Episode 87: Art-ver-bridge-opolis part 1

April 29, 2007 · Print This Article

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As we recover from Sharkstock 2007 we diligently post Episode #87 the first installment of our team coverage of Artropolis, Version, Bridge, Sharkstock and a bunch of other cool stuff we went to in the last few days. Also prior to our soiree at Sonotheque we it Tony Fitzpatrick’s kickass opening at Architrove which was so crowded I nearly had a panic attack, I got to meet his Mom, who was utterly delightful. Paul Klein spent most of the fair weekend worried that we were stalking him as we were oddly on the exact same schedule at all times.

This weeks installment consists of a mix of stuff, next week we focus on interviews with gallerists and artists.

To top it all off special guest star Dolly Browder joins in!!!

The intro has a name mysteriously bleeped out. Cast your vote on our blog on who you think it was.

Team Browder reviews New InSight the exhibition of fancy-pants fresh young MFA’s curated by Susanne Ghez who, despite being a perfectly lovely person, steadfastly refuses to be on the show. C’mon Susanne we don’t bite!

Our first team coverage event: Team Queer (Terri, Serena, and Meg the war correspondent) and Team Fat White Guy (Duncan, Richard, Christopher Hudgens) get in the midst of combat with the “Carnival of art on the river” AKA “Art War 2007”. A member of the team is wounded in the line of duty. We intend to sue. Everyone. Edmar you are on notice.

Terri and Meg talk about Symposium C6 The Art World is Flat and how weirdly classist it seemed to be.

Duncan and Richard talk to William Dolan and Mark Staff-Brandl about The Artist Project and Bill makes a sale during our bit with him.

Richard talks to Michael Workman about being guillotined in effigy. Tom Burtonwood mourns the loss of his good friend Michael, but has already planned his ascendancy to the leadership of Bridge.

We wrap it all up with a discussion of Canadians drinking too much.

And this is just week 1. You should be paying us.

“This video is for Chris Sperandio Only”

The Architrouve
New Insight
Susanne Ghez
Rebecca Kardong
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Pamela Sunstrum
Maryland Instite College of Art
Fear Factor
Niki van Strien
San Francisco Art Institute
Leeza Meksin
Yale University
Jonathan Keller
Cranbrook Academy of Art
Symposium C6
Anne Pasternak
Stanley Hainsworth
Ruby Lerner
Robert Enright
Ken Lum
Erika Dalya Muhammad
Art War
Carnival of Art on the River
Edmar Lumpen (Ed Marszewski)
Michael Workman
Chris Kennedy
Kevin Stanton
Rachel Adams
Mark Staff Brandl
Bill Dolan
Paul Klein
Art Basel
Bridge Art Fair

131 thoughts on “Episode 87: Art-ver-bridge-opolis part 1”

  1. The Shark says:

    malarky -my points are specific, matter of fact, and to the point -and, even though I use ‘The Shark’ -I actually have the huevos to be sure everyone knows exactly who that is -try it sometime Lekrunk -screw up the ounce of courage it takes to post using your own name -so people will know who its is who considers all of the posts here naive for instance -its actually quite invigorating- you know, having enough intestinal fortitude to stand up for what you believe and think -without having to hide and skulk behind anonymity-

  2. Lekrunk says:

    lekrunk is close enough to my real name?

  3. WebSharkDR: Thanks for giving us our due Dave Roth!

    Mr Lekrunk: Yeah, Wesley’s style is abrasive. So get over it and pay attention to his CONTENT once. We’ve all been through these complaints a lot and it’s time to concentrate on the matters at hand and stop wishing everyone was sweet and paper-trained. This ain’t nicey-nice land.

    Hamann: so now lets start trading/collab cartoons by email?!!!

    102 Comments. Wow. BAS rules.

  4. The Shark says:

    Look Mark -don’t bother apologizing for me- we live in this time of complete obsequiousness -and cowardice- where people are so afraid they might say something that might hurt their ‘career’ in the art world -and so afraid to get out of their conformity and think for themselves -that you get what we’ve had here in Chicago for the last two decades -where a small group of people have been able to self appoint themselves as the authority on what is relevant here and promote that to the exclusion of almost everyone and everything else. And where two generations of artists have tried playing smoochie smooch with these peoples behinds -both socially and worse yet, aesthetically -in the hope I guess of forwarding themselves ( for those who have’t please forgive my inclusiveness and, I salute you-) Politeness in this climate borders upon complicity,complacency and just flat out evil -in a platonic sense of the word evil.

    I don’t have the time of day for it -and besides -the whole anonymous/ finger wagging, thing is so cowardly – its simply a waste of time trying to humor, let alone address someone so lacking in basic character-

    I don’t know why you bother.

  5. Dee Fox says:

    The Artist Project was juried … I suspect not by those who are referred to as the “self-appointed” “aesthetically” challenged small group of people referred to. If only 10% of the artists were “good” by someone’s definition, the problem (or disagreement perhaps) lies in the jurors’ selection of artists and the independent/unrepresented artists who chose not to have their work considered. The idea of giving as yet unrepresented artists or artists who have chosen not to affiliate with a dealer/agent the opportunity to show in a forum that draws a national and international audience done right allows for the emergence of artists.

  6. The Shark says:

    Dee, this was the one area I found myself differing with the Mart on -and as I said publicly when we had the presentation at my studio for The Artist Project, I disagreed with the premise of only non-affiliated artists being considered -though, it was not a hill I was willing to die on -as I think the Mart did such an amazing, bang-up job on the show as a whole……

    The Artist Project was hamstrung due to the fact that only non-affiliated artists were allowed -sure there were a few young emerging artists – like Marianna Levant for instance -but there was also a lot of street fair level junk. Sure there are a few non-affiliated artist here in Chicago that are good -neither Tony Fitz for instance nor myself have representation here -primarily because we don’t need a local art dealer to sell our work here or, take 50% of the proceeds -but the simple fact is in todays market, if you can’t get a decent gallery to represent you, maybe the work just isn’t there…… I consider it a missed opportunity and am hopeful that The Mart will revisit the idea of allowing ALL artists to submit for The Artist Project with the idea that it can be an aesthetically challenging show rather than an aesthetically challenged exhibition-

  7. Dee Fox says:


    I can see that the view that pool of good artists to choose from would improve without limiting eligible artists to unaffiliated artists (though “unaffiliated” does not mean that the artist has not once been affiliated in some context or has not been shown by gallerists/dealers, etc). The process of getting representation in the least is one level of vetting, though more marketplace vetting than vetting of aesthetics.

    I’d say in 8/10 or 9/10 cases, you’re right — the work is not “there”. I see an effort like the “Artist Project” allowing for the 1/10 to 2/10 in which this is not the case and the issue really becomes one of finding the fit between the art and the audience, or the artist has chosen to remain independent/unaffiliated. Even admitting some variations in what galleries show, a good deal of it runs together, in my opinion. Represented artists can show in the art fair forum through their galleries, and I’d worry about the “Artist Project” becoming simply another outlet for the galleries (whether this happened would depend on the jurors and the level of “blindness” in the jury process) to show work they do not otherwise choose to show in the fair themselves. Of course, I could be self-rationalizing; while I have enough confidence in my work to say it’s good, the Artist Project elected to waitlist me.

    Debate aside on whether it makes sense otherwise, I suspect in the end, the limitation to “independent” or “unrepresented” artists was a way to market the project as “different” in the context of the larger event.

  8. The Shark says:

    How about a juried exhibition of all interested artists regardless of affiliation or non, with an awareness towards unrepresented artists who merited being shown-

  9. Dee Fox says:

    Shark, on its face, that sounds nice, but how — and who — does one delineate an awareness towards unrepresented artists who merit being shown. If the goal is to make the fact of “affiliation” irrelevant to putting together an “aesthetically challenging” exhibition, eligibility should not be limited by affiliation or non-affiliation, and aesthetic challenge should be a explicit criteria. If the goal is at the same time to help undiscovered talent emerge, or put differently, to define the marketplace by helping collectors and the market find undiscovered talent before it emerges widely, then lack of affiliation becomes relevant, with a definitional problem: what level of “affiliation” constitutes “discovery” as the two are not the same thing. I’d favor an open show (affiliation irrelevant) and say in the end it comes down to the who is selected to serve as jurors and the jury process. Defining the criteria as you have is less amenable to marketing sound byte, but I think successful marketing could focus on the show being aesthetically challenging (if it is) and direct from the artist (no intermediary – I would keep that, even if the artist is affiliated, the artist needs to be present) and on the presence of the artists to discuss the work.

  10. The Shark says:

    I think the show should be for practicing artists out of school -perhaps a 5 year moratorium from any bfa or mfa program -much like I feel the MCA should do with the 12X12 show……l- this should not be about emerging artist -there is WAY too much empasis on ‘new institutional product’ as it is. I suggest a jury of a curator or two and perhaps several artists…….I think the show should be about featuring good artists -giving them a chance to have an entire booth devoted to their work -at a lower price per booth- the agenda being, the work being seen, and sold. I see it as a win win for both gallery and affiliated artists -and the same for non- I think it is unhealthy to have emerging shows/mfa shows at art fairs -for all the obvious reasons-

  11. The Shark says:

    Look -we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here -the artist project is still part of the trade show -as it should be -and the best artists should have the opportunity to show there……the trade show is what is is -and we want it to be as strong as possible -all the other very cool possibilities can happen outside and around the fair -like Sharkstock does……people should be creative with HOW they are artists in the world -like I am, and create their own situations rather than waiting around for someone to do it for them-

  12. Dee Fox says:

    “practicing artists out of school -perhaps a 5 year moratorium from any bfa or mfa program” … close to the base eligibility criteria Creative Capital uses for their grants: their definition is 5 or more years of being a professional artist (more or less defined by a history of showing/selling) and not currently in school (theoretically allows overlap — the possibility that one was professionally showing their work while in school — which your definition would exclude) and a fair criteria as at a minimum it shows the artist is serious about their artwork. I still think of those fitting this criteria as “emerging.” I agree with you about mfa shows at art fairs and avoiding institutional product.

  13. The Shark says:

    When I say ‘I’, I should say we -look at all of the stuff BAS people are doing -and the same with The Sharkpack -and yes we are very aware of each other and the people at BAS and the sharks have become friendly and do work together at times- we’ve accomplished much, we are just at the beginning.

  14. I finally finished posting my whole darn report of my experiences — at the fair, with BAS, at Wesley’s, at the Artist Project and so on. Please go check it out!


  15. Richard says:

    Holy Crap Mark!!!

    Amazing article. Puts us to shame.

  16. David Roth says:

    “the problem (or disagreement perhaps) lies in the jurors’ selection of artists and the independent/unrepresented artists who chose not to have their work considered.”

    Just for the record (and as an aside), I submitted my work and the submission was lost in the sausage maker. This happen to a few other artists as well.

  17. David Roth says:

    ONe more thing, and I tried to address this at the meeting held at Wesley’s – the whole issue of affiliation is moot, as there’s no codified understanding of what this means. Are we talkinga bout artists who have seen their work hang on the wall of a gallery in the last year, or will in the next year? If so it’s pretty easy to check them off the list, even though I think they should still be eligible.

    The whole point of limiting eligibility was that the Mart was selling the show to dealers who’d just simply had enough, and they were walking a fine line. In order to placate the gallerists they assured them that they would0n’t be competing with themselves.

    It’s the same in the music game, where venues attempt to prohibit you from playing a gig in the same town within 2 or 3 weeks.

    I’m with Wes on this one – open it up and let it all hang out. I’d also favor the following approach, because I just find it hard to believe that there are 70 high-quality artists in Chicago who haven’t shown in a legit gallery in a 24 month period (my arbitrary time frame):

    – If the objective is to “balance the playing field for artists” as Tony Fitz has advocated, then how about picking 5 really good artists and giving them some MONEY? Award the money at the fair, and give them 1 year to produce a show for the following year.

    I give the Mart folk a ton of credit – they put a lot of miles between this year and last year. But I think the Artist’s Project, at least in it’s current state, isn’t helping much. Someone who exhibited there can prove me wrong of course.

  18. Dee Fox says:

    David, I may be wrong, but I think most if not all of the independent artists shown in the Artist Project have affiliations that would match what you describe – had their work on a gallery wall. You’d have a really hard, make that impossible, time finding quality artists if you excluded such artists from participating, and the project was not meant to be a first show/exhibition for the artists.

    I think of affiliation as currently represented and backed by a gallery as part of the gallery’s regular stable of artists. I don’t think I’d go so far as to say affiliation equals exclusive relationship, although one could, at least exclusive to a territory. As I noted, having a relationship, even a solid relationship, with a gallery is a far cry from being discovered or available to curators/collectors for discovery, not just because of the looseness of the term affiliation but because not all galleries or gallery relationships really give that kind of exposure. One could address the Mart’s concern by only excluding artists who are contractually represented by the galleries showing in Art Chicago, although if affiliation were irrelevant, I’d have to think the galleries would not mind another venue for their artists to show in as long as they still got their 50% of any sales.

    I suppose we’ll see in due course what benefits/fruits of exposure the Project had for the artists who invested their time and money showing in it. To the extent that the work is shown in a venue that curators/collectors attend, there is at least exposure to that audience that the unrepresented artist might not otherwise get. I think the idea you propose of selecting an artist(s) for a solo show is an interesting one, but perhaps too close to treading on the galleries’ territory for the Mart to want to go there. One thing that is nice is the Mart’s willingness to consider ideas like the Artist Project.

  19. BillDolan says:

    The Artist Project is in danger of becoming an indoor version of the Old Town Art Fair, which is to say work that is kind of general, maybe pleasing to look at, but not very inspiring or inspired. I agree that there should be a set of criteria for the artists — a certain distance in years from school, track record of professional exhibitions, etc., but at some point it could become a tangled mess. In the end much of the responsibility lies with the jurors, as they are the gatekeepers. They should be able to discern between work that is more fitted to a show such as One of a Kind, or an “aesthetically challenging show,” worthy of being a satellite exhibition to one of the most important international art fairs in the world.

    I think that the show was a good start, though. I met some really great people, got my work out there, sold a piece and made a commission. For me, it was a great success and well worth it.

    As a side note, the Mart had someone from Toronto checking it out. They hope to do something similar there next year.

  20. David Roth says:

    Hey Dee Fox,

    I know you’re right, and for the record I’m an advocate for eliminating the “representation” prohibition altogether.

    My point is that it would be pretty easy to figure out something clear and fair – as it is there were defintitely “represented” artists there, as you’ve said.

    Had the community as a whole known that ahead of time I’m willing to bet that many more and better artists would have submitted their work.

    The upshot was a varying non-standard standard. I can see how this happened, and I don’t think it’s a big deal, but it could be avoided next year.

  21. The Shark says:

    Its part of the trade show! -let people like Tony Fitzpatrick -myself and others in. Have the most competitive best artist project possible – (actually I could have applied this year but really am not so interested due mostly to the scale I prefer to work at-)….just open it up to everyone, choose the best art period -its not that subjective nor that hard to ascertain-

  22. Just watch WHO is on the jury! I’ve seen such promising ideas get handed over lock, stock and barrel to the Consensus Clique.

    I think I would like to be on the jury rather than in the show next year. I think much of it WAS good this year too, although I believe I was the first to be cited in print and radio as criticizing the quality. If you disagree, come over to Sharkforum and argue with me, as the thread here will probably soon change over to the newest podcast.

  23. The Shark says:

    Artists -and actual Curators! -no art ‘educators’ or their henchmen/sycophants -nobody from the ‘Ren’

  24. Sounds okay — but Curator R, your fave, also a big NOT,… the curators ARE the problem in Europe, being the biggest “Ren” types. Onyl Curators who have real eyes and intelligence and independence like LW should be allowed. And also somebody like one of us and ABS etc.

    Now on to

  25. The Shark says:

    OH! you mean ‘mr curator’ aka curator lite James Rondeau…………not to worry, in The Shark’s world he is not a curator -he is both a matinee idol to the aging suburbanite art mavens,, and most importantly, a glorified fund raiser…..

  26. David Roth says:

    “Its part of the trade show!”

    Can you help me out here – why are you placing such emphasis on this? I’m missing sumpin’.

  27. The Shark says:

    Simple Dave -what goes on at the Mart is a trade show -with the emphasis placed -on exhibiting the best work/ artists possible…..its a simple captialist model -and a better one than turning the artist project in to some kind of community outreach program -not that I hear you advocating that -but there is that sense in the air about the project -I think its a mistake.

  28. Dee Fox says:

    I would hope the Project is concerned with opening up the marketplace rather than being a community outreach program. It has to rise and fall based on its success in capitalizing on putting the best art work in front of the buying audience.

    It seems like the complaint folks have and want the Artist Project and other efforts to address is not the marketplace, or even necessarily the abstract idea of having gatekeepers (provided they are “independent”, meet one’s standard of excellence, etc.), but rather specific gatekeeper(s); put otherwise, break the hold of a clique of current “behind the scenes” gatekeepers. There’s always a danger to mucking around with criteria apart from the artwork itself (e.g. x years out of school, blah, blah); but I think these criteria are being suggested as means of skirting that set of gatekeepers rather than community outreach.

    The Project, like any other endeavor, whatever machinations are involved in organizing it, will die if jurors make poor selections and very little overall impresses the “market” (lets say that’s the blue chip collectors/audience with real money and interest in art and aquirting art that everyone seems to be trying to reach) and sells. The “market” seems to have engrained the current gatekeepers and also can knock them out if the work they are exposed to outside the picks of the “behind the scenes” gatekeepers wows them.

  29. hiutopor says:


    Very interesting information! Thanks!


  30. Richard says:

    Our pleasure~!

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