Episode 132: Review-arama: SF vs. Chi – a showdown – a throw down

March 9, 2008 · Print This Article

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This week the show is Co-hosted by Lori Waxman, recorded live in coffee shop on a Saturday night during dinner.

She and Duncan check out what is going on in the Chicago Alternative spaces. San Francisco beats down Eli Broad/LACMA and it turns out Marc LeBlanc is part of the oppressive white male hegemony.

Ah, Bad at Sports is “sweet as pie.” Let the hate mail flow freely.

Philip von Zweck
Whitney Biennial
Deb Sokolow
Washington Post
Greenbrier Resort
Lisa Boyle
Western Exhibitions
Eric Lebofsky
Steven Husby
Sarah Lobb
Fraction Workspace
Monique Meloche
Cindy Loehr
Roots and Culture
Ryan Fenchel
Brendan Meara
Jeff Koons
Barbara Kruger
Andy Warhol
Damien Hirst
Jenny Holzer
Cindy Sherman
Richard Serra
Roy Lichtenstein
John Baldessari
Chris Burden
Robert Irwin
The Guggenheim
The Met
Dia Beacon
Gilbert and George
The Tate
The Brooklyn Museum
James Turrell
Gus Van Sant
New Langton Arts
San Francisco Arts Commissions Gallery
Eve Fowler
Jen Smith
Zoe Crosher
Catherine Opie
Hillary Clinton

Direct download: 132BadatsportsReviews.mp3

57 Responses to “Episode 132: Review-arama: SF vs. Chi – a showdown – a throw down”

  1. amytalluto Says:

    hm! a tough love episode. my favorite!

  2. Haven’t listened in a while. Tried this segment and the one before. Both made me want to shoot myself. Could you possibly get any more boring and gradschoolish?
    Could you?

  3. Peg,



  4. Peg, please don’t shoot yourself. How could BAS go on without such constructive criticism?

  5. Duncan does excel at that when he tries.

    And honestly if there needs to be shooting it should be at the hosts and producers of BAS. Hell Duncan has been wearing kevlar boxers for almost three years now and drives around in a “popemobile”.

  6. hi BAS, i have been catching up on the past few weeks shows. good times! i hope there will be more amanda/sanford in the future. that was good. things seem kinda bleak listening to the chicago reviews? what gives? is it the weather?

    i am mostly posting though to comment on ‘pegs’ post above. the reiterated “could you?” at the end of the post seems to really reverberate with sentiments of disgust and frustration.

    way to go!

  7. Duncan needs a hug.

  8. This is not a reply to the trashing of the show at my space — I respect your rights to your opinions. I’m writing to say that, like Peg and Coyle allude to, this was a boring show. It was numbing – Duncan and Lori both sound so bedraggled and depressed. Duncan, especially – he sounded like he was discussing Darfur. Ok, maybe you retort that the art made you this way, but aren’t negative reviews supposed to be more fun than this. Everyone loves when Artforum or the NYT actually runs a negative review, one with bile — it’s so rare and this rarity makes it oh so delicious. Reviewing art on the radio — ruminating on visual phenomenon on an aural medium — is tricky business. Your responsibility to your listeners is to make the show entertaining. What we listeners need from the two of you is some passion, some righteous indignation, some cojones! Another show like this one, we’ll liable to tune out. In fact, I did tune out … I didn’t make it to the SF part of the show….

    I’ve been thinking about this lately (as if I don’t have enough other things to think about), but here’s an idea:

    Instead of doing a reviews shows, do a “issues” shows. Invite two or three guests – artists, curators, writers, administrators, collectors, even, gasp, gallerists –plus yourselves and have a roundtable discussion. First, though, set up some ground rules:

    — Everyone must come with a list of 3 to 5 issues in the artworld – this could cover raves and rants about shows (here’s where you get your reviews in), art world gossip, magazine articles, art fair discussions, anything really. This would ensure that the discussions will focus on topics that someone actually wants to talk about. The trouble with your Reviews shows is that you go out to a particular gallery district and review what you see – you don’t go see shows and THEN decide what you want to review, like real critics do, which would ensure that you will have engaging and interesting opinions on the work.

    — Alcohol and/or caffeine. Everyone must have a couple drinks in them before recording. And you invite a guest who doesn’t drink, make sure there are pretty damn charming and engaging – or get them hopped up on Red Bulls. I’ve had discussions with Mssrs MacKenzie and Holland about BAS in which they state that they are neither journalists nor art critics, just artists talking shit about art over beer. Well, dammit, make this literal.

    No more boring shows!

  9. Scott,

    This has always been my argument against serious journalism. We are fucking boring.

    o all, we appreciate the feedback and will take it to heart. In BAS’s defense we have done 135 shows, have lots on our plates, and do our best. Every show is not for everyone, but we will do what we can to keep it jazzy.


  10. And honestly if I was going to shit-talk Western Exhibitions I would have to focus on you personally in an inappropriate way and continue our blood feud until you and I throw down in a beat-it style knife fight.

  11. richard — enough with this bullshit defense — if you aren’t proud of your product, don’t put it out there. seriously — this “we’ve done 135 shows — they can’t all be good — we so busy” is just stupid. You put something out in the world, it’s fair game to criticize — just like you guys have criticized my shows in the past. you have such thin skin. man up!

  12. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    I like it when an art dealer actually has balls….. good for you Scott.

  13. Michael Workman Says:

    Yeah Richard, where’s the testicles? You should show people your testicles, otherwise that makes you a woman. But seriously: is the thrill finally gone? Maybe it’s time to just close up shop. No shame in it after such a good run.

  14. Scott,

    I have no problem with the criticism, and clearly am less sensitive about criticism than other certain posters who are mysteriously angry and who shall remain nameless.

    In terms of my “bullshit defense” as you so eloquently put it, hell there are shows I honestly don’t like, however it is a group project, with lots of contributors, with an open model. There have been times Marc has expressed his dislike of certain elements, Duncan has expressed his dislike of certain elements, and God knows I has expressed my dislike of certain elements of certain shows, but we aren’t obligated to “man up” and air that publicly. I’m sure every Western Exhibitions show is top notch. Scott you are always welcome to contribute to the show, send us some reviews, some commentary, we’ll run it. We’d love to have you.

    Honestly the thin skin here isn’t mine, blast away. You clearly have misinterpreted my light comments above in some way I don’t understand. But that’s fine.

    In terms, of the show I don’t feel like I need to defend our product a whole lot. We provide a free community service, we aren’t paid, we do our best, sometimes its great sometimes it sucks. You adopted the right approach with listening, if you are listening to an episode that sucks, stop, they’ll be another one next Sunday, or stop entirely there is lots of art media out there.


  15. here’s the thing Richard — you don’t have to respond to the criticism. The last two times you’ve been to WX, you’ve trashed our shows and that’s fine — it’s your opionio in the vast marketplace of ideas and that’s cool — but I don’t respond. It’s sounds whiny and defensive when you continually bring up the fact that you are busy, you don’t get paid, it’s free, blah, blah, blah. Just let the criticism slide dude. “man up” means “let it slide”not show us your dirty laundry.

    As far THIS snide comment goes — “I’m sure every Western Exhibitions show is top notch” — I have two things to say to you — 1) I’m proud of every show we put on. We put it out there and its fair game — you can like or not. But I won’t make up some bullshit defensive crap like I’m underpaid aand overworked. Duh, EVERYONE IS.
    2) Fuck you.

  16. Scott,

    Fuck you is always such a grown up position, nice work!

    You can add me to the long list of people you feud with I suppose, but I’d happily discuss this like adults some time, let me buy you coffee.


  17. no thanks

  18. Scott,

    Welcome back to posting.

    I didn’t think Lori and I trashed Eric’s show but it is true that we were not very up beat this week.

    Your suggestions are good and we are always working to do shows that are very much in line with your suggestion. They are often not as easy to co-ordinate.

    I hear that things are going great at Western and there a big announcements coming. We look forward to them and the many other great shows you guys will be doing in the future.


  19. Also, MW – fuck quiting. Bad at Sports has only begun to serve it’s art world.

  20. bas, don’t go changin.

    “you are beautiful no matter what they say
    words won’t bring you down”
    -christine aguilera

  21. Ann Onymous Says:

    Don’t go changing, to try and please me
    You never let me down before
    Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
    And I don’t see you anymore
    I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
    We never could have come this far
    I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
    I’ll take you just the way you are

    Don’t go trying some new fashion
    Don’t change the color of your hair
    You always have my unspoken passion
    Although I might not seem to care

    I don’t want clever conversation
    I never want to work that hard
    I just want someone that I can talk to
    I want you just the way you are.

    I need to know that you will always be
    The same old someone that I knew
    What will it take till you believe in me
    The way that I believe in you.

    I said I love you and that’s forever
    And this I promise from the heart
    I could not love you any better
    I love you just the way you are.

  22. Whew! Cool — some Sharkpack type responses. At the very least this show made a bunch of you write in.

    I found it sounded a bit depressed (albeit not depressing). That can be — it is a recurrent possibility in the diary-like nature of this blog/podcast thing.

    I personally LIKED the reviews. And enjoyed having Lori back. Of course I did not see ANY of the shows, being in Europe, but your discussions made me WANT to see them. In fact, mostly because I felt I would disagree with your judgments — which also points out that you did a rather good job of description, even if you didn’t think so. E.g., it sounded to me like I would like the WEX show, AND that Cindy Loehr can also be deemed as having real courage to address the subjects she apparently does. Due to your review I will definitely go out of my way to view her work (then probably write a positive review in Art in America or something — nah nah nuh nah nah).

    The SF part WAS indeed primarily a discussion of an issue and a discussion I enjoyed.

    I’ve got to support Scott, though, on the alcohol/stimulant idea. It sounds like my approach. Works well. Really, I do agree. It would make sure that the form is close to how BaS describes itself.

  23. wow, richard you are always pissing someone off!

    i agree w/ scott that duncan should be packed to the gills with booze, red bull and probably some kind of jelly candy.

  24. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    I like that Scott defends his artists , I like that Richard stands by his show .

    You are both good guys who are better than you have to be.

    Don’t become enemies over this .

    It would belittle both of you.

  25. pedro velez Says:

    wow! I come here every two weeks or so to keep up, not that I’m a huge fan of BAS but I do respect the time it takes to put a show like this, and BAS does serves the community…reminds me in a way of the FGA years. We didn’t get paid but we did get a lot of shit from angry artists and curators. So far my fave shows have been the one with Marc Fischers and the other with Elms. I also follow Art Letter and Sharkforum. I used to read some blogs but most have gone out. Plus the newspapers and the Time Out and all that.

    I agree with Scott, of course. The thing is that the BAS boys don’t take criticism too well. If you have a forum like this you need have thicker skin, ease on giving smart -ass answers and excuses, listeners that are not part of the scene pick up on that and think there might not be that much substance or seriousness behind the show at all.

    anyway, my two cents on constructive criticism and keep up the hard work.

  26. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    Pedro — truthfully, nobody really takes criticism well– I just like both of these guys a lot and respect them. It would be ashamed to see 2 of the people who, in my view , are part of the solution, rather than the problem, in this town, needlessly become enemies.

    Both of these guys evince a fearlessness in this landscape that is rare– they can do more to better the discourse as allies.

  27. BAS’s ability to take criticism well or not aside, I’m curious what the rest of you lot have done for the community that has not been motivated solely by self interest, lately.

    I know I’m got a whole lot of nuthin’ to lay out on that table, so all in all I’m glad the Bloggers/Sharkforum/BAS folks are out there keeping it interesting.

    Chicagoan love nothing more than to put each other down. Odd isn’t it?

  28. Tony Fitzpatrick Says:

    You are right Balz…. and it is an instinct we would do well to outgrow.

    I’m working on it myself.

  29. David Roth Says:

    This is almost enough to make me pine for the days when I was running a blog…or not.

    FWIW, I think the BAS folk take criticism pretty well, and even though I don’t know a ton about WX it does seem like Scott is working pretty damn hard and is in it for the right reasons. It is possible that both of things can be true – that Scott can and should defend his artists, and that the BAS kids can run their apple cart any way they choose. If they piss people off they should be prepared to suffer the consequences, and from what I can see they are.

    Balzac it right, of course – most people just sit idly by and wait for others to make things happen for them. I find it amazing that BAS isn’t even MORE sarcastic in the face of criticism. Anyone who’s taken a turn at the wheel knows it’s very hard work, and you end up getting a ton of grief along with the benefits. I’m really not sure they owe anybody anything.

  30. Scott Speh Says:

    Wow, Balzac, so I’m motivated by self-interest? Thanks, mister/miss anonymous blog poster — you’re so brave. Hmmm, Balzac, what exactly have you done? Why the anonymity?

    My initial comments were directed with love and concern for BAS –I’m hardly ripping the show as a whole. If I didn’t care about BAS, then I wouldn’t have taken them time to offer up a carefully considered piece of constructive criticism — not even close to a rip-job.

    Mr. Roth – sarcasm in the face of criticism — this would a whole lot more fun! I simply reject the “have done 135 shows, have lots on our plates, and do our best” defense, which is offered up often. It doesn’t take responsibility for the product that is put out there for consumption. BAS takes their shots at people, it would do them well to expect that shots will be taken at them.

    But again, I didn’t really take a shot. And I’m also not really defending my artists; I was defending my integrity, which I felt was impugned in post number 14. You as a viewer can agree or disagree with my selections or taste, but to infer that I think what I’m doing isn’t always “top-notch” is below the pale.

    Amy T — that is a great song!

    Mr. Duncan — thank you for clear-eyed, level-headed diplomacy. You are a true mensch.

  31. Scott Speh Says:

    And I apologize for getting so heated, but sometimes a “FU” truly encapsulates one’s feelings.

  32. David Roth Says:

    “I simply reject the “have done 135 shows, have lots on our plates, and do our best” defense, which is offered up often. ”

    That’s your prerogative, but it still might be true. I don’t think it serves as an excuse for unfair criticism, but BAS has long been slammed for the production values as well. When I was building and running the mechanics of Sharkforum we often (and I’m betting they still do) got a lot of shit from within and without about the form and content of the site. Without knowing the specifics of who does what at BAS I can only say that since no one’s making a living at this it’s all just a work in progress.

    “It doesn’t take responsibility for the product that is put out there for consumption.”

    I disagree – I think it’s just an attempt to place things in context. Reasonable people can disagree about the validity of this context of course. But if the criticism pertains to the quantity (‘hey – you missed my show!’) or the quality (‘was Duncan really snorting wasabi during that segment, AGAIN?’) then I think their point is totally legit. Most of us have become accustomed to living indoors, and I can tell you from experience that producing a site like this takes up a shitload of time.

    Being busy is not, of course, a legitimate cover for tearing someone down or being unfair – they’ve chosen to cover a show, and that requires them to have an opinion. And I get, I think, your beef with having been presented with sarcasm in the face of criticism – it’s a bit patronizing. I just think there are times that an attempt at humor can go from acerbic to corrosive.

    “BAS takes their shots at people, it would do them well to expect that shots will be taken at them.”

    Agreed completely.

  33. Scott,

    Re-read my comment, I own that I have not done anything useful for the community. Why would I (or anyone honestly) do anything other than post anonymously when you and others clearly espouse an overtly vindictive tone and attitude.

    I’m not interested in suffering petty personal grudges from people I might reasonably disagree with, if that makes me a coward in this environment so be it.


  34. you suck balzac

  35. Scott Speh Says:

    yes, Balzac, I’m constantly on this forum attacking people….it’s wise of you to remain in the shadows.

  36. David Roth Says:

    “Why would I (or anyone honestly) do anything other than post anonymously when you and others clearly espouse an overtly vindictive tone and attitude.”

    Comments like this leave me completely befuddled. Talk about a thin skin…

  37. in full disclosure—-
    i’m not as much as a regular poster then i am a regular reader of this discussion board. but after —well shit, years of tuning in at this point (F yeah BAS!)—i have grown accustomed to being familiar with all of the contributors here (MLB, TF, SS etc). mr. balzac has been prevalent with his (or hers) contributions. it does seem weird that there is so much repeat public activity by the sharkpeople, scott, even that crazy mr. kimler and so on that one would refrain from being public w/ their opinions….theres something cool about being able to put one’s money where their mouths are. an example is scott or even the shark dudes—you can agree/disagree with what thy’re saying but you can also link to their websites or blogs to further understand where they’re coming from.

    i take a lot more stock in that then anonymous remarks. i guess thats the beauty of the internet though.

    duncan, i can’t wait for you to come out here by the way!

  38. oh and finally guys, there has been a lot of dissing your ability to take criticism, i;d like to try and put this to bed by summing up my assessment of what i ‘m reading here (also the beauty of the internet) (mostly inspired by speh and velez).

    here’s what i think people are trying to say to richard—

    1) BAS, whether you fuckers like it or not, has become a bit of an institution onto yourselves in chicago. people listen. i know you have huge amounts of downloads. people listen outside chicago. that is really, really, really good. people ask you to be on panel discussions. people at CAA ask you to speak on round tables about what your doing. people are taking this thing seriously. c’mon!

    2) the wha wha part
    it comes across as leaving a back door open when you continue to reiterate that “your busy, you don’t get paid, you have shit going on…”etc. it comes across as shrugging what, whether you planned it or not, has become a pretty big responsibility. a lot of fucking people listen to you guys! everybody’s busy and takes on more then they could chew. man up on that. maybe evey show might not b ewhatyou wanted but you put it out there in the public sphere…..you guys are providing something that is seriously lacking in chicago and, you know, people are grateful, but shit. your doing it so own up. take the knocks bizzatches. this is your jam! and thanks for the bizzizzles.

  39. David, you bastard, I’m hurt, I’ll be there too, and now I’m canceling
    our Sybaris suite.

    It’s all love from Bad at Sports, always.

    Scott the coffee offer still stands. I’ll keep the coffee laxative free this time, honest.

  40. Chris, I don’t know where you keep finding these images for the poll, but they are stellar.

  41. richard,

    i don’t see why you, ducan and i could not have a beautiful bromantic weekend!

  42. David Roth Says:


    funny word.

  43. DMC. Anytime spent with you is bromatic. It’s like the things I read about in those Bromance novels I get in the check out line at the supermarket.

  44. Michael Workman Says:

    Speh: Fuck you. You’re a turd, and you should just admit that’s all you ever wanted to be, despite the spread anus you offer the world. And that’s not anonymous–wanna solve a problem?
    Duncan: It’s no longer entertaining, and despite the welcome sycophancy, it’s done offering joy on its own merits. That’s a different art world than any artist worth their salt would back.
    Tony: I like a good fight, too. But let’s have a moment of decency where we give the truth its stead. You’re backing the wrong horse, and I say that with all respect.
    BAS: Fuck the critics. This is your house, they can learn to flush the toilet or pay the plumber’s bill.


  45. Wow, Michael, aggressive post, although I’m not certain I understand it all.

    I stand with Balzac and Tony very strongly on one point that meshes well with my experience of the Chicago artworld both as outsider and insider to the scene,
    “Chicagoans love nothing more than to put each other down. Odd isn’t it?” as Balzie says, and most importantly “…and it is an instinct we would do well to outgrow. I’m working on it myself.” as Tony says.

    I’m working on it too. I too have been trying to keep my critical capacity (which I think is necessary and ever rarer in our sophistic, kiss-ass artworld), yet not also jump to the attack so quickly. Sometimes I do that and I am right, sometimes I do it and am wrong.

    As an example, I seem to recall snarking back and forth with Balzac a long time ago. I was p-o-ed to a large extent by his inability to stand by his comments with a real name, take the punches. Like Coyle, anonymous bothers me. But I was largely wrong about Balzac’s ideas, I later discovered as I read more and more of what he comments and agreed.

    Heated, though, is not so bad Scott. It shows that you/we actually CARE about this activity called art. Well, heated, but short of shouting insults or starting knife fights.

  46. OK team. I love you all but lets not “drink and blog.” Say it with me, “I will not drink and blog.”

  47. Lets go back to the discussion of Bromance Novels. That was starting to go somewhere funny.

    I only sniff model airplane glue and blog, it is retro cool.

  48. pedro velez Says:

    Coyle, I wasn’t dissing, I approve of BAS work in the Chi community, the issuse raised here are about specifics regarding how to take a couple of punches when being an “art critic or commentator.”

    and could somebody explain Workman’s comments.

  49. tony fitzpatrick Says:

    I take it there is no ‘bromance’ between Mr. Speh and Mr. Workman– again, a shame — two guys I like a lot.

    I understand the concept of bone-deep grudges– I’ve had plenty of them — but in the long haul those things drag us down– they coarsen us and remove the possibilities.

    BAS is part of what is good in this landscape– and I love a good and vigorous debate– but the mean spirited stuff gets us nowhere — a measure of civility will not hurt a good debate.

    I am a little new to this ‘Kumbaya’ shit– I’ve said plenty of things on these blogs that I probably should keep to myself– but I look at Scott and Richard, and Michael– all guys I like and think there is much more to be gained by not needlessly belittling each other.

    So … knock it off … or I will come down to Peoria street and stack asses.

  50. David Roth Says:

    “…and could somebody explain Workman’s comments.”

    I thought it was just me…

    “or I will come down to Peoria street and stack asses.”

    speaking of bromance…

    I keed, I keed.

  51. did someone say “wasabi snorting” party?

  52. David Roth Says:

    when Duncan’s doing it it’s always a party. Duncan and Steve-O, that is.

  53. Scott Speh Says:

    Hey Richard,

    Can we get a beer instead? And I apologize to you for the cursing.

    Otherwise, when people start talking about my anus (when I am obviously much more of dick man), I am outta here! Have fun here on these interwebs……good times!

  54. Beer would be very Wisconsin of us!

    Duncan has been talking about my anus for 3 years and that hasn’t stopped anything.

    Actually now that Amanda is in NYC there has been a lot less anus humor than before.

  55. By the way, I think far more dangerous than drinking and blogging is writing comments in the middle of the night. I often do it, in a white heat, and then later re-read what I have written and cringe a wee bit.

    I too like to think of Speh, MW, BaS, Sharkforum, Wesley, Tony, PV and others (I hope I am helping somewhat too) here as part of the slow-but-steady solution, not the problem, or even a symptom, and would hate to see any of you self-destruct or bash each other into retreat. I saw it happen many times in Chicago when I lived there. But don’t stay so “civil” that you get all fake nicey-nice, as happens far too often here in Switzerland.

  56. Chris Roberts Says:

    Very entertaining responses! I stopped listening to the podcast half-way through and concentrated on reading all the replies.

    Anyway, shouldn’t we be glad that people are attending shows, and creating discussions about them on podcasts, which, in turn, gets alot more people going to see these shows for themselves, and talking about art, etc?

    I am definitely on the low end of the totem pole of Chicago art, but I anxiously await a bad review! That would mean that people are talking about my art.


  57. In the sweet spirit of love that this thread is full of, let me congrats Richard (I assume) for the lovely Buffy musical music on this episode.

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