Top 5 Weekend Picks!

January 20, 2010 · Print This Article

Hello again, my lovelies. So, as I was sayin’ on my gallery crawl blog, I was a little worried Monday when I started putting the listing together. At that point it was looking a little bleak. Thankfully that situation has remedied itself. It’s always nice when the weekend picks are relatively easy, and this weekend there is so much good stuff that picking was easy, it was whittling down that was hard. Here are a few places that still look awesome, but didn’t make it to the Top 5: Visions from a Foxhole at Pritzker Military Library, Rune at Ben Russell (dude, get a website, please! or if you have one, tell me where it is), We Are the World at Roots and Culture, and Ethan Greenbaum and Katrin Sigurdardottir at The Suburban. This is seriously the Alt. Space Weekend! As an odd testament, not one opening (that I could find) in River North. So go out, support your local project spaces, alternative spaces, apartment galleries, garage galleries, corners-of-living-rooms-with-art-badly-hung-in-them places, and enjoy the (inevitable and awesome) cheap beer. SALLY FOURTH!

1. ChicagoLand at PeregrineProgram

So I saw Daniel Lavitt out in the streets last weekend and asked him about the show. I’d seen the announcement card around (you’ve probably seen it too, him staring Godzilla-style through a tiny window), but wasn’t sure exactly what the hell was going on. Well, my friends, this stuff looks like a whole pile of awesome! I love miniaturized work, it’s always a bit creepy and awkward. For this work, Lavitt is not only miniaturizing Chicago, he’s doing it to culturally and personally significant places AND wiring them along an economic gradient. I’ve never been to this space, so I’m super stoked on seeing a new venue and Lavitt’s new work.

PeregrineProgram is located at 500 W Cermak Rd, #727. Reception is Friday from 6-9pm. Read more

Gene Siskel Film Center | Mine

January 20, 2010 · Print This Article

PhotobucketIn 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast it left about 80% of New Orleans flooded. Approximately 1,800 people lost their lives and almost five years later the community is still rebuilding. There are not too many subjects that I continue to source out documentaries on but Katrina and it’s aftermath has produced some great docs including Spike Lee’s epic, “When the Levees Broke”, and the 2008 winner for best documentary at Sundance, “Trouble the water”. With her debut feature film Geralyn Pezanoski adds to the growing collection of films about Katrina but instead of first person narratives Pezanoski focuses her lens on the pets left behind. Aptly titled “Mine”, which won the SXSW Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature, showcases not only the rescue efforts of these animals but the complications many pet owners faced when they returned home.

When the citizens of New Orleans were forced to evacuate, many people were not able to take their pets with them. According to the film, “in New Orleans alone, an estimated 150,000 animals died in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.” Many of the animals that did survive were rescued by volunteers and shipped to shelters throughout the country. We meet a handful of people that have returned to New Orleans and are looking for their pets. Pezanoski does a great job finding subjects and shows a great amount of compassion when portraying their grief. 80-year-old Gloria was forcibly removed from her home after it had flooded because she would not leave her black lab named Murphy Brown. Jessi James rescued 20 members of his family but had to leave his dog JJ, short for Jessi Junior, behind. As they search for their dogs, all of which have been adopted by new families, we see the same discrimination that has been associated with the Katrina events unfold again. Many of them cannot afford lawyers to help with the return their animals. But, we soon see complex networks of people from around the country form that handle the daunting task of searching for one pet at a time. Read more

Contemporary Art, Collected Collectively

January 20, 2010 · Print This Article

We all know about artists banding together to work as a collective, but who knew that art collectors could operate under similar principles? File this one in your ‘how to collect art even when you don’t have much money’ drawer: An article in last week’s Financial Times looks at group-owned art collections in London, New Zealand and Australia. Although clearly not for everyone, collective group purchases of artworks enable households that normally don’t make enough to buy substantial artworks to pool their money, purchase works voted on by the entire group, and then share custody of the piece as it rotates from home to home.

It’s fascinating to see how collective acquisition practices — not unlike collective art-making — encourage individual members to question their own assumptions about and habitual ways of looking at art. From the article:

“Anne Dekker, who has participated in two groups in Australia – one focused on contemporary artists and the other interested in indigenous art – says the fact that the work is owned collectively allows members to be more honest. “Friends who see the work at your house will engage in a more open discussion. It’s less subjective because it’s not a comment on your own taste.”

Robert Lee, of the London collective, believes appreciation of the work is enhanced by the fact that the various pieces look so different in each member’s home – one lives on a houseboat, another in a flat in the city centre, while others have houses in the suburbs ranging from small Edwardian terraces to large Victorian villas.

Rotating artwork around members’ houses is not without its problems, however. “Sometimes people get attached to a picture and don’t want to see it go. Sometimes we find people are reluctant to hang a work – we’ll find it sitting in a garage or a spare room,” says Betts. Tim Eastop says for that reason one of the London collective’s rules is that “even if there’s a piece that we don’t like, we have to hang it”.

Fox believes “it works best when someone has to hang something they hated. Nine times out of 10 at the end of the six-month hanging period they love it. They are confronted by something challenging every day.”

One London art-buying group, which calls themselves The Collective and even has their own website, purchased a work of performance art by Kathryn Fry titled “Home Suite,” and hosted rotating performances of it in each member’s home (see details of the piece on the artist’s website here).

Kathryn Fry, “Home Suite,” performed for The Collective in London.

I especially like how The Collective channels the discursive rhetoric of social and collective art-making into the practice of art buying. On their website, The Collective states that they aim to:

  • nurture the collection of contemporary art in a domestic setting as a more affordable and socially inclusive activity
  • encourage adults, young people and children to build their knowledge of contemporary art by living with it, meeting artists, visiting exhibitions etc.
  • build bridges between new audiences, the art market and artists
  • help to grow a larger, more culturally diverse population of collectors
  • encourage direct support for emerging contemporary artists and curators.

I wonder if there are any similar groups like this in the U.S.? Wouldn’t it be great if someone started something like this in Chicago (hint, hint)?

Via @AiANews.

Tuesday’s Video Pick | Something’s Got A Hold On Me

January 19, 2010 · Print This Article

I don’t think I have ever touched on this before but I love soul music from the 60s. It’s about one of the only things I listen to. For this week’s pick I couldn’t pass up this amazing video of Etta James, who I adore, just rocking it out on Something’s Got a Hold on Me. If your familiar with the her Chess Records release you will immediately see the differences in this performance. Often a belter, James turns it up on this one. I watched it at least five times in a row.

While we are on the subject of soul music I just wanted to mention my new favorite archival based record company who happens to be based in Chicago, Numero Group. I just picked up five albums from them and are so impressed with their, design, sound, and research. There are not too many people turning out records like these. If you are interested in soul music from the Midwest other than Motown I would highly recommend giving them a shot. Plus they recently published their first book, Light: On The South Side, which takes a look at the history of night clubs on Chicago’s Southside through the photographs of Michael Abramson. This year they will also be releasing their first dvd which features the work of Al Jarnow titled Celestial Navigations. Okay, that is all I should say without sounding like I am plugging them too much.


January 18, 2010 · Print This Article

We’ve received a few very interesting announcements and solicitations over the past few days, so we’re passing them along, in no particular order, in the hopes that one or more will be of interest to you. Read on:

1. Union League Civic and Arts Foundation Visual Arts Competition

Currently seeking submissions. The competition is open to artists, 30 and younger, who are currently enrolled in school in the Chicago metropolitan area. Click the link below for guidelines for the Visual Arts competition.

This competition is a great opportunity for young artists to get their work noticed and to make connections with people in the art world. Past judges have included curators from the MCA, the Art Institute, etc. Angel Otero was a Visual Arts competition winner in 2007-2008. For more information, contact Susan Carlson at, or Gina Demke at

2. Upcoming Slot for ThreeWalls TinkerTank Residency

Because of scheduling complications related to the recent renovations at ThreeWalls there is currently a 9 week window in the tinkertank residency program between March 1st and April 30th that they would like to fill. Residence could take place during any portion of those weeks. Program fees are $150/week. From the website:

“The tinkertank self-directed residency offers creative thinkers and producers a supportive environment in the heart of Chicago’s West Loop gallery district. threewalls encourages applications from artists working in all disciplines, scholars researching projects in all fields, and other creative researchers working on projects that would benefit from 3-5 weeks of focused time in Chicago connecting to its rich history and lively community.”