Edition #35

August 11, 2014 · Print This Article

Performance Art Craze Grips Rural Wisconsin

Move over cheese, there’s a new sheriff in town. Lately the Driftless region of southwest Wisconsin has been teeming with performance art.

This development is due in part to ACRE Residency’s 2nd Session artists such as the ABBA-inspired Zoe Berg, Kittisak “Wa” Chontong, Sanaz Sohrabi, Sonja Dahl, Thomas Friel, Local Honey and more.

Leading the charge was Local Honey, an artist from New Orleans who took “glamping” to previously unseen heights. Local was always on, activating every space and green leaf on the property as their step and repeat. WTT? sincerely hopes to see a series of images from Local Honey out soon.

Local Honey on the first day of Session 2.

Performing on August 1st, Sanaz Sohrabi also used the expansiveness of open space to background her performance at the River Cabin. Using audio recordings for the first time, Sohrabi’s text whispered at the audience, “Beyond this coating of the ground, whatever it may contain or conceal, there lies another piece of land, stretching to the horizon, open sky and speeding clouds.” That same evening at the stage, Thomas Friel’s also went to great lengths, promising extraordinary wealth if only you could get it up.

Sohrabi’s River Cabin performance.

On the subtler side, Kittisak “Wa” Chontong offered himself as an assistant and became engaged in a variety of projects during the two week residency, including the People’s Pasta, Virginia Aberle’s sculpture, and Sonja Dahl’s Ice Coffee Cart.

Dahl offering coffee to fellow resident, Danny Giles.

Inspired by her trip to Indonesia and the fact that hanging out is a part of daily life everywhere, Dahl’s multipurpose coffee/cocktail cart delighted anyone who encountered her dragging the hefty wooden cart across the residency campus. The addition of a second pair of wheels was a must.

Local residents in the neighboring towns of Stueben and Boscobel seem unfazed. Bob of “Bob & Lou’s” was reported to have said, “Those weirdos? What else is new?” and Boscobellians retorted with their own avant garde performance, a “Muskets & Memories” Civil War Reenactment featuring a Battle Royale and Ladies’ Garden Party (period dress required).

Session 3’s residents have yet to reveal if they will carry the torch.

Cargo Space Outside the Walker Art Center.

B@S & Cargo Space Occupy Open Field at Walker

There’s a street art bus on the loose, and it’s coming for you Chicago. After first arriving at the Poor Farm to present work by Rahul Mitra and David Krueger, the keeper of the bus, Christopher Sperandio, hit the road with Duncan MacKenzie and your faithful gossip columnist, to see ACRE, the Walker and ended up in Chicago last Friday where it will be prepped for an exhibition at A+D Gallery running August 14 through September 20. Oh, and did we mention the exhibition is also hitting Milwaukee at the same time using the bus as a conduit?

Work by Rahul Mitra at the Poor Farm.

A converted Blue Bird, the bus itself is quite a site to behold. Built as an escape pod for Houston resident, Sperandio, the roving artist residency can accommodate 5 artists (soon to be 6) and has already traveled 2,000 miles on it’s tour of the Midwest.

Look out for Sperandio and his art chariot around Chi through September.

Who Wore it Better?

Color blocked chambray and clear framed glasses? So nice, we had to see it twice. Artist Andrew Holmquist, left, and Nick Butcher of Sonnenzimmer, right, at Medium Cool on Sunday, August 10th.

Header image features people having a ton of fun on the bank of the Little Wolf River near the Poor Farm Experiment.

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The Weatherman Report

Work by Amikam Toren, presented at the Poor Farm, curated by Nicholas Frank.

Most Epic Tube Ride Ever Proves to be Epic

You may know Brad Killam and Michelle Grabner’s project the Poor Farm as a Kunsthalle style exhibition space (aka an art gallery) built from an actual Poor Farm in Little Wolf, Wisconsin.

Rafters with a bouy named Desire.

While the opening weekend featured exhibitions, screenings, conversations and readings, the most exciting spectacle of the weekend was without a doubt the annual Little Wolf River tube ride that took place on Saturday, August 2nd.

Several trips back and forth were made by Killam and Alex Regan in order to ferry eager tubers and their neon pink and green tubes to the launch site. The two heroically spent hours driving back and forth to the site all in the name of a good time.

Steady loungin': Artist Sabina Ott and writer John Paulett on the Little Wolf.

Artists Jasmine Lee and Mark Beasley achieving maximum chillage.

Hosted by Richard Galling and John Ripenhoff, “Lazy River, Keep Showing Me Your Rafts,” was billed as a “a raft building competition and float,” though it is more accurately described as a party afloat featuring a tubin’ boombox, a buoyant beer cooler and a buoy named “Desire.”

Brittany Ellenz of American Fantasy Classic during the tube.

The ride was a swift 3 hours, with many riders immediately expressing the desire to “do it again!”. Reports on the final head count vary with some putting the number as high as 100 tubers. More conservative estimates report 70-80 tubers, though all agree that the float was the largest ever in Poor Farm history.

Tubers returning to the Poor Farm.

Shirt by Sara Caron, sold at her “Poor Store” during the opening weekend.

Medium Cool Continues Maximum Chill

This years edition of Ria Roberts’ Medium Cool Art and Object Fair in the West Loop managed to improve an already pretty radical summer occurrence. As soon as the press images came out (featuring the hands of yours truly), we knew that Roberts would pull out all the stops. We wanted EVERTHING but spent our limited allowance on a book by Evan Robarts from LVL3 and a to-die-for Brancusi inspired necklace by Shikama. Here are some other highlights from this years edition hosted by Western Exhibitions on Saturday, August 9th and Prairie Productions Sunday, August 10th.

Molds and impressions by Press Play, a 3-D printed museum making toy by Tom and Holly Burtonwood.

Brand new collage work by Eric Fleischauer presented by Document.

We couldn’t get enough of Menil Kara’s ceramics featured in UTOTEM’s gorgeous booth of artist designed objects and furniture.

Ria and Ruby Roberts holding it down outside the Doner food truck.

Kara restocking some of her sad face dildos for UTOTEM.

Sonnenzimmer inverse record made from glue. We don’t quite understand it, but we love it all the same.

EDITION #34 – Notes from Camp (ACRE Residency)

July 21, 2014 · Print This Article

Vinarsky custom Print Shack sign.

Screen Printing Studio Dubbed “Print Shack”

As any ACRE alumni knows, the screen printing studio is one of the most utilized facilities at the residency. It takes a printing and organizational maverick to deal with the onslaught of projects from residents who realize the potential for t-shirt making inside of the humble studio.

Print Rules and print rules!

During Session 1, artist Carrie Vinarsky left an indelible mark on the studio. Affectionately dubbed “Print Shack” by Vinarsky, the studio experienced a renaissance. Never has such organization been seen in the tight quarters of the studio. Among her many improvements, Vinarsky championed the baby oil method and encouraged the use of the Print Shack porch for printing and socializing.

Resident, Bobby Aiosa, reppin’ the shack.

Even in the face of much automotive adversity, Vinarsky kept the Print Shack a little old place where we could get together. Print Shack, baby.

“Sorry I’m Late” by Nicholas Frank.

Morality, Sledding Uncommonly Conflated at Residency

The Posey/Sweet Family Cemetery located on the grounds of the ACRE Residency is known as a place of individual contemplation. Maybe the site of the odd grave rubbing or two.

During the first session of this summer’s residency the cemetery has seen more action than it probably has since 1855. First, visiting artist, Nicholas Frank, held a discussion on animation, rocks, ticks and morality near the big tree in the cemetery the morning of Thursday, July 17th. Attendants considered turning the world upside down and whether or not rocks are baby or grandfather mountains.

Nicholas Frank convo

“Frank” conversation in the cemetery.

The Weatherman Report

John Ripenhoff, Plein Air (ACRE), 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 12 × 18 in.

Frank later held a candlelight procession to a new grave site next to the residential lodging where he placed a stone with an inscription that reads “Sorry I’m Late.” Other residents chipped in their own anecdotes of special rocks to bury. In Frank’s words, “Sometimes just being alive can feel like an accomplishment.”

During open studios on Saturday, Shawn Landis, held a solemn performance at high noon where his fellow ACRE-ites pulled him up the hill at the entrance to the cemetery. Once at the top, Landis slid down the hill on a surprisingly sturdy sled made of ice, wooden slats and fabric grips. Later that afternoon, Landis lightened the mood in the cemetery and invited others to slide down the hill on his ice sleds.

John Ripenhoff on Landis’ ice sled.

Landis was last seen at the foot of the Posey Sweet hill wearing a baby blue speedo.

Winter Visits Summer Residency

With rumors of the polar vortex returning to the Midwest, residents couldn’t shed their S.A.D. A collaborative from Minneapolis, Negative Jam, embraced the chilly weather and put it to work last Friday night when they hosted Christmas in July. The dinning area was festively decorated with elaborate garnishes and the stage was decked with boughs of holly (and a fake Christmas tree).

Just like real Christmas, arguably the best part of the evening was the gift exchange. Residents engaged in “Secret Santa”, gifting each other crystallized rocks from around the ACRE property and various trinkets probably scrounged up at World of Variety in Boscobel. Dancing and merriment ensued.

Lauren Walsh keeping warm and browning at least 6 marshmallows at the same time.

Not to be out-wintered by a bunch of Christmas-loving performance artists, artist Shawn Landis, of Seattle decided to take winter into his own hands by fashioning sleds made of ice residents used to “Chill Out”.

Trending: Homegrown Manicures

No mistaking Etta Sandry for anything else but.

Residency Not Confined by Physical Reality of Universe.

Work by Brookhart Jonquil.

Greetings from Wisconsin!

This summer WTT? is going straight rural and spending July and August at the ACRE Residency in beautiful Stueben, WI. Look out for what’s trending in the sticks and what happens when artists stop being polite and start really missing Wifi connection.

Edition #33

June 23, 2014 · Print This Article

Artist Encourages You to Love HAGS

Why do HAGs have such a bad rap? We don’t know, but we’re glad that Portland-based artist, Jenny Vu has decided to rehabilitate them. Her ongoing series H.A.G.S. (Have a Great Summer) depicts summer and it’s most devout fans at their best and most ridiculous. There will be farmer’s tans.

Trending.

Vu writes, “Currently i’ve been thinking a lot about SUMMER (duh), being a HAG/becoming a hag/the power of the hag/destroying the negative connotation surrounding the “HAG”.Enjoy!”

Because really, if you’re not on Facebook and the phone while eating watermelon and putting a bird on it, then you’re not doing it right. You can see more of Jenny Vu’s work on her Tumblr.

A Multi-tasking HAG.

Work hard and play hard this summer, art babes!

Get Real or Get Out.

British Artist to Re-imagine Chicago Underground

Vertical Gallery in Ukrainian Village is drilling down with the debut US solo show from Xenz. The London-based graffiti artist has taken a shine to images of Chicago from the 1800’s and early 1900’s and the organized crime that was spawned by the network of subterranean alleyways that were created as the city became more, well, vertical at the turn of the 20th century.

Work by Xenz.

We’re not really sure why a London-er is so keen on the history of Chicago, but he couldn’t have picked a city with richer history to dive into. Xenz’s exhibition is based on the book “The Outfit,” by Gus Russo, in which he describes pre-fire Chicago and its rat-filled underworld.

Grime-y Chicago history? That’s right up our seedy underground prohibition-era alleyway. “Building the Dream” will feature an opening reception with the artist on July 5th from 6-10PM and will run through July 26th. Vertical Gallery is located at 1016 N Western Avenue.

The Weatherman Report

Lianghong Feng, Abstract 45-10, 2010. Oil on canvas, 47 × 39 in.

Ever dreamed of having your own ACRE glow-in-the-dark cup? Dreams can come true!

Give/ Get

We would say that the benefit season is winding down, but with CAC’s Starving Artist photobooth images just hitting Facebook and the 2014 MoCP Fine Print Release party popping off at Untitled tonight, that would be straight up untrue. It’s an artist eat artist world out there guys. Here are some non-party related opportunities to give and get that ca$h and make your art world a better place.

If you’re a fan of What’s the T? (and if not, what are you doing here!?), that pretty much makes you a default fan of ACRE (that glorious artist residency where WTT? was first conceived). But even if you’re not a T fan and you live in Chicago, you’ve probably been privy to no less than a billion* fantastic exhibitions, concerts, screenings, block parties, Halloween shindigs, etc. ACRE gives us all so much throughout the year, now it’s time to reach deep down into your heart wallet, and give back to them.


My video co-stars & 2014 incoming residents, Diana Harper & Danny Giles. Click above to see the real thing.

Check out all the donation prizes and then claim your very own Michael Milano tote bag on ACRE’s HatchFund campaign page. At the very least, watch the HatchFund video and get the added bonus of seeing me awkwardly talk into a camera! (And you thought my B@S podcast interviews were rough.)

If giving money isn’t your thing, why not try to get some? Before you resort to spanging on the street, why not do us all a favor and hit up the Propeller Fund Info Session next Wednesday, July 2nd at Threewalls. If group info sessions are also not your thing (man, so picky!) you can schedule a one-on-one info session with a Threewalls staff member. There’s 50 G’s up for grabs here artists! Don’t sleep!

*Clearly NOT an exaggeration.

Finally! We’re pleased to present a for real ‘Who wore it better?’ Alison Reimus at Gallerista‘s first installment of SOLO @ CIRCA, featuring Reimus’ work OR MZH at the opening of the Whitney Biennial.

Calling all undergrads! Learn more then you ever could at school by interning at LVL3.

Edition #32

June 11, 2014 · Print This Article

Trending: Florida!

Feeling a little tropical, Chicago? WTT? couldn’t be more proud to see our own cracked out home state finally trending somewhere aside from Buzzfeed.

McCraney addressing the “fancy people” at the Palmer House on June 2nd.

The Arts Alliance of Illinois is even feeling the heat, as they honored award-winning American playwright and McArthur Genius AND Miami native, Tarell Alvin McCraney, at their Voices of a Creative State 2014 luncheon on June 2nd. McCraney speech was (as you might expect from a New World School of the Arts grad) completely captivating, inspiring, and a formidable act for Gov. Quinn to follow. Not to mention he looks like $625,000 in that suit. If you hear me clap once.

The program image for the luncheon featured an image of McArney sporting the Miami area code “305” shaved into the side of his head. BOSS!

Had to sneak a photo in with the man of the afternoon.

Abraham Richie’s lively Roundtable conversation on #ArtinChi at Western Exhibitions in the West Loop. Peep the internets for posts from the event.

This past weekend Miami art non-profit Locust Projects brought their popular Roundtable Series and it’s moderator and creator, the lovely Amanda Sanfilippo, to Chicago for progressive conversations hosted by stakeholders in Chiacgo’s cultural scene. The Locust Roundtables were a part of EXPO Chicago’s /Dialogues program, in conjunction with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design Conference at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

SPOTTED: Sanfilippo (right) & WTT? informant Alexis Bassett (left) at the Starwalker gala on Saturday night. We assume if you’re reading this you’ve probably seen enough images from the evening (or better yet, you were there!) so we’ll spare you any more shots.

Rapid Pulse continues tomorrow night with a performance by the much loved Mikey McParlane, who will be performing with Floridian transplant, filmmaker & musician, Jimmy Schaus (the performance will also include the hottest jogger in LS, Caleb Yono).

We spotted this sneak peek of McParlane’s rehearsal with Schaus last night on the artist’s instagram account.

And here’s a picture of Rick Ross just because.

The Weatherman Report

Judy Chicago, Queen Victoria (Great Ladies Series), 1973. Sprayed acrylic on canvas, 40 × 40 in. Collection of the Brooklyn Museum.

Starving Artist is Anything But

No one will go hungry at the CAC’s Starving Artist benefit June 21, 2014 to be held at their West Loop gallery space. Based on last year’s event, it appears that no one will go thirsty either. Tired of waiting in long lines for booze at benefit events? We counted at least three inventive alcoholic beverages from last year, including a popsicle made of Hennessey and that classic cocktail of old, jello shots. Enterprising gallerist Andrew Rafacz even managed to make an installation of his own by turning a ping pong table into a game of beer pong in 2013.

Andrew Rafacz

Photos or it didn’t happen! Andrew Rafacz, gallerist and professional beer pong athlete.

The event will feature local artists Diana Gabriel, Luftwerk, Alexandra Noe and Edyta Stepien will work with Chefs Matthia Merges (Yusho) and Chris Pandel (Bristol and Balena) and Jared Van Camp (Element Collective). Score! WTT? freakin’ LOVES Yusho (can someone say double fried chicken and seafood too weird/ delicious to be located in Logan Square?). Looking at last year’s roundup, it’s unclear what is art and what’s food so hopefully we don’t see any tipsy art patrons trying to lick Luftwerk’s projections. Wait, who are we kidding? We TOTALLY hope that happens!

From 2013’s Starving Artist, “The Cave” installation by Andrea Morris of Cocomori.

Tickets are available on the organization’s website. Chicago Artists Coalition is located at 217 N. Carpenter Street. See you there?

Reading is Fundamental

  • Conversation in Art Gallery Actually Has Tangible Result. As part of the Locust Projects Roundtable hosted by EXPO and Western Exhibitions, Chicago Artist Writers (CAW) wrote an on the spot review of Nicholas Gottlund exhibition at Paris London Hong Kong with Chicago’s king of conceptual art writing, Brandon Alvendia. Not for the anti-collaborative or the faint of heart.
  • The Aguilar Family Engages Openly. This 6-point perspective recap of the Aguilar Family’s experience at the Open Engagement conference last month in New York City is kind of like reading a Faulkner novel, except that it’s actually enjoyable. Short and sweet, take a minute to read both Part 1 and Park II on the Cultural Reproducers blog.
  • Become Required Reading! As artist Jason Lazarus once said on Facebook, “writing poetry is embarrassing and ecstatic.” Turns out it can also be profitable! Submit your writing to the Guild Literary Complex’s Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Poetry Award and you can win $500 and the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made more money off your writing than most poets.
  • Money can’t buy taste. Or can it? What is good taste anyway? Not the Yusho kind. “If art matters, then we should care about quality. And that means having the courage to forge a standard of good taste,” an article posted to the BBC boldly proclaims. We’re not ready to lead the charge but we enjoyed this meditation on taste for the BBC by Tiffany Jenkins anyway.

Chicago Celebrates Life of Frankie Knuckles With Totally Epic Dance Party


Don’t Snooze on These Upcoming Exhibitions…

In the spirit of Stephanie Burke, here are our Top 3 most anticipated exhibitions opening in the next week.

Postcard image for Black Cauliflower.

Black Cauliflower. New work by Corkey Sinks & Jamie Steele opening June 14th, 6-9 PM and open through July 19th at Roots & Culture.

#BRUTEFORCEFIELD Work by Christopher Meerdo for his ACRE Exhibition, opening at The Hills Esthetic Center June 14th at 7PM. Open by appointment afterward.

Not sure what brutality has to do with puppies but we’re willing to find out.

Alex Chitty for Trunk Show. Opening Sunday, June 15th, from 2PM – 4PM on the rooftop Parking Lot at Home Depot, 1300 S Clinton St. (at Roosevelt). On view on the open road through Friday, July 18th. Follow @trunkshowtogo for updates on the gallery’s location.

Getting Chitty with it!

Edition #31

May 27, 2014 · Print This Article

Scraps by Emre Kocagil

Delicious Emre Kocagil Leftovers.

Local Boutique Sells Studio Floor Scraps; Calls it Art

WTT? is always on the lookout for a good bargain (aren’t we all?), and this fire sale is the cheapest/ best deal since Kate Ruggeri’s public drawing trade. After Scrap Heap’s drying rack debut was unfortunately dampened by rain last summer at Medium Cool, Sofia Leiby is back with an even bigger roster of artists willing to sell their tra$h for ca$h. Putting her scraps where her mouth is, Leiby will be hocking studio ephemera for $20 or less.

Delightfully affordable work by Leslie Baum for Scrap Heap II.

Flyer by Louis Doulas.

Featuring artists such as Ryan Travis Christian, Ron Ewert, Magalie Guerin, Ben Foch, Josh Ippel, Leslie Baum, Aron Gent, Emre Kocagil, Tyson Reeder and Aya Nakamura, the fragments and sketches will be available for a limited time only from 11-5PM, June 7th at TUSK.

Matisse much? Aya Nakamura’s painted scraps.

Already jealous of whoever picks up this glorious scrap by Edmund Chia.

More information and preview photos can be found on Leiby’s Facebook. All proceeds will go to participating artists. Tusk is located at 3205 W Armitage in Logan Square.

In Memorandum

Diane Arbus, Veteran with a flag, N.Y.C. (1971). © The Estate of Diane Arbus.

Who Wore it Better?

Shannon Straton dressed in Renovar for the Threewall’s Skywalker Benefit on June 7th VS Kimye’s post wedding gown.

The Weatherman Report

Alex Katz, Late Summer Flowers, 2013, 38 color silkscreen on 4-ply, 40 × 55 in, Edition of 50. Vertu Fine Art.

BREAKING: Fitzpatrick to Go Out with a Bang. And a Stage Show. And a Magazine Portfolio.

If you’ve been awe-struck and slack-jawed since Jason Foumberg broke the news of Tony Fitzpatrick’s departure in April, you may also be wondering where the artist will hold his final exhibition as a Chicago resident. Pick up your face, the wait is finally over: Fitzpatrick’s last show, The Secret Birds (knack for titles, huh?) will be held at the Poetry Foundation from July 1st – September 12th.

Fitzpatrick’s Ice Bird.

Formerly only a student of Studs Terkel and the streets, the 55 year old is leaving his lifelong home for the University of New Orleans. His interest in birds not confined to printmaking, Fitzpatrick will study ornithology and natural history in the fall. In addition to the exhibition in the Foundation’s gallery, Fitzpatrick will also produce a stage version of the show, drawn from his poetry and other writings, of the same name. The performance will feature Martha Lavey (Steppenwolf) and music by Frank Orrall (Poi-Dog Pondering). It will premiere on July 31.

Walk on the Wild Side (Drawing for Lou Reed)

In case you’re not totally Tony’d out, Poetry will also run a portfolio in the July/August dedicated to Lou Reed entitled “The Day Lou Reed Set Me Free.” After that it’s time for Fitzpatrick to update his bio before he spreads his wings and flies away.

Look out for info on the opening and performances related to The Secret Birds. Definitely serving high-quality snacks. The Poetry Foundation is located at 61 W Superior in River North.

T around Town

Artist, Matt Schlagbaum, convinces viewers to stare at “blank” wall at the opening for In the land of thieves and ghosts at Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park.

Eileen Mueller really collapsing the distinction between art and life at the Girl Don’t Be Dumb opening at Forever and Always in Pilsen on Friday, May 16th.

GDBD bathed their viewers in their signature pink in and outside of the F&A.

SPOTTED: Chris Hammes and Michelle Harris at In the land of thieves and ghosts.

More ethereal work by Matt Schlagbaum at Heaven Gallery.

Conceptual Artist Lecture Even More Perplexing Than His Work. Richard Tuttle speaks at The Logan Center on the evening of May 13th

A Tale of Two Anthony’s. Romero and Stepter outside the The Artists’ Congress held at Northwestern May 17th. If you missed your chance to discuss radical politics in the arts, you’ll have another chance June 22nd at the follow up picnic to be held at Mana Contemporary in Pilsen.

Good luck ever looking cool again if you missed the Chicago Looks Spring Swamp held at Elastic Arts Sunday May 18th. You already know we love a bargain! Featuring an unbelievable record swap, boozy punch and choice Buffalo Exchange worthy clothes all for free, the event also had local vendors like Leah Ball and Kokorokoko selling affordable duds and accessories. Shout out to the vivacious Isa Giallorenzo of Chicago Looks and the lovely Leah Ball for hooking it up!