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.

From the Road: One View of Twin Cities

June 20, 2014 · Print This Article

It is summer already, and I am on early vacation, driving through the West, living some version of the American dream involving fast cars, tops down, endless sunsets, and the long slow rise of mountains from the two-dimensionality of plains.

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I map my understanding of city landscapes through walking. I slowly gather the layers of lived urban experience as I travel through neighborhoods – the clanking of dishes being washed through open windows, the constellation of droning lawnmowers growing and shrinking, the blue flicker of late night televisions. My map of the urban landscape, however, is limited by my physical access. The boundaries between public and private realms are complex, but they correspond to the physical limits of my body as it encounters walls, fences, and manhole covers. My mind is only as free as my body as I move through urban space.

I have spent more time in a car in the past week than I have in years, reveling in the freedom of landscapes unfolding over miles and the understandings of skyscapes not possible from tree- and building-confined urbanity. Driving frees my mind to expand outside of the physical container of my body as it rushes along the highways. I imagine climbing the mountains, walking along wooded ridges, foraging with the bison, antelope, and bears whizzing by. Driving long distances is exhausting because your mind roams far and wide among the vast landscapes you survey. Your body is stiff from the disjunction between the exploration the mind has envisioned and the cramped position the body has rested in.

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The wilderness I have explored combines the walking of the urban environment and the freeing vision of driving. I have been walking on groomed, maintained trails that wind through pine cathedrals, disclose the beauty of windswept meadows, and open to vistas of glaciated mountains. My mind expands to place me within all of these inaccessible locations. I clamber over rocky cliffs, descend cascading waterfalls, creep along animal paths far above the tree line, but my body is confined to the explicitly manmade paths carved from the landscape to preserve the wilderness. My mind is freed, as my body is confined. My understanding of the world expands as I navigate the limited and controlled space of physical interaction with the wilderness.

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These different modes of exploration pull me back to the art landscapes through which I have passed. Summer brings vacations as much as it brings art fairs, open studio tours, and outdoor arts festivals. My mind has been so occupied with landscape, with the sublimity of natural beauty that I cannot bridge the gap between it and the recent open studio tours in Minneapolis and Saint Paul and the multiple arts walks I have happened upon during this vacation. I struggle to know how to site the vast array of work I have seen; the excellent studios I revisited and the galleries and storefronts full of horse paintings struggle to coexist with the moose calves nuzzling against their mother as they stumble along the stream and the mountain peaks breaking through mist to catch the first rays of daylight. By leaving my normal life behind, I am reminded that I need new and different ways of learning, of experiencing the world that expose the mental and physical constraints of my normal life, that replace the known experiences and people that populate my days with the possibilities of the futures I do not know how to envision. I hope we can all get away, rejuvenate our minds and our bodies even if we cannot leave town. Change your world by experiencing something new, something unexpected, something beyond what is in front of our eyes every day. Let’s all leave the art world for a moment; it will look radically different when we return.

Top 5 Weekend Picks! (6/20-6/22)

June 19, 2014 · Print This Article

1. Placemakers Summit (Part 1 & Part 2) at Mana Contemporary Chicago

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Part of VERSION14. Part 1 (Saturday) 1pm: Contested Territory with Multiuso, The Graffiti Institute and 96 Acres, 2pm: Tactical Urbanism 101 with Rik Adamski, 3pm: ArchiGO with Paul Durica and Nick Fraccaro, 4pm: A Free Frame with Robert Herbst, 5pm: Presentation TBA by Krisann Rehbein. Part 2 (Sunday) 1pm: Why Aren’t We All Developers By Now? with Charles Vinz, 2pm: Wicker Park Bocce Club with Alex Gara, 3pm: Space-taking and place-making with Sean Starowitz, 4pm: Fertile Substrate: the down and dirty job of placemaking with Nance Klehm, 5 pm: Hypercities, Bangkok with Logan Bay.

Mana Contemporary Chicago is located at 2233 S. Throop St. Discussions 1-6pm Saturday and Sunday.

2. don’t trust the floor at Slow

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Work by Claire Ashley, Tony Balko, Meg Duguid, Jason Dunda, Max Byron Garett, Kevin Jennings, Chuck Jones, Julie Potratz, Rebecca Walz and Ryan Michael Pfeiffer.

Slow is located at 2153 W. 21st St. Reception Saturday 6-9pm.

3. So It Goes at Sunday Project

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Work by Tim Mann, Ryan Nault, and Allison Wade.

Sunday Project is located at 1344 W. 18th Pl. #1F. Reception Sunday 3-6pm.

4. We do what we like and we like what we do at Western Exhibitions

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Work by Dan Attoe, Elijah Burgher, Lilli Carré, Ryan Travis Christian, Courttney Cooper, Nicholas Frank, Richard Hull, Dutes Miller, Rachel Niffenegger, Paul Nudd, Robyn O’Neil, Stan Shellabarger, Geoffrey Todd Smith, Deb Sokolow, and Ben Stone.

Western Exhibitions is located at 845 W. Washington Blvd. Reception Friday 5-8pm.

5. SOLO @ CIRCA at CircaModern

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Work by Allison Reimus.

CircaModern is located at 1114 N. Ashland Ave. Reception Friday 5-9pm.

Rijksmuseum

June 18, 2014 · Print This Article

Closed for a decade, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam‘s national jewel, finally reopened in mid-2013. The extensive restoration returned the massive building’s interior to its original 1885 charm. We started our visit with the “Gallery of Honour,” which is where you will find all of the paintings you might think would be in the Rijksmuseum. This is my favorite gallery, not because of the Vermeers and Rembrandts, but because it contains many lush Dutch still lifes that I am startled to find I’ve come to love after decades of thinking, “So what?” Pheasants, rabbits, random game, all dead. Dogs, both hunting and companion types, all living. Fruits and vegetables, featuring most spectacularly white asparagus. Fruit, much of which I cannot recognize. No surprise here, but tulips. And I would be remiss if I forgot to mention the lemons. Really, it’s like no one had ever painted a lemon before the Dutch.

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We returned to the Rijksmuseum the next day to see the exhibit Art is Therapy by practical philosopher Alain de Botton and philosopher art historian John Armstrong. Really, this is best described as a meta-exhibit, essentially a contemporary show overlaying selected works from the permanent collection. The Post-Its start as soon as you enter the museum. At first, I didn’t even identify them as the exhibit I was there to see–that is, until I started reading. As you walk through the museum, you’ll occasionally see large Post-It notes next to an artwork. They are jarring, especially in contrast to the old masters. For me, this incongruity of oversized office products in the midst of a museum drew me to them, but I noticed that many other people simply ignored them.

photo 3These yellow notes provide, not factual information, but instead philosophical insights into the nature of art itself. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising considering de Botton might be best known for his book How Proust Can Save Your Life. Still, it was an odd experience to read commentary on the purpose of art as well the experience of viewing art right there next in the museum. For example next to Vermeer‘s View of Houses in Delft (1658) the Post-It reads:

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“In one of the side galleries of the Rijksmueusm’s Gallery of Honour, probably behind three rows of people, hangs one of the most famous works of art in the world.

“This is bad news. The extreme fame of a work of art is almost always unhelpful because, to touch us, art has to elicit a personal response–and that’s hard when a painting is said to be so distinguished. This painting is quite out of synch with its status in any case because, above all else, it wants to show us that the ordinary can be very special. The picture says that looking after a simple but beautiful home, cleaning the yard, watching over the children, darning clothes–and doing these things faithfully and without despair–is life’s real duty…”

It is a great gift to be yanked from the malay of Vermeer fans right into the work itself. I suppose the painting alone should do that, but it didn’t. For me, it took these words to place me in the picture. For that alone, I am impressed.

The Rijksmuseum offered up all the Dutch Masters I anticipated and I wasn’t disappointed. What I wasn’t expecting was an historic museum to be so thoroughly modern. Art is Therapy prods the museum-goer into engaging with the works in a more authentic way. This contemporary way of thinking about art does not end with the physical museum and its works. More than 120,000 images from the collection are available at the Rijksmuseum website with the ultimate goal of eventually having the complete collection online. These high-resolution images can be downloaded to do with what you will. Also available are many guided tours that you can load onto your phone through the Rijksmuseum app to help you navigate the, quite honestly, intimidatingly large collection. They offer free wi-fi throughout the building, which makes it easy to use your phone for the tours. We took the tour for Art is Therapy, narrated by Alain de Botton himself. I’m glad I took advantage of this offering because it brought me to sections of the museum I likely would have forgone, like the room of Asian ceramics, the suit of armor, or the room of nautical miniatures. As I finished the tour, I realized that with the tour app and the high-res images, it was possible to take this tour from ones home computer. Of course, it isn’t the same, but I think it would be worthwhile anyway. Besides, you’ll probably get a better up-close view of that Vermeer from your livingroom than packed behind three rows of people.

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Out of the Mouths of Artists: Michael Gimenez

June 17, 2014 · Print This Article

“Out of the Mouths of Artists” is a new bi-monthly series on the Bad at Sports blog. The series presents a space for guest artist bloggers–of varying career statuses–to write, to reflect, to pontificate on their current situations, failures and/or successes, and ideas on what it means to be an artist. “Out of the Mouths of Artists” also gives readers a glimpse into artists’ portfolios and studios.

"Perfect Strangers" on ABC Television Network, 1986 - 1993.

“Perfect Strangers” on ABC Television Network, 1986 – 1993.

The Man who saw the Man who saw the Bear

Guest Post by Michael Gimenez

For my first trip to the United States in the summer of 2000, I accompanied a contemporary dance company on tour in several Michigan towns as their photographer. I was afraid to live this journey through the visual prism of thousands of hours of American television series and movies that had saturated my mental images. I promised myself that I would look at each thing with virgin eyes, cleaned of any cinematographic references. Upon landing in Chicago, the view offered up and framed by the plane window struck me: I clearly remember having the impression of traveling through a TV screen, materialized by a yellowish haze and a myriad of swimming pools.

My very first vision of the American territory was exactly like a thousand other shots I had seen on television series. An aerial shot above a sunny metropolis.

Baseball fields. Traffic. Highways. Reflections. Skyscrapers. That was a bad start.

Twelve years later, some of which were spent in the School of Fine Arts of Montpellier in France and some producing art in Prague in Czech Republic, I planned a second trip to the United States. I had decided to fulfill a desire growing inside of me since first viewing motion pictures that had been made in the U.S.A.—a desire that 95% of French boys from my generation secretly wished to achieve. A road-trip across America. Skyscrapers. Spanish moss. Dusty roads. Red sunsets. Close encounters?

2 Close Encounters

Gimenez’s close encounters at Devil’s Tower

July 2012: Before I leave, my friends tell me that during their stay in a campsite a few hours from New York, they saw bears sneaking around their tent and eating their food. They tell me to be careful because I will probably cross paths with some during my trek.

For this trip, I also aimed to start a film project questioning why we still want to see and represent Native Americans as imaginary Indians. For this reason, I decided to stay a few days on the Pine Ridge reservation in Wounded Knee, which would be my last stop before dropping the car off that I had borrowed in Chicago. Wounded Knee is a highly symbolic place within Native history. It’s where more than 150 men, women and children were massacred in 1890, and it later became the catalyst of the American Indian Movement. The day before I hit the road to Wounded Knee, I looked at one of the movement leaders’ Wikipedia page—born in Pine Ridge, activist but also movie actor, Russell Means. I was surprised to see a date of death beside his name, thinking that it was a mistake. I was immediately stupefied to learn he had died that very day. For lack of meeting Russell Means in person, I would go to his funeral. He had returned to the reservation to die. A missed encounter.

September 2012: While I’m stopped in Marfa, Texas, the young French girl who is hosting me tells me all about the beauties of Big Bend Park, where she and her friends had met a bear, and how it was wonderful.

I recently started creating 3D models of edifices and monuments to incorporate into Google Earth. I started it somewhat spontaneously after finding out that the factory chimney towering over my hometown of Rive-de-Gier, which is classified as an historical monument, didn’t exist in this virtual world. The chimney is more than a century old and is as high as the hills that surround the industrial valley where I grew up. At one point in history, it was the tallest chimney in all of Europe, standing 360 feet tall. The landmark is visible from many spots over town, even from my parent’s house. My dad worked in the metallurgic factory connected to the chimney for 45 years.

Currently, I am finishing a model for the gate and memorial of the Wounded Knee cemetery. Next, I will make the Haymarket Square Memorial. On May 1st of this year, I found out that International Workers’ Day originates from the workers’ struggle to install an eight-hour shift right here in Chicago, back in 1886. Many of them were killed. These types of edifices also need to exist on the virtual globe.

Giminez's 3D sketch model of Wounded Knee

Gimenez’s 3D sketch model of Wounded Knee

Mid-September 2012: While crossing the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, I give a ride to Native hitchhiker who is going back home to Kayenta. When he gets out of the car, he tells me to be careful because there are a lot of wild animals on the road. I won’t see a single one.

For the past three months, I have been working on a documentary about a movie that made a mark on me when I saw it in the nineties, and didn’t receive fair recognition. Clearcut is a great thriller, but it primarily presents an unseen and non-stereotypical characterization of Natives. The Canadian film was actually made by Polish director Ryszard Bugajski. In April of this year, just before leaving for Chicago, I met and interviewed Ryszard in Warsaw. His analysis regarding the way his film was received in North America—very well by Native people, very badly by Canadians—was revealing for me. He defended the proposition that a European person would actually be in a better position to depict a sensitive and typically American issue like Native genocide. Ryszard himself had to flee Poland to Canada to escape the Communist regime; he knows about oppression. Empathetic, but impartial. Free of guilt.

Graham Greene in Bugajski's "Clearcut" film of 1991.

Graham Greene in Bugajski’s “Clearcut” film of 1991.

End of September 2012: I’m in California, halfway into my road trip. The grizzly waving on the state flag is the only bear I have seen so far.

The more I learn about the United States, the better understanding I have of European history. Because I lived in Central Europe for several years, I can now see the Polish, the Czech and the Hungarian influence on the construction of American history (especially on cinema) and on Chicago, which houses the largest Polish community in the U.S. and the artists’ neighborhood Pilsen.

October 2012: I stay for a few days in Yellowstone Park, set on seeing a bear. Bears are extremely active in the fall because they have to fill up before going into hibernation. The park is overpopulated… with warning signs explaining how to hide your food and stay alert, et cetera. Instead, I venture off treks with my camera as my only weapon. Not a single fur.

I also approach my work by focusing on new formats generated by what we call “the Internets”. I make use of different on-line media (comments, forums, YouTube, Google Earth, newspapers, etc.) as raw material to incorporate in my installations. For instance, in the installation Punctum Remotum, I wrote a short novel narrating various YouTube videos. And in the video Drammatical, I transformed the user-comments of an online USA Today article into a multi-dialogued video.

November 2012: Just before I return to Europe, a friend takes me to the Chicago Zoo so I can at least see a real-life bear on American soil. It’s already very cold, and the zoo seems to be asleep. Most of the animals are trying to keep warm. We finally reach the bear neighborhood to find the other side of the fences completely deserted. We run to the polar bears’ swimming pool—it’s empty. Even the polar bears are cold in Chicago? Anyway, they’re invisible. At least until spring.

Today, two months after landing in the Windy City for the fourth time, I’m starting to seriously get used to the idea of living, working and creating in this city. Then my girlfriend is offered her dream job—a job that will take us away for three years to Glasgow. Scotland. Back to Europe.

I look at the red carnation that has been poised in a glass jar on the kitchen table for more than two weeks. Its petals haven’t quivered. In this country, flowers don’t rot. The red flower is mocking me as if she knew she was just a picture. Eternal. Virtual.

Now, I think back to a typically French expression used to define a person who speaks of things about which he doesn’t know: “the man who saw the man who saw the bear.”

5 Prints

Prints. Photo courtesy Gimenez.

 

Michael Gimenez (b. 1977) received a MFA from the School of Fine Arts of Montpellier, France. Recent exhibitions include ‘Rio, Ano Zero’ at 37a Mostra Internacional de Cinéma, São Paulo; ‘Global Locals’ at Galerie NTK, Prague; ‘Drammatical’ at ETC gallery, Prague; ‘Exuvies’ at Galerie 35, French Institute, Prague; ‘Punctum Remotum’ at Galerie Living-Room, Montpellier; and ‘C’est mieux si on reste amis.’ at Galerie Saint-Ravy, Montpellier. See more of Giminez’s work at www.michaelgimenez.com.