Off-Topic invites artists, curators, writers, and cultural workers to discuss a subject not directly related to the practice of making art. We would like to welcome Stephanie Burke as our latest guest with her post, â€œFirestarterâ€. Stephanie is a Chicago based photographer who graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009. She currently writes for Bad at Sports, runs Art Talk Chicago and works as the Managing Editor for Chicago Art Magazine.
by: Stephanie Burke
Last night I had a dream: my husband and I were living in an abandoned church in some metropolis. The church was high on a hill overlooking the city. I was sitting in the scrubby grass outside the church, watching the sun go down and listening to talk radio. An announcer cut into my program, saying the mayor had decided to start shutting the power off at night to save money. I looked out over the city to the west, and watched the lights blackout below me as the sun dipped below the horizon. As the last rays of sunlight disappeared, I started thinking about how I was going to build a fire without drawing attention to myself. In mid-thought, I woke up. I rolled over and related my dream to Jeriah, including my quandary as to how to build an un-noticeable fire. Without skipping a beat, he said flatly, â€œa Dakota Fire Hole, thatâ€™s what youâ€™d use.â€ Yes, thatâ€™s what I would use. Knowing how to build things like a Dakota Fire Hole, and a fire in general, is an important part of wilderness and disaster preparedness, a topic of great import to me. Thus, I have decided to dedicate my Bad at Sports Off Topic entry to fire building in context of survivalism.
Fire is one of the most important things you will need in a survival situation. Fires provide heat to dry clothes, warm bodies, cook food, and boil water to destroy pathogens. It also provides light to work by, to use as a signal for rescue, and to aid in general peace of mind. For all these reasons, you need to plan ahead and understand the basics of starting and maintaining fires.
First, you need to understand the needs of a fire. A fire needs three things: fuel, air, and an ignition source (or spark). Fuel is what is feeding the fire, usually in the form of wood, paper, leaves, twigs, etc., and generally, the drier the fuel the better. Overly wet fuel can be used once a fire is going, assuming it has been dried out near the fire before use, or the fire is raging extremely hot. Be careful when gathering your fuel, many parks and wilderness areas have restrictions on wood gathering.
There are three main fuel types you need to gather: tinder, kindling, and denser, long burning material. Starter and kindling are essential to starting a fire (without gasoline or road flares), and it continues to surprise me when a watch people try to start fires without them. If I had a dollar for every time Iâ€™ve seen someone crumple up 2 wads of newspaper, cover them with 4 or 5 four-inch diameter logs, then light it expecting a the newspaper to get the logs going, Iâ€™d have, like, a few hundred dollars.
Ok, so for those of you who don’t know yet, CAA (College Art Association) has dubbed Chicago worthy for it’s pedagogical adventures, and has settled in our fair city for the weekend. As a member of CAA, I’ll be cruising from lecture to lecture the next few days, trying to suck up as much strange knowledge as I can while the circus is in town. But I’m not the only one excited about the CAA crew. As a result of the conference, just about everyone else in town is trotting out something or other, much of which is AWESOME! As a result, I bring you The Biggest Top 5 You’ve Ever Seen! Rather than picking individual galleries for the Top 5, I’ve corralled a Top 5 of places (in no particular order) you should go this weekend. Hope ya’ll enjoy.
The self-proclaimed Chicago Arts District is holding it’s monthly 2nd Fridays round of openings. Here’s the places I’d go if I were you:
Chicago Art Department – 1837 S. Halsted. Cultural Excavation, work by Christopher Piatt, Ben Valentine, Wayne Bertola, Virginia Broersma, Allison Rae Butkus, Seth Gershberg, Jennifer Hines, Jennifer Jackson, Sarah Leitten, Amanda Paulson, Aaron Wooten and others. Reception Friday, from 6-10pm.
ROOMS Gallery – 645 W 18th St. ORACLE:CHANNELING, with Marrakesh & Todd Frugia. Performance Friday, from 8-10pm.
Today marks the start of the 2010 College Art Association (CAA) Conference, the annual conference for college professionals working in the field of visual arts. If you’re in town for the event, don’t miss Duncan MacKenzie and Richard Holland presenting in person on Friday on the topic of “meta-mentors” and the role they play as producers/founders/meta-mentors of the entire Bad at Sports universe! Their panel, titled Meta-Mentoring: Opt Out of Obscurity, will take place on Friday February 12th at 12:30 pm at Columbus GHIJ, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago. Duncan and Richard will be talking about the history of Bad at Sports, the process of putting the show together, the role they play as artists and cultural producers, and so! much! more! So come armed with your questions, your autograph books and 8 x 10 black and white glossies…and get ready to be meta-mentored by Bad at Sports!
Be sure and check out some of the panels listed below, featuring B@S’ fellow contributors, friends, and other groovy folks of note. (For the full schedule of panels at CAA, click here.) PLUS: Students at Columbia College are blogging the entire conference! So we don’t have to! Thank you Columbia College Students!Â Without further ado, let the academic hob-nobbing commence!
Marlene Alt, Southern Oregon University
Pamela L. Fraser, University of Illinois, Chicago
Elaine B. Rutherford, College of Saint Benedict and Saint Johns University
Saturday, February 13, 9:30 AMâ€“12:00 PM
Grand CD South, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency ChicagoChairs: Andrei Molotiu, Indiana University, Bloomington; Patricia Mainardi, Graduate Center, City University of New York
James Boaden, University of York: Dick Racy and Nance: The Comic Collages of Jess
Andrei Molotiu, Indiana University, Bloomington: Kirby after Lichtenstein
John P. Hogan, independent artist, Los Angeles: Comic Conceptualism and Critical Comedians: Two Sides of a Wooden Nickel
Simon Grennan, University of the Arts London: Reading Seth through Appropriation Theory
Mark Staff Brandl, University of Zurich: Posthysterical: The Study of Comics Advances a Plurogenic View of Art History
Organized in conjunction with the CAA conference taking place this week/end, this constellation of four Chicago gallery shows on painting is not to be missed. The exhibitions relate to the following panel, taking place this Saturday at CAA:
From the press release:
“What’s to be done about painting?” is a perennial yet ungraspable question
that continues to spur contemplation and examination within the
contemporary art apparatus. The first sentence to the catalogue essay
accompanying the 1999 exhibition “Examining Pictures,” it is the rhetorical
response to the statement “painting is dead.” This session will investigate
the position of painting and painting practices. It will not only ask:
“what’s to be done about painting” but “how is painting valued?” How does
painting assert its authority? What is painting’s speed? Can painting enact
radical social and cultural critique? What is painting’s place within the
mainstream? How does painting implicate itself in capital?
As a means of examining these questions the artists Carrie Moyer, Ann
Craven, Susanna Coffey, Anoka Faruqee, Peter Halley, Thomas Lawson, Judy
Ledgerwood, Rebecca Morris, Sabina Ott, Jon Pestoni, Scott Reeder, Molly
Zuckerman Hartung and Michelle Grabner will present a 10 minute position on
painting at the panel. Each of these artists will also exhibit their work
at four Chicago galleries hosting consecutive openings on February 13,
Please also join the following galleries on the night of the opening, Saturday, February 13:
Rowley Kennerk: (7-10pm): Rebecca Morris, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, Mary Heilmann, and Varda Caivano
Julius Caesar (4-7pm): Thomas Lawson, Scott Reeder, Carrie Moyer, and
Shane Campbell Gallery (6-8pm): Ann Craven, Peter Halley, and Jon Pestoni
Western Exhibitions (7-10pm): Anoka Faruqee, Judy Ledgerwwod, Sabina Ott,
Susanna Coffey and Richard Hull.
This College Art Association panel and accompanying exhibition at Columbia College’s A+ D Gallery looks super-interesting. The CAA panel takes place tomorrow, Thursday February 11th, from 2:30-5:00pm. Afterwards, there will be a reception and a curator’s talk at the A+D Gallery from 5 to 8pm.
The Object of Nostalgia
Curated by RenÃ© Marquez and Lance Winn
January 14 – February 20, 2010
February 11th, 5-8 pm
Closing Reception with a curators’ talk at 6:30 pm
“Could it be that the Avant Garde, still the dominant discussion in new art, and the self-anointed â€œbreakerâ€ of cultural aesthetic rules, has been the creator of a great number of tacit laws that govern the landscape of contemporary art? What is worthy to speak about when one is making â€œimportantâ€ art? The Object of Nostalgia contemplates the nature of â€œsentimentalityâ€ and its conflicted relation to contemporary art. Each of the artists represented copes with nostalgia and the condition of longing in a unique and personal way, eschewing both the cold, universalist demands of Modernism and the distanced superficiality employed by Postmodern practices in favor of personal investigation, private narratives, and the full breadth of creative tools and language available to the artist.
Featuring Marlene Alt, Brian Bishop, Pamela Fraser, Dawn Gavin,Kathy High, Greg Hopkins, Erika Leppmann, Julia Lothrop, Clayton Merrell, Elaine Rutherford, and Raychael Stine.