Memory and Meaning:
The Graphic Works of Misha Goro

Union League Club

by Tom Mullaney

Sometimes art strikes you when you least expect it. That happened in early February when I attended an opening reception at the Union League Club for artist Misha Goro. He is chair of the Graphic Design Department at Chicago’s American Academy of Art. I was there simply as a guest, not expecting to be impressed.

Yet my eye was immediately arrested by his ten oil paintings and etchings of Chicago’s haunting streetscape. Goro’s assured ability in capturing Chicago’s gritty streets, usually in rainy weather, couldn’t be lightly dismissed. Goro’s Chicago is not that of North Michigan Avenue or Lincoln Park but of Ohio Street, Ashland Avenue, Wicker Park and the downtown Loop.

All capture glimpses of the city’s soul, which is particularly impressive for a non-native artist, born in St. Petersburg, Russia. My favorite of the group is October Rhapsody, a chiaroscuro scene of the sidewalk under the elevated tracks. The play of light, deep shadow and water reflections is captivating and evidence of a well-trained eye that sees beauty in even lowly urban settings.


Misha Goro, October Rhapsody, etching. Image courtesy of the Union League Club


The well-traveled Goro is also fascinated by the more romantic vistas of Venice, Italy. The artist painted his first Venice etching in 1998, but it remains a touchstone in his work. Three of the works on display incorporate a fascinating juxtaposition of both cities.


Misha Goro, Canaletto in Chicago 2, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the Union League Club.


The three share a common title, Canaletto in Chicago. The one I like best is the slyly hilarious Canaletto in Chicago 2 in which a billboard depicting elegant St. Mark’s Square sits atop an old, rusting warehouse in some down-at-the-heels neighborhood.

Goro has seen much and been to many places. His work is informed by the past and is rich with memory and symbolic meaning. You should catch the show which runs through March 23. The Union League is a private club and not open to the public. To schedule an appointment to view the works, contact Dr. Sally Metzler at


Tom Mullaney is the Managing Editor of the New Art Examiner.



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