Openings at He Said/She Said and The Suburban This Weekend

March 13, 2009 · Print This Article

There’s some good stuff happening in my ‘hood this weekend, starting with tonight’s opening for Michael Stickrod’s project over at Pamela Fraser and Randall Szott’s space He Said/She Said, in Oak Park.

Michael Stickrod

Michael Stickrod

A quick blurb on Stickrod, from the He Said/She Said website and via The New Museum:

“Michael Stickrod addresses the psychology of human ties by cutting to the center of his familial circle. He uses scanned photographs and found audio to create nearly abstract sequences embedded between incising confessions and footage of his family. The videos on view take his mother and father as his subject matter, painting a landscape of Middle America that oscillates between bleak and hopeful” (New Museum website).

Stickrod will screen films, play sound works, and show related objects. The opening is from 6-9, with the film screening at 8pm. On Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm, The Suburban opens its exhibitions of Cameron Martin and Dave Hullfish Bailey. Of Martin, The New York Times has said,

“Formally, Cameron Martin’s sleekly distilled, medium-large landscapes have a flattened, hard-edged cyber-Pop snap. The young Brooklynite’s satiny smooth, subtly hued paintings of placid, reflective water; snaky, slightly rounded trees mottled black and white; or seashore rocks surrounded by metallic fields are not descriptions of perceptual experience — not like the paintings of Alex Katz or Neil Welliver. They are, rather, what the professors call cultural signifiers, contemporary icons that stand for deep-running collective urges, like the fantasy of an intimate connection with nature.”

Critic Michael Darling says of Bailey,

“Just as theologians attempt to read scripture every which way in order to discern the intentions and directives of religious tracts, Bailey homes in on relatively innocuous words that when prodded and pulled, prove to be extraordinarily supple. Not averse to strategic mis-readings, or at the very least, possessed of an openness to explore interpretive avenues that don’t readily spring from looking at words in their most familiar context, the artist has generated fascinating strands of discourse just by examining common language in a different light.”

Martin and Bailey will be in attendance, and as usual you can pick up a free copy of X-TRA. Hey, if you go, come on over and say hi to me. I’ll be the one standing in the corner by myself, as is my wont at these sorts of things.

He Said/She Said, 831 South Grove Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60304, 708-310-2607

The Suburban, 125 North Harvey Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois 60302,  708-763-8554

Art Institute Raises Price of Admission: “Cannibalism,” or Just “Keeping Up”?

March 13, 2009 · Print This Article

There’s been some commentary on other art and culture blogs about this, so maybe we should get into it too: The Art Institute has raised its price of admission by 50%. Now, the general public will pay $18, seniors and students pay $12, up from the $7 it was previously.

There have been a few good pieces on this issue written elsewhere over the past couple of days; in particular I liked Tyler Green’s post over at Modern Art Notes, Museum cannibalism: pricing out visitors. Green points out that Chicago museums are more reliant on admissions revenue than are institutions in other cities, but nevertheless decisions like this make it much harder for average folks, especially younger demographics, to make museum-going a regular thing. Salient quote:

“Museums could do lots of things to avoid pricing out visitors. Trustees could give more. Foundations could give more. Museums could cut more staff. But the last thing they should do is raise admissions charges and inhibit public access to art at a time when we need it most.”

Green then followed up with this post about the Seattle Art Museum’s “pay if you can” admissions policy, with accompanying grey-skies ad campaign. What think you?

Seattle Art Museum Ad, via Modern Art Notes blog

Seattle Art Museum Ad, via Modern Art Notes blog

EDITED TO ADD: Someone rightly pointed out that there’s more to the admissions story: free days! Here they are, straight from the Art Institute’s web site:

  • One late evening per week (Thursdays after 5:00 p.m.) throughout the year
  • Two late evenings per week (Thursdays and Fridays after 5:00 p.m.) during the summer (May 31 to August 31)
  • The entire month of February
  • The week of the opening of the Modern Wing, from May 16 to May 22, 2009

Go directly to the Art Institute’s visitor page for even more details. Plus, children under 12 will continue to get in free of charge, and there will no longer be a charge for special exhibitions or coat check.

Chicago Public Library Poster Design Competition

March 12, 2009 · Print This Article

Those of you who were inspired by Mike Benedetto’s interview with Steve Walters and Jay Ryan last week — the Chicago Public Library has announced that it’s holding a poster design competition inspired by the library and using the URL The idea is to “bring attention to a hip, shortened version of the library’s official website address.”

Ryan is one of the esteemed judges for this event, along with award-winning photographer Brian Willette, Creative Director at All Terrain/Chicago, and Chicago Public Library Commissioner Mary Dempsey. The winners will be announced at a free public event on April 23, 2009, at the Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago.


The contest runs from March 5th to April 9th, so if you’re interested in participating, chop chop! For more info and rules, visit the library’s website (you’ll need to scroll down just a bit to get to the contest info).

Two With Water Magazine Gets Incubate’s “Sunday Soup Grant”

March 9, 2009 · Print This Article

Incubate (Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and the Everyday) has awarded its $250 March “Sunday Soup Grant” to new Chicago-based magazine Two With Water, a still-developing publication with a focus on “self-realization and urban life” run by Amy Ganser and Rebecca Roberts. The magazine features work by emerging writers and visual artists; click links above to learn more about the grant program and the magazine’s submission guidelines. That Sunday Soup Grant program sounds like a pretty darn nice idea to me: modest, yes, but sometimes small cash infusions (and the community support that comes with it) can make a surprisingly big difference in those early days when a project is still finding its way.

When Commercial Galleries “Flatline,” Apartment Galleries Give Hugs

March 6, 2009 · Print This Article

Deanna Isaacs reports in The Reader this week that Flatfile Galleries will close their doors on March 27. This comes on the heels of Rowland Contemporary’s demise last December. Are these the first of many deaths to come? Most likely. But there’s a bright side to this undeniably sad news, and it lies in Chicago’s thriving apartment and alternative gallery scene. Although I haven’t been living in these parts for long, and I’m definitely still feeling my way around,  it seems to me that Chicago’s art world is uniquely primed not only to weather these disastrous economic times but to thrive in the midst of them. Now, I’m not trying to get all Holland Carter on your asses (see Carter’s Feb. 15th essay in the New York Times for what I’m referring to; earlier this week New York magazine writer Alexandra Peers offered a gloomier rebuttal of Carter’s sunny outlook for recession-era art). My point is that Chicago’s artists, indie curators and writers have been doing their own thing for a long time: running tiny galleries and think-tank type workshops out of spare rooms in their homes and apartments, creating flexible art and cultural storefront spaces whose content isn’t solely object- or market-driven–eh, you’re all BAS listeners, you don’t need me to tell you this.  I’m not denying that a crap art market has seriously bad ripple effects on everyone; but in these times the Chicago art world–especially the one that’s a bit harder to find and is usually only open on Saturdays, Sundays, or by appointment–offers a powerful and creative model of how to carry on with the business of art when the art business is going down the tubes. I, for one, am glad I’m here right now.