Guest Post by Jamie Kazay

April 22, 2013 · Print This Article

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Photo taken from Fashion Doll Guide

Barbie and La Nouvelle Vague (part 1)

It is my interest in what Jean Luc Godard thought about Barbie, if he ever thought about Barbie, which leads me here. Pick out any one of his films as a point of reference and watch for the female protagonist. She has the essence—the je ne sais quoi. And, her hair is elegant, neatly coiffed, falling in place like the snow on all of Chicago and sliding against my window.  It’s 2p.m., but it looks more like 7p.m. outside. I love her. I hate her. Barbie shaped my social consciousness. This afternoon “Barbie, Barbie, Barbie” is my constant mantra. She represents the essential feminist that I want to be and the sexual icon so many love to hate. Perhaps this is why Godard used Barbie’s essence as a point of reference when casting his female characters. Consider Patricia Franchini, played by Jean Seberg, in “À bout de souffle” (“Breathless”) and Camille Javal, played by Brigitte Bardot in “Le Mépris” (“Contempt”), these protagonists are much like Barbie as they appear ambivalently sexy, intelligent, stylishly dressed, and all the while aloof.

It’s also at this point that I must note that Barbie helped to close the “racial divide” of my childhood. A year after I was born (1980), Mattel embraced the “changing times.” The company began to produce “multicultural” Barbie(s). So, when I played with Barbie I never had to worry about being “black” or “white.” She was “politically correct,” especially since Midge (Barbie) was introduced to represent “mixed” girls and “family” life. Midge and the other “multicultural” Barbie(s) meant well, but overall they reinforced “stereotypes.” Nonetheless, I remember playing with Midge and Barbie. The focus shifted to how “pretty” they were, how “thin” they were, and how the blue of Barbie’s eyes reminded me of my grandmother. It’s so “cliché” to say that I wanted to dress like Barbie. I thought, at 8, that I was a doll. My mother called, and still calls, me “JamieDoll.” Perhaps a defense of my close connection is necessary as I realize that people like Dr. Kamy Cunningham say that Barbie is the “anti-clone for every woman who wishes to be more than surface deep, she is the alter ego ideal for American m[e]n [—the] virgin/whore she makes men out of little boys” (Barbie Doll Culture and the American Wasteland).  It’s not easy being Barbie.

And, it must be understood that I see Barbie’s anatomical faults. Laurell K. Hamilton wonders, “Did you know that if Barbie was a real woman with those proportions, she’d have to carry her kidneys in her purse” (The Killing Dance). I marvel, as Barbie’s body is a scientific feat and her eyes are those of Bambi’s if ever reincarnated. But, I digress. I’m not a woman that wants Barbie’s measurements. I’m a woman that, on a recent trip home to California, hugged my mother only to feel her unruly scarf the color of Barbie pink. The unmistakable pink used to market Barbie’s uncomplicated, uncluttered life. I saw Barbie’s independence in every strand of my mother’s scarf. I find a defense for Barbie at every corner.

The notion behind my mantra was reinforced as I watched Ann Romney take the stage during the Republican National Convention (RNC). Would Godard have cast Romney to play one of his protagonists? She certainly looked the part with her perfectly coiffed blonde hair falling on her shoulders, red lipstick, red silk-taffeta dress, with cuffed sleeves and small V-neck, and black leather heels. The je ne sais quoi of Romney’s ensemble was its shade of red. It vacillated from fire-engine red to cerise to “Jolly Rancher red” (New York Times). Romney was reminiscent of Angela Récamier, played by Anna Karina in “Une femme est une femme” (“A Woman is a Woman”) as she mirrored Angela’s gentle pursuit and spoke with phrases full of spunk.  Now, I’m pacing in my office, spooning through a jar of peanut butter—the natural kind, the kind with water on the rim. Barbie posters are stacked on the desk and Midge (Barbie) is back in her box. I wonder if Barbie likes peanut butter?

 

Jamie Kazay teaches in the English Department at Columbia College. A California native, she holds a BA in English from California State University, Northridge and an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry from Columbia College. She co-curates the Revolving Door Reading Series and is currently reading of a lot of Camus, Derrida, and Dorothy Allison. Her collection, Small Hollering, was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2011.

When The World Is Mud-luscious

April 21, 2013 · Print This Article

Spring always makes me anxious for that magical transition eulogized in William Carlos Williams’ The Botticellian Trees:

The alphabet of

the trees

is fading in the

song of the leaves

Unfortunately, right now e.e. cummings’ in Just - may be a more accurate depiction of this midwestern spring:

in Just -

spring  when the world is mud-

luscious

And so, over the course of the soggy last two weeks, I’ve been burying myself in books and hoping that at some point I’ll look up and it’ll be sunny May already… or June. Here are a few of the books that have been going on dreary bus rides with me.

 

The Virginia Woolf Poems

by Jackson Mac Low

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    When one of my favorite writers uses another of my favorite writer’s work as source material, good things are bound to happen. Jackson Mac Low, a student of John Cage, was a writer and performance artist who developed systematic writing processes to compose his poetry and performance scores. One system he developed and used often was the diastic or “spelling through” method which he applied here to Woolf’s novels The Waves and Night and Day. This book was published by Burning Deck in 1986 and has a killer cover designed by Keith Waldrop (Sorry for the poor image quality – I already returned my copy to the library and this sad image is all the internet had to offer me).

The Blond Notebook

Michael Slosek

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    The book has been floating around my apartment since I got it last weekend. Its always a good sign when books don’t go straight onto the shelf; it means I want to live with it a bit while reading it – and maybe before and after, too. The Blond Notebook is Michael Slosek’s most recent book of poetry and the latest release from the Chicago based small press arrow as aarow, makers of beautiful, hand bound chapbooks with hand printed covers.

 

Invisible Cities

Italo Calvino

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    Invisible Cities is a collection of short vignettes in which Marco Polo offers descriptions of far away cities to Kublai Khan and it is pure magic.  This was my third or fourth time reading it and it continues to seduce me and inform a lot of my own work.

PQRS

Patrick Durgin

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    Another recent Chicago small press release – this time from Kenning Editions. I’m about two thirds of the way through at this point, but I will say that reading it while I was working the circulation desk at the library where I work gave me in an unnervingly participatory perspective. I kept shifting between Durgin’s hallucinatory cultural investigation/poet’s script and surveilling a room full of readers from behind a sound proof glass wall and an array of security camera feeds.

Bailey Romaine is a print maker and bibliophile currently living in Chicago.

Aris Georgiades

April 16, 2013 · Print This Article

by Richard Holland

georgiades

I went to law school and pursued my MA/MFA at the same time. From the academic institution/professorial perspective I suspect this made me a first class pain-in-the-ass. Pity my art professors. I hear they have all recovered well, although I don’t know how much treatment or scotch it took.

Both BAS NYC chief Amanda Browder and I were lucky to work with three professors in particular (Michelle Grabner was at UW at the time, and was a shining beacon of smarts) who were exceedingly smart, kind, and when necessary not going to put up with any of my pushy-lawyery bullshit.

This was refreshing as I found a number of professors who weren’t particularly interested in dialoging about their ideas, exploring the theory and practice of where the field is going, and embracing the intellectual joy in the complexity in contemporary art.

Aristotle (Aris) Georidiades and his wife Gail Simpson are clearly two of my favorite people; I admire their work ethic, commitment to educating artist as they begin their careers, I enjoy their work, and appreciate(d) their mentorship. They truly were the highlights of my MFA experience and are great assets to the University of Wisconsin art department. Fanboy gushing aside I know and enjoy their work. Aris has a solo show at Carl Hammer and will be present at the reception this Friday (Carl Hammer Gallery, 740 Wells Street in Chicago this Friday April 19th from 5:30-8:00). This show looks like an evolution and maybe a departure from the work I’ve seen in the past and I am looking forward to seeing the show. Upon reading the press release, I wanted to ask some questions, emailed Aris and he kindly agreed to do an interview.

RH: You new show is focused more on the idea of re-use and repurposing than your prior work, which also has used lots of materials that are construction type, non-precious materials. How does using “found” materials fit into this work? What do you mean by re-purposed sculpture? Are you reusing old work?

AG: Most of the work for this show is made of materials that I have collected that are generally related to buildings built prior to the 1960s.  I also continue to use objects that might be considered obsolete or on the verge of being obsolete. I think that by using these materials and objects in my sculpture,  notions of our current condition are brought to mind. Of course there are some typical motivations underlying this work. Typical in that I am a “maker” who appreciates materials and I notice the way the world around us is made. Materials and the methods of manipulating the materials can and should carry and covey meaning.  Visual artists know this don’t they?

I should also add that I continue to believe in the power of objects. As an artist I find it very challenging to try to create compelling objects in a world filled with objects whether we call them art or not. I am not really repurposing old work although at times I do reuse materials from an old piece.

RH: You are one of the few artists I know who have pursued a career in doing public sculpture in your work as “Actual Size Artwork” with Gail Simpson, and also have pursued their own gallery career. How does that work in terms of ideas, do you have a set of Actual Size ideas and a set of ideas for your own practice? Both bodies of work have similar senses of humor.

AG: The gallery work and the work I do with Actual Size are usually pretty separate, although I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.  They have different goals. Actual Size developed organically with Gail Simpson since we were partners working in shared studio space etc. That collaboration allows us to create primarily large scale temporary and permanent public artworks. The permanent projects usually are commission pieces that I consider more like design-build projects. There are a lot of factors that we take into consideration during the entire process, not the least of which is that it is going to exist in the public domain. Many artists can’t or won’t deal with many of the issues involved. We actually enjoy much of the work especially dealing a wide range of professionals outside of the art world. The whole thing ultimately makes me feel much more a part of our economy.  The temporary projects on the other hand do allow for more flexibility and freedom of “artistic” expression” than do the permanent projects. It is inevitable that some of what each of us does in the studio carries over into the public works. I would say certain shared values, a sense of humor and other formal considerations.

RH: You are a professor at the University of Wisconsin, you run a public art company, and you make your own work, that is three full time jobs? How do you manage to do all three?

AG: Frankly, I don’t think I do a great job managing all three jobs. Fortunately the work of Actual Size Artworks is shared with my wife Gail Simpson.

RH: You are based out of Madison Wisconsin, which is one of the countries major public research institutions, but does not necessarily have the links to the “contemporary art world” whatever that means, you obviously have a gallery career and a collector base, how have you managed to promote your work outside of one of the major centers of art commerce? Has that had an effect on how you promote your work?

AG: Yes, living outside of a major urban area is really difficult for visual artists to maintain any kind of career. I would not be in this area if it were not for this great job that allows me a certain degree of freedom to pursue a career as a visual artist.

I am terrible at promoting my work, especially when juggling different career aspects. In general I believe artists need to do a lot of things to maintain and build a practice. Certainly there are a number of artists that have developed a collector base or some type of funding source that allows them to focus solely on the artwork they want to do, when they want to do it. A long time ago I heard a comment by an internationally known artist giving a talk at SAIC say that she knew of no successful artists in New York that did not have a trust fund. She was completely serious. I am not part of that, for better or worse. New York is still the center of the art world but most people who have been in the art business for any length of time know that there are good artists all over the place. Obviously there isn’t a system to support them so major urban areas become the places where artists can be noticed. Of course in the past couple decades the concentration of power and markets in the art world has become even more concentrated in fewer and fewer places.

I can see that this could turn into a rant and I would rather discuss this in person some time. But…

Just as a side note since I think you might be interested in knowing that Wisconsin’s senator Ron Johnson, soon after being elected, was quoted as saying that he did not understand why they teach the Humanities in higher education. I also understand that the governor of Florida is talking about raising tuition on students studying humanities since they do not contribute to the economy. These are really tough battles to fight, don’t you think?

RH: Can you tell us about some of your public art projects people can see. 

AG: The only permanent piece we have up in Chicago at the moment is at Maxwell Street Market. It is the signage that acts as a backdrop between the Market and the highway The signs are references to the long history of the melting pot of cultures that have  driven the market over the years. We also have a temporary sculpture still on view at Morton Arboretum. 

RH: What projects do you have on the horizon?

AG: We are currently under consideration for a couple of public art projects at the moment, in Chicago and out west. We are almost always on the lookout for interesting opportunities for projects to do.

RH: Thank you for taking my questions

AG: My pleasure!

Chicago Art in Pictures: March-April 2013

April 15, 2013 · Print This Article

A graphic, editorial overview of art, artists, and visual art events, found in and around Chicago over the course of the preceding month. All artwork copyright original artists; all photography copyright Paul Germanos.

Daniel Shea @ Gallery 400

Daniel Shea @ Gallery 400

Above: Daniel Shea with his photography in Gallery 400, as seen on April 13, 2013, at the closing of UIC’s third MFA exhibition.

“A Spectre Is Haunting”
2013 UIC Art MFA Thesis Exhibition 3
April 9 – April 13, 2013
Gallery 400
College of Architecture and the Arts
University of Illinois at Chicago
400 S. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Artwork by Liliana Angulo Cortés, Ian Curry, Daniel Shea, and Daniel Tucker
http://www.danielpshea.com/

Jennifer Mills @ Chicago Artists Coalition

Jennifer Mills @ Chicago Artists Coalition

Above: Jennifer Mills (right) with collaborator Christopher Ottinger (left) in Mills’ CAC/Bolt installation “101 one-liners; Falling Flat,” on March 30, 2013.

Jennifer Mills
“101 one-liners; Falling Flat”
March 15 – April 2, 2013
BOLT Residency
Chicago Artists’ Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://jennifermills.org/home.html

Picasso @ Daley Plaza

Picasso @ Daley Plaza

Picasso @ Daley Plaza

Above: 2013 promotional “P-I-C-A-S-S-O” installation by Chicago Scenic Studios, foreground; 1967 Picasso sculpture, background.

Daley Plaza
Washington between Dearborn and Clark
Chicago, IL
http://www.chicagoscenic.com/

“Picasso and Chicago”
February 20 – May 12, 2013
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL
http://www.artic.edu/

John Neff @ The Renaissance Society

John Neff @ The Renaissance Society

Above: A 30-second exposure indicating spectator movement within Neff’s installation.

John Neff @ The Renaissance Society

Above: A talk with the artist (John Neff at left, Hamza Walker at right) at 5:00PM, on March 3, 2013, in Kent Hall, Room 107, University of Chicago campus.

John Neff @ The Renaissance Society

Above: Following the artist’s talk, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung (far right) raises a question.

John Neff
March 3 – April 14, 2013
The Renaissance Society
5811 S. Ellis Avenue
Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418
Chicago, Illinois 60637
http://www.renaissancesociety.org/site/

Christopher Ottinger @ Chicago Artists’ Coalition

Christopher Ottinger @ Chicago Artists' Coalition

Above: Christopher Ottinger, background, at the opening reception, his uncovered, kinetic light art seen rotating in the foreground.

Christopher Ottinger
“Ghost Machine”
April 12 – May 2, 2013
BOLT Residency
Chicago Artists’ Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://chicagoartistscoalition.org/

Lossless @ Chicago Artists’ Coalition

Matthew Schlagbaum in Lossless @ CAC HATCH Projects Residency

Above: Matthew Schlagbaum’s kinetic light installation visible within its smoked vitrine housing.

“Lossless”
April 12 – May 2, 2013
HATCH Projects Residency
Chicago Artists’ Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Curated by MK Meador
Artwork by Jordan Martins, Matthew Schlagbaum and Theodore Darst
http://chicagoartistscoalition.org/

The Wail of Silence @ ROOMS Gallery

The Wail of Silence @ ROOMS Gallery

Above: Alex de Leon lifts her veil in “Ritual No. 4 – Toll of Eyes,” a three-hour performance, 7:00-10:00 PM, March 8, 2013.

“The Wail of Silence”
March 8, 2013
ROOMS Gallery
1835 S. Halsted
Chicago, IL
http://roomsgallery.com/

Psychosexual @ Andrew Rafacz

Scott Hunter @ Andrew Rafacz

Above: “Psychosexual” curator Scott Hunter in the foreground, with artwork, left-to-right, by Nazafarin Lotfi, John Neff, and Peter Otto, visible in the background.

Psychosexual @ Andrew Rafacz

Above: Artwork by Peter Otto, Rachel Niffenegger, and Brenna Youngblood, seen left-to-right in Andrew Rafacz Gallery.

“Psychosexual”
April 6 – May 25, 2013
Andrew Rafacz Gallery
835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago IL 60607
Curated by Scott J. Hunter
Artwork by Lutz Bacher, Tom Burr, Edmund Chia, Matthias Dornfeld, Jayson Keeling, Jutta Koether, Nazafarin Lotfi, Jeffry Mitchell, John Neff, Rachel Niffenegger, Peter Otto, Kirsten Stoltmann, and Brenna Youngblood
http://www.andrewrafacz.com/

Lauren Edwards & Kera MacKenzie @ ACRE Projects

Lauren Edwards & Kera MacKenzie @ ACRE Projects
Lauren Edwards & Kera MacKenzie @ ACRE Projects

Above: Lauren Edwards and Kera MacKenzie, participants in UIC’s first MFA exhibition of 2013, seen within their subsequent show at ACRE Projects’ home site in Pilsen.

Lauren Edwards & Kera MacKenzie
“Burden of Proof”
April 14 – 28, 2013
ACRE Projects
1913 W. 17th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
http://www.acreresidency.org/

Michael Ian Larsen @ PEREGRINEPROGRAM

Michael Ian Larsen @ PEREGRINEPROGRAM

Michael Ian Larsen
“The Tree, the Gift, and the Amphibian”
March 10 – April 7, 2013
PEREGRINEPROGRAM
3311 W. Carroll Avenue, #119
Chicago, IL 60624
http://www.peregrineprogram.com/

Tina Tahir @ Gallery 400

Tina Tahir @ Gallery 400

Above: Tina Tahir at her closing reception with the installation “41.876503,-87.649666,” an ornamental ‘rug’ made of ash and magnetite mineral, whose title provides its GPS co-ordinates. Intentionally made available to foot traffic throughout the course of the exhibition, said piece is shown disturbed from its original state.

“A strange house in my voice.”
2013 UIC Art MFA Thesis Exhibition 2
April 2 – April 6, 2013
Gallery 400
College of Architecture and the Arts
University of Illinois at Chicago
400 S. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Artwork by Cameron Gibson, Ben Murray, and Tina Tahir
http://www.tinatahir.com/

Laura Wennstrom @ The Peanut Gallery

Laura Wennstrom @ The Peanut Gallery

Above: Gallery patron interacts with Wennstrom’s “Block City” during the opening reception; cameras hang ready to document the action.

“Artificial Turf”
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign MFA group exhibition
March 15 – April 9, 2013
The Peanut Gallery
1000 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL
http://artgraduatestudentorganization.wordpress.com/

Jesse Butcher & Anthony Romero @ Happy Collaborationists / ACRE Projects

Jesse Butcher & Anthony Romero @ Happy Collaborationists

Jesse Butcher & Anthony Romero
“Cyclical, Circular. Like Vultures.”
April 6 – 27, 2013
Happy Collaborationists, in partnership with ACRE Residency
1254 N Noble
Chicago IL, 60642
http://happycollaborationists.com/

Michael Robinson @ Carrie Secrist

Michael Robinson @ Carrie Secrist

Michael Robinson
“Circle Spectre Paper Flame”
April 6 – May 11, 2013
Carrie Secrist Gallery
835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.secristgallery.com/

Co-Prosperity School

Co-Prosperity School

Above: A Co-Prosperity School student’s presentation on March 18, 2013.

The Co-Prosperity Sphere
3219-21 S. Morgan St.
Chicago IL, 60608
http://coprosperity.org/co-prosperity-school/

Autumn Space Benefit Auction

Autumn Space Benefit Auction

Autumn Space Benefit Auction

Autumn Space Benefit Auction
March 10, 2013
1700 W. Irving Park #207
Chicago, IL
http://autumnspace.com/

Deb Sokolow @ Western Exhibitions

Deb Sokolow @ Western Exhibitions

Deb Sokolow
March 15 – April 20, 2103
Western Exhibitions
845 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.westernexhibitions.com/index.html

Diegesis @ Logan Center

Daniel Rosen @ Logan Center

Above: “The Index for an Encylopedia” by Daniel Rosen

Maymay Jumsai @ Logan Center

Above: “Smell.RB.MFA 2013″ by Maymay Jumsai

“Diegesis”
University of Chicago MFA Show 1
April 5 – 14, 2013
Logan Center Gallery
915 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
http://arts.uchicago.edu/

Christopher Meerdo @ Document

Christopher Meerdo @ Document

Christopher Meerdo
“Anthology”
March 15 – April 20, 2013
Document
845 W. Washington Blvd. Suite 3f
Chicago IL 60607
http://christophermeerdo.com/

Juneer Kibria @ The Sub-Mission

Juneer Kibria @ The Sub-Mission

Above: Juneer Kibria in his installation, opening night.

Juneer Kibria
“Hidden Noise”
March 8 – April 20, 2013
The Mission (The Sub-Mission)
1431 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
http://themissionprojects.com/

Rebecca Beachy @ Iceberg Projects

Rebecca Beachy @ Iceberg Projects

Above: An audience member views “Warm (bed)” through a rectangular aperture just above the floor; 109 dozen factory-farmed eggs, ground, lit by heat lamps, lie within the piece.

Dan Berger before Deborah Stratman @ iceberg projects

Above: Iceberg Projects proprietor Dan Berger within the gallery space on June 23, 2012

“The Bearer”
March 10 -April 1, 2013
Iceberg Projects
7714 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60626
Artwork by Rebecca Beachy and Walker Blackwell
http://icebergchicago.com/home.html

Lisa Walcott @ threewalls

Lisa Walcott @ threewalls

Lisa Walcott
“Pretty Good Shape”
Artists in Research – Residency
(Closed on March 21, 2013)
threewalls
119 N. Peoria #2c
Chicago, IL
http://www.three-walls.org/


Paul Germanos: Born November 30, 1967, Cook County, Illinois. Immigrant grandparents, NYC. High school cross country numerals and track letter. Certified by the State of Illinois as a peace officer. Licensed by the City of Chicago as a taxi driver. Attended the School of the Art Institute 1987-1989. Studied the history of political philosophy with the students of Leo Strauss from 2000-2005. Phi Theta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. Motorcyclist.

Changing Seasons: One View of Twin Cities

April 11, 2013 · Print This Article

Guest Post by Eric Asboe

I once heard Mike Haeg, the mayor of Minnesota’s smallest town, Mount Holly, current population 4, describe Minnesota seasons in a lovely way. He said that winters get so cold and snowy Minnesotans just want to stay inside and work on their own projects and ideas, but, once spring and summer start thawing the snow, those same people, who really want to be outdoors, spending time with other people, come back outside into the world, ready to share everything they have been working on during the indoor, winter months.

With rain, sleet, and accumulating snow in the forecast, there are not many tulips peeking out their heads yet. Nevertheless, warmer temperatures have started freeing people from winter routines, and recent print exhibitions have already started pointing me toward spring.

quinnj

Justin Quinn, The World over Nothing or 1,684 times E, Courtesy of Justin Quinn.

The Andy Warhol in Minneapolis exhibition, a stop of Andy Warhol at Christie’s, was at Aria for one week in March. It featured some of the works Warhol created for his last exhibition in Minneapolis in 1974. The connections he made with local cultural and philanthropic leaders of that time were in full view, with large prints of Gardner Cowles, George Shea, and Gordon Locksley looking over the remaining paintings, prints, drawings, and polaroids. Visitors streamed past the first pieces in the show towards Warhol’s more recognizable works scattered throughout the large space. Who doesn’t want to see Wayne Gretzky’s mullet transform from polaroid angelic halo to screenprinted neon coif? I lingered at the first two prints, both from his Sunset series. The series was inspired by Warhol’s stay at the Marquette Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, and each of the hotel’s rooms still holds one of the prints. The bright reds and oranges of one print and the cooler aquas of the other print brought home the then recent daylight savings time and the warming days of the exhibition.

HAZ MAT

Lynn Bollman, HAZ MAT, Courtesy Lynn Bollman

In less than fifteen years, Highpoint Center for Printmaking has become a major resource for printmaking, printmakers, and the spread of print culture throughout the Midwest. They host classes, public programs, visiting artists, a gorgeous studio space, and compelling prints in their gallery. They partner with the Jerome Foundation to provide residencies and exhibitions for emerging printmakers, and they generally foster and advance the art of printmaking to the local community and throughout the region. Their show Print Profs: Recent Work by MN Faculty, which just ended, featured work by college faculty throughout Minnesota. Covering a wide range of print processes, the artists push and bend traditional print processes to suit their own needs. Justin Quinn’s explorations of the letter E and Moby Dick bloom quietly from his winter hued, architectural prints. Lynn Bollman’s conceptually driven text piece HAZ MAT was bathed in afternoon sunlight when I visited. Rick Love and Heather Nameth Bren’s two rainbows are some of the simplest, yet most moving pieces in the show. Their call to the outdoors was a reminder of Highpoint’s explicit seasonal transition, Free Ink Day, from a few weeks ago, which was advertised with: “Help us celebrate the legacy of long Minnesota winters and the anticipation of springtime follies with an afternoon of inky fun.”

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Rick Love and Heather Nameth Bren, tritanopia (color blind rainbow), Courtesy Rick Love and Heather Nameth Bren

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Rick Love and Heather Nameth Bren, deuteranopia (color blind rainbow), Courtesy Rick Love and Heather Nameth Bren

Although Highpoint notes that “printmaking is a cost-prohibitive endeavor to take on alone,” Print Profs was structured around the idea that the network of printmakers and access to presses and other resources at colleges is a part of the continued excellence of printmaking. The current exhibition at the Minnesota Museum of American Art‘s (MMAA) Project Space, D.I.Y Printing: Presses Not Required, starts with the same belief that printmaking can be “cost-prohibitive,” but the artists and collectives there prove that the resources and processes of printmaking can be much more accessible: “Many print-makers, especially young artists who are just starting out, do not have the luxury of access to well-equipped facilities. Rather than experiencing this as a constraint, D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) printers see it as an opportunity for out-of-the-box thinking to creatively and collaboratively problem-solve.” D.I.Y. Printing balances the lively work of eight local print collectives, twelve individual artists, and representatives from the MMAA’s permanent collection. The presence of the artists at the MMAA’s Project Space and the time and care spent on the largely site-specific and new work of the artists is clear. Their work is alive with the opportunities they create to adapt printmaking to their immediate situation, finding ways to make prints relevant and integral to what they are doing and interested in, even if they have to make, invent, or share the tools they need.

Caitlin Warner

Caitlin Warner, The Unvending Machine, from D.I.Y. Printing at the MMAA Project Space

More importantly, the print collectives in D.I.Y. Printing are rethinking the very world that finds value in prints. Big Table Studio shows the possibilities of working with local residents, including the poster they helped visitors to the then newly opened MMAA Project Space create in the fall. Recess Press and Leg Up Studio both have community printshops for sharing their resources and knowledge. Screen Printing on the Cheap goes even further, pushing printing onto the streets, into bedrooms, into anywhere and everywhere they can. They write, “As educated artists, we have been conditioned to rely on making art in facilities we simply cannot afford. Screen Printing on the Cheap demonstrates a ‘new school’ of screen printing and makes the process more accessible to the community.” Their recently published book and public programming help realize that more populist oriented practice. All of the print collectives’ work in the show engages with more than a reinvigorated d.i.y. mentality. They utilize printmaking to question the boundaries that separate artists from artists, artists from makers, artists from everyone else, studios from the real world, the world indoors from the world outside. They are calls to re-engage with communities outside of the places that hold and celebrate all of these prints, to re-imagine the world in which we view and make what we live with. Screen Printing on the Cheap’s mobile printing unit on display at the MMAA is a direct call to be more outside by literally bringing printmaking to the streets. I am ready to learn from all of the artists at the MMAA who have been busy printing in whatever ways they can this winter; I am ready to follow them out into the spring, come snow and rain and prints.

SPotC

Screen Printing on the Cheap (Andy McInnis, Bjorn Hagstrom, Caitlin Hargarten, Nate Johannes, Rusdon Torbenson, Sam Thompson), Mobile Printing Unit

If all of these calls to be outside to find the ease and accessibility of springtime were not enough, the annual poster and bicycle celebration ARTCRANK Minneapolis was last weekend. Hundreds of people drank beer, bought posters, and celebrated bikes. The energy and readiness for bike riding and the outdoor time the posters showed and called for was palpable, rippling through the lines for artworks, food trucks, and bicycle valets. We are all anxious to leave that winter gear behind, to pack it away behind the new things and ideas we have worked on all winter. The Minneapolis born idea has since moved on to many more cities. Get out to the first ever ARTCRANK Chicago on May 17th at the Co-Prosperity Sphere – beer, bikes, and posters.

Bicycle Valet

Bicycle Valet Partking at ARTCRANK Minneapolis

At the very least, keep in mind the words of wisdom from Mount Holly. As spring holds out a few more days, gather what you did and made and learned this winter. Bring it back into the world to share with the rest of us; we are ready and waiting to share our own excitements too.

 

Eric Asboe is an artist, writer, and cultural worker. As Art Director of Public Space One gallery and performance space in Iowa City, Iowa, Asboe helped shape its nationally engaged exhibitions and programming, including the microgranting meal SOUP and the award-winning Free @rt School. Asboe’s creative works prioritize process over product and explore the boundary between practice as improvement and practice as way of life. Forthcoming projects include ubuwebtopten.com. He currently lives and works in Minneapolis.