Episode 143: Roundtable fun!

May 25, 2008 · Print This Article

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Who is the hell doesn’t know what Highlander is? For shame. All of you, add it to your netflix queue pronto!

This week: Duncan, and a panel of superstar critical thinkers, Lori Waxman, Kathryn Hixson and James Yood discuss, Highlander, Artropolopolopolis, Robert Storr vs. the universe, and regionalism in an action packed, smack down of art critical smartness.

To digress for a moment, in googling everyone’s name to minimize errors I was astonished to find that there once was a Chicago Art Critics Association. Sadly their website was last updated in 2006. It seems to have died of disinterest. I wonder if the meetings entailed “Beat-i” style knife fights, alas Bad at Sports missed the boat there.

Only Duncan will be amused by the opening song, as he knows there can be only one, and only Kaveh Soofi and Dominic Molon by the closing song.

Joseph Mohan. There Duncan, I said it.

Lori Waxman
James Yood
Robert Storr
Tom Burtonwood
Garden Fresh
Gaylen Gerber
Whitney Biennale
Ashley Bickerton
Robert Ryman
New Art Examiner
Thomas Blackman
Merchandise Martv
Donald Judd
Andy Warhol
Gerhard Richter
Old Gold
Francesco Bonami
Barnett Newman
Jewish Museum
James Rondeau
Ivan Albright
James Rondeau
Marcel Duchamp
Anne Wilson
Tony Fitzpatrick
James Rondeau
Kerry James Marshall
Wesley Kimler
Jeff Wall
Chris Wool
Charles Saatchi
Lari Pittman
Charles Ray

Direct download: Bad_at_Sports_Episode_143-Roundtable_fun.mp3

47 thoughts on “Episode 143: Roundtable fun!”

  1. Joseph Mohan says:

    Yeah Duncan. Eat it.

  2. duncan. says:

    Mohan. My moral enemy. There can be only one Pseudo-Uncle.

  3. Richard says:

    Screw the whole industry of the ordinary fight-night, here comes Bad at Sports to-the-death sword battles. We could sell tickets, that way Duncan, if you survive we will have enough cash for t-shirts.

  4. Ah yes, the ole CACA. Whatta choice for a name.

  5. Richard says:


  6. ben says:

    i enjoyed this week’s show. i heard james yood lecture in memphis about regionalism in chicago and found it interesting. here are some things that came to mind after the podcast: native american art and artifacts are different and similar throughout the country; as a collective they can be indicative of native american technology. Each native american sect also expresses values specific to their environment. Northwest Native American art exhibits a completely different experience than Southwest Native American Art. This has nothing to do with the art market. Nowadays the legitimacy of the artifact has to be validated by the market (in a past, present, or future construct.) I agree with Duncan that student artists pay to be market ready in an environment (whether it be through academic goods or marketability.) As far as regional street cred is concerned… British food really sucks. I’m not a great cook, so I can say this, and people can critique my cooking all they want. Not being a cook, my critique on British cuisine is open to critique. but if you disagree, i may have to pull a rob, bob, robert strorr on your ass. because im a cowboy. baby. as a cowboy, i like the idea of the nomad artist. last weekend in chicago, anticipating the “modern wing” at the art museum, i bumped into a (newly hung?) max ernst painting (from the 20’s?) that had more to do with warhol than pollock. in retrospect, it seemed duchampian- faux screenprint, faux woodgrain. it would probably sit ok with unmonumental.

  7. pedro velez says:

    OHhhh the CACA, so many great memories. Ask Yood, Snodgrass, Brunetti and Camper about their tantrums in relation to the Other Group, and the FGA, the Gravy and all the other independent initiatives, it was a lovely time. And regionalism in Chicago? wow…In my view great part of that regionalism was a smoke screen created by the incompetence of those writers who would only visit and cover three galleries… and still do. They were the masters of excuses!

  8. Jim Yood was my last editor at The New Art Examiner and helped give me some papers to make the first steps of gettting me into Europe (I don’t know if he will even remember the latter). I can’t wait to hear the discussion (this Friday as usual).

  9. pedro velez says:

    wow, no comments so far? Is everyone afraid of the Chicago critics? now, that’s regionalism!

    Here is something old, some of you might find it interesting, it has to do with some of the issues discussed on this episode:


  10. Jason says:

    What do artists want from critics?

  11. Brian says:

    James Yood’s description of Chicago as an art community where most artists can only move ahead by teaching (as opposed to gallery sales) is apt. Unfortunately, he didn’t explore any of the down sides of this phenomenon. There are very few full time teaching positions for contemporary art in Chicago (relative to the # of artists), and those teaching positions rotate only at retirement. This means that those elements of Chicago’s art community stagnates over the course of a tenure- no matter how good those artists are. This also means there are very few opportunities for new people. When it is difficult to make a living from gallery sales and you can’t get a teaching job, a strong incentive to move to an international art center is created for Chicago’s best and brightest young blood. Adjunct work can keep the best connected post-MFA’s for a few years, but the economic realities are a big root of Chicago’s young artist exodus.

  12. ben says:

    artists want money, ego validation, or creative momentum from the critics. but that isnt important. the critics job isnt to make the artist happy. and the artist probably is better to ignore the critic. a working respect is decent. after all, everyone is an artist. the question of what does the artist want from a critic is absurd. what came first the chicken or the egg.

  13. Maura says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head there, Brian. Your comment is a good synopsis of what I have seen happen repeatedly in my peer group of young artists in Chicago. I’m glad you pointed out the economic consequences of Chicago being an art community where teaching is so central to advancement.

  14. Dan says:

    Is anybody else bothered by the fact that they didn’t actually talk about art? You guys discussed Chicago, regionalism, art fairs, the social lives of critics, Robert Storr vs. the world, but not art. You had three interesting critics and you didn’t even ask them what they think is going on with ART? Am I crazy?

  15. Tony Fitzpatrick says:

    I would take issue with the idea that teaching actually ‘advances’ an artist — making art advances an artist– teaching merely teaches artists how to be dependent. The idea that anyone can actually ‘teach’ art is utter horse-shit. One can inspire, one can entreat, one can be a catalyst for another’s growth–and one can mentor– but the idea of teaching it is over-valued …. especially here.

    It is the Academic structure here that has blinded this culture of artists– free your ass and your mind will follow.

  16. The Shark says:

    Well Tony, consider the source. James Yood, Kathryn Hixon, both total denizens of the academy -and, nothing more. Of course any attitude they hold or expouse will further the academic agenda.

    How is your year going Tony? Need a day job instructing starry eyed suburbanite youth in a field that does not for most even exist? No? I didn’t think so. Nor, do I. -Feel the need or the necessity to teach that is -beyond the examples we both set on how to make a living as an artist here in Chicago -without having our noses up some intitutions ass.

  17. duncan. says:


    I’m not sure I understand your question. Specifically, I had hoped that this would be a test of how a “discussion model” Bad At Sports show would work. We choose topics that would reflect concerns or questions that are specifically relevant to our outpost of the art world.

    I’m not sure what you mean but what is going on with “ART.” I think that maybe that is a topic for another discussion but I was curious about what you mean, specifically.


  18. The Shark says:

    btw -why is Bad At Sports, which along with Sharkforum and others has succeeded in supplanting tired, spent constructs of dissemination -like New Art Examiner for instance, now soliciting opinion from the very people who ran these things -or in Hixons instance, ran them into the ground……arent they already extinct for a reason?

  19. pedro velez says:

    good point Shark… but take it easy on Hixon because she is great and she did her job with the NAE… she promoted and talked about Chicago artists outside of that f* “regional” context.

  20. duncan. says:

    I don’t think that BAS was ever interested in supplanting anything or anyone. We see Bad At Sports as participatory, not dominant, nor complicit. We are and always have been interested in creating new and developing existing communities. We hope to disseminate information about this art world and the people that shape it. We are not interested in reshaping how Chicago gets its art news. We just like to help. Helping, means helping everyone. I think that it is clear that Hixson and Yood are very worthy of respect and both have worked to keep our local art world in the art world at large for something like the last 20-30 years.

    I’m interested in what our art world is and can be. I don’t think that means cutting off voices that have shaped it for years. I think those people are invaluable.

    Here, I can only speak for myself but I like the idea that Bad At Sports is mostly about being Artists first. We participate in practices that are like journalism because we can and it helps us understand the context in which we work. We put the content of that exploration out in the world because we believe in sharing those resources and that as artist we quite often feel alone and like it is us against the world but we are not. It is on each of us to help each other and generate the communities and resources that we want to see. I believe that that is what both Shark Forum and BAS want. I think that is what other great Chicago projects like Messhall, Threewalls, inCUBATE, VONZWECK, The Parlor, Area, The Stockyard Institute, and the Green Lantern do. This does not lead me to believe that we should try and “depose” or ignore those people in our community that have acted as its guiding lights for decades. It just means we need to make more room for opinion and diversity. I left the discussion with one feeling… Chicago is a world class art town with world class talent working here. Now we just have to act like it and mean it.

    Also, Brian is smart. Chicago misses him.


  21. Tony Fitzpatrick says:

    I also have great affection for Kathryn Hixon — we may not like the same things ; but a finer and more wonderful advocate for artists you’ll never find. She is an amazing person.

  22. The Shark says:

    “Here, I can only speak for myself but I like the idea that Bad At Sports is mostly about being Artists first.”

    Exactly Duncan -and that being the case, particularly now with the internet, artists can be heard -not just the critics, art editors etc -which is a good thing since artists are usually more interesting than these people -why? Because the most interesting aspect of the art world is, being an artist, which is why the best people gravitate there.

    Before we had no voice -beyond that conferred upon us. Which led, to power brokerage…..NAE under Yood -in the 80’s was democratic and inclusive. Unfortunately in the 90’s under Hixon it became a mouthpiece for UIC -I remember saying to Kathryn (whom I personally like) after the ‘Cool Lake Breeze ‘ article -which promoted a very narrow, academic, low skill level brand of pattern painting/ colorfield as what was happening here in Chicago -that it was really too bad the article wasnt of a different nature -that it did not show the variety and depth of painting happening here -rather than be the exercise in self-serving partisanship that it was….I will always remember Kathryns reply; ” well, its all about power isnt it Wesley”…….and she was right!

    Its just that the people who were in power are no longer as relevant as they once were -though I often see BAS still succumbing to the mindset – out of nostalgia or basic garden variety conformity, that this is not the case-

  23. The Shark says:

    -btw, I am not wanting to exclude anyone -but, just as the cd is no longer the main conveyor of music, as the typewriter has ceased to exist, the way of the art world, it arbiters have lost much of their relevance…does it mean what they say is not worth hearing? Of course not -but it does mean that what they do and say in proximity of the art world carries a whole lot less weight-

  24. Richard says:

    I agree with Duncan, except that I think Brian is a punk.

  25. The Shark says:

    I see little to agree or, disagree with here. Its a simple fact, the paradigm of how art is disseminated culturally is in the process of major change. It is no longer a chosen few who confer relevance -which has much to do with/is directly related to/with the hegemony of education institutions here in delineating and conferring importance. There is a class of professional artists here who do not rely on teaching for their subsistence.

    There are people who worked tirelessly to elevate what was happeing here in Chicago -and then there were those who attempted to usher in a narrow, conceptual 101 academic version of what was important here. A provincial version of the doings of elsewhere. And in doing so, degraded the scene here over the last two decades -turning us into what Peter Schjeldahl recently described as a “receptor city”. Those days are gone.

    CACA (Chicago Area Critics Association) Duncan, since you seem unaware, was a motley crew of mostly second and third rate writers/critics/pundit wannabes -whose main accomplishment was via their acronym, in giving shit a bad name.

  26. I want to commend Duncan on this podcast! Do MORE like this! I think this format is a great idea. I listened to it twice.

    Lori is really a fabulous addition to your team! (Well, “our” team, but I have not been so productive — but Lamis and I will be doing Basel Kunstmesse Tuesday). Highlander was stupid anyway.

    It was great to hear Jim again. We worked together when he edited and I wrote for the New Art Examiner back in the Jurassic Age. He is truly intriguing. Kathryn too, although I never really got to know her, having “on her Watch” long abandoned NAE for Art in America and elsewhere and Chicago for Europe. (So I am one of the nasty “adandoners” I guess — not having enough sense of identity through place. Sorry Jim! I think you are RIGHT. I just don’t seem to feel it. But I have a special soft place in my heart —and probably in my head too — for Chicago).

    I found both their conceptions of Chicago’s position in the artworld well thought out and articulated. I had heard good things about Kathryn (from Wesley ! and others) even though I am an opponent of a chunk of the art she apparently championed. (I saw it as copyist work and felt the clique behind it actually killed, not widened, the horizon of a then burgeoning Chicago scene. Under that Neo-Con stuff, Chicago was firmly provincialized into a receptor fiefdom under a small oligarchy, soon proven fact when LA vastly overtook it. Believe me. I was there, showing at Lockett, who actually told me about the whole “arrangement” going on.)

    While I appreciate Pedro’s comment, (I think he wanted more specifics), I think art, and Chi-art, in a broader albeit not particular sense, was very well discussed.

    A few important points struck me, though.

    First, being a professor doesn’t advance your ART (necessarily), it advances your CAREER in the artworld. This is a fine, yet important, distinction; one that I feel was elided. Also, not all artists besides Tony and Wesley are or even were teachers. I never taught till I got to Europe, — as Switzerland is even MORE expensive, and as I was re-building my career, in effect, I needed some additional support at first. I continue now because I like it, especially proving that art history isn’t boring and setting young artists on the path of questioning the Consensus version (and even my version and others) of art history. I hope I am placing interesting time bombs in the future. But back to my point — when I was in Chicago, I, Mike Paha, Jeff Wrona, Jeff Hoke, Raoul Deal and several other artists, all promising and selling and winning grants etc., were working at the Field Museum building dioramas and such stuff. Now THAT really advanced my art, I believe, but not my career, better than most teaching could.

    I really agree with the Shark that BaS and Sharkforum (with some other websites, blogs and some periodicals) have, as a group, replaced the NAE. And as their quality increases this will be even more evident.

    That brings up another point. Chicago as a scene generally suffers from something no one mentioned, something London had (it is fading a bit, I go there frequently), Berlin has and LA has: Reciprocity. A healthy over-valuing of themselves. An ability to work together even when and while arguing. That is, for a real “presence” in the artworld at large, locations don’t really need an NAE — in fact that may brand it, like Arts Southwest or whatever, as regional. You need:

    1. Great artists (you’ve got them)
    2. Curators of important institutions who SHOW them (and not only Top o’ the Pops, get-the-curator-a-better-job-and-or-fame international Consensus artists) (international-consensus curators are actively a negative influence)
    3. Critics who write A LOT about local artists, especially in “big” international publications
    4. And NOT only descriptively or supportively (artists don’t like that, I know)
    5. Collectors who buy the art from local artists, especially out of local galleries (it is even as much fun as doing it in NYC or Basel!)
    6. Local galleries who show the artists and artists from elsewhere. (You have these, but they are kept carefully segregated from the “real” galleries, who are good, but followers, often).

    Chicago has a few of these things I listed, but is woefully absent in others. Local artists don’t get shown much in important shows, if not a member of a small clique of copyists; galleries are not supported enough by big shot collectors, unless they are showing mostly already-long-approved blue-chip stuff or Consensus Hits. The “larger” art scene is never trumped up to visiting “heavies” (only preferred students), which is also typically provincial. And the big glossies don’t do you ANY favors. I’ll bet Jim has talked to Artforum, I sure have talked to Art in America and several others about getting more coverage for Chicago. But I’m not there. And due to editorial disinterest (often itself due to the lack of their feeling of a scene existing in Chicago because of the cliquey provincial fiefdom I described), and some frankly rather lackadaisical writing, you don’t get any more coverage than, say, Houston. You’ve got the great artists and the great range. You need the rest. I despair though, hence my abandonment of my hometown, as it always seem to fade away as it starts to appear, mostly because of backstabbing.

    And now Chicago curators, critics, gallerists, academics and artists are all probably pissed at me, but then maybe that proves my point …

    Anyway, I LOVED the show!

  27. Jason says:

    Hi Mark, to me this is what your complaint sounds like: Chicago artists aren’t getting enough approval from the ‘important’ people, but the important people are to be despised anyway (because they are ‘copyists’).

    What exactly are the important shows that lack an abundance of Chicago artists? Are you proposing an affirmative action type of plan for exhibits?

    Perhaps a much bigger problem than getting a select few to recognize the talents of some artists is the thorough dislike or apathy for art by 95% of the population.

    I have also approached international art magazines about more Chicago coverage. The editors want to see international art, not people they’ve never heard about. (So then how the hell do the local artists get into the large publications? It’s a catch-22.) If our museums didn’t show international art, then surely we’d look like a backwater city. Reviews in big mags of “world class”/international/jetset art being shown in Chicago promotes Chicago as a world class city. It’s the same reason the museums continue to have special exhibits on the Impressionists, the mayor wants the Olympics, and tourists shop on Michigan Ave at stores they already have at home.

    many ask why Chicago is under-represented when the question at the back of their mind is, why aren’t I famous yet? Well, how many of us are or ever will be celebrities?

  28. The Shark says:

    Jason -good post -I think the main problem with our institutions here in Chicago is lack of originality.

    Paul Schimmel at LAMOCA and numerous museum directors in NYC, Berlin and other cities create context for their local artists to be part of an international dialog. Schimmel started with his Helter Skelter exhibition- which is where so many people in the LA scene emerged.

    Here in Chicago -we have the likes of Dominic Molon (to single out one one of almost all of them) -who rather than create his own canon would rather borrow from an existing one (as demonstrated with the rock exhibition -and now Kilimnik – perhaps hoping for more ready made international recognition for himself. Do we really ever need to see again here in Chicago local LA art star Raymond Pettibone (or listen to Molon breathlessly recount how the artist is in his 40’s and still lives with his parents?) or see major exhibitions dedicated to the likes of local NYC art star Karen Kilimnik with her god awful rancid painting?

    I like the question your last few lines pose -why would we want to be part of the venal, vapidity happening in the art world? WE NEED TO CREATE OUR OWN CANON HERE IN CHICAGO..and perhaps part of what this can be is a return to seriousness/skill/individuality so lacking in the stupid celebrity, conflated with the disposable/institutional art so endemic to what now consitutes the international scene.

    In otherwords, we dont want what they have got. But, we do want a professional world class scene ON OUR OWN TERMS.

    Our enemies here are, complacency, those who attempt to creat a provincial version of what is international -Kirchner and clones, and those without original vision -(namely most of those in power at the curatorial/museum director level.)
    I say, off with their heads.

    I suggest we begin a boycott of both the MCA and the Art Institute and perhaps focus on what can happen at the Cultural Center -and in our studios, working together -with the blogs and alternative spaces. A boycott in mass, would be effective and, heard.

  29. ben says:

    and collectors need to invest in chicago made art. also memphis made art (to throw the plug.) the trickle down pyramid of art funding doesn’t start with people that know what they are doing. people need their arms pulled, twisted, and realigned to what is good. good artists should be caught before they swim off. there are lots of rich dudes in chicago; the city needs more rich dude art advisors.

  30. coyle says:

    hello www and BAS,
    firstly, duncan, great moderating, great show, great format. i will not bother reiterating all the points mentioned above by MSB but did just want to voice my opinion that more topic centered multivoiced discussions would be a great addition to the interviews and reviews. this regionalism issue has been a hot topic since my arrival in chicago in 2000 (and i’m sure prior). not being from the midwest i was initially kinda confused as to all the identity crises roundtables and so on that were cropping up upon my initial experience there (stray show 1 and 2?). as a bright eyed and probably naive grad student in 2000, i saw chicago as full of promise but i still do now. after seven years (full disclosure—i now live in nyc) of being involved in a faction of the cosmology of the chicago art scene it became apparent that this issue was not going away and was just that, an issue.

    at times it was great to feel a part of changing the tone of that conversation (in theory–like talking about it at talks and stuff), while at other times it was burdensome to deal with that conversation (in practice–like as an artist). all that to say, it was great to hear some thoughts that revisited this issue, pertinent to chicago, with criticality and alternate positions. plus i love KH.

    secondly, i am unclear as to what the want for ‘ON OUR OWN TERMS’ refers too as stated above by mr. kimler. i am a bit leery of the oppositional position these remarks suggest in light of there seeming to be plenty of alternatives to the institutional hierarchies that are targeted again and again by the shark and others (the museums, the ren, etc). if the want is to establish new forms of connectivity or communities (as opposed to resenting a negligence from established institutions of validity), that already seems in place in chicago. theres tons of stuff going on ranging from commercial places to apartment galleries within chicago. some examples:

    shane—doing great as a full on gallery gallery
    the suburban—going on 10 years as an artist run project space
    3walls—doing great as an international and local residency program
    mess hall—doing great as a socially/politically active community
    MCA or Art Institute—nationally recognized institutions
    heck BAS—143 episodes!

    etc etc

  31. coyle says:

    wow i didn’t realize that was so long. sorry.

  32. coyle says:

    this is off topic, a few episodes ago we got talking about vampire movies….upon tony fitzpatricks recommendation i rented 30 days of night. pretty good! blah! blah!

  33. pedrovel says:

    I agree with the Shark and Mark…Chicago needs to set it’s own terms in the bigger context…we have talked about this so much that I almost think we shouldn’t anymore, it only brings us all down, we keep repeating the pattern and that’s bad.

    and second, your curators don’t give a shit about you, that’s a big problem, or it creates a problem, not in Chicago but outside Chicago, the perception is Chi artist have cooties because your curators dislike you so much.

    that’s your main problem, not the market or the coverage, because besides that Chi is a great place to make art cheaply.

  34. The Shark says:

    coyle -there are plenty of alternatives -remember this particular thread -on this thread began with both Tony Fitz and I pointing out that we both make a living here as artists -not, as art teachers.

    Having said this, what do you get leery about in my suggesting that it might be a good idea if the MCA -and to a lesser extent -given, its more historical agenda the Art Institute, began creating a canon of reference FROM CHICAGO -as MOCA DOES IN LA as THE WHITNEY/MOMA DO IN NYC!….if you think a store front gallery subsitutes for these places, well, your aspirations are less than mine and I believe others-

    Chicago is a major metropolitan area. We do not need to be, once again I quote Peter Schjeldahl, a “receptor city’. Thats for places like Denver, Boise….and the fact that our museums fail us in this way has a rather profound effect on each and every serious artist working here. -As I noted on sharkforum, one of the very top NYC dealers -and indeed one of the top dealers in the world -here at this years fair point blank asked me, “Wesley, what has happened to Chicago?”

    Yes we have our alternative spaces -(I just show out of my studio which, as anyone who has been here knows is a vastly superior space to any gallery here-)…and we have our blogzines….but still, the way Chicago is represented in the backrooms at Basil, Art Basil Miami -Frieze etc…is still through the same tired, myopic and I should add FAILED cabal -originating from UIC, the Ren and so on. This, needs to change.

    As to my remark about the art world being on our terms, Coyle as earth-shattering as this might seem, I was thinking it would be up to the artists to decide exactly what this could mean. -Like it was at the time of the ascendency of the New York scene -where the artists, not department heads, not local institutional aparatchiks, not superstar curators set the agenda and defined what was important.

  35. You are right about the Catch 22 effect and I appreciate your thoughts, Jason. But you misread me a wee bit. Mine was a not a complaint, I thought, — Chicago is no longer that important to me, frankly — simply an analytic description of what I feel is needed for an “international”–level scene. You elided (or I didn’t write clearly) two groups. By the Copyists I meant the Chicago Neo-Con artists who began to copy NYC under certain “advice.” The curators and “big shows” etc are a whole other group.

    Reviews of shows of Big Consensus Stars showing in your city do NOT promote your location as world class. Quite the opposite, they prove it to be a receptor site. Yes, you need to have those shows, but you need (a la LA and London and Berlin) big Helter Skelter, Sensation, etc. shows in which you show “your own” are up to international attention quality. The strange dialogue/dialectic here operative is that, yes, you do have to do it on your own terms, yet by engaging in the broader world, yet NOT by mimicking them (speaking to artists) nor by schoolmarmishly, condescendingly, or careeristically showing only the hits (speaking to the other artworldians).

    Mensch, Pedro (as often) you sure hit it on the head! And more succinctly than me! “…Your curators don’t give a shit about you, that’s a big problem, or it creates a problem, not in Chicago but outside Chicago, the perception is Chi artist have cooties because your curators dislike you so much. That’s your main problem, not the market or the coverage, because besides that Chi is a great place to make art….” That was a large part of my point.

    Get some curators, critics and artists and academics and collectors and historians together. Support one another (even if, or perhaps best if, in “battling” groups) and you have a scene no one can ignore). I’ve experienced it in several cities and countries. It bears repeating for other locales as well. Chicago, btw, is only a small part of my life. I stress that here as BaS and SF primarily focus on Chicago. But the effects, — and the truth of Jason, Wesley, Pedro’s and others perceptions — hold for almost everywhere else I regularly go to too (UK, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Caribbean, and home in Switzerland and even elsewhere I visit sporadically).

    As Wesley said, “if you think a store front gallery substitutes for these (“important”) places, well, your aspirations are less than mine and I believe others.” — My aspirations and hopes are large, and I think the goals could be reached with a little cooperation, but with seriously high goals and not settling for second-class citizenship in your OWN world.

    You need to break into the “bigger” scene, yet by being proud of yourselves. Have you heard LA-inos or Berliners or Vancouverians speak? It really gets on your nerves ! — the self-promotion, the self-pumped-up “we are better,” “NYC (or the US) is artistically dead,” “we are the hottest new place” etc. BUT that is GREAT! It is about perception (after having quality work as a given).

    In those places it is not only the artists speaking.

    And the curators there make international level shows with mostly artists-living-there (I hate the term “local artists”). And the critics write many articles discussing those artists living there. Collectors buy the stuff. And all that in dialogue with the whole artworld (often critically too).

  36. BTW, Coyle, you are nowhere nearly as long as me! Sorry.

  37. I want to highlight Duncan’s phrase. It is the summation of my longwindedness:
    “Chicago is a world class art town with world class talent working here. Now we just have to act like it and mean it.”

    And, rereading my own comments — Where ARE the other denizens of the Chicago artworld, besides artists, in this discussion?

    Whenever this discussion arises in Chicago, only the Chi-artists speak up, thus giving the feeling as Jason and Coyle mentioned, I believe, that it is just artists bitching.

    Apparently it is only artists (of all leagues) who care enough to envison higher goals? Is everyone else so complacent (or as is sometimes true, simply not discussing out of fear — or pretending to not read — we know differently nah nah nuh nah — at Sharkforum and else where there are tracking programs, so we know that even “our adversaries” are checking in regularly!)

    Jim! Kathryn! Victor! Susan! Gallerists! Curators! etc. etc. etc. What do YOU think?!!!

  38. Dan says:

    I only meant that when you had three interesting critics, Lori, Kathryn, and James, in one room you didn’t ask them to name an artist that they’re excited about their work, or a cultural trend that’s emerging in art, or something that they want to champion. Clearly they might have different opinions about what constitutes something worth looking at and that’s what I’d be interested in hearing about. I wanted the subject and form of art, not only discussions of the form of the art community and market.
    That’s all I meant. I think you missed a good chance.

  39. duncan says:


    It was a trial. There will be other opportunities. Thanks for your suggestion.


  40. It was a successful trial, Duncan. Do more!

  41. ben says:

    yes, orgies are cool. experimental interactions are lubricative even if certain people dont get off. keep pullin it!

  42. Paul Klein says:

    In the new wing at the Art Institute there will be 2 galleries dedicated to Chicago artists. One room will focus on the 60’s and 70’s and rotate pieces periodically. The 2nd room will be for contemporary artists. The plan is to not identify these rooms as Chicago-centric.

  43. The Shark says:

    Thats great Paul -but, given what a venal, corrupt fraud Mr. Curator (lite) happens to be, we know exactly who ms Kirchner’s lapdog will show!

  44. katherine says:

    I just finally had a chance to listen to this episode and the discussion it prompted (both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, btw.) I wish I could say that I’m not just another Chicago-artist; but I am, though hopefully not here merely to gripe. As all of you well know this Chicago issue is a long-standing one. However, I will say that having been here since 1994 things have gotten better. There are new ventures,venues and personalities popping up all the time. It used to really depress me how little respect Chicago got in the larger artworld context. But, as someone coming from out of state having already attended grad school somewhere else when I got here and not knowing a single soul in the Chicago “artworld”; from my outsider viewpoint it seemed very difficult to get any love when you didn’t go to school here (-and I’m not just speaking for myself, though it probably sounds that way-) and to my mind it’s very hard to have an art community of any depth based solely on artists just out of school who may not stay for long. It also seemed that attention and opportunity were jealously guarded to the detriment of everyone, including those who held it. That sort of atmosphere contributed to divisiveness and insularity which was not very conducive to the greater project of getting noticed outside of Chicago. Mark touched on this above. To my mind things are much more open now and I see a greater diversity of work and acceptance of differing opinions. I know quite a few LA and NY artists; they never complain (and never have to) about their “scene”. I sometimes almost feel proud to be a “Chicago artist” despite this. I think Chicago artists are often more rigorous in ways that LA and NY artist’s don’t have to be. I don’t mean to over- generalize, but NY and LA definitely have their provincialism’s and a lot of work gets noticed in these places that shouldn’t due to outdated but long-standing biases. I guess my hope is that while maintaining our criticality, we could do more to help each other out, along the lines of what Duncan and Mark were saying. Btw, I think BaS is the one of the most exciting things to happen in Chicago in a very long time. Because while irreverent, it’s still sincere and though critical, it doesn’t take itself too seriously-something that was all too prevalent in the past. I think we need more of it’s type of “tone” in the general discussion.

  45. tom sanford says:

    I just revisited this very interesting round table, good job Duncan.

    One thing that irritated me was the suggestion that market exposure is inappropriate and even damaging for young artists. It seems to me that this opinion is most often held by cloistered academics who have little experience with this aspect of the machine of art.

    As a practicing artist I have found that support from the market has allowed me the time to develop my work and devote much more energy to it than I would be able to if i had to work to support myself outside the studio. In fact in my limited observation in school and among my peers, this is by far the most important ingredient in an artist’s development. This is not to say that sales lead to improvement in art, but they can afford an artist the recourses to invest (both time and money) in her work. The dealers I work with have never tried to influence what I do in the studio and have always worked hard to support whatever course my work goes – admittedly my career spans less than a decade so things could change.

    Grad students and young artists need money to survive and invest in their work just as much as older artist and I never got any better as an artist while i was on an art handling gig. I would strongly encourage a young artist to “go pro” as early as she can, and then work her ass off to keep the job.

  46. The Shark says:

    Tom, cannot be said much better.

  47. I have a question that may shed some light on this whole provincialism question: did anyone *not* from chicago appreciate this show? I am from NY, and can say, though I listen to every, this was one of my less favourite.

    And a reminder: chicago is in Illinois.

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