November 16, 2009 · Print This Article
Guest post by Damien James
I walked into Woman Made Gallery on Wednesday, October 14th, to view and review the Beatrice Fisher retrospective, which surveyed fifty years of art making. Intrigued by the galleryâ€™s website, which noted that this was Fisherâ€™s first solo exhibition and that she had studied under such renowned Chicago artists as Karl Wirsum and Don Baum, for better or worse I had fairly high expectations.
Everything had just been hung, and the space was still a bit of a messâ€”the opening wasnâ€™t for two more days and I hadnâ€™t let anyone know that I was comingâ€”then I realized that the mess consisted mostly of Fisherâ€™s work, of which there was just too much to fit on the walls. (I was told that Fisher had thousands of pieces in her Evanston studio. Thousands was later corrected to hundreds.) After a moment of orientation amidst the clutter, I was able to focus on the walls, on her art, and was instantly taken, overtaken, by not only the range of her work but its consistent beauty and energy.
Fisherâ€™s Attachment/Separation series focuses on divorce in the most physical terms; bodies in surreal Siamese union, some split apart by knives or attached by zippers rendered with a level of detail which brings the stark flatness of the paintings and their sharp lines into a kind of focused intimacy that looks cleanly through you. At least, they seemed to look through me. Some are paintings of women and men joined at the hips or shoulders, others of women joined to women, skin stretching into long bands waiting to be broken, their faces staring so pointedly, hypnotically. On another wall were military-themed works which dressed disembodied penises in camouflaged field gear, while across the room a group of small paintings of Jesus clad in ruby slippers and floating in the clouds shimmered. The slippers were glitter. Jesus had a beatific and tranquil face. Maybe it was the shoes.
Truthfully, there was so much work that this could easily have been a group show of six or seven entirely different artists, though it wasnâ€™t difficult to see the common threadâ€”the unique handwriting as it moved through all the pieces; the tongue-in-cheek humor, the cultural critiques, the exploration of sexuality and religionâ€”yet each period in her career seemed to point to the absolute need to make art, out of anything and everything available. It was without a doubt the life of an artist on the walls of Woman Made, not just her art. [Read more]
Over the weekend, we received a tip about an online controversy surrounding news that New York artist Tom Sanfordâ€™s 2005 painting â€œThe Assassination of Dimebag Darrell Abbottâ€ will soon be auctioned for charity at Philips de Pury. (Note that Sanford is one of Bad at Sports’ regular New York correspondents). The painting depicts legendary guitarist and Pantera founder Darrell Lance Abbott on the night of his murder onstage during a Damageplan performance in Columbus, Ohio. (Also killed that night were Jeff Thompson, 40, Nathan Bray, 23, and Erin Halk, 29). When the website Blabbermouth posted a story announcing that the painting would be auctioned, numerous metalheads voiced a renewed sense of outrage and disgust via comment boards and forums like this one on Metal Underground. (Metafilter also picked up on the controversy).
Much of the anger seems to stem from the idea that Sanford is exploiting Abbott’s death by depicting the much-loved figure in a disrespectful and even lurid manner.Â And yet, if you read through the discussion on Metal Underground’s site, amongst the myriad “what a douche” comments and death threats (!) you’ll also find some polite dissension from metal fans themselves, as in this comment, by MetalBro4Life: [Read more]
The Galaxy Dress is the center piece of the “Fast Forward: Inventing the Future” exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The museum is celebrating its 75 years and has commissioned the GalaxyDress for their permanent collection.
The wearable dress made up of over 24,000 full color super thing LEDs, 4,000 Swarovski crystals & enough bateries to keep it on up to an hour at a time is something to be seen first hand and no photo or video recording does it justice. All this makes The Galaxy Dress the largest wearable display in the world.
Designed by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz, the London-based design duo behind interactive clothing company CuteCircuit
I honestly can say that I never thought I would find a comic (graphic novel? whatever) that felt so close to my own life. Nate Powell‘s book, Please Release, is a collection of four stories created between 2002 and 2005 in Arkansas, Rhode Island, Florida and Indiana.
The first story, The Phantom Form, was captivating to me. You become aware of his job (direct support for adults with developmental disabilities) and his politics (radical) immediately. He speaks very eloquently about “debasing power dynamics” in his work, and lack of privacy as well as trust with the adults he works with. There is a wistful cast to the whole book, and the pages seem very much alive with various music lyrics that flow through the panels.
Punk romanticism and the sentimentality of a transient lifestyle are captured, as well as an intense melancholy. Powell illustrates his interactions with adults with developmental disabilities with honesty, respect, and subtlety that I don’t think I’ve ever seem before, especially in comic form. In the third story, Work At It, there are almost two pages depicting Powell and a man that he works with staring at each other while they’re taking a walk. One panel depicts the two men as muscle and bones, two humans with the same structure looking at each other, and then they are shown back in their clothes, back in the dynamic of care provider and incompetent person.
Full disclosure- I work as an art instructor for adults with developmental and cognitive disabilities who are Deaf or Deaf and blind. This could be a large reason why I devoured this book and promptly ordered his previous work on Amazon. But I firmly believe that the stories are honest and lyrical in a way that isn’t hokey, and that Powell has an intense understanding of his craft, the illustrations, flow, and dialogue in the book are fantastic.
We are pleased to introduce a new series to the Bad at Sports blog.Â 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 Shawnee Barton as the first participant in this series with her post, “Thoughts on Feminism and Poker” . Shawnee is currently working on a project in which she keeps a roaming blog on other blogger’s sites. She also will be in the show ” Artist: Unemployed”, a solo installation at LivingRoom Gallery in Chicago, on November 20th. Check back in the coming weeks to see other contributions to the series.
Guest post by Shawnee Barton
Thoughts on Feminism and Poker
The last time I was at the underground poker club on Ashland and Division in Chicago, it was 3 a.m. when I noticed that there was porn on every television in the card room. The porn wasnâ€™t on at 9, 11, or even at 1 a.m, but apparently social conventions left at 3. This club has since been robbed and moved to another location, but when it was still in business, 3 a.m. was also the time when the tiny female server in an even tinier black dress stopped serving cocktails.
Iâ€™ve given a lot of thought to what I should wear to work, and by â€œworkâ€ I mean the poker table.Â Â The media clearly rewards female poker players who show cleavage.Â If I want to be famous in the poker community, which is a lucrative aspiration, getting my own little black dress would certainly be a shortcut to one measure of success.Â Unfortunately though, showing some skin can have consequences at the table.
One of the easiest ways to spot a bluff is to watch someoneâ€™s chest to see if the person stops breathing.Â People naturally have a freeze/flight/fight response to stress, but because poker players canâ€™t run away or smack the guy across the table, they will often just sit there frozen and hold their breath after bluffing.Â Similarly, when people are excited (like when they look down and see pocket aces), the large vein running down the side of the neck pumps blood so hard and fast that you can often see it pulsing from across the felt.Â Both of these tells are much more visible on a woman wearing a low cut tank top than on a big guy in a hooded sweatshirt. [Read more]