Winner of the Chicago Public Library “Sound Off” Music Contest Announced

October 12, 2009 · Print This Article

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Psalm OneThe grand prize winner of the CHIPUBLIB “Sound Off” Music Contest has been announced. The winner is Englewood’s own Christalle Bowen better known as Psalm One. A mp3 of the winning song “My Bucket Song” can be heard in it’s entirety above.

She will be performing the winning song along with a set of her other music, live at the CHIPUBLIB Sound Off concert at Pritzker Park, located at 344 S. State Street across from the Harold Washington Library Center, on Thursday October 22nd; doors open at 5 p.m. and admission is free.

Judge & Chicago-based Alarm Magazine publisher Chris Force called Psalm One’s entry a “shoulder-shaking salute to her hometown of Chicago,[that] stood out among the surprisingly creative and talented submissions to the Chicago Public Library’s “Sound Off” contest.”

BAS Halloween Watch: See Frankenstein Performed by The Hypocrites at the MCA

October 12, 2009 · Print This Article

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Ah, bloody ladies and their fucked-up bloody baby dolls. I’m still counting down the days to Halloween, and if I can find a babysitter of my own, I am so going to see this woman (actually, Stacy Stoltz as Elizabeth) up close and in person when The Hypocrites perform their version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the MCA Chicago from October 21 – November 1. It will be enacted “in promenade,” which means that performers intermingle with audience member on the same stage. Blurbs the MCA:

Just in time for Halloween, acclaimed Artistic Director Sean Graney and The Hypocrites take on Mary Shelley’s classic novel for an adventurous retelling of Frankenstein. Graney’s world-premiere production is performed in promenade, which places the audience onstage amidst the actors, and combines his inventive and poetic adaptation with the famous 1931 film starring Boris Karloff.

Inspired by the vast scope of Shelley’s novel and the ideas of inventors like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, Graney draws from a variety of literary sources for his adaptation, including Macbeth, Prometheus Bound, Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, and ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore by John Ford. Graney’s adaptation combines several historical versions of the gothic tale to craft a contemporary literary monster that captures the pure horror and chilling philosophy of creation carried out in the name of human advancement.

It’s like a high art version of Tony & Tina! But seriously, it’s always fun when audiences get a chance to wander around onstage while the performers do their thing–although I always wind up feeling weirdly embarrassed for the actors when I stand too close to them.  At any rate, you can watch a video of Hypocrities founder and Frankenstein director discussing his ideas about how theater relates to Frankenstein below; tickets are $20-25, for MCA members they’re $16-20, and the student rate is $10.

Martine Syms | HIGHLIGHTS / NY ART BOOK FAIR

October 9, 2009 · Print This Article

Bad at Sports is pleased to have Martine Syms of Golden Age as a guest blogger with her picks from last week’s New York Art Book Fair. “Martine Syms is a conceptual entrepreneur based in Chicago, Illinois. You can usually find her doing “research” (reading blogs) in the back office at Golden Age or watching television shows on DVD. Golden Age is a concept shop, founded in 2007, that sells publications, music, apparel and other editioned works created by artists. Golden Age makes a statement about an alternative mode of making and selling art; that it can be straightforward, accessible, and moderately priced.”

This year Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair claimed all three floors of P.S.1 to present over 200 international booksellers, galleries, and independent publishers/artists including art luminaries Dexter Sinister, Peres Projects, Electronic Arts Intermix, and E-Flux. Unlike most commercial art fairs this year, the NY Art Book Fair managed to escape the shadow of the recession. Everyone seemed to be having fun amongst the many DIY initiatives that have been doing so much with so little for so long. However, similar to most art fairs, NYABF was incredibly overwhelming and I couldn’t possibly see everything. Here are some highlights from last weekends event, if you want to link to projects that I missed, please do so in the comments.

A Modest Proposal For A Serving Library – Dexter Sinister

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A Modest Proposal For A Serving Library - Dexter Sinister

A Modest Proposal For A Serving Library, Nick Relph and Oliver Payne Dexter Sinister [http://dextersinister.org] (designers Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt) presented a very heady not-so-modest proposal for taking over an abandoned library in Los Angeles that is also the site of the newest video by Brits Nick Relph and Oliver Payne. In the video, books are chroma-keyed onto shelves, and the librarian’s serve red wine. Over the weekend the Serving Library also hosted a screening of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 with an introduction by my favorite Dot Dot Dot contributor Rob Giampietro.

The Werkplaats Typografie

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Werkplaats Typografie

The Werkplaats Typografie, a Dutch post-graduate design program, brought all 17 students to New York for the fair. Across from a wall displaying their most recent graphic output, the students set up studio in which they would bootleg any of the Werkplaats’ catalogs for a mere $5.

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A print by John Baldessari in the exhibition Learn To Read Art: A History of Printed Matter.

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Friendly Fire | Work from Lauren Anderson, Paul Cowan, Alana Celli, and Derek Chan on Golden Age’s wall.

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The wall from LA’s Ooga Booga, featuring Amy Yao, Raymond Pettibon, Sara Clendening, Mended Veil, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Max Krivitzky, and more.

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The print-on-demand workshop of NY-based creative studio The Holster.

Friday’s Twitter Roundup | 10.9.09

October 9, 2009 · Print This Article

PhotobucketOn this week’s roundup I discovered dresses that are made for cats, Pruned gave their plans for a 2118 Chicago winter Olympics, and I found Chicago Ganters’ badass album cover for Gansterlove. If you haven’t checked it out yet go see Philip von Zweck: The Fortieth Anniversary of the First Anniversary in May ’68 at Threewalls before it closes this Saturday. Have a good weekend.

Chicago Gansters = Badass album cover.

Design Council Image Database “was formed to educate the British public about good design” We need one of these. 

Plural Blog has some previews for the latest issue of Lumpen. 

Cat Fashion | http://bit.ly/2blYUQ

RT @threewalls Philip von Zweck: The Fortieth Anniversary of the First Anniversary in May ’68 (in September)..ending this Saturday!!!

Potentially Boring | “Between the Folds” a documentary on origami.

@art21‘s new season starts tonight but what I really want to watch is ESPN’s 30 on 30. Tonight a doc on Wayne Gretzky. 

I don’t feel so good about the full Kirsten Dunst, Murakami thing.

Just received an email from my mom. She just got the latest J Crew catalog in the mail and asked “Where are the female artists.” Good point.

Joe Fusaro has an interview with Janine Antoni on @art21. 

IDLM has some cool work and an interview with Shin Murayama. Sort of Hannibal Lecter meets Sports Chalet. 

@pruned gives their vision for a Chicago 2018 Winter Olympics bid. http://tiny.cc/Eu5mn

RT kingstitt More reminders on the state of Chicago art criticism from @badatsports. well said @ClaudineIse:

I haven’t purchased a Taschen book in a while but am thinking of picking this up. 

Alan Moore has a new journal out called Dodgem Logic.

Sh*tload of (Family) Money Awarded to Winners of the Inaugural “ArtPrize”

October 9, 2009 · Print This Article

The winner of the first annual edition of ArtPrize has been announced, and it’s Ran Ortner from Brooklyn, New York. The Prize is a contemporary art competition based in Grand Rapids, Michigan that has eschewed traditional expert juries in favor of a public vote on the winners. Ortner, 50, won the top prize of $250,000 for a painting titled “Open Water No. 24,” a dramatic, 6 x 19 foot oil painting depicting ocean waves in a realistic fashion.

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Taking the second prize and its $100,000 award was Chicago artist Tracy Van Duinen for his tile mural titled “Imagine That!” on the façade of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.

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The $50,000 third prize went to artist Eric Daigh of Traverse City for his portraits made entirely from colored pushpins.

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The other artists in the Top Ten each received $7,500 prizes. All winners of the ArtPrize were determined by votes cast on the ArtPrize Web site or via text messages sent from cell phones. The winners were announced last night.

$449,000 — the total amount of prize money in the contest–is, as they say, a shitload of cash. This alone has made ArtPrize the most monetarily rewarding contemporary art competition in the world right now. Where did contest organizer and social media entrepreneur Rick de Vos (who established the website Spout.com, a social-networking site for film buffs) get it from? The Dick and Betsy De Vos Family Foundation (Rick De Vos’ parents), who is listed as ArtPrize’s primary sponsor (Rick De Vos is the grandson of Amway’s cofounder). Numerous other De Vos family relations were also top contributors to the contest funds (see here for the full list of ArtPrize sponsors). The Dick and Betsy De Vos Family Foundation’s mission, according to its 2006 funding guidelines, is

“to serve as faithful stewards of God’s blessings through a focus on 1) Christian Evangelism through church building, family building, and youth programming; 2) Education through programs that provide support for parental choices in determining where their elementary and secondary school-aged children attend school; 3) Public Policy that results in a freer, more virtuous, more prosperous society. The Foundation does not allocate funds to individuals, for-profit organizations, or candidates for political office.”

(If you’re interested, you can learn more about which groups and projects fall into the categories listed above by reading about the Foundation’s funding choices here and here).

Clearly, the material benefits to artists gained from winning the three top prizes and even the lesser amounts are tremendous. In terms of its financial benefits, winning a contest like this one far is better than winning a grant–at least in terms of how profitable it is. Rick De Vos told the Detroit Free Press that his goals in establishing the contest were to promote conversations about art and to create a hip cultural event for Grand Rapids, Michigan. And the contest succeeded in creating lots of buzz and tons of entries–1,262 artists entered the contest, and nearly 14,000 votes were counted in the final round (334,000 votes were cast for the initial pool of entrants). So not only did the contest offer the biggest monetary prize, it promised a democratization of the means of selection. Everyone who took the time to register in person at the ArtPrize event got to vote on the works of art hanging before them. And the results of their votes mattered – a lot.

But does ArtPrize offer a viable model for others to follow? Not really, as I see it. For one thing, it’s hardly a replicable format. If de Vos had rustled up that much cash in any other way other than tapping family money, I’d be more apt to sit up and pay attention. But the fact remains that this contest with its enormous prize would not have been possible without primary support from a single Foundation that, at least in its other funding efforts, has shown itself to have very specific social and political agendas.

Yes, the Grand Rapids audience was given the empowering opportunity to circumvent the critics and the curators and the other so-called gatekeepers to make their own statement about which artists are most deserving of recognition.  Lucky for everyone involved, it appears that none of the artists selected for voted the top three winners make the type of work that would prove to be embarrassing to the contest’s sponsors – no poop photographs, no naked ladies, no same-sex coupling. What would have happened, I wonder, if an unknown artist making photographs with subject matter similar to that of Catherine Opie’s “Domestic” series had won? Nothing, I’m sure – but it’s a good bet that if that happened, next year’s ArtPrize wouldn’t have mom and dad’s big money behind it. And probably not nearly the number of artists entering the contest. And audiences/voters caring about it.

Art21 contributor Nicole Carruth was asked by the ArtPrize organizers to reflect on the significance of the contest through a series of written essays that included an interview with Mary Jane Jacob, Professor and Executive Director of Exhibitions and Exhibition Studies at School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In the interview, Jacob offers a pointed critique of the contest, which in part centers around her misgivings about the competition’s huge prize award. Notes Jacob:

“My real misgiving strategically, long-term, with the project is the huge disparity in the prize money in an art world where artists need a lot of support — art always does.

We’re at the 48th anniversary of the Calder, which was a high point of public motivation of art, and the NEA’s flowering, and so forth. We’ve seen the demise of the individual artist grant program and we’re still suffering from that. Some grant programs were out there already, some ramped up further, like Pew in Philadelphia or Bush in Minneapolis. But then other ones with a lot less resources and smaller amounts have done volumes of work, like Creative Capital and Artadia. And nobody in any of those is getting $250,000. I think we’re not looking at $250,000 artists here. I have a problem with the division it creates when that amount of money, $500,000, could be spread in equal or on more egalitarian ways.  That could support 10 or more artists.

… That confrontation, that nexus between the aspiring artist, emerging artist, overlooked artist and the broader public is a great conversation. We see it enacted here and it’s a great success, I think, on that level. But then when the final result becomes something that then shifts to a paradigm that is more like American Idol or winning the lottery, it doesn’t necessarily sustain either that individual or this system or the art world. I even find it problematic with colleagues from those institutions that I’ve named who are struggling to have something that doesn’t join the conversation of [artist] development, sustainability and support…To see that supporting artists is a positive and necessary endeavor has a great ripple effect.”

Jacob’s critique offers us an invaluable framework for considering the true value of big-money contests such as this one and, even more importantly in my mind, for putting the “generosity” of sponsors like the de Vos Family into its proper context. Many people from various points on the political spectrum are troubled by government funding of artists, and to be sure there are a  number of valid reasons for their discomfort. But we should think twice about investing too heavily in the contest model offered by ArtPrize.

To my mind, the “democracy” of choice promised by ArtPrize masks a more distrubing desire on the part of its major sponsors to do away with government support of the arts advocated by those who they imply are “cultural elites.” But as Jacob points out, not everyone can win the lottery, and not all artists will win an ArtPrize. ArtPrize makes for some razzle-dazzle regional publicity, sure–but it doesn’t present any real alternatives that the rest of us can run with.