February 16, 2012 · Print This Article
The latest episode of “Fielding Practice,” the Chicago-centric podcast/gabfest featuring Duncan MacKenzie, Dan Gunn and me has just been posted on the Art21 Blog as part of Bad at Sports’ ongoing Centerfield column. This week, regular panelists Duncan MacKenzie, Dan Gunn and I discuss the demise of Next/Art Chicago–which up until last week had been the US’ longest-running art fair –and the subsequent rise of Expo, a new Chicago-based art fair slated to debut on Navy Pier in September 2012. We also review current exhibitions by Laura Letinsky at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, whose show Negative Joy is on view at Corbett vs. Dempsey gallery, plus we offer some “best bet” picks for the coming month in Chicago. As an added bonus, this week we keep the conversation blissfully short, at a running time of approximately 38 minutes — as always, thank you so much for tuning in!
It’s time once again for Fielding Practice with Bad at Sports, a special podcast produced for the Art21 blog. On this month’s episode, Duncan MacKenzie, Dan Gunn, and I are joined by Abraham Ritchie, Chicago editor of ArtSlant, to delve into the wild world of art in Chicago and beyond. April was art fair month in our fair city, with the Merchandise Mart’s Art Chicago and NEXT fairs taking place over the April 29-May 1 weekend and the upstart MDW Fair organized by threewalls, Roots & Culture, and Public Media Institute rolling out the weekend prior to that. We debate the pros and cons of both fairs, which–although polar opposites to one another–seem somehow to embody the strengths and weaknesses of Chicago’s own art scene at this particular moment. Next, we move on to a more theoretical, and certainly more speculative, discussion of an early Modernist revival among some of the artists we’ve been looking at recently: from Ruby Sky Stiler, Mark Grotjahn, and Ryan Fenchel (artists who are featured in exhibitions this month at The Suburban, Shane Campbell Gallery, and Dan Devening Projects + Editions, respectively), to L.A.-based artists Amy Bessone, Aaron Curry, Thomas Houseago, and others. Click here to be taken to Art21 blog, where you can listen to the podcast and check out examples of the artists we discuss during the episode. Thanks for listening!
Over the last few years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has exploded in popularity. When I moved to Chicago in 2000, there were only a handful of CSAs available to Chicagoans. Now there are dozens. CSAs have become so popular that The New York Times frequently runs articles about what to do with your seasonal surpluses. CSAs work in an interesting way—customers “subscribe” or buy “shares” in a farm’s yield. In this way, farmers know in advance their minimum sales and also have money upfront to purchase supplies. For the buyer this means excellent, seasonal produce (or fruit, meat, dairy) that is usually organic and always high quality. But CSAs are about more than just yummy, healthful food. CSAs are a way for non-farmers to support an activity they find valuable, like independent farming.
Three Walls is applying this same idea to art. Their Community Supported Art program offers six artworks by six different artists, all for the reasonable price of $400, or $350 if you act before April 30th. Various arts groups have done this before. In the 80s, SubPop had their Singles Club whereby each month subscribers received a fresh-off-the-press single right to their mailbox. More recently, I was a subscriber to Featherproof Press’s Paper Egg, a subscription book service. Sadly, Paper Egg didn’t really work out for the folks at Featherproof, but that doesn’t mean it was a failure. People want to support artists. Buying art is hard, though. It’s expensive and often it is hard to know where to spend your hard-earned dollars when you do finally decide to buy an artwork. But this is where the subscription, the food-type CSA model does its best work. Just as we are not exactly sure what each CSA box might yield, neither do we know the contents of a Three Walls CSA box. I mean, anything could be in there. [UPDATE: Okay, so not anything could be in there. There are 12 works in total of which each subscriber will receive 6.]
While not exactly common, Community Supported Art programs are springing up around the country and are a fresh way to explore alternative methods of connecting artists and those who buy art. Do listen to Claudine Ise, Duncan MacKenzie, and Dan Gunn discuss this on the Art:21 Centerfield podcast. The official launch of the 2011 Three Walls CSA is on April 30th from 6 to 9, in conjunction with Art Chicago/NEXT.
Thanks to everyone for coming out to the “Social Media Strategies in Chicago’s Art Community” panel hosted by Art Critic Alicia Eler and Chicago Gallery News’ Ginny Berg at Art Chicago today. I loved talking with Karla Loring, Museum of Contemporary Art; Crystal Pernell, Hyde Park Art Center; and Carrie Heinonen, Art Institute of Chicago about all things tech & strategy and hope that it was useful or atleast entertaining for those of you in attendance. Every group on that dais has my upmost respect for the work they do in the Arts day in and out and it is an honor to have Bad at Sports counted among them.
As promised in the talk there is a program that is quite useful in Twitter to let you know who starts following you and more importantly who drops your account. At the time I was trying to think of Chirpstats and couldn’t get the word out but the great Crystal Pernell was kind enough to remind me of Qwitter which does more then Chirpstats by working to tie the drop to a specific tweet. This can be extremely useful if at times a bit misleading but a great alternative to Chirpstats which is only a weekly update but less taxing on an email account.
The net is a wonderful place to meet, share, promote and wallow in all the things you love or cherish and social media for me is a great tool to help accomplish & magnify those desires. I still say though the most important thing is to service the end users like they are your boss, anything less is putting the cart before the horse. Feed them data, facts, images & yes even sugar and rumors some days but remember that twitter, facebook, digg, stumbleupon, and whatever is next are only a means to that end. It’s something that even we have to be vigilant to keep in perspective and doesn’t come easy for anyone especially when you have to answer to a comittee; I have deep sympathy there. I look forward to the next time we can get everyone together and have honest and open talks about how we go about trying to promote and grow this thing we love called Art.
Thanks again for coming out!