Date: 12th September, 2016
Location: Glass Curtain Gallery, Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash., Chicago, Illinois, USA

A new pinball exhibition, Skillshot, The Collaborative Art of Pinball opened in downtown Chicago on September 6th and runs through November 5th.

The exhibition is at the Glass Curtain Gallery inside the Columbia College building at 1104 S. Wabash. It is open daily and admission is free. Check their website for hours of operation.

Entrance to the Glass Curtain Gallery
The entrance to the Glass Curtain Gallery
Graphics for the exhibition
Graphics for the exhibition

The exhibition’s main focus is on the artwork created for pinball machines. Various playfield and backglass artworks are on display at the gallery.

A row of various playfields
A row of various playfields
A collection of backbox art
A collection of backbox art

The development of the artwork for some recent Stern Pinball titles is featured. Quite a bit of the artwork on display is by the venerable artists and designers Stern Pinball employs, such as Greg Freres, Kevin O’Connor, Dirty Donny, Jeremy Packer and George Gomez.

Lots of Kevin O’Connor’s Kiss artwork is on display
Lots of Kevin O’Connor’s Kiss artwork is on display
Pinball artwork from Dirty Donny
Pinball artwork from Dirty Donny
A close up Dirty Donny’s Beatniks backglass
A close-up Dirty Donny’s Beatniks backglass
Artwork development for Ghostbusters
Artwork development for Ghostbusters
Add-on interior cabinet art and body armor on Ghostbusters
Add-on interior cabinet art and body armor on Ghostbusters
A drawing from George Gomez for the Monster Bash game
A drawing from George Gomez for the Monster Bash game
Prototype sculptures for some newer Stern pinballs
Prototype sculptures for some newer Stern pinballs

The exhibit curator Mark Porter and his wife Kate are both big pinball fans. Mark told me that the idea for a pinball-themed exhibition came from his personal enthusiasm for pinball machines.

Artwork from Doug Watson for Barracuda before it became Barracora
Artwork from Doug Watson for Barracuda before it became Barracora

Since this an interactive art exhibition, there are nine pinball machine exhibits available on free play. Six are recent Stern titles and three are Bally/Williams classics.

Game list:

Spider-Man Vault Edition (Stern)
The Walking Dead (Stern)
Ghostbusters (Stern)
Game of Thrones LE (Stern)
Metallica (Stern)
Kiss (Stern)
Kiss (Bally)
Sorcerer (Williams)
Dolly Parton (Bally)

 

A row of recent Stern pinballs to play
A row of recent Stern pinballs to play: Spider-Man, The Walking Dead, Ghostbusters, Game of Thrones & Metallica
More of the pinballs in the exhibit
More of the pinballs in the exhibition: Kiss, Kiss, Sorcerer and Dolly Parton

I have seen interviews with Gary Stern in which he states that the pinball industry will eventually die unless the machines are out where people can play them. It is very clever of Stern Pinball to support a pinball exhibition in a college building. There’s a large number of young people that will be exposed to the exhibits and hopefully they will see how much fun they are, and then will play pins in the future.

A wall with pinball machine diagrams and a video from the movie Tommy
A wall with pinball machine diagrams and a video from the movie ‘Tommy’

The highlight of the exhibition for me was seeing the playfield development drawings of Medieval Madness by Greg Freres. It was fascinating to see the details progress in the multiple drawings.

Medieval Madness playfield drawings from Greg Freres
Medieval Madness playfield drawings from Greg Freres

I was very happy to see that the home of pinball machines has such a nice exhibition showcasing the art of pinball.

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