1976, a key period of Palazzolo’s filmaking career, such as the nine minute long film Jerry’s (1976), which profiled deli owner Jerry Meyers, who was notorious for screaming at the customers of his South Loop eatery, and Ricky and Rocky (1972; 15 minutes), made with Jeff Kreines, which visits a backyard wedding shower in suburban Chicago for the Polish-American Roxanne (Rocky) and Italian-American Ricky.

The Art Institute’s website notes, “While Tom Palazzolo’s films feature distinctively Chicago imagery and subjects, they move beyond purely regional concerns to embrace archetypal ideas about American history, civil rights, and personal and political expression. They depict the spectrum of human experience and, as he noted, “are a celebration of reality even if there is no understanding it.”

Guest-curated by Kelly Shindler, the exhibition is on view through January 9th, 2011. All  four films will be screened consecutively in Gallery 186 during the Art Institute’s public hours. For more information on the exhibition, click here. If you want to read more about Tom Palazzolo, check out this 1999 article in the Reader here, and the entry on his work at Chicago gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey here.

Jerry’s (1976). Film still.