Chicago Galleries Toughing Out Recession, See Hope in Upcoming Season

August 22, 2009 · Print This Article

The Chicago Tribune’s Sunday edition includes a lengthy article by Mark Caro and Lauren Viera on on how Chicago’s art galleries are weathering the recession.  According to the Trib, many gallery owners in the River North area are reporting that business took a downturn last summer and has stayed that way so far. Yet a number have also seen enough positive economic activity of late to feel glimmers of hope about the future.

“Compared with New York, where The New York Times reported in June that more than 20 galleries had closed, Chicago’s leading art districts have remained relatively stable. River North, the most established gallery area, has seen some businesses move or otherwise constrict their operations, but the bulk are still standing. The West Loop has suffered a few closings, while empty storefronts dot Pilsen‘s developer-designed art district.”

The article notes that Chicago galleries are using various recessionary strategies to stay in business. David Leonardis offered a buy-one-get-one-free sale earlier this summer, while other galleries have also offered special discounts. Still others, like Zolla/Lieberman, are highlighting more modestly-priced works for collectors feeling gun-shy about spending a lot of money during financially anxious times. And in line with what’s happening nationally, dealers who specialize in high-end artists, like Richard Gray, have found the market to be as strong as its ever been for “really rare, really fine, highly exceptional works of art.”

The arts district in Pilsen has not fared nearly so well, with numerous ‘For Rent’ signs on storefronts. Also highly worrisome news: UIC’s non profit I space Gallery may be in trouble. Its private foundation support “dried up,” and director Mary Antonakos is quoted as saying she’s worried the space will close.

It should be noted that although the Trib’s article includes numerous interviews with Chicago dealers in various media and price-points, it’s noticeably thin on accounts from dealers outside the River North area (the piece does include a quote from Carrie Secrist, whose gallery is located in the West Loop, but none from her neighbors Tony Wight, Kavi Gupta, Monique Meloche or Rhona Hoffman–prominent Chicago dealers all).

In the end, however, a gallerist’s actions probably speak louder than his or her words. The fact that all of the above-mentioned dealers are planning strong new shows to inaugurate the new fall season suggests that everything remains on track, for now anyway. Chicago art dealers appear to be hanging in there–holding their breath, to be sure, but hanging in there. Read the Tribune’s full story here.

Twitch Flicks for the Twitter Generation

August 21, 2009 · Print This Article

Three Frames condenses feature length films into what is essentially a three-frame money shot (I’m using the polite term here)–animated .gifs consisting of only three film frames. There’s something about the twitchy, jerkily repetitive results that’s fittingly pornographic–each of these ultra compact micro-films instantaneously delivers what you came for. Although there’s a bit too much emphasis on horror flicks (too obvious, imho), I find a number of these to be surprisingly compelling. Not to get too overly analytical of what’s essentially a novelty web site, but some of these animations remind me of Paul Pfeiffer‘s early video works.

Three Frame’s movie treatments actually work best when viewed in isolation from one another. You can also better judge which animations work best on the meta level of representing the spirit of an entire film in just the three frames.

They’ve even given the Three Frames treatment to The Fabulous Stains!!! Anyone remember that one? Anyone??

*Apologies, but I cannot remember where I learned about Three Frames. There should be a via credit here, and I’ve been searching through my .rss feed for the past hour trying to find the goddamn original link, and I’ve got to get on with my evening. Again, all apologies, I usually try to be careful about this.

Friday’s Twitter Roundup

August 21, 2009 · Print This Article


On this week’s roundup we check out the always fantastic Chip Kidd discussing comic book covers, a chimpanzee reenacts a scene from the ring, and a call for proposals for the seventh art shanty project. Have a great weekend.

Chip Kidd on comic book covers.

RT @findings The Whitney lays of 8% of its staff, plans new satellite building near the Highline. 

A Chimpanzee reenacting the Ring.

BAS favorite “Sita Sings the Blues” sourcefiles are now online.  via boingboing

RT @hragv Oh graffiti, when did you become the hobby of rich people? “Though tagging, also known as graffiti-art…”

“Have you ever thought about the ironic fact that soft bread goes hard when old and hard bread goes soft?”

Daniel Fuller On Triple Candie’s Maurizio Cattelan is Dead: Life and Work, 1960 – 2009. 

Call for proposals for the Seventh annual Art Shanty Projects.

Is it necessary to see Guernica in 3D?

RT: TylerGreenDC Addressing the future of arts journalism — if there is one:

Participate in a National Survey on Artists and Economic Recession

August 21, 2009 · Print This Article

Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a decade-long national initiative to improve conditions for artists (which includes efforts to connect artists to greater health insurance options and maintain spaces for art and artists in community development projects, among others) is conducting an online survey on artists and economic recession. They’re inviting artists to share their experiences under the current economic climate. It’s all completely anonymous, of course, and the survey is being overseen by by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. More on the survey, from LINC’s website:

Is the recession over for you, or still going strong? LINC wants to make sure the conditions artists are facing in the current economic climate are being heard and addressed.

LINC, in partnership with Helicon Collaborative, has developed the Artists and the Economic Recession Survey to invite artists to share their current experience. This survey will provide hard data for all of us who believe that arts and culture are important so that we can achieve the changes in policy, funding, and information dissemination necessary to improve the working lives of artists nationwide.

If you have 15 minutes or so, think about participating–you don’t even have to leave your chair (if there’s a computer in front of it, anyway). The wider the range of artists’ voices, the more meaningful the survey’s results (and the analysis that follows) will be. The survey closes on September 4th, 2009, so there’s not much time left.

(Via College Art Association News).

Jill Frank: Good at Jogging

August 20, 2009 · Print This Article

Jill Frank, who had a great show at GOLDEN just about a year ago, and now has a 12×12 up at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, will be giving an artist talk at the MCA this coming Tuesday, August 25th at 630pm. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, even though apparently she was in the middle of the woods.

What sports are you bad at playing?
All sports that require coordination.  I like jogging because less can go wrong.  However, I still run into tree branches and trip over potholes on a regular basis.

What was the first photograph that you ever took?
I remember taking a picture of this crawdad in my backyard, my friend was trying to hold it still for me and I was using a polaroid camera.

Can you describe the evolution of your work?
I am interested in aligning images with actual experiences.  I started with a project on my family, where we reenacted all of our most important memories for the camera, in a sense creating a more accurate family album.  This included awkward, humiliating, embarrassing moments rather than the usual portraits.  I moved from that project into photographing other people’s un-documented experiences- (Psychodrama)- which involved advertising my project and looking for participants willing to share.  I ended up with some really interesting people, and I learned a lot about how to document these incidents.  I think the images became more about documenting a performance than making a pristine singular image of an event.  Recently, I have been working less with individuals and more with groups of people and larger histories.  I am really excited about this newer direction because it involves making alternate versions of culturally accepted images.  I am interested in what seems to be missing from these iconic images: the awkwardness, the anxiety, the embarrassment of being human.  I have included two of these newer works in the 12×12. One is Mother and Child #1, where the baby is not in a peaceful state; rather, it is exhibiting signs of anxiety at an early age.

From the series Psychodrama, 2008

From the series Psychodrama, 2008

What is the significance of creating images from your own memories, and how does this translate to creating images from collective memory (historical, etc)?
I think that images often serve as anchors for our experiences.  It is really interesting to think about whether we or not we value the experience more or less if there is some visual document to serve as evidence.  I want to facilitate a  conversation with this project. As for the way it has moved from individual to more collective experiences, I think that historical events  and collective memories can be just as subjective as our own personal memories.  For me, this project questions the objectivity of the “original” image, and the authors and artists who made them.  I also like to find room for my own spiritual curiosity inside the religious iconography.  I am making these images work for me.

How did the transition in your work from creating images from personal narratives to historical, literary and biblical narratives happen?
I put the word out that I was looking for participants for the personal narratives, and I ran into several groups of people who were well-schooled in different religious histories.  It was a very natural transition in which I learned a lot from the participants. I specifically enjoyed working with  a group of students from Wheaton, Illinois who were extremely open to be a part of whatever strange idea I had.

Do you look at your work as documentation of performances or events, or more
as constructed portraits?

Both.  I started out with very constructed portraits of the participants and moved into a looser, more documentary approach.  Now I think of the performance as the most interesting aspect – the photograph as a document of the reenactment or the reinterpretation.

How has collaborating changed your work?
I enjoy meeting new people and learning about their interests and life experiences, so collaboration is very rewarding.  I still make all of the photographs myself, but I have considered different approaches to this as well.  Generally speaking, I can’t imagine making images based only on my own experiences and interpretations; I am not that interesting!  I think the most amazing part of the collaboration is the learning aspect.

For Ye Shall Be as an Oak, 2008

For Ye Shall Be as an Oak, 2008

What do you see as the failures and successes of photographic representation?
Well, I believe failure and success is relative to our expectations of the medium.  The photographic image is the form of visual representation that most closely mimics the human experience, and it is through existing images that we gain an understanding of what may be worthy of representation.  If there are pivotal moments in a person’s life that go undocumented, are documented inaccurately, or events of historic  consequence that are not photographed – it could be perceived as a failure.

Photography succeeds at specificity:  things that our eyes are incapable of processing, a camera can render in permanent painstaking detail.  I think this is a question of subjectivity- one person’s idea of a successful photograph may not speak to another person’s idea of that same moment in time.  These conversations  about the medium make you consider the larger questions surrounding the production of images.

Jill’s work will be up as part of the UBS 12×12 New Artists/New Work program until the end of August.