Now open at the Elmhurst Art Museum is Par Excellence Redux, a miniature golf course featuring a widely varied collection of playable artworks. Curated by Colossal’s founder and editor-in-chief Christopher Jobson as part of an open call, the two-part course pays homage to the wildly popular Par Excellence that opened in 1988 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The designs range from a challenging optical illusion to a maze-like castle with the potential for a hole-in-one to Annalee Koehn’s fortune-telling piece first shown 33 years ago in the initial exhibition.
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Chicago sculptor Michael O’Brien conceived of the original Par Excellence, which opened to lines down the block and subsequently sold out daily. It was recognized nationally in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Chicago Tribune, among others, and went on tour throughout Illinois before returning to Chicago as a rebranded commercial project called ArtGolf, which was located at 1800 N. Clybourn in Lincoln Park on the site that’s now occupied by Goose Island Brewery. Although artist-designed golf courses are shown at a variety of Midwest museums—you can see versions at the Walker Art Center, The Sheldon, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art—Par Excellence is widely regarded as the first.
The Front 9, which runs through September 26, features artists Julie Cowan, Current Projects, Andrea Jablonski & Stolatis Inc., Annalee Koehn, Latent Design, Jesse Meredith, Gautam Rao, Robin Schwartzman & Tom Loftus (aka A Couple of Putts), and the museum’s Teen Art Council. Open October 13, 2021, to January 2, 2022, The Back 9 shows work from artists Wesley Baker, KT Duffy, Eve Fineman, Joshua Kirsch, Annalee Koehn, Vincent Lotesto, Joshua Lowe, Jim Merz, David Quednau, and Liam Wilson & Anna Gershon.