Death, Apocalypse & Darkness

July 30, 2010 · Print This Article

Power by Kanye WestPower

The economy may be turning around again (what is it is now, the third time in a year or fourth?) but the Art world seems to be talking about nothing but death & loss.

First off you have the well publicized and it seems anticipated Kanye West music video for his single “Power” which is being described as “apocalyptic” “dark, personal conflict” & “beautiful death”.  With the video directed by artist Marco Brambilla who has a habit of creating work with a strong bent towards monolitic, time lapse laiden video art with a dark dramatic stuttering low light quality it will be interesting to see how it turned out.

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For me music videos have been on kind of a artistic hiatis since Chicago’s own Mark Romanek moved to feature films. It seemed his departure timed well with the crash of the industry and music videos have been on a healthy but slow DYI recovery since then largely.

Requiem for Kodachrome

Kodak has been singing the executioners song for Kodachrome slide processing for some time but the last roll was made a while back and given to the well known photojournalist and National Geographic regular Steve McCurry. That roll is currently being processed in the sole remaining processing studio Dwayne’s Photo Service in Parsons, KS. What will it have on it again no one know but if it is in style with the current visual theme for 2010 it will have a skull in it (skulls have been everywhere since Art Basel Miami Beach, more things change the more they stay the same). Read more here

Ellen Bows Out Of American Idol

I don’t watch the show personally but I do know there are two things the art wold in general loves to do. One, bemoan the pointlessness of “Work of Art” on Bravo (as if an art reality competition ever had a hope at quality or legitimacy? seriously?) and Second talking about American Idol (two years ago it was Mad Men but no one seems to remember that show now?). So now that Simon has left Ellen is not reup-ing for a second year. Rumor is J-Lo will be on the table Read more here

That Dark Shadowy Figure Caravaggio Keeps Getting Press

For the last three years Caravaggio (who I admit I do love) keeps getting press touting his mastery and forward thinking when it came to composition and cinematic intimacy now is no different. Read more here

Jewish Art Gallery Puts On Crucifixion Show

[insert outrage here] garnish with 28 works by artists such as Tracey Emin, Duncan Grant, and Lee Miller Read more here

Ansel Adams Estate Fights Man Who Bought Negatives At Yard Sale

The estate of Ansel Adams (Adams’ grandson Matthew Adams) contests that negatives are almost worthless unless the hand of the artist is used to make prints, so basically by that logic art restoration damages work since even though it continues the outline set by the artist it is not the true hand of the artist. Glad to see Matthew Adams isn’t sour or anything. Read more here




Top 5 Weekend Picks! (7/30-8/1)

July 29, 2010 · Print This Article

It’s a slim weekend, and one I’m going to miss entirely because I’m headed out to Nevada City (no, it’s not in Nevada). But if I were here, these are what I’d try and hit up. In order of appearance…

1. Religare: Artists explore the concept of Religion at Antena

And I quote, “”Religare”: according to Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell the word Religion derives from the Latin word “ligare” which means “bind, connect”, and combined with the prefix “re”= re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or “to reconnect”. For this art exhibit, artists will create work that analizes and critiques the concept of religion.” Works by Saul Aguirre, Eddie Alvarado, Miguel Cortez, Rakel Delgado, Rocky Horton, James Jankowiak, Antonio Martinez, Laura Olear, Josue Pellot, Polly Perez, Jenny Priego, Elvia Rodriguez-Ochoa, and Sebastian Vallejo.

Antena is located at 1765 S Laflin St. Reception is Friday, from 6-10pm.

2. Stephen Eichhorn at A+D Gallery

For the conclusion of this summer’s Digital Artist Residency Program at Columbia College, Stephen Eichorn will be presenting work in the A+D Gallery. Eichorn was the Summer Resident Artist and will be presenting collages created during his residency. A one night only event.

A+D Gallery is located in  Columbia College Chicago, 619 S. Wabash Ave. Reception is Friday from 6-9pm.

3. Sixth Annual Printers Ball

The Printers Ball is back! Presented annually by the Center for Book & Paper Arts at Columbia College, this all night Friday event is not to be missed. Make sure you check the calendar for lead up events as well. The Ball presents thousands of publications, music, readings, demonstrations, and much more.

The Printers Ball will be held at The Ludington Building at Columbia College Chicago, 1104 S. Wabash Ave. The main event is Friday, from 6-11pm.

4. Double Face Fantasy at Thomas Robertello Gallery

A new installation “best viewed after dark from the sidewalk” at Robertello. Collaborators Jason Robert Bell and Marni Kotak, “[use] the application of paint to uncover flesh, the lovers find themselves quite literally emerging through the eyes of their soulmate. The messy sensuality of this play showcases their obvious pleasure, but also probes deeper issues of connection, self, and spiritual union.”

Thomas Robertello Gallery is located at 939 W. Randolph St. Show begins on Saturday night.

5. The bottom of photos that look up at the sky and other observations at Julius Cæsar

The title says a lot of it. A descriptive text based show of work by Carrie Gundersdorf.

Julius Cæsar is located at 3144 W Carroll Ave, 2G. Reception is Sunday, from 4-7pm.




Bad at Sports Interviews YOU at Sullivan Gallery’s ‘Summer Studio’ Tonight!

July 28, 2010 · Print This Article

Ever fantasized about being interviewed by the venerable Richard Holland and Duncan Mackenzie of Bad at Sports? No? Well….maybe you’re feeling bored and just need something to do tonight? Okay, good enough! Come hang out with Duncan and Richard from 5-7pm tonight at the Sullivan Galleries at SAIC, where our podcasters-in-chief will be ready and willing to interview all comers. So come! Talk to Richard and Duncan about your art, your life, your secret hopes and most shameful desires. Get it all out there and off your chest. Interviews may be broadcast on a future episode of the podcast…you never know.  This is part of the Summer Studio program taking place right now at the Sullivan Galleries, and there are a bunch of other acts, I mean artists, who are opening up their on-site spaces for you to check out as well. The full lineup includes the aforementioned Bad at Sports along with Elise Goldstein, Georgia Kotretsos, Diego Leclery, Adia Millet, Jennifer Mills, Libby O’Bryan & Elissa Papendick, John Riepenhoff, Miller & Shellabarger, Cauleen Smith, and Marjorie Welish. Hope to see you there!




Bad at Sports on Art:21 blog: Summers at Ox-Bow

July 28, 2010 · Print This Article

Our latest post is up on art:21 blog. This time, we look at two gallery exhibitions in Chicago that have been mounted in celebration of the Ox-Bow School of Art’s 100th anniversary, one at Corbett vs. Dempsey and the other at Roots & Culture. Here’s a brief excerpt from the piece:

We tend to spend a lot of time talking about art in terms of “work” nowadays, but we don’t always consider how important respite and retreat can be when it comes to sustaining an artmaking practice.  Artists, like all creative individuals, seek retreat for different reasons: to increase their focus and resolve; to problem-solve or brainstorm; to find new inspiration in unfamiliar surroundings; and to make new friends and and share ideas with other people.  For the past 100 years, artists living in the Midwest and beyond have decamped for the Ox-Bow School of Art, located in the town of Saugutuck in Southwestern Michigan. Ox-Bow provides a unique kind of retreat that’s part art school, part summer camp, and part bohemian artist’s colony. Its idyllic 115-acre campus includes forest areas, dunes, a lagoon, and a number of charming older buildings, some of which are still used as dormitories. This summer marks Ox-Bow’s centennial. In celebration of this event, the Chicago galleries Corbett vs. Dempsey and Roots and Culture have collaborated with Ox-Bow on a joint presentation of artworks by current and former students, teachers, and staff.

Eleanor Coen. "Ox-Bow Lagoon," 1940s. Watercolor on paper. Courtesy Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery.

Ox-Bow was founded in 1910 by Frederick Fursman and Walter Marshall Clute, two Chicago artists who taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, with which Ox-Bow has long been affiliated. Fursman and Clute wanted to provide artists with a reason to escape the city, and began holding art classes for their students and other artists each summer in Saugatuck, Michigan, which lies along the Kalamazoo River about 142 miles away from Chicago. At first, classes were held on a farm on the east bank of the Kalamazoo River about a mile upstream from Ox-Bow’s current location. In 1914, classes moved to the Riverside Hotel, a small inn founded by the Shriver family that soon became known as the Ox-Bow Inn. Originally built on an ox-bow-shaped bend of the Kalamazoo River, the Riverside hotel had been cut off from patrons ever since the river channel was straightened to flow directly into Lake Michigan, which dashed Saugatuck’s hopes of becoming a major Great Lakes port. Faced with a shrinking clientele, the Shrivers decided to lease the building to a group of artists for an entire summer. As Ox-Bow took on a stronger identity as a school of art over the years, Saugatuck, too, began to reinvent itself as a Midwestern resort community and artists’ enclave. Today it is known in the region as the self-proclaimed “Art Coast of Michigan.” … (Read the full article here.)




Interview with Caleb Lyons: Piracy and ‘Abstraction in the 21st Century’

July 27, 2010 · Print This Article

Chicago artist Caleb Lyons, who was interviewed way back when on Episode 95 of our podcast, recently had a solo exhibition at the MCA Chicago as part of the Museum’s 12 x 12 series. Lyons and his partner in life and crime Kathryn Scanlan are the forces behind Old Gold — the latter now continuing operations with new presentations at Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park. Caleb also co-directed the late great artLedge with Brandon Alvendia, and is involved in so many ongoing projects that I could never list them all in full here. The following interview focuses solely on his own, recent artworks, which include paintings, a video (of the nude artist, surrounded by potted plants, offering himself up as a readymade artist’s model), and a mixed media installation of various cactii potted in handcrafted pipe-pots (or, um, pot-pipes? ANYWAY). It was a smart and provocative show, but unfortunately I was only able to catch it the last week it was on view, hence the un-timeliness of the following interview. Lucky for all of us, Lyons’ paintings are now on view at  Golden’s new auxilliary space, located at 3319 N. Broadway Ave, Chicago. (I also found some excellent pictures of Caleb’s work in situ at Golden on Strange Closets blog, so go check it out the excellent photographs on that blog and then head on over to Golden and see the actual works of art in person!).

The wall text for Lyons’ MCA show described him as a kind of Jack of All Trades, an artist whose practice “encompasses a diverse range of activities–gardening, DJing, and working collaboratively with other artists–reflecting his interest in the idea that ‘everyone is an artist’ and that everything can constitute an artwork.” Yet Lyons’ MCA show was called, somewhat ironically (and then again, somewhat not), “Abstraction in the 21st Century,” a title that was clearly designed to provoke a certain amount of bemusement and even incredulity on the part of viewers, given the relatively short history of 21st century painting in general. This provocative title was the first thing I asked Caleb about during our written exchange about his show, which was conducted several weeks ago while Lyons was on residency at The Philadelphia Art Hotel (Bad at Sports’ SF correspondent Patricia Maloney also happens to be on residency there this summer). I’m tremendously grateful to him for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer my questions with such thoughtfulness and care.

Installation view of Caleb J. Lyons' exhibition at the MCA Chicago.

Claudine Ise: “Abstraction in the 21st Century” is a ballsy title for an exhibition – at least for an exhibition by an individual artist at a major contemporary art museum. I really like the way this title appropriates the language of the encyclopedic museum (more specifically, the language that this type of museum would use to introduce its gallery exemplifying Abstraction in art), but here it’s used to frame a solo show by an emerging artist. I am also intrigued by the fact that such a title implies the promise of a representative sampling of artists – which of course it doesn’t. So can you tell me a bit about why you chose this title for your MCA solo exhibition?

Caleb Lyons: Well I do have balls, or a pair of testicles–they were on exhibit in my nude video: The Artist Is The Model: Do It Yourself, Still Life, Amateur Hour, Idiot Box, which was riffing on the ego and vulnerability of the artist, as well as the idea that through our immediate technologies everyone has become a producer, the “artist” has become the “model citizen” for exploitation.

I am interested in the way museums and other institutions feel the need to categorize and define genres for the public. It becomes generic. I use the generic as a catalyst in my own work –– as in, ‘this is what an American abstract painting is supposed to look like’. I wonder why we feel like we need themes so badly. Will we really find it that hard to make connections otherwise? If museums didn’t try so hard to define things, would the public be confused or would the public figure it out for themselves?

The presumptuous title also suggests that the work will be heroic in scale and intention, and I find it funny that the work is very modest, handcrafted and is both abstract and representational. There is no abstraction without representation and no representation without abstraction.

Caleb Lyons. Untitled document, from "Real Pirates."

I think it is a symptom of our time (with best-of lists, and our need to categorize and rate the arts), the idea that abstraction would be surveyed only ten years into the century. The title also attempts to allude to our society’s growing disconnect with reality, and our increasing (as far as I can tell) loss of power and freedom. There is something attractive and deceptive about the anonymity of abstraction. Maybe in such an audacious title for a small solo exhibition some viewers will find the absurdity in genre-defining elsewhere, or maybe they will just think I am a pretentious asshole; either way, I’m happy. Read more