I’m all about linking the interviews today, aren’t I? But I just came across another one that’s too good to pass on – three Chicago greats in conversation! Richard Hull interviews Gladys Nilsson and Jim Nutt for the Winter 2011 issue of BOMB, which hit the stands a few days ago on December 15th. The interview (or at least a healthy chunk of it) can also be found online – click here to read it; a small excerpt is below. There is also a 3 minute audio excerpt from the interview posted on BOMB’s website.
Richard Hull: As I was coming up here I was thinking about your collection of works by self-taught artists, contemporary art, and ethnographic objects—especially with the Ray Yoshida show coming up at SAIC. As a teacher at the school he had a lot of influence on people collecting things. When did you start collecting?
Gladys Nilsson: We bought a small painting by a Sunday painter who couldn’t quite get it right at a junk shop in the early ’60s because, I don’t know, it seemed like the thing to do. We didn’t start out acquiring things with the idea that we must form a collection.
Jim Nutt: The False Image people [Christina Ramberg, Phil Hanson, Eleanor Dube, Roger Brown] and other students became aware that Ray was going to flea markets, and they started going as a group. It became almost a weekend ritual, but it also had something to do with his idea of going out and collecting images that you see in your eye. It wasn’t unlike his instructing students to cut out images from wherever and organize/paste them in sketchbooks, based on formal relationships. The idea was to recognize the potential of a form or shape beyond the literal reference.
GN: When all of this flea market and Maxwell Street shopping was going on, we were in California. Even earlier on, before the Hairy Who shows started up, people were ripping out ads from backs of magazines or odd photos from newspapers, or picking up junk found on the street, and surrounding themselves with this curious mix in their studios.
JN: People acquired things just because they liked to have them. It’s the kind of stuff that artists for years have had in their studios. They see something that interests them, quite often it’s a postcard of a well-known painting, but it’s also something from the vernacular or popular, easily acquired in the everyday world.
RH: Does what you collect influence you directly? Say, the African pieces or the works by self-trained artists in your home; do they have an effect on the way you use color or make shapes or images?
GN: That’s been foisted on us and others of our ilk: that we were heavily influenced by our collections. I mean, I would be more prone to go to a museum, find an arm in a painting and use it as a source, than to say, “Oh, my God! Look how Joseph Yoakum draws a tree in a work in our collection. I must use that.”
December 22, 2010 · Print This Article
Check out Caroline Picard’s interview with the Chicago writer (and Bad at Sports’ literary correspondent) Terri Griffith on The Lantern Daily about Griffith’s book So Much Better. Here’s a brief excerpt from their conversation; read the full interview here.
CP: Could you talk a little about what your process for writing this book was like? How long were you working on So Much Better? How did you “discover” the characters? And really, what’s up with a credit union?
TG: So Much Better is my third stab at trying to write about a story I read in the Seattle Times, or maybe it was the Post-Intelligencer. It was about a woman, a middle class, white woman, wearing nice department store clothes and high-end make-up, who was found dead in a hotel room. She had committed suicide and had been dead a few days before they found her. The thing about the article that struck me was what the detective said. He said that about once a year, woman just like her turned up dead. A woman who by all outward measure wouldn’t be considered disenfranchised, but somehow was. A woman who was never reported missing. This is the idea that plagued me. How do you live in this world and arrive at a place where no one would know you are gone? What about work or family? Oddly, I still haven’t written this particular story. But certainly my protagonist Liz knows exactly what it means to have no ties. The Credit Union? My girlfriend worked for a credit union. She was a really bad teller because her drawer never balanced at the end of the day. Just off by a penny or two, but they don’t care in banking. It didn’t matter that she blew everyone out of the water on the Federal regulation tests. At the end of the day, your drawer has to balance. Credit Unions are really popular in The Pacific Northwest. I’ve been a Credit Union member for twenty years. Actually, I still do all my banking at my college Credit Union. I am crazy obsessed with people’s job. I love to listen to people’s work stories. Work is like our second family, and for some people it’s their first. There needs to be more stories about office life. Netflix tells me my favorite shows are “witty workplace comedies.” There are a few books that I really love that I consider in the same vein as So Much Better. Something Happened, by Joseph Heller. Death of the Author, by Gilbert Adair. Also Julie Hecht’s Do the Window’s Open? They are all empty books, with isolated protagonists who are tied to their work. (Read More).
December 21, 2010 · Print This Article
I like the concept of this exhibition so much I had to blog it here – the more submissions the organizers receive, the better this show will be, don’t you think? Karly Wildenhaus, who runs the invaluable online Chicago visual arts calendar On the Make, is currently working with Golden Age on an exhibition of individual pieces of “take-away” art. The show is called Twice Removed. Right now, Karly is seeking submissions of take-away art from personal collections. All submissions (if accepted) must be mailed or dropped off at Golden Age by January 18th. Full details below. If you’ve got one of Félix González-Torres’ pieces of candy lying around – now’s the time to share! (Funny – I never thought of saving mine. I just thoughtlessly ate it. What is wrong with me??).
Encountering the “take away” artwork, consisting of unlimited or large-run editions whose individual pieces are free for the taking, has become a common occurrence in contemporary art exhibitions. A strategy notably employed in Félix González-Torres’ “stack” works, the take away has been used by many other artists with a variety of intents and forms. The spirit of generosity, an exploration of dispersion and the attempt to circumvent the art market are just a few of the potential motivations cited for generating take away works. Twice Removed aims to provide a venue where the multiplicity of meanings and post-exhibition life implied by the take away model can be considered by exhibiting single units of these works together.
Golden Age is soliciting individual pieces of take away artworks from personal collections for temporary loan during the length of the exhibition. To contribute, please send a brief description of your items for further submission and loan information. Items must be received by mail or dropped off at Golden Age’s location in Chicago by January 18, 2011. Any further questions? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because I have a four and three quarters year old daughter, I was intrigued by the email I received from The Suburban announcing a one-day only “Holiday Experience” for kids and grownups alike. We were invited to come and Sit On A Polar Bear’s Lap. The event was billed as “a project by Diego Leclery,” a well-known Chicago artist who also co-runs the alternative space Julius Caesar.
Since The Polar Bear looms large in our house (my husband runs the endangered species program of a national environmental group) I thought, what the hell, I’ll bring my daughter and check it out. It couldn’t be any creepier than Santa Claus, could it? (Since we’re Jewish, my child has never had the terrifying privilege of being forced to sit on Santa’s lap whilst bored teens in elf costumes took her picture). But since I wasn’t sure what to expect, I kept it vague and told my daughter we were going to do “this polar bear thing” during the afternoon and left it at that. A part of me was worried that the project–whatever form it took–would feel cynical in some way, and though I’m all for overturning fake holiday cheer in appropriate contexts, I didn’t want my kid to be the butt of the joke. But this Polar Bear was nothing like that at all.
In fact this Polar Bear…I’m not (too) embarrassed to admit that this Polar Bear was truly magical. At least he was for my daughter. She couldn’t get enough of the huge, cuddly fellow and I literally had to drag her out of the room so that other kids (and adults) could have their turn sitting on his lap. She got in line to visit the Polar Bear three separate times.
“Is the Polar Bear a machine?” she kept asking me. “No,” I said – “he is a living creature. Can’t you tell by the way he was hugging you?”
“So it was alive?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded, “he was alive. I’m pretty sure it was a he anyway.”
“But how did a Polar Bear come all the way from the North Pole?”
“Well,” I said, thinking fast — because she already knows Santa isn’t real and I kinda wanted to give her something — “well, this is a special kind of Polar Bear. That’s why he’s here. He is different from other Polar Bears.”
“Yes, mama…he is sooo kind! If he was a different Polar Bear he would probably try to kill me.”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
For me, the Polar Bear brought a number of things to mind–from Temple Grandin’s “squeeze machine” to the culture of fear that the media has built around children and adults and physical expressions of affection, to the fact that environmental groups crafting media campaigns are forced to rely on a few highly photogenic “charismatic critters”–like the Polar Bear–in order to get the general public to care about environmental issues like species decimation and global warming.
But for my daughter, the Polar Bear wasn’t conceptual or referential. It was real, and it made her so happy. So thank you Polar Bear. That was a really sweet thing you did.
This week: Amanda and Tom go to the Rachel Uffner Gallery to talk with Roger White about his self titled show at the gallery which ran October 29th-December 13th. Roger talks about the show and painting as well as being an artist/journalist as the Vermont based artist is also a frequent contributor to the Brooklyn Rail as well as one of the founders of Paper Monument.