Episode 51: William Conger

August 20, 2006 · Print This Article

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Chicago art legend William Conger!!! He’s taught many of you, heck he’s taught some of your teachers. Guest host Tony Fitzpatrick joins Duncan in this great discussion that covers everything from what a great guy Ed Paschke was, to a lengthy discussion of Wesley Kimler which is not to be missed. Much talk about art history in Chicago and an overall fascinating time.

The longest episode yet, but every minute is a gem.

Next week: Our anniversary show!!!

Bill Conger
Tony Fitzpatrick
Paul Klein
Ed Paschke
Roy Boyd Gallery
Nelson Algren
Alex Kotlowitz
Giorgio Morandi
Louis Sullivan
Wesley Kimler
Dennis Adrian
Jim Nutt
Barbara Rossi
Miyoko Ito
Hyde Park Art Center
Howard Singerman
Carol Becker
Carl Wirsum
Roger Brown
Don Baum
Lane Relyea
Terra Art Museum
Jeanne Dunning
Studs Turkel
Frank Piatek
Chicago Art Write
Richard Levine
Vera Klement
Phyllis Bramson
Michelle Grabner
Jim Valerio
Direct download: Bad_at_Sports__Episode_51_William_Conger.mp3

14 thoughts on “Episode 51: William Conger”

  1. monkey says:

    where did everybody go?

  2. Hey Monkey and all, it appears you can still read the ongoing “polite” discussions at the libsyn address — for how long I don’t know. http://badatsports.libsyn.com/
    (in case that link doesn’t get through the autocnsors it is “badatsports (dot) libsyn (dot) com.

  3. Admin says:

    Everyone will be makeing the transition over soon. The conversations will be up to the typical Bad at Sports standards quite soon.

    Sadly we cant direct copy the old posts over as easily as we would want. It just gives everyone a chance to restate their positions for a whole new crowd. 🙂

  4. How about just pasting all the old discussion in? (Let’s see if this works. If not erase me!)

    Bad at Sports PodcastLast real show of season #1 people, I expect some quality discussion.
    posted by: Richard on Sun, 8/20 07:52 PM EDT


    Sir! Yessir!!!

    posted by: michael kaysen on Sun, 8/20 10:24 PM EDT


    Cocky bastard, this guy wins a contest and now he is an agitator.

    posted by: Richard on Sun, 8/20 10:26 PM EDT


    First off, William Conger, where’ve you been all my life? Chicago needs flowers like you to come off the wall a little more often and share your wisdom with the rest of us plebes.

    I agree to a certain extent that there’s an atmosphere of safety at the one extreme and of misdirected aspiration at the other. After listening, it struck me that one thing Don Baum–mentioned a few times in this recording–was celebrated for was his ability to pair up artists, young and old. Get them showing together, and at least conversant with one another’s work, and the synthesis seems a healthy counterbalancing of these two attitudes. That seems not to happen much these days, or does it? I know Tony’s trying to help them show and offers advice, but who’s making those connections with public exhibitions? It seems to me we need these lines drawn more clearly to stem both some of the art star-itis that Conger warns against and the stifling of creative anarchism that academic environs have come to represent.

    And secondly, I agree with the point about studio practice and want to point out that the artist’s studios in this city outnumber the galleries by a very wide margin. There are at least ten times as many studios as there are galleries here. I’ve often referred to it as Chicago’s great hidden commodity. The studio system in this town, however, suffers a much greater problem of invisibility than the gallery system does, and the necessity of Conger’s “solitude” could be much more pronounced if that system were given a spotlight. Used to be ateliers and nights with an artist in their studio were the standard, before alt-spaces started commercializing those spaces in the name of institutional critique. Is it possible to reinvigorate the studio as a space elemental to artistic encounter? I think, for instance, of Louise Bourgeois’ now-famous weekly salons at her studio in Brooklyn, which draws artists from around the globe. I know the door of Tony’s studio on Damen is always open, but that seems to me a rarity.

    All around, an excellent end-of-season show.

    posted by: Michael Workman on Sun, 8/20 11:51 PM EDT


    Sheeeeeesh! Do you think you were laying it on thick enough Tony? I thought I was listening to that ‘Regular Guy At The Movies’ for a few painful minutes……. and by the way Fitz -my paintings are hardly abstract and you know better-.! -the thing I like best about Bill Congers comments are those having to do with where the art world actually is and that would be in any actual artist’s ( who is worth a shit’s) studio- and yes solitude is certainly what one comes to love best along with the long game that for me is the discipline of oil painting, played out over what so far is half a lifetime….there are obsession and, there are obsessions. -which is both ironic and hilarious to me -watching the hacks try and come after me or my work when most of them have only the foggiest notion of what it even is that my paintings consist of. Because, most of them haven’t been to my studio or seen a body of my work in years -if ever. Clueless! Why is that? Simple: no gallery here in Chicago has anything close to the kind of profound space that is my studio, and then, why would I want to go to the trouble of doing an exhibition here when I can simply invite whoever I want over, not invite all the garden variety plebians I cannot stand, or, in kinder, more gentle version of myself(this is for you Bill-) throw a party, and invite my friends …

    When Lee Bontecou was asked why she had left the art world her comment was -(I paraphrase), ” I never left the art world, its right here in my studio where its always been”

    I think the dialog between visual artist should be visual (I’m thinking of Ad Rhinehardt’s adament and virulent stance against Duchamp), I can recall the discussion of formal problems having to do with line/biomorphic form/ psycological weight that have long been the underlying concerns of my black and white drawing/collages- interesting you enough that you felt strongly enough about it to address and engage those same concerns in a particular body of your own work -and kind and honest enough to let me know it…..Iaside from being flattered, I thought that was how it should be….a real exchange of problems and, actual issues -something the very great Jed Perl explores at some length and to much effect in his ultimately timely new book New Art City……way back when – you know when artists actually set the agenda through their hard work in the studio.

    As far as your comments about Northwestern and the other side, Bill, I HATE TO SAY I TOLD YOU SO, BUT, I TOLD YOU SO!
    I couldn’t believe when you and Ed helped hire the people you did up there. Ed flat out told me, it was not due to any love of the work but simply that you guys wanted an end game -so you could get out -and he thought these people could get tenure -bye bye serious painting at Northwestern with the exception of Jim Valerio……welcome to like everywhere else world. I really think it sucks that you did that.

    You see? Ed’s gone now so things have gotten a little more er….tense and …sharky! -just joking…..actually Tony is right -Ed had very strong opinions -he just didn’t relish burning things down and chomping on things the way I do ( I know Tony, you are so much nicer than me -and you actually think this, is a good thing ha!…) -though, I know he often agreed and watched from behind the scenes…how interesting its been to see how many best friends Ed suddenly has…….where did I see where that nasty Elsworth Touhey wannabe who prowls the halls of the Arts Club looking for the next aging matrons purse to lighten – Andrew Patner, was weighing in on Ed? -Ed couldn’t stand that backstabbing) his word, – scumbag (my word)……..

    Duncan, thanks for the comments…….artists taking back the art world is no new thing -see Gustave Courbet -how, his career was conducted by, Gustave Courbet., how he accomplished what many of us would like to see happen here…as far as all the bleating coming from the sheeps direction -why do I know not one of them has work that can simoutaneously exist and be noticed on a wall with one of mine?……visually if you know what I mean…..but here on this blog, my answer to them? Have a problem with what I said? Too fucking bad.

    posted by: Le Sharky on Mon, 8/21 03:47 AM EDT


    and then, let me not be remiss in congratulating all of you in having this conversation -I know Tony and I have buried some old axes (entirely of his making) so that we might attempt reconfiguration and regime change. Tony is right: why is there no survey show/retrospective being planned for the likes of William Conger?

    Duncan I think you have transcended the institutions from whence you come and with bad at sports are being essential and, improvisational…..though the canada jocularity gambit might need a rest……..don’t you find it interesting that people are so afraid in the so called art world about the oppinions of a working artist, of what I say?…. not an academic, not a teacher, but an artist who makes his living that way?…..poor little things I must have hurt their feelings……….

    -but not near as much as they are going to be hurt -because, here in Chicago and I am betting elsewhere, the winds of change are blowing….

    -Tony is right -here he is with a very good international career -and yet, the institutional artist by and large look down their noses at him….he is seen as that kook over on Damen…Why?….. do most of them have work at MOMA like Fitz does? or at the Met like The Shark does?

    -Ad Rhinehart referred to the then burgeoning educational institution as, ‘The Racket’ ….and that it is ; perhaps far too aggressive and way outliving its usefulness and overplaying its role when considering the level of work being produced and then excused away with the talk/ theory/ whatever you want to call excuses for what is many times flimsy, specious and vapid………may I suggest to bad at sports an interview with the great Vera Klement?

    and finally, be well Mr. Conger, and keep working sir, as I am confident you will.
    posted by: Sharky on Mon, 8/21 04:29 AM EDT


    I can’t believe Kimler would reference Bontecou, as if he were comparing himself with her. For one, she is a great artist. Also, she genuinely didn’t leave the art world, because she taught at Brooklyn College for over 20 years. I’m sure if Kimler had lived in NY during this time, he would have slighted her as part of the Curator Mafia or whatever he rants about, and referred to her in the same disgusting manner he obsesses over Judith Kirchner. The reason Kimler doesn’t show in Chicago, or much elsewhere, is because no gallery wants to show his work. And the hilarious thing is it has nothing to do with his work…it’s because you’re he’s a pathetic, ranting lunatic of a creep (always has been, even when he first started out!)…and not even the good way, like how the original ab-ex artists used to argue. He’s just an ass hole who threatens old ladies. And the fact he has somehow managed to get so much attention and support from some otherwise respectable Chicago artists is truly telling of why the Chicago art scene is lacking.
    posted by: Plebians have teeth, too on Mon, 8/21 10:40 AM EDT


    since you claim to have teeth and can apparently also use a computer -I assume you also enjoy the benefit of opposable thumbs -good! You can use them them along with your other appendages to count the number of galleries I have shown with here and elsewhere over the years… what is it with the anonymous cowards and their uniformly stupid theories that bare no resemblance to reality? Oh and by the way thank you for informing us as to how the orginal ad ex people used to argue? What a complete dunce…..if you have such problems with me -why not come confront me personally about it? Oh thats right you can’t use a pseudonym for that -I will look for you- the idiot with the mouthful of molars….now why don’t graze your way to greener pasteurs and go chew on your cud while planning your next boldly anonymous act of courage.
    posted by: the Shark on Mon, 8/21 03:28 PM EDT


    Do you think its courageous to publicly obsess over innocent elder ladies to the point where you frighten them? What a brave man, you are, Kimler! Sheesh…
    posted by: Plebians have teeth, too on Mon, 8/21 04:24 PM EDT


    Innocent elder ladies? I’m sure Ms Kirchner will find your description of her far more threatening than years of my best efforts -congrats! I’m actually impressed! Though in Judith’s defense, I will say when I last encountered her outside the dressing rooms at down at Barney’s, I thought she was looking pretty good. But you are probably right pleb,unfeeling ruthless shark that I am -when next I kick her to the curb, I’ll be sure to steal her cane-
    posted by: The Shark on Mon, 8/21 04:32 PM EDT


    Wesley…. you’re not going to take this shit off of this guy are you?…. he’s accusing you of molesting old ladies…. I wouldn’t take that if I were you….
    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Mon, 8/21 04:37 PM EDT


    “molesting”? Wow, now that’s using your artistic license, Mr. Fitzpatrick!
    posted by: Plebians have teeth, too on Mon, 8/21 04:47 PM EDT


    I just enjoy a good fight– now– realize…. maybe Wesley just has a thing for Judith….. y’know.
    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Mon, 8/21 04:57 PM EDT


    Then he should send her some flowers, apologize, and let her know he really isn’t such a fucking creep as he sounds. Really.
    posted by: Plebians have teeth, too on Mon, 8/21 05:00 PM EDT


    Fitz! How can you spill the beans on The Shark like this…..I,…I LOVE HER!
    posted by: The Shark on Mon, 8/21 05:00 PM EDT


    Plebe, Tony and I are sitting here on the phone laughing at what a fucking dunce you are……as far as the creep factor, its whats known as that sharky feeling……believe me you aren’t alone in feeling that way when I show up -but still if it bothers you so badly, I’m in the phone book why not drop the pseudonym and come confront me up close and in person…….speaking of cowardly creeps…..

    besides if you had been paying attention, Judith is almost yesterday’s news…..her lapdog -“at first blush”, ‘James Rondeau’ is for The Shark, a way more appetizing target.
    posted by: The Shark on Mon, 8/21 05:03 PM EDT


    Hell… I think Wesley should take her out and dance the tango with her … then back to the shark-cave for a little slap-and-tickle… why not make a night of it?
    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Mon, 8/21 05:05 PM EDT


    i wish tony would have let william talk more.
    didn’t he already have his podcast?
    posted by: jeez on Mon, 8/21 05:16 PM EDT


    Wesley and Judith….. A Love Story…. I like it
    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Mon, 8/21 05:17 PM EDT


    “I’m in the phone book why not drop the pseudonym and come confront me up close and in person”

    What, you want to fight me?! Like, by the bike rack after school? Mr. Fitzpatrick I’d be afraid of. You, Kimler, I’d only be concerned of the spit flying from your phlegm encrusted vile mouth.
    posted by: Plebians have teeth, too on Mon, 8/21 05:17 PM EDT


    You’re right jeez– I got a little caught up in talking with one of my heroes and blabbed too much– sorry dude
    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Mon, 8/21 05:19 PM EDT


    fight?…..-I just want to see you nervously fidget actually having to announce yourself without a pseudonym!, herbivore that you clearly are- lets see: you have falsely described my relationship with galleries with one of your idiotic constructs, painted Kirchner as some frightened, pathetic geriatric, kissed Tony’s butt…whats next? We are all waiting with baited breaths.
    posted by: The Shark on Mon, 8/21 05:27 PM EDT


    So you don’t deny the phlegm…?
    posted by: Plebians have teeth, too on Mon, 8/21 05:35 PM EDT


    sharks don’t have phlegm, idiot-
    posted by: The Shark on Mon, 8/21 05:39 PM EDT


    Die Michael Workman Die!
    posted by: The Amanda Liberation Front on Mon, 8/21 07:30 PM EDT


    Apparently sharks have a proliferation of piss and vinegar. With a side order of bile.
    posted by: Balzac on Mon, 8/21 07:54 PM EDT


    Sharks, are by nature sharky if thats what you mean and also I could note, as you humans have knats and, fruitflies, we sharks must endure clouds of teeming krill, caught up in the fantasy as recently demonstrated here, that they too are actually in possession of teeth…
    posted by: The Shark on Mon, 8/21 08:39 PM EDT


    Give us a list of krill!
    posted by: Balzac on Mon, 8/21 09:35 PM EDT


    The shark being the fine effervescent creature thaat he is, does not hunt the guppy nor, does he stalk the minnow nor does he count krill! -having said this, I and others find it disturbing that people can still be so fucking ignorant of how things work here to think Judith Kirchner is ‘innocent’, is not complicit in the state of the arts here. She, ‘at first blush” Rondeau, Ghez, Bonami and a host of others, denizens of the well carpeted institutional halls of power here have wielded power on an esthetic level, an institutional level, thus, a societal level that only the completely embecilic can fail to recognize.

    The Shark is in part, a Sharkiatrist, identification of whats problematic being prerequisite to change. “What I don’t own possesses me” – Sheldon Kopp, eschatological laundry list –

    posted by: Le Grand Requin Blanc on Mon, 8/21 10:43 PM EDT


    sheesh – this is pathetic. I’m about 70% through a really interesting interview, and what have we here…yet another game of duck duck goose.

    What was it you called it Tony? I think it was “throwing spicy peanuts to starving monkeys.”

    Hey Plebe – we get it – you don’t like Wesley. 411 – no one cares. If you’re going to tear the guy down at least do yourself the courtesy of knowing what you’re talking about.

    And Wesley – how many times have I told you that it’s bad form to beat on children?

    Now, is anyone going to discuss the interview?
    posted by: David Roth on Mon, 8/21 10:58 PM EDT


    Go get ’em Plebians have teeth, too! Stab him in the groin with a dagger like Caravaggio did to an individual that paid him no respect! Wait.., maybe the Shark doesn’t have a groin – oh well!
    posted by: My Balzache on Mon, 8/21 11:02 PM EDT


    Actually Plebe, the reason the Chicago art scene suffers is that the most creative thing we seem to be able to do here is “chum the waters” in order to stir up Le Sharky …..

    Tomorrow I will comment on the interview with Mr. Conger (!) There is a lot there of worth …. although you wouldn’t know it from this thread ……… tonight I am tired …

    posted by: michael kaysen on Mon, 8/21 11:08 PM EDT


    Well Roth I believe my intial entries both discuss the interview -though your points are well taken -even given that krill don’t live long enough to have an adolesence-
    posted by: Le Grand Requin Blanc on Mon, 8/21 11:09 PM EDT
    Sharks have no groins, nor hands, which might explain the abstract art they produce…

    You’re absolutely right, Kaysen. Sorry, it’s just too easy to bait these sharks! I mean, you sit in a cage and wait, and oooh! They attack like they think they’re dangerous, like they matter.

    It takes a lot to build an art scene, not much to tear one down, which is what some sharks are all about. Hats off to anyone who can help do the former, no further comment on the latter.

    I think the BEST thing said during this interview was when it was agreed that Chicago has an infinitely better art scene than back when Conger was starting off. That’s something to take to heart, if you have one!

    posted by: Plebians have teeth, too on Mon, 8/21 11:33 PM EDT
    Aww shit. Did this rivalry just jump threads after me? And to make matters worse, is it really and truly the ALF that’s after me? Sweet Christ Almighty and the Holy Spirit workin’ a pogo stick up his keister. I mean, the “ALF??!” Never worry, Browder boosters, the gibbons will come home to roost…soon, very very soon…

    posted by: Michael Workman on Mon, 8/21 11:34 PM EDT


    Like Roth said plebe at least do yourself the courtesy of knowing what you are discussing….

    Bill Conger, Ed Paschke, Vera Klement, Tony Fitzpatrick , myself and any number of others have worked very hard in any number of mediums and, venues here for a long time, often with very little institutional support, trying to assert the idea of the artist as individual while, the lemmings of rhetoric clung to power……as Vera once said to me “so much has been lost for so little”.

    ……your vapidity and overiding stupidity are plebe unfortunately generic and remarkable only in how alike they are with every other deservedly anonymous voice that shows up attempting to take a shot at me. Unfortunately for you, what I think and the work I make does matter to a great many people here -but what about you big mouth?…..why don’t you get up the huevos to use your real name so we can fully comprehend the enormity of your influence?… of course you won’t because you can’t. Lets face it, the best you can do is anonymously call me names on an art blog…what a loser.

    Can we get back as David and Michael suggested and what I intiially attempted before stupid showed up, to discussing Tony Fitzpatrick’s interview of Bill Conger -the issues they raised -many having to do with things widely known to concern me…and I would suggest the rest of you as well-
    posted by: The Shark on Mon, 8/21 11:34 PM EDT


    stating the obvious is boring, but you guys need to interview more women! i know you try, but the ratio is pretty lame here…. i sent amanda a list a while ago. maybe you can check that out when she returns. there are many ways to be a working, contributing artist, and a chick’s perspective on that more than once and a while would be a good idea. bill conger is such a broad thinker,( no pun intended). hope you can ask him on again-this just scratched the surface.
    posted by: anna on Mon, 8/21 11:55 PM EDT


    If I may suggest…what this interview has is a lot of historical context from people who have lived it but which maintains some distance for those younger among us who don’t have the life experience to draw from. Perhaps as we delve into some of the references that William and Tony made an effort could be put forth to explain some of the connections explicitly? After all, one of the great benefits of people like Paschke was his great wealth of experience, something we now must turn to people like William, Wesley and Tony for; all you people are now helping keep that history relevant rather than forgotten.

    posted by: Michael Workman on Tue, 8/22 12:00 AM EDT


    michael, that is a great idea…. describing the HIStory , i mean…a hem. just sensitive..funny timing with your post , wasn’t that? “we now must turn to people like william, wesley and tony”…..
    do you think that it’s strange at all for artists going to school here and working here not to already know that history? yikes.
    posted by: anna on Tue, 8/22 12:26 AM EDT
    Bill is too nice to name names -and I will accede to him on this but still one of the most interesting (and sad chapters-) in his discussion is the turning over of the Northwestern art dept to several very ordinary, very academic hence institutional type artists:

    what Ed actually said to me was that he had agreed to the choices as everyone thought these particular artists were going places and would be easy to tenure -but time had not borne that out, these artists had not done particularly well, and everyone was kind of stuck with the situation at that point -as they are now.

    As for William Conger, I recall the rueful conversation I had with him the very day we buried Ed…..his expressing his deep regret with the choices he had made.

    Me, I remember Ed having me come up to tp speak at Northwestern one fall day and my being happily suprised to see a department with such focus on….painting! For a moment, it was really different there……..but not anymore…

    I openly asked Bill at the time why he was making the choices he was making……as he noted on this interview…I don’t get that he really then understood the implications of his actions….but, now he does.
    posted by: le Grand Requin Blanc on Tue, 8/22 12:28 AM EDT
    Anna -there is a rich history of artists/ curators and so forth here who happen to be, women. In fact I think its fair to say, Chicago has by and large been run primarily by women when it comes to the curatorial side of things..Lynne Warren, Mary Jane Jacobs, Judith Kirchner, Elizabeth Smith, Stacey Boris, Suzzane Ghez…

    …..from the great June Leaf, Miyoko Ito on -in our approximate times there are any number of important artists -who happen to be, women….I would think the curators would be squeamish about coming on bad at sports other than in a prescribed and defined context -as Lynne did some time ago -as for artists, I think its high time bad at sorts met Vera Klement -I would happily volunteer to help interview my dear friend and, a real hero of mine-
    posted by: le Grand Requin Blanc on Tue, 8/22 12:49 AM EDT



    By my quick count:

    Duchess Gallery
    Michelle Grabner x 2
    Alison Rutan
    Shannon Stratton multiple times
    Wendy Cooper
    Amanda Browder as a guest then as a host
    The edible books show
    Terry book reviewer multiple times
    Death by Design
    Pentaphilic Curators

    Not so bad, you make it sound like there is some complicity with the BAS in keeping women down. Who did you suggest?

    posted by: Ann Onymous on Tue, 8/22 12:50 AM EDT


    I find it funny that all the Shark had to do was swim over here and people started with the attacks, derailing the discussion before it really started. It’s really disturbing that so many have a beef with the Shark, when all he did was tell artists that they need to take control of the art scene, their careers and why. Maybe the fear of actually doing that causes people to lash out like a bunch of children or maybe they are friends of those he has called out? Or maybe they just like to tease sharks.
    posted by: Bill Dolan on Tue, 8/22 01:18 AM EDT
    Have we met? Ahhh, I was talking about THIS interview; there are women outside the frame of reference presently on offer, of course, but let’s start there. Though, now that you mention it, me thinks there is 1 too many women takin’ up space on BAS…

    Do I think it’s strange people don’t know their local history? Not from life experience, which is what I’d like to hear more of, as opposed to reading names on a timeline in a textbook. It’s the old storyteller in me that wants them to speak it so I can listen.

    posted by: Michael Workman on Tue, 8/22 01:27 AM EDT


    Perhaps if more women made more decent art…
    posted by: He-Man Woman Hater on Tue, 8/22 01:37 AM EDT
    Bill Conger has been a great inspiration to me since I took his beginning painting and drawing classes at DePaul. Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t take his advice to heart about taking art (and especially painting) seriously. It wasn’t until later that I got it.

    It was a very small program, but Bill Conger, Bob Donley and Steve Lueking gave us a strong foundation in creating art and in being an artist. They had a tough job, working at a school that was indiferent toward the art department. Hell, the building that housed it was condemed until it was knocked down my senior year. I feel grateful to have had them as instructors.

    A couple of years after DePaul, I took classes at the Art Institute and was stunned to find students that didn’t know how to stretch a canvas. That was the first thing we learned. To this day, I use the fundamentals of painting I learned from Conger. I can still here him say “Make your mark. Get in and get out.” in reference to having confidence in what one is doing.

    On a side note, I love the oddball covers used as intros and outros on the show.
    posted by: Bill Dolan on Tue, 8/22 01:43 AM EDT
    12 out of 52, women out of shows…not a great ratio. 1/5th.
    posted by: Ratios on Tue, 8/22 02:23 AM EDT
    oh brother or er….. sister in this case -Lets hope the criteria for bad at sports is esthetic and not one of quotas or gender politics -which invariably have the effect of dumbing down everything. Along with Vera why not Laurie Hogan and/or Nina Levy?

    on a related topic, the females are always larger when it comes to sharks……the largest of us great white sharks (carcharodon carcharias) known to you humans are those found in the fall each year off the Farallon Islands 27 miles due west of San Francisco…..20 to perhaps 30 ft in lenght, 8 ft in both depth and breadth, up to 7,000 lbs….
    posted by: The Shark on Tue, 8/22 04:53 AM EDT
    Nobody attacks any of The Shark’s compatriots, so it has nothing to do with WHAT he is saying….but how.

    For example, what proof is there that quotas dumb things down? Can you refer to a sociological study that used statistics or anything less subjective than your own opinion? You sound like Tucker Carlson when you make such claims, which, in turn, dumb down the entire thread and eventually prevent any conversation (not many comments posted on Sharkforum, are there?)

    I agree with Ratios, more emphasis on the women in the art scene can’t be a bad thing. I think an interview with Vera would be a wonderful new way to start season 2.
    posted by: Plebians have teeth, too on Tue, 8/22 05:40 AM EDT
    Huh, hello, sharkforum is a magazine -not, a blog. When we do receive letters we publish at our discretion -you wouldn’t make the cut -though we do have people like Donald Kuspit and Authur Danto, David Reed weighing in from time to time. As usual your flawed and invariably self serving (in terms of attacking me) observations choose to overlook the fact that I am one of a group of people from here and, around the world who contribute to sharkforum -a site btw that enjoys anywhere from three to four times the readership that artletter had in its heyday -that would be when I was on it – discussing many of the topics that Bill and Tony brought up in discussing me. Interestingly enough, when I left artletter, it went away.

    What studies sociological studies do I site,…simple, every alternative or womens collective gallery based on gender, ratio or quotas that has ever been -almost all avoided by really good artists. In fact, some of the best female artists outspoken opinion of such as anathema is well known -people like for instance , Joan Mitchell who was famously brutal in her assessment of such, I’m betting Vera…..Lee Bontecou is at the very least discouraging of any feminist read on her imagery -as anyone who was at the symposium would know.

    I would suggest to you that any number of people have found and addressed you as the one doing the dumbing down on this thread with your insipid, personal, ill formed and uninformed attacks upon me -that have zero to do with the subject at hand…….and really zero to do with me…

    …though your comment on Vera does potentially blow your cover.
    posted by: The Shark on Tue, 8/22 06:59 AM EDT


    Okay we are yanking any Jeanne Dunning posts until we hear from her because I am not so such that the now excised post was from the real Jeanne Dunning.

    Jeanne please e-mail us if that was your post.

    Will the Real Jeanne Dunning please stand up, please stand up, please stand up…
    posted by: badatsports on Tue, 8/22 08:25 AM EDT


    You are assuming that every show is an interview chump.
    posted by: Ratios are wrong on Tue, 8/22 09:18 AM EDT
    “Nobody attacks any of The Shark’s compatriots, so it has nothing to do with WHAT he is saying….but how.”

    and THAT, Plebe, is exactly the problem with so much of what passes for art these days: people who are much more concerned with style than substance.

    “For example, what proof is there that quotas dumb things down?”

    The point is that esthetic concerns ought to be paramount in the deciding of who gets covered, as opposed to the kindergarten fairness of “one for you…one for me…”

    “You sound like Tucker Carlson when you make such claims,”

    No THERE’s a blow below the belt!

    “(not many comments posted on Sharkforum, are there?)”

    what do you know about Sharkforum?
    posted by: David Roth on Tue, 8/22 09:29 AM EDT


    Keep in mind we are mere mortals putting the show together, we do what we can to keep it at least somewhat diverse.

    At the same time, we resent the implication that there is any sort of discriminatory agenda.
    posted by: badatsports on Tue, 8/22 09:51 AM EDT


    This board is like Braveheart when all the scots are arguing amongst themselves–and then the English fina get them. But Braveheart says something like “We must stand together.” Or something like that. Get it

    I want to know more about the Northwestern art faculty and all the gossip. Tell me.

    And Plebian is a lil’ bitch. On and off this board. And Tony is the man-but enough of “the story.” If I wanted a story I would read the Berenstein Bears.

    And you guys are great for putting this show together. Keep it up.

    And capitolradio won the contest shows back–not some copycat.
    posted by: James Cole on Tue, 8/22 10:11 AM EDT


    As for the ratio issue, it’s a clear misapplication of dimensionless standards, a product of quantity expectations based solely on opinion. This is, after all, a podcast. We’re lucky to have these people doing this show at all. Wait ’til this show exists on more than the whim of three volunteers sweating it out in their free time outside their slave-labor nine-to-fives, when they’re making annual revenues in excess of five million, then make a move on behalf of your piece of the equal opportunity pie. Right now, it just smacks of that good ol’ sense of entitlement that ends most artists up on the career dungheap. Until then, one great thing about America, you don’t feel it’s up to your standards? Start your own damn show. And I mean that quite earnestly, there are way too many people who find it easier to criticize the performance of efforts like these for not meeting their “standards,” when in fact their actual standard is doing nothing at all. I don’t know anything about you, Anna, but Bad At Sports at least can walk the walk.

    posted by: Michael Workman on Tue, 8/22 11:03 AM EDT


    Right now — it feels like the ‘blogosphere’ could go a LONG way toward taking back this particular art-world– as nutty and convoluted as some of this discussion is — there are a lot of salient points being made — Michael’s chiefly, among them — start your own blogs start the dialogue in as many places in this art world as you possibly can and you might justt be able to change , or at least tweak the mechanism that creates consensus in this town — Bad at Sports, Sharkforum, artletter et al. are on to something — this seems to be the new bulletin board of this community and this is a good thing. Why wait for the gate-keepers to interpret the art-world FOR us — why not just do it ourselves and give the art-world back to artists, where it belongs?– There is something very interesting going on here– goofy as some of it is– there is something very democratic and very good at work here.
    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Tue, 8/22 11:15 AM EDT


    geeez, you guys!…i know i’ll never blog this way again… i am so sorry that i started this!i think that you midunderstood me. i am not on any band wagon. i am not playing at the womyn’s music festival anytime soon….i am in no way criticizing the bas team… i appreciate this pod cast very much.all the shows have been great to listen to…are you kidding? i was making a suggestion. i think a lot of artists-not just women… would like to hear from dedicated artists like vera and all the other people mentioned.i don’t think it’s crazy to suggest to hear some women artists. i don’t have an agenda here… the choices a woman makes in order to continue to make work,a life, struggle through and question, are often different. no more or less challenging..just different…. it’s all good. don’t be so nasty. i should have come up with a fake name ……
    michael, you seem like a smart guy. you don’t need to know anything about me for this. ..i really wasn’t expecting to get blood drawn. oops. get back to the discussion about conger’s interview. it’s much more interesting.
    posted by: anna on Tue, 8/22 11:21 AM EDT


    Absolutely right Tony, once again. You don’t have to read more than 50 pages into Jed Perl’s superb “New Art City” to see that one of the things that made NYC the art center that it was in the mid-century years was the confluence of dispirate ideas and artists talking about art.

    If you want to see change around here then the makers of art need to insert themselves into the conversation, as opposed to waiting for the gatekeepers to bestow license upon them.

    ONe of the things we feel strongly about at Sharkforum is that we’re just an example of what others can do – other groups of artists can go out there and start their own magazines, or blogs, or podcasts.

    posted by: David Roth on Tue, 8/22 11:32 AM EDT


    To add to Ann Onymous’ list, BAS has interviewed Barbara Koenen, Cecilia Edelfalk, Marlene Rossum Scott, Lynne Warren, Julia Marsh and Liz Armstrong. Marsh and Armstrong have also guest hosted, as has Kathryn Born. Also, Ratios, at least 11 of BAS shows have been all reviews, and several shows have been devoted to festivals and events, like Musicircus, NOVA and Version. Your ratio of 12 out of 52 is WAY off.
    posted by: Scott Speh on Tue, 8/22 11:35 AM EDT


    Wow Scott, I think you know more about the show than I do.

    posted by: Richard on Tue, 8/22 01:54 PM EDT


    Y’know, I’ve been thinking…and I’ve decided that Amanda Browder is incredi-fucking hot. Brrr. It gives me chills just thinking about it. Lucky for her I’m happily married.

    posted by: Michael Workman on Tue, 8/22 02:00 PM EDT


    I see Browder and Workman at one of those no-tell motels up on Lincoln avenue, passing a bottle of tequila back and forth and gazing into each other’s eyes…..
    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Tue, 8/22 02:23 PM EDT


    This is a lively bunch. Can we talk a little bit about the bricks with the carpet around them and the Tonka pictures and the glowing door for a second.
    posted by: Capitol Radio on Tue, 8/22 02:37 PM EDT


    Hey—can I throw BAS an anniversary party? Want to drink the leftover Nova vodka at 840 Washington on Sept. 7?

    There’ll be presents and shittalking and we have a PA system you can borrow to lord over the entire craziness…

    Party! Party!

    posted by: Michael Workman on Tue, 8/22 03:50 PM EDT


    Michael – barf… LOL!

    Anna, I like your idea about more women, because it’s been a bit of a man’s crowd lately with the Fitzpatricks, and Kimlers. (don’t get me wrong, I love the conversations, and it’s been an awesome document of Chicago art history)

    Happily, we have some fabulous women on the list for the upcoming shows and, I appreciate your suggestion…that is what the blog is for! keep sending us suggestions!
    posted by: Amanda on Tue, 8/22 03:50 PM EDT


    OOPPPPS–I mean September 8. That’s the Friday. And there’ll be art aopenings everywhere in the neighborhood that night. See art and come kick it for the anniversary of the show…it’d be nice to do something for you guys for once after all you’ve done for us.
    posted by: Michael Workman on Tue, 8/22 03:55 PM EDT


    Isn’t it interesting that the The Shark with his superior ability to smell blood in the water is the only one on this particular thread who has attempted to discuss WILLIAM CONGERS INTERVIEW?
    posted by: The Shark on Tue, 8/22 04:41 PM EDT


    Anna, I like your idea about more women, because it’s been a bit of a man’s crowd lately with the Fitzpatricks, and Kimlers. (don’t get me wrong, I love the conversations, and it’s been an awesome document of Chicago art history)

    Amanda -I believe you mean Chicago art history in the making -I’m in my prime
    posted by: The Shark on Tue, 8/22 05:45 PM EDT


    Interesting discussion, full of contradictory sentiments, but that’s life. At times Mr. Conger seems full of enthusiasm for the emerging artworld and its abundant opportunities for connection among artists and then he turns around and points out that there may not be too many folks actually trying to make powerful and arresting works of art. If that’s true (and it can seem that way), we’re left with sort of a big schmoozefest (and it can seem that way). Not entirely cause for optimism.

    Another interesting contradiction: a professor emeritus engaged in a discussion bemoaning the dominance of art schools over the state of art. I think the influence of dweeby careerism that Conger and Fitzpatrick refer to is definitely a concern, but let’s not give a one-sided picture of art school. It can still be what many of us think it should be: a place to learn important things about making art from people who’ve been doing it well for a long time.

    People are often surprised to hear that you can get a BFA at the School of the Art Institute and study with people who foster a deep reverence for the art and craft of painting as a living tradition. I was there from 95-97, worked with Don Southard, Dan Gustin, Susanna Coffey and Marion Kryczka, who all saw things that way (and I think they’re all still there). I also studied anatomy and figure drawing. I knew all kinds of other stuff was going on at the School, and I looked into some of it. Eventually, I figured out what part of the place was going to make sense to me. I’m not saying every other department is a bunch of trendoids, I don’t know enough to comment. I’m just saying the part of the painting department I hung with was about acquiring mental and physical skills for making art, with almost no consideration for how you would fit into the art world when you got out. (Of course you could argue that that’s not entirely good either).
    I think the great thing about SAIC is that it’s so diverse that you can get YOUR art education there. Hopefully it stays that way. Anyone who comes out of the school cowed and toeing some imaginary line probably went in looking for that.

    I think it’s hard to generalize about “the art institute” or “the art world” or “these young artists of today”. Really there’s all kinds of stuff going on out there, people of all ages working independently, charting their own course in dialogue with whatever aspects of cultural and art history are most important to them. Alot of these people don’t enter much into “the dialogue” for whatever reason. Doesn’t mean they’re not there.

    Best wishes to Mr. Conger. Looking forward to the new paintings.

    posted by: John Minkoff on Tue, 8/22 07:23 PM EDT


    Tony’s comment via Wesley’s dada about “taking back the art world” almost always sounds faux; in order to take something back, you had to give something up first. So what did everyone give up, this is what I would like to know. It seems that the three headed monster that Tony refers to (Institutions/Academia, Galleries, Artists) was not the “apparent” issue it is today as it was during Conger’s era. It seems artists were more than happy to show in galleries, have critical reviews, eventual retrospectives and tenure positions, because as Conger pointed out, the focus was much more on the work being produced in the studio and not the making of an artist or his/her career. The galleries and institutions were just a platform to showcase an artist’s work. I think today honestly, no one gives a crap much about this or that artist, institution or gallery, unless you are uniquely involved in some way or another with one of these. By “taking back the art world” is for me, another way of saying create the support I’ve lost due to the original organization of the art world collasping through apathy, some very uninteresting art, and a public less and less interested. Someone was just saying that the film industry no longer holds private screening for critics because the public doesn’t care what they have to say anymore – the public opinion is being formed by bloggers and the internet. The art world is going through this very same mutation in my mind.

    As for artists having no choice but to create, driven by some holy crusade might be true – passion is potent stuff – but to have no other choice, is becoming a bit redundant and tiring from an outside art world point of view. There are plenty of people in this world who truly don’t have a choice about their lives nor the leisure to exercise their passions.

    As a side note, I would have liked to have heard Conger talking a little bit more, having the chance to dig a little bit deeper into his thoughts – even about the Roy Boyd gallery and its history within the Chicago art scene.
    posted by: Kevin Freitas on Wed, 8/23 12:01 AM EDT


    Kevin your tired, loser mentality horseshit is what is getting old and tired. Don’t you have another tape you can play?

    Any number of artists critics and curators are deeply involved in taking back an art world that many of us feel has become specious to an alarming degree with the focus almost entirely on emerging artists (new institutional product) foppish trends, vapid ‘hot’ curators of the moment….and, disposable ‘it’ artists of the moment…..Jed Perls New Art City -mid-century Manhattan is I think in the midst of reading a meditation on a time when artist were in control and used galleries and what apparatus there was to help them…’make it’

    – the world you describe where all the artists are good little artists who behave themselves like so many trained seals, show at their galleries, mind their P’s and Q’s and wait for their retrospectives and with baited breath for some critics verdict is idiotic and obnoxious -which, is the reason why your offerings to sharkforum almost never see the light of day.

    Your resentment of both Tony and me I attribute to the fact that your sojurn in the art world wasn’t very interesting or, particulary successful…..the opposite of both of us.

    Tony Fitzpatrick has had one hell of a run over the last while -successful sold out shows all over the country -rave reviews here and in NYC and LA….MOMA buying his work – all of which is based on the work. Though my success has been more focused here in Chicago, it has been substantial and, considerable…..and has also focused on the work I am making today -work which by the way is hardly abstract and is considered by any number of people who’s opinion I value (Lisa Waiwright -dean art history dept saic -Kevin Nance -sun times -Lynne Warren, to name a few,) to be some of the more exciting oil painting being made today…

    …we both run very fine studios where people come from all over aquiring our work because the desire to have it in their lives. In other words, we are both working artists, working our asses off in the midst of our problems and solutions…so why don’t you fuck off and die? -Or at least stop writing these stupid comments.

    Proof is in the pudding -if there is more interesting, better work being made in Chicago than what I and my friend/enemy/nemesis Tony Fitzpatrick are making I haven’t seen it -or anything that even really comes close…

    as for your critique as to what you would have liked to have heard from Mr Conger, I’ve got an idea for you: why don’t you just shut the fuck up and be happy you were privileged enough to hear from him at all….what a little bitch….sheeesh!
    posted by: The Shark on Wed, 8/23 01:10 AM EDT


    BTW PEOPLE, it seems Bad At Sports and members of the Sharkpack from Sharkforum will be giving a discussion pertaining to the exciting diy times we are now entering down at the Cultural Center Sept 14th…….
    posted by: Le Grand Requin Blanc on Wed, 8/23 02:32 AM EDT


    i enjoyed this episode.

    No offence, but i could go without any of the comments about this episode, except for one, John Minkoff’s.

    The comparisons of what Chicago may or may not lack, to other major cities is very old to me.

    Globalisation has made just about every place the same, it is individuals & their particular brand of social activities & cultural influences/outlooks on life & their financial status, that may or may not define what sort of place they are in.

    Diversity invigorates, international & local artists of all cultures, backgrounds.

    We have many incredible hispanic artists, african american artists, disabled artists- etc. But who will either label them ( woman artists ?) or ironically find them not as involved in such discussions as one would like?

    Many other major cities are not as oppressive & uptight.How is that for comparison?

    I would assume that living in the world means being affected by it & that it is the worst artists, that are incapable of being affected by the world they live in.

    Goya would have suffered if his work had not the drive to see his hours, days & years & those in, his life.

    Lee Bontecou is not anti- feminist, her work is not about the feminist movement, so of course she would be quite offended if one were to suppose that her work or success is related to the feminist movement, very important clarification here.

    How about people talking about real present day issues? After all we all do live in the present correct?

    We shall not have very much, if any art, if we continue to destroy the earth & i quite like work about the environment.

    So maybe all we need to do is let go of all the labeling & posturing?
    Embrace more diversity , & talent for talents sake, without stopping & expect more & simply forget those who have not a sense or sensitivity of diversity’s importance.

    Many of the other comments just don’t make sense, & seem either paranoid or self serving.

    Neglectful. Not so human.
    Like an agressive advert.

    Fitzpatrick stood out for having the ability to humble himself & he is creativly worded, thus seems human.

    I found quality & honesty in Minkhoff’s.

    “Alot of these people don’t enter much into “the dialogue” for whatever reason. ”

    Well perhaps one may envision why.

    posted by: Marshall on Wed, 8/23 07:02 AM EDT


    I agree wholeheartedly with Michael W : “an excellent end-of-season show.” a great show, and very inspirational. Thanks William and BAS! It made me want to jump off the train and get back in the studio (I was on the way to Zurich to meet NYer Mary Heilmann. Maybe I should interview her for your show — she’s a wonderful abstract painter and has had a positive effect on many younger artists. Mary had a work bought for the AIC recently, but agrees that more concern for the “natives” in Chicago needs to be fostered — she experienced the similar problem in San Francisco till she left).

    I enjoyed the “take” on Wesley Kimler’s position in the local artworld. I agree. It’s his energy and the fact that he names problems as they are that encouraged me to help him out in my own little way. Yeah, yeah, “Toothless Plebian,” WK seems like a “ranting lunatic” on occasion, but he’s NOT. Try listening to the content, not the social form. Or maybe just try thinking for yourself.

    Do you mind if I make a “Cover” painting featuring Sharky and JRK as a pair? Two opposing superpowers? I’ll put “Inspired by Bad at Sports” on it!

    I DO wish we would get on to comments on WILLIAM’s comments. I could have easily listened to him another hour. No shit. I was riveted to my seat. Especially his thoughts on the positive aspects of “today’s” artworld contra that of his formative years. And the “sound” of the city interpreted in a visual work. And and and. Great stuff. You guys have a great artist there, treasure him.

    With BAS, Sharkforum, Iconduel, and such, Chicago artists ARE taking control of their artworld. It’s underway! If it keeps up, in a few years I think the now-necessary criticism of Institutional Sleaze and Rust could fade away, replaced with more boosterism. But not just yet. Right now, we need both.

    posted by: Mark Staff Brandl on Wed, 8/23 07:47 AM EDT


    in other words, if people find false pride in proclaiming who they are & most for fear are unable to, there is a serious problem.

    lacking a wish, inclination for diversity & all the problems the entire world, has at hand.

    obviously submission to supposed & complacent superiorities ( quite popular these days )is not successful at entwining what is neccesary to invigorate any sort of wide creative scope.

    A cessation, unfortunately, of an ideal place for a structure neccesary to create & nurture a truly moving & valuble “chicago art world”.

    enough petty wars?
    posted by: marshall on Wed, 8/23 07:52 AM EDT


    Marshall, if you are going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair-

    “Si vis pacem, para bellum”
    (“If you want peace, prepare for war!”)
    – Flavius Vegetius Renatus (ca 390 AD),

    “Cry ‘Havoc’ and let slip the dogs of War.”
    – William Shakespeare (“Julius Caesar”)
    posted by: Le Sharky on Wed, 8/23 08:35 AM EDT


    Isn’t it remarkable that when you listen to someone like Mr. Conger talk about the influence of the city on his work it really makes sense? You don’t need a Phd in art theory to understand what he’s talking about, much the same way almost anyone can look at Stuart Davis and see his love of Jazz, or look at Goya and see a human abhorence for cruelty and war.

    It seems to me that the greatest threat to art as a socially relevant foil and artists as thriving cultural vocalists is the over-intellectualization of just what art is for and about.

    Contorting art into some kind of didactic pretzel is inherently de-humanizing, and in the end actually empties it of its real cultural power of meaning.

    This was the problem I had with portions of the BAT podcast, in which someone said, in effect, “I just don’t know what to say about this work.” That’s valid asa far as it goes, provided it’s not seen as a self-justifying indictment of work.

    In the end it seems to me that all great art presents some amount of ineffible quality which leaves room for the viewer. Art just isn’t language.

    I for one would love to hear more from Mr. Conger. Perhaps we can do a Sharkforum piece with him. Whenever I hear or read working artists who’ve been able to sustain a career I always seem to hear the same thing – there are more questions than answers. I guess the trick is to find interesting questions.
    posted by: David Roth on Wed, 8/23 09:04 AM EDT


    Mark Staff Brandl (aka Shark Theory) thank god you’re back! Yes, there has been almost no mention of Congers interview on this thread…….I attempted, was distracted as so often happens by the krill wafting through, but am now ready re-chomp if, you are game……
    posted by: The Shark on Wed, 8/23 09:08 AM EDT


    This is the greatest blog in the history of BAS.

    The Shark: You are my hero.

    T. Fitzpatrick: What’s been up with the Sox after they swept Detroit?

    That’s right, I’m changing this to a sports blog.

    Please keep blogging.

    Steve Hamann
    posted by: Steve Hamann on Wed, 8/23 09:30 AM EDT


    Steve– the pitching is tired — Ozzie shouldn’t let the guys go 8-9 innings and expect them to stay fresh– their overworked and that is a bad thing in late August.

    Kevin F. is right when he speaks about the blogs and the internet becoming a more powerful force than traditional critics– it HAS been happening with films for years most recently ‘Snakes on a Plane’ wasn’t screened for critics and it didn’t seem to hurt that particular masterpiece at the box-office.

    I also, fondly remember Kevin’s gallery , Abel Joseph, I think it was, and thought it was a wonderful space — but all things considered Kevin, you’ve not lived here for a long time and between the curatorial apparatus and critical neglect , the Chicago art scene has suffered since the 1980’s being nowhere what it once was– a lot of things contributed to this — the demise of Art Chicago, The fire in River North, and just general apathy and critical laziness– What we’d like to do is re-energize this scene and do so by making artists realize that it is really up to them to create the kind of art-world that they can grow in– if you don’t know what we’re trying to take the art-world back from , you are either terribly naive or you’ve been away from this city for too long — I suspect it is the latter — In fact … you had a terrific gallery here– what made you leave?..Could it be, in fact, for some of the reasons Wesley and I have posited here?

    As for hearing more of William Conger , I’m sorry for talking too much in the interview , I’m a big fan of Bill’s and my enthusiasm made my mouth work overtime.

    Go Sox
    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Wed, 8/23 12:07 PM EDT


    “I’m a big fan of Bill’s and my enthusiasm made my mouth work overtime…” says Tony F. No problem! I can understand! Not only from this interview, but in addition a while back I wrote some emails to William to get his opinions on some art things because I had enjoyed his comments at the Art Letter and Sharkforum so much. I got wonderful, thoughtful and insightful answers back. Just what I had hoped for and more. I think I have become a William Conger fan…

    Wesley has a point about Tony’s NYC and LA exhibitions — and I would like to remind everyone that Tony was big hit in LONDON too. There is a big ole world there OUTSIDE Chicago. I’m glad you are all working to “take the local artworld back” (I think it was “lost” in the late 80s Neo-Con-Consolidation-Usurpation, but that’s another story), but don’t forget to keep your feelers out for the rest o’ the world. I would love Europeans to know many Chicago artists better. Wesley and I plan to do some shows together “abroad,” and so on. Keep up the positive, democratic, “scene” energy, take over the Chicago artworld, then let’s parlay that into some international attention too — later. I’ll help as best I can.
    posted by: Mark Staff Brandl on Wed, 8/23 03:39 PM EDT


    What in the hell is with your tip toe thru the the tulips being nice as pie routine Tony…….?

    You may fool others, but not The Shark who, speaking of monsters, knows you too damn well to bite into a slice of this cooked up, fake pie…..sheeeesh!
    posted by: The Shark on Wed, 8/23 05:21 PM EDT


    Very nice episode, BAS fellows. It is very good to see others speaking about the importance of Chicago’s art history. William, I absolutely second your ideas about solitude being a crucial component of creativity and success as an artist. Thanks for so eloquently pointing this out.

    And if the Sox don’t win tonight, I don’t know what I’ll do.
    posted by: Lynne Warren on Wed, 8/23 05:48 PM EDT


    “And if the Sox don’t win tonight, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

    Come up to my house and cheer on the Tigers. If you’re gonna lose you may as well lose to the best.

    posted by: David Roth on Wed, 8/23 06:04 PM EDT


    I would rather engage in polite discourse than be a mean bastard– IF it becomes necessary to become mean — I can oblige– in spades — but some guys are just mean all day –WESLEY– some guys enjoy being nasty– WESLEY– some guys are never happier than when they are arguing–WESLEY– some guys want to argue EVEN when you happen to agree with them–WESLEY.

    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Wed, 8/23 06:07 PM EDT


    Well, yeah, that’s true, Dave.

    And I guess Tony’s forgotten about all the conversations he’s had with me,including the dozens we had about the exhibition I curated of his at MCA (which traveled nationally) and the essay I wrote dealing with Chicago and his work for the accompanying catalogue. Oh well.
    posted by: Lynne Warren on Wed, 8/23 06:10 PM EDT


    I haven’t forgotten any of it Lynne– if it were up to me you would be teaching other curators HOW to be curators– I didn’t mean to paint you with the same brush– it wasn’t my intention at all. I’m sorry.
    There are other gate-keepers in this town I take real issue with and that is who I was addressing.

    posted by: tony fitzpatrick on Wed, 8/23 06:19 PM EDT


    Thanks for the clarification, Tony. And really, thanks to both you and William (and Duncan)for this episode with its focus on history. I’m all for people knowing their history better; a main impetus for me in doing the Art in Chicago project was seeing so many subsequent waves of young artists thinking they had to reinvent the wheel when all they had to do was tap into Chicago’s history and build on a great foundation that was already there.
    posted by: Lynne Warren on Wed, 8/23 06:31 PM EDT


    Don’t worry Lynne, if you Tony were to paint you -it would defintely NOT be with a big brush ( more like an itsy bitsy cute little magic marker) -the big brushes are all down at the shark pit -part and parcel of his arsenal of serrated toothiness……..
    posted by: The Shark on Wed, 8/23 06:45 PM EDT


    Great point Lynne: “so many young artists think they have to reinvent the wheel when all they have to do is tap into Chicago’s history and build on a great foundation that is already here.” (I paraphrased a little bit.)

    After looking into this very subject I was thrilled to see the brilliant show at the 200 year old Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts titled “Art in Chicago: Resisting Regionalism, Transforming Modernism,” which showed that Chicago artists for over 100 years have been wrestling with the role of being an artist in Chicago. And it shows absolutely that for that 100 years Chicago artists have stood tall and ultimately have NOT defined themselves in terms of what went on in New York or anywhere else, nor that they existed in isolation, but that they tended to favor their own brand of tough figuration. Sometimes Chicago artists led; sometimes they went their own direction and occasionally they followed. But they were never second class not then – not now.

    Those artists confronted the same issues that today’s artists are looking for answers to. If today’s artists spend a little more time looking back at their aesthetic ancestors they will assuredly be able to move forward with greater speed, confidence and probably ability.

    Look at these examples:

    As early as 1913 and maybe earlier artists of color graduated from the School of the Art Institute.

    Manniere Dawson was probably the first abstract painter anywhere.

    Archibald Motley, Jr – a black Chicagoan painted some of the most poignant, lyrical, gorgeous paintings of the first half of the 20th Century.

    Macena Barton, a painter, was sleeping with art critic C.J. Bulliet who proclaimed that women were second rate painters so she did a portrait with his head on a tray in 1936, ala Salome. (see a reproduction and other information at http://www.fallonandrosof.com/2006/02/correcting-chicago-record.html)

    Look at the work of Robert Amft who is pushing 90 and having the time of his life thanks to Corbett vs. Dempsey whose gallery mostly focuses on Chicago art from 1940 to 1970. Amft was and is still an exemplary painter. (May I humbly suggest that BAS interview this ageless Chicagoan who has been making art here since before any other living Chicago put brush to canvas.

    How about Gertrude Abercrombie being friends with Charlie Parker, Billie Holliday and Sarah Vaughn and that Charlie Parker’s favorite painting “Design for Death” was based on the Billy Holliday song “Strange Fruit?

    I could go on and on, but the fascinating (at least to me) point is that Chicago artists today spend years finding themselves, often thinking that they’ve landed on a new truth, only to step into the long line of those who have already been here and that the younger generation is advancing the tradition that preceded them.

    Yes, the issue of recapturing what is yours is lively, current and appropriate, but it is not new. Perhaps the conditions have changed, but the issue is recurring. If you want I’ll post a list of a couple of dozen artists who have walked the walk and can shed light on your path. Of course, there is something wonderful about discovering something for oneself, but perhaps it is more efficient to learn of those who have already wrestled with similar and comparable issues.


    posted by: Paul Klein on Wed, 8/23 07:26 PM EDT



    Your post brings to mind a question I’ve chewed on for years, namely the inherent tendency of all art forms to churn through style and direction.

    If you roll with this characterization a bit I think you inevitably end up at a point where the role of the insurgent artist is not only valuable but essential.

    History has a funny way of providing pre-dated legitimacy to art which was little recognized and/or understood in its time, and it seems that one measure of the impact of such art is the degree to which it has inspired and informed future forms.

    While this hardly makes silk purses out of sows ears, it does say something about the dialogue which goes on between art objects and their makers over t

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