Art:21 Blog’s In-Depth Exploration of William Kentridge

December 8, 2010 · Print This Article

I’ve mentioned art:21’s current film William Kentridge: Anything Is Possible a few times already, but I wanted to bring art:21’s project to your attention once again in order to point out the website that accompanies the film, which offers a range of educational resources that help flesh out the film’s explorations.  I’ve contributed an essay to the site, too – I tried my hand at writing about opera – Kentridge’s production of The Magic Flute, to be exact. It was really hard to write! But satisfying. There are a bunch of really fantastic pieces on the site that address Kentridge’s prints, his tapestry projections, his production of Shostakovich’s opera The Nose, and the proverbial much, much, more, including an essay providing background on the making of the film Anything Is Possible itself. You can also watch the full, feature-length film in its entirety on the website.

As always, don’t forget to check out Bad at Sports’ ongoing column Centerfield: Art in the Middle with Bad at Sports on art:21 blog. We post on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month.

William Kentridge. The Magic Flute, 2005. Performance at Le Théatre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels. Opera with back and front projection. Photo by and © Johan Jacobs.

Remembering Margaret Taylor Burroughs, co-Founder of the DuSable Museum

December 7, 2010 · Print This Article

The Chicago Weekly has a lengthy and moving obituary of artist Margaret Taylor Burroughs, who died on November 21st at her Bronzeville home. Burroughs was co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History and also helped found the South Side Community Arts Center.

The DuSable Museum will celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Margaret Burroughs this Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 10:00am until 5:00pm. The day’s events will include filmed interviews about Margaret Burroughs, a symposium on her life, children’s workshops, musical and spoken word performances, and exhibition tours.Admission to the event is free; please R.S.V.P. at (773) 947-0600 ext. 627.

A brief excerpt from the Chicago Weekly piece on Dr. Burroughs follows:

In 1940, at age 23, Burroughs became the youngest founder of the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC). During the Depression, with money from the Work Projects Administration, a coalition of Bronzeville community members sought to turn a former railroad men’s club into a public art center. The 3831 South Michigan address was across the street from the coach house she and Goss were renting, and the couple quickly became leaders in the effort. Burroughs, her husband, and other artists including Fred Jones, Charles White, and Archibald Motley Jr. worked with local businessmen to raise the money necessary to purchase the property and organize the renovation.

In 1941, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt inaugurated the center at a ceremony broadcast on national radio. Burroughs addressed the crowd. “Now, in this critical wartime period, we have our own plan for defense; a plan in the defense of culture. The opportunities which we have now, in the coming of the art center, we did not have before. This quickens our determination to see it that this art center, the first of it’s kind on the South Side, and one of the few in the country shall stand and flourish.”

The SSCAC made Bronzeville a mecca for black artists in Chicago. Even after federal money ceased in the early ’40s, the center sustained itself, sometimes barely, through the support of patrons. Burroughs said of the energy that went into the center, “We believed that the purpose of art was to record the times. As young black artists, we looked around and recorded in our various media what we saw. It was not from our imagination that we painted slums and ghettos, or sad, hollow-eyed black men, women and children. They were the people around us. We were part of them. They were us.” Today the SSCAC is in its 70th year, and is the only remaining arts facility from the WPA days.

Burroughs attended the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1946 and a Masters in art education in 1948. In her studies she came across the Taller de Gráfica Popular. The Mexican muralists’ use of social commentary inspired her work. In 1953, Burroughs travelled to Mexico City to study printmaking and art under Leopoldo Méndez, a prominent printmaker of the Diego Rivera circle.  The influence of Mexican muralists helped her to develop the distinctive style she used in her iconic white-on-black prints of African and American history. The social aims of the Mexican muralists also had an impact on her philosophy of art; throughout her life, Burroughs made art about a world she shared with others. (Read more at The Chicago Weekly).

MCA Talk with Michael Darling, Michelle Grabner, and Lane Relyea

December 7, 2010 · Print This Article

Can I just say once again how grateful I always feel to people and organizations who post videos and/or audio of their panels, talks, conversations, etc. online? For near-agoraphobes like me, it’s a lifesaver. This talk happened locally at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago–although I fear it’s just another variation on the old ‘what does it mean to be a Chicago artist’ chestnut, hopefully it’ll be of interest to many of you who live outside our fair city as well:

Home Base: Michael Darling, Michelle Grabner, and Lane Relyea in Conversation
What does it mean to characterize an artist by where they live and work? And similarly, what does it mean for a collection to be of a place — to reflect a museum’s history and artistic community, to be shaped by the dynamics of a city, to be used by and be seen as part of the locale where it lives? The MCA’s new James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator Michael Darling, artist and writer Michelle Grabner, and critic Lane Relyea delve into these questions, looking at examples from the United States and internationally.

The MCA just made it available on their “MCA Interactive” page (where–I love this–they provide a helpful answer to the question ‘What is a Podcast’?). The talk is available in two forms – MP3 download and/or streaming media. Click here to access the download. There are a ton of other MCA talks and walk-thru type discussions on the download/streams page for you to peruse, as well.

Monday Links and Musings

December 6, 2010 · Print This Article

Just popping in for a moment to bring two significant facts to your attention:

1) The Green Lantern Gallery–which has long been led by Caroline Picard, who is also BAS’ newest blogger–is winding down as an exhibition space (but lives on as a publishing venture); this and next week’s slate of events offer some of your last chances to visit the space and hang out. In addition to the group show Isolated Fictions (which opened last Friday and features works by Deb Sokolow, Carmen Price, Jason Dunda, Amanda Browder, Nadine Nakanishi, Rebecca Mir and Nick Butcher), a reading by Adam Levin, a performance evening centered around world-based art, a screening curated by Eric Fleischauer and Jesse McLean, and the third installment of the Now It’s Dark experimental film and music series are all on the agenda. Click here for full schedule details.

2) Artist Damien James, who writes for New City and occasionally for this blog, is the latest Guest Blogger on art:21. His first post is up–in it, the Redmoon Theater’s production of The Cabinet, a puppetry-driven performance based on The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, becomes a springboard for musings on art’s ability to transport us back to the past and deep into our own consciousness.  Several more essays by Mr. James will follow in the coming days and weeks, so be sure and check them out!

Adam Levin reads at The Green Lantern Gallery

from Redmoon Theater's puppet production of 'The Cabinet'

“New Style Curators”: Do They Exist?

December 1, 2010 · Print This Article

I was a former “old-style” curator who began participating in the online world right around the time that ideas about so-called “new style curation” started cropping up…everywhere….so this panel — which features Paddy Johnson of Art Fag City, online media consultant Rex Sorgatz, Rhizome‘s Ceci Moss, and panel organizer and moderator Joanne McNeil of the Tomorrow Museum — is really interesting to me. I’m still in the process of watching and absorbing and thus have no commentary to add — I just wanted to pop this embedded video into your feed readers and what-not in case you’re interested in the topic, and/or haven’t already come across this. Also: Paddy Johnson, one of the panelists, has written an extended follow-up to the panel on her blog Art Fag City.  I do think it’s incredibly generous of Johnson to write at length about the ideas behind the panel in addition to speaking on it. Those shared thoughts, and the posting of the entire talk on YouTube, is much appreciated by folks like me, who don’t live in NYC and had no way of catching this talk live.