Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam Launch “The Great Poor Farm Experiment”

August 3, 2009 · Print This Article

Picture 34In 1999 artists Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam co-founded The Suburban, a domestic art space in Oak Park, Illinois that in its decade of existence has become one of the Chicago area’s most highly regarded alternative galleries.  This coming weekend will mark a new chapter in The Suburban’s history with Grabner and Killam’s launch of The Poor Farm and Poor Farm Press.

Located in Waupaca County in central Wisconsin, The Poor Farm (aka the Waupaca County Home) was built in 1876 as part of the American Poor Farm system. Now, this 2.7 acre compound will function as a larger offshoot of The Suburban, its “rural cousin,” as Grabner and Killam put it. They’ll be mounting yearlong exhibitions in the Farm’s over 8,000 square feet, which includes 2500 square feet of dormitory space for artists and writers to live at the Farm for extended residencies. Poor Farm Press will produce catalogues and other printed matter that normally fall outside the purview of larger publishing houses. In short, a place that once represented the end of the line for the region’s poor–an institutional space of despair, destitution and servitude–will now be an open-ended space of transformative possibility and creative intervention.

Although the Poor Farm itself is still under renovation, Grabner and Killam are ready to kick off their newest venture by welcoming everyone who wants to join them for a weekend-long camp-out/inaugural exhibition opening this weekend, August 7, 8 and 9. On view will be numerous works of performance, painting, sculpture, and installation by artists such as Lesley Vance, David Robbins, Shane Aslan Selzer, Olivier Mosset, Philip Vanderhyden, Brad Kahlhamer, Shane Huffman, Sabina Ott, Pedro Velez, Guillaume Lebion, Nicholas Frank,  Joe Pflieger and many others that engage the The Poor Farm’s history as well as its many idiosyncratic spaces, which include a jail in the basement and a cemetery in the back cornfield. If you go, you can camp out on the grounds or stay at a nearby hotel, if camping’s not your thing, and dive into a range of super family-friendly activities like river tube floating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. And, of course, there’ll be cookouts galore.

About the upcoming Poor Farm ventures, Grabner and Killam note,

Like the Suburban, The Poor Farm will be dedicated to artists. In a recent interview we stated that “we believe in artists and we believe in the imagination.” We also happen to delight in and value our mid western, middle class, middle-age life with a mortgage and three kids. Voila: The Suburban, The Poor Farm and Poor Farm Press. Now, we can further negotiate our beliefs, share resources, and widen a space for artists and other curious minds.

What a beautiful way to spend a weekend. If you’re interested, you can download more information on The Poor Farm/Poor Farm Press and the opening weekend “jamboree” by clicking below.

Info on the Suburban and The Poor Farm Fact Sheet.

Great Poor Farm Experiment.

Grabner and Killam are already well known to this blog’s local readers, but if you’re from outside of Chicago and want to learn more about the incredible history of artists’ projects that The Suburban has presented over the past decade you can start by visiting The Suburban’s website. Then, listen to Grabner discuss how she and her family blend art and everyday life on episodes 12 and 19 of Bad at Sports’ Podcast (Grabner also interviewed artist Gaylen Gerber for Episode 93). And finally, the Highlights conducted a terrific interview with Grabner just last June; you can read it here.

Picture 36

Waupaca County, Wisconsin

The Suburban

The Suburban, Oak Park, IL

The Poor Farm

The Poor Farm

Sorry I Can’t Cry For Annie Leibovitz

August 1, 2009 · Print This Article

annie-leibovitzI wish Annie Leibovitz well and hope she gets her financial situation back on track and doesn’t suffer the pain shared by The Beatles and Stones which is the never ending chase to put the genie (rights to your own work) back in the bottle once you have sold it. Aside from that I can’t bring myself to shed a tear or show any shock over her situation.

If you haven’t had a chance to read up on this, on July 29th Ms. Leibovitz was sued by Art Capital Group in the NY State Supreme Court for failure to pay towards a loan of $24 million that she took. The collateral for this was properties in Greenwich Village and in Rhinebeck, N.Y., her negatives and the rights to her photographs.

Essentially the bulk of her assets.

Now after failure to make the basic payments Art Capital Group has successfully pursued payment in the courts and is gaining access to the collateral with the goal of liquefying the assets to regain the funds. Ms. Leibovitz has not commented on the actions and I don’t see any advantage to commenting but sadly it is reported that this is not the first time she has had problems making proper financial payments to clients or the state for taxes.

The point is this is not a rare case in the Art world, many many artists and creative professionals regularly take upon themselves financial responsibilities that they are ill prepared to handle or worse ignore all together. Only to learn that ignorance isn’t a defense in the court and a lifetimes worth of work and struggle can be lost in the balance of a few or single bad financial decisions.

I know it feels like it is hard to find people to trust, or you don’t want to have some “parental” figure limiting your decisions or options but the business side of art is as important in the long term if not in many ways more important in enabling great work to be produced and shared with the world.

Please take this opportunity to take a good hard look at your current situation if this current economy hasn’t made you already and ask yourself are you properly taking care of your long term finances and are adequately planing for trouble and can personally handle that responsibility yourself. If the answer is no, find someone skilled who you can partner with to make sure you don’t sign contracts or do expenditures you will live the rest of your life regretting.

Life in Art is hard enough, don’t be your own worst enemy.

Friday’s Twitter Roundup

July 31, 2009 · Print This Article

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This week’s roundup comes to you from my now semi empty apartment after a long day of moving. Here are the stories that caught my eye this week. Have a great weekend.

RT: @Lampo Illinois Arts Council FY10 budget is just $8M compared to $19.4M in FY07 – budget has plummeted more than 58% in three years.

James Brown was seriously bad ass. I wish I had half of his moves.  (via The Barstool Romantic)

MCA’s chief curator, Elizabeth Smith,  steps down

Vogue takes a look inside Cindy Sherman’s swanky pad and studio.

RT @KnightLAT Oops. Forbes magazine thinks Eli Broad helped to found a contemporary art museum in Chicago:

Going to go see Justin Cooper’s performance at the MCA in a couple of hours. I’ll post some photos tonight on the blog.

“I have odors in special places.”

Reading @artfagcity’s post on Bellwether’s expenses and revenue loss.

Checking out the Get It Together Show on flickr.

Watching an awesome video of skateboarders in slowmo. via @hustlerculture

How did I miss the Thai western film Tears of the Black Tiger?

Star Wars + sports + a high school gym

Rob Roy Kelly American Wood Type Collection (via Post Family)

Proximity has posted photos from last weekend’s openings.

RT: @artfagcity Merce Cunningham Dies at the age of 90.

Top 5 (7/31-8/2)

July 30, 2009 · Print This Article

Here’s my picks, yo.

1. Milwaukee Ave. Arts Fest.

MilwaukeeAvenueArtsFestival

Just ‘cus there are a ton of things going on of this ‘Fest, there’s bound to be something good happening. My suggestion: hit The Whistler and see Plural’s installation. All along Milwaukee Ave. in Logan Square, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 11pm.

2. Printer’s Ball at Columbia College

PrintersBallColumbiaCollege

Columbia College hosts their 5th Printers Ball. It’s gonna be huge, and it’s free! Come see all things print! Friday night from 5-11pm.

3. Burn at Ben Russell

BenRussell

Their press release sold me. All things summer and all on fire. Come and celebrate your inner (or outer) pyro. Sunday 6-10pm.

4. Public Works at Andrew Rafacz

AndrewRafaczGallery

Four boys on display at Rafacz. The exhibition was organized by Andrew and Someoddpilot to celebrate Chicago artists who’ve played large parts in the local art and music scenes. Friday night from 6 to 9pm.

5. Double Closing Fun: Home and Golden

JennyBuffington

Jenny Buffington at The Diorama Show

AspenMays

Aspen Mays

Two closing receptions are happening this weekend, both for good shows you should see if you haven’t yet: The Diorama Show at Home Gallery, and Concentrate and Ask Again at Golden. Go by for one last horah. Home closing: Sunday noon to 3pm. Golden closing: Sunday 3 to 6pm.

Mark Staff Brandl, TV Art Evangelist

July 29, 2009 · Print This Article

Every once in awhile, it’s good to have one of those “Come to Jesus” moments where you ask yourself if the work you’re producing is really for you or for somebody else. Bad at Sports’ Zurich correspondent Mark Staff Brandl (who reports on Art Basel for this week’s podcast) has just completed a new video, “TV Art Evangelist,” in which he (or rather, a miniaturized version of himself as an action figure), installed at the pulpit of an equally diminutive white cube “church” aka Brandl’s Collapsible Kunsthalle, delivers a sermon “calling the artworld back to inspiration, away from hypocrisy and sophistry,” as the artist himself describes it. This 16 minute long oration is both tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious in its intent. I love the wielding of a paintbrush in lieu of a microphone. Also check out the teeny tiny versions of Brandl’s own paintings installed on the walls behind him–incredible. Watch the video, and then go check out Mr. Brandl’s website to see larger versions of these paintings along with additional series of works, critical writings and news on upcoming projects.