August 12, 2013 · Print This Article

Work by Jen Stark at the Chicago Fashion Outlet.

Art Exhibition Opens at Rosemont Outlet Mall

An opening like no other took place on the last day of July at the freshly minted $250 million dollar Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont. Featuring 11 artists curated by miami based Primary Projects, the Fashion Outlet and newly formed collective, The Arts Initiative, did it up luxury outlet mall style at the preview of the various murals and installations throughout the mall. With work by Jen Stark, Jim Drain, Cody Hudson, Daniel Arsham and Bhakti Baxter, the art contained within might make this the edgiest mall ever.

Sam Vinz, Claire Warner and Aron Gent under the Friend’s With You inflatables installation at the Chicago Fashion Outlet.

A collision of Chicago’s and Miami’s most noteworthy in the arts, attendees danced the night away under the deft entertainment of DJ Sinatra and many many top shelf bars.

Friend’s With You’s Sam Borkson and fellow artist, Jim Drain, lovingly embrace at the reception.

Curious what was in the gift bag? A hat from Roxy, an iPhone 5 case from Coach (too bad I’m still only on that 4), a “The Arts Initiative” water bottle, a leather cuff from Ports, a security neck pouch from Samsonite, a “Fashion Outlets” pen and even a scarf from The Limited. Totally killer.

Drain’s completed mural.

Definitely recommend (even sans the gift bag).

Reading is Fundamental

  • Wait, I thought it was 2013!? If you like your iPhone and the internet, you would probably enjoy this sweet little read from the Summer 2013 issues of Artforum, 2011: Michael Sanchez on Art and Transmission. This recommendation comes from a bar, but is better than that makes it seem.
  • Trends Totally Trending: Not often is a gossip column the subject of gossip, but What’s the T? was recently featured in Art Info’s “In the Air: Art News and Gossip” spot for EXPO CHICAGO’s partners and special exhibitions. That’s right! WTT? is going IRL. We hope you’re as excited for The Expo Register as we are. Stay tuned y’all.
  • Total badass gets her due: Who knew that Ileana Sonnabend was so completely rad? She asked for a Matisse instead of a wedding ring. I mean, really. Thankfully, this piece by Kelly Crow for the Wall Street Journal sheds light on the major gallerist and collectors fascinating past. Sonnabend fans will be pleased to know that the MoMA just released plans for “Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New,” an exhibition which will feature some of Sonnabend’s most noteable discoveries and longtime friends.

Time to Slip at Gallery 400

We heard a rumomr that the upcoming TIMESLIP film screening is not to be missed. Featuring 11 films by 10 makers, the screening is curated by Jesse Malmed and includes work by Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva, J.J. Murphy and Hollis Frampton.

From the horses mouth: This is going to be great. Time travel in the expanded field. Time-based media in the multiverse. Dream baby, trypp central, 2 Live Crew (seri), ducks, Adam and Eve, Judy Garland, hella headies, the first computer film, time tunnels, and on. And, like your mind, this is FREE. Surprises guaranteed.

Screening from 7:30-8:30, Thursday August 22nd at Gallery 400.

Who Wore it Better, Better?

Ron Ewert and Mike Kloss of the Hills at MCA First Friday last week VS Yuri Stone and Zachary Kaplan at Medium Cool on Sunday.

The Weatherman Report

John Marin, Movement, Sea, Sky, and Ledges, 1940, Watercolor on paper, 15 1/4 × 20 3/4 in

Demdike Stare

Empty Bottle, Full on Bass

A Miami Techno Transplant’s take on the Demdike Stare Concert last Saturday

I’m here reporting from the Empty Bottle, celebrating my Chicago life’s one week anniversary the way I prefer to spend all mildly festive occasions, by melting my brain with whiskey and dark techno. Tonight I’m all excited because I get to see one of my favorite bands live for the first time: DEMDIKE STARE. The duo is well known for merging occult, black magic vibes with droning electronics and sparse, off kilter beats. Demdike Stare have evolved their sound throughout the years from super dark horror movie vibes to dark worldly ragas and, finally, their latest releases reflect maturation of all these sounds with a bit of straight forward dark techno tastefully sprinkled in.

Needless to say, I’m fucking pumped.

I arrive at the venue “Miami time” which turns out to be just when shit starts everywhere. My circadian rhythm must be super on point today and I show up just as the first act, Stave, is going on. The set is some heavy industrial tech vibes. I am feeling it. A cigarette. Duane Pitre is up next delivering on some soothing melodious drone incorporating guitar loops and electronics. Lots of people are talking and not really listening but the vibe is right and everyone’s sonic palette is cleansed.

I’m in the ally evening out my buzz and the walls start to pulse. Demdike-fucking-Stare. I run inside. They spend the beginning of the set evolving drones, feeling out the crowd, reacting. What does the spirit of the crowd say? Probably something like, “TECHNO!” The bass kicks into 4/4 and as the crescendo of the track “Dysology” hits everyone knows its getting serious. The visuals that accompany their live set become more frantic. The main themes of the video include babes and esoteric rituals, everyone approves. Just as my mind is about to transform into pure jelly, the set ends abruptly, like all good things in life. And everyone goes home to dream about robots and witches. The End.

The view inside of Praire Production.

Medium Cool and Partly Cloudy.

Shame on you if you didn’t make it out to Sunday’s Medium Cool Art Book Fair, we know you heard about it. Rising like a pheonix, the fair was organized by Ria Roberts and brought out the most delicious coffee-table eye-candy ever seen in the West Loop.

These button’s were seriously trending.

Limited edition poster by Carson Fisk-Vittori

Fashionistas, Chelsea Clup and Ben Foch modeling the necklaces by Vincent Uribe and Noël Morical they picked up at LVL3’s booth.

Trendsetter, Hamza Walker, models sunglasses (obviously) by Josh Reames from the LVL3 booth.

Issue Press‘s booth featuring a “Book Box” vending machine, manned by George Wietor.

Sofia Leiby‘s SCRAP HEAP booth featured scraps and ephemera from Chicago artists’ studios.

Don’t Cry for Me, Art Chicago….

May 2, 2011 · Print This Article

Ryan Duggan, "Today, Tomorrow," 2011. Johalla Projects at NEXT.


Last weekend, as I wandered around 2011’s iteration of Art Chicago–now value-added with crunchy nuggets of NEXT!!–I came to the odd realization that I now feel more “of” Chicago’s visual art scene than outside of it, and as a result I am starting to lose what’s always been precious to me: my ability to call shit as I see it, regardless of who I might offend. I really want Art Chicago and NEXT to succeed because I want the galleries and artists who live in Chicago and who partake of the commercial system to thrive and to prosper. So let’s think of the forthcoming assessment of this year’s combined Art Chicago/NEXT fairs as the ‘If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say…’ report, because I feel like I have to emphasize the positive, in the face of what I personally experienced as mostly negative. I will say this: I sincerely hope that Karen Archey’s info on ArtInfo is accurate, and that Art Chicago/NEXT’s 2011’s participating exhibitors did indeed sell the shit out of their wares, because I saw not much other purpose to it all other than successfully doing just that. To be sure, commerce is what art fairs are all about, but it doesn’t hurt if you throw a little ‘shock of the new’ at people while you are selling the aforementioned crap out of it. In the two previous years of this fair that I have attended I saw a fair amount of interesting experimental projects and a slew of lively–and just as important, timely–public conversations thrown into the mix, along with some stupid stuff like Jell-o wrestling and teeny tiny DIY-comedy clubs–projects that felt amateurish and ad hoc and yet whose purpose, I realize now in retrospect, was to remind people, in a kind of ‘have another beer and you’ll see what I mean’ kind of way, that it was the art fair context itself that was truly ridiculous. That kind of silliness was mostly absent from NEXT this year, and I, for one, missed it.

This year’s fair merged NEXT’s presentations of galleries focused on emerging artists with the more established Art Chicago vendors, now shown side-by-side on the same floor. This was no doubt an economic decision, but it had a deadening effect overall, with NEXT’s galleries not surprisingly suffering the worst from it. Whereas in previous years NEXT (and its high-energy GOFFO sub-section) provided a breath of fresh air along with some genuinely good art, this year the NEXT booths were slotted into a section on Floor 12 and thus became pretty much indistinguishable from their coiffed and business-suited elder brethren. I barely felt the presence of GOFFO this year. Proximity to Art Chicago seemed to implicitly encourage all the NEXT booths to play it safe and be on their best behavior, and while this somewhat more formal atmosphere may have benefited larger commercial galleries like Kavi Gupta or Western Exhibitions it made the work in booths from smaller alternative spaces/projects like LVL3 or ACRE feel less adventurous than they might have otherwise. On the other hand, some of the best paintings I saw at NEXT were by a Canadian artist named Beth Stuart at the aforementioned LVL3 booth, and my ability to hone in on said paintings in relative quietude no doubt benefited from the fact that there wasn’t some crazy-ass parade marching up and down the aisles to distract me. So I guess that legitimacy thing works both ways.

ACRE booth at NEXT, view of Matt Nichols' sculpture Untitled, 2011 in foreground.

LVL3 Gallery at NEXT - 2011. Photo courtesy LVL3.

Beth Stuart, Scanty Shanty, 2010 | Oil on pastered linen on panel, 14″ x 17″, at LVL3 at NEXT 2011. Photo courtesy LVL3.

Kate Steciw. Photo Rug/Portal, 2011. Polyester rug, edition of 3, 72" x 48", at LVL3 booth NEXT 2011. Photo courtesy of LVL3.

Overall I thought Art Chicago suffered even moreso from what it usually suffers from: ‘over the couch’ syndrome, i.e. too many mediocre paintings and photographs, all of reasonable size and ‘striking’ visual impact to hang as an appropriate ‘statement piece’ over the living room couch. Archey characterized a lot of the Art Chicago work as having a “sci-fi transhumanist” feel to it, and I’d have to agree. As I wandered about I started playing a little game with myself: what if someone took a digital image of every painting and photograph in both Art Chicago and NEXT and then layered them, Jason Salavon-style — what would this quintessential work of fair art look like? Pretty much like any number of the paintings that were already hanging on the walls, I concluded. There was also an odd, images-encased-in-glass, plexiglas, and/or resin trend running through the fair which greatly disturbed me. Two examples follow–the first is blood encased in glass, the second is drinking straws sculpted in the forms of lips and eyes and then encased in glass–although there were countless additional works of this type that I didn’t photograph:

Jordan Eagles, Lifeforce. At Patrajdas Contemporary Art Booth.

Works by Sang Sik Hong at Patrajdas Contemporary.

Sang Sik Hong at Patrajdas Contemporary, Art Chicago 2011.

I think I’ll just sum up the rest of the fair–my personal take on it, anyway–Best/Worst style, as follows:

Best non-Chicago booth at NEXT: I’d give this to Charlie James Gallery, a commercial space located on Chung King Road in L.A. James seems to have brought his A-Game with this booth, and also showed a variety of artists–I especially liked Ala Ebtekar’s collage drawings and Libby Black’s built-to-charm, paper and hot-glue versions of roller skates and opera glasses. Nothing terribly deep here, but all the work looked sharp, sellable, and smart–everything that a good art fair showcase should be.

Ala Ebtekar at Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles booth at NEXT 2011.

Glam paper roller skates by Libby Black at Charlie James Gallery at NEXT, 2011.

A for Effort Award: to Robert Berman Gallery, for making a good-looking, focused booth that (presumably) sold the shit out of Shepard Fairey’s album cover art. Obey, indeed.

Revolutions: The Album Cover Art of Shepard Fairey at Robert Berman Gallery’s booth at Art Chicago, 2011.

Shepard Fairey album cover art at Robert Berman Booth, Art Chicago 2011.

Best Chicago booth at NEXT: I thought they all did a great job, but I’d say a tie between LVL3 and Post Family. LVL3 for its super-“on it” presentation of works–all were strong, and they all looked great together, and Post Family for showcasing the collective’s usual sense of flair in a visually engaging yet uncompromised manner. (Bad photo, sorry!).

Post Family booth at NEXT 2011. "Dear People of the World," by Scott Thomas in foreground.

Work most likely to be impulse-purchased at NEXT: Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet’s print duo, “A Conservative Map of the World,” 2011, and “A Liberal Map of the World,” 2011, both archival pigment prints that could be had for the set at $3900, courtesy of the above-mentioned Charlie James Gallery. A huge crowd-pleaser, and genuinely amusing.

Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet, A Conservative Map of the World, at Charlie James Gallery booth at NEXT 2011.

Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet, A Liberal Map of the World, at Charlie James Gallery booth at NEXT 2011.

Best Chicago booth at Art Chicago: this is a tough one, but I’ll go with Carl Hammer Gallery. They gave a lovely presentation with terrific examples of works by gallery artists such as Joseph Yoakum and Roger Brown. The full package, elegantly presented.

Carl Hammer booth at Art Chicago 2011, work by Roger Brown in foreground.


The ‘Where the Heck Were They??’ Award: Shared by Rhona Hoffman and Tony Wight.

Worst Art-Making Trend: the above-mentioned bodies, body parts, and viscera-encased-in-glass works seen throughout the fair.

Best Attempt to Do Something Different: Team Art!’s ongoing auction/destruction performance, in which any work of art that didn’t sell during its auction slot was immediately hacked to bits. Maybe not the freshest idea in the world, but the participating artists felt genuine pain at the destruction of their works (which included a preponderance of sad-eyed kitty cats and doggies, natch), while my own refusal to save the life of a threatened work filled me with a real, albeit fleeting, sense of guilt. Like I said before, it was the kind of silliness that effectively pointed to the larger sense of silliness that surrounded us all.

Team Art! puts the art in its booth on the chopping block.

This work did not sell.

Cuteness not making the cut.


Wednesday Clips 5/27/09

May 27, 2009 · Print This Article

A webchat with Andy, Oliver Laric (http://oliverlaric.com/webchat.htm)

A webchat with Andy Warhol, Oliver Laric (http://oliverlaric.com/webchat.htm)

Here’s what’s got my attention, web-wise, so far this week:

*San Diego Museum of Art director Derrick R. Cartwright appointed director of the Seattle Art Museum.

*Art Institute of Chicago director James Cuno hopes to initiate massive fundraising drive for free Museum admission.

*No Boys Allowed: yearlong exhibition at the Pompidou Center is for women-only.

*Barack Obama: The Freshman.

*Now on Vimeo: watch the NYFA Panel Discussion on ‘How the Recession Has Impacted the Art World’ (featuring Edward Winkleman, Sean Elwood, Stephanie Howe, Kay Takeda; via Edward_Winkleman).

*Scope Basil is only three weeks ago away, and still ‘aint got no permit.

*”I spent a year asking why the contemporary art bubble was the biggest, bubbliest bubble of them all”: Ben Lewis’ The Great Contemporary Art Bubble preview clip on YouTube ( ART21’s Ben Street has a funny post on the film too).

*Boing Boing writer Joel Johnson chides Wired Online for being clueless about the importance of online media–a great post, but look to the comments for the real dirt. (via ArtFagCity’s Twitter).

*Speaking of Twitter, it could be coming to a t.v. near you.

*Grrr. Argh: Monster Kid Home Movies (via Boing Boing).

*Pierogi’s famed flat files now searchable online. (via Art Fag City).

*A live conversation with a dead Andy Warhol, via psychic via webchat (via Rhizome.org).

*Beautiful/Decay needs YOU to help pick the theme for its next limited-edition publication. Winner gets a copy of the book. For free!

*Applications for the 2009 William H. Johnson Prize are now available. Due date is July 31st. (Via Artipedia).

Art Chicago Wrapup: Special Exhibitions Edition

May 6, 2009 · Print This Article

Today I’ll be posting some images and brief commentary on this past weekend’s Artropolis/Art Chicago/NEXT fairs. There was a lot to see and unfortunately I couldn’t adequately document it all, so consider these posts in terms of what they’re meant to be:  snapshot images of work that intrigued me, some of which has stayed with me long enough to want to find out more about the artist in the future. In a number of instances the pictures I took were poorly lit or otherwise crappy, and it would have been a disservice to the artist to post them,  so take this as a partial and anecdotal summation, not as some sort of Top 10 -type list which I pretty much detest anyway.
All of the Special Exhibitions were very well done, although I think calling out certain works in the booths as part of the Fair’s so-called “Salute to Realism” was a bit strange. As I mentioned in a previous post, I personally liked Lynn Warren’s Hairy Who presentations the best, but I learned something from every exhibition on view and in general thought they all worked pretty well in an art fair context. There was a lot to see, and my picture-taking skills are at level zero, but here’s what I was able to capture while on the 12th floor.
New Insight (I think this was actually at NEXT, on the 7th floor, but whatever): This was an exhibition of  MFA students from some of the country’s top graduate art programs, curated by Renaissance Society director Susanne Ghez. The pool of art schools included Cal Arts, Carnegie Mellon, Cranbrook, Hunter, Maryland Institute College of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Art Institute, UCLA, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana, and Yale. Some interesting work here; ironically I never got a photo of Jesse Mclean’s 6 min. video of reality show losers “Somewhere Only We Know,” although I think it was probably the best work in that show.
Ryan Sluggett (UCLA), Untitled 2008, acrylic, solvent transfer on canvas.

Ryan Sluggett (UCLA), Untitled 2008, acrylic, solvent transfer on canvas.

Nery Gabriel Lemus (California Institute of Art), Praxis within the politicization of my formative years, 2009, installation shot.

Nery Gabriel Lemus (California Institute of Art), Praxis within the politicization of my formative years, 2009, installation shot.

Im Schafer, (Cranbrook), Area Codes, 2008, slipcast ceramics, automotive paint, chrome, neoprene, wood

Im Schafer, (Cranbrook), Area Codes, 2008, slipcast ceramics, automotive paint, chrome, neoprene, wood.

Kristof Wickman (Hunter College), Untitled, 2008, laminate, mixed media.

Kristof Wickman (Hunter College), Untitled, 2008, laminate, mixed media.

Kristof Wickman (Hunter College), Untitled, 2008, laminate, mixed media.

Kristof Wickman (Hunter College), Untitled, 2008, laminate, mixed media.

Society for Contemporary Art’s Acquisition Selection for 2009
Members of the Society for Contemporary Art of Chicago met last Sunday to choose from works by Paul Chan, Rebecca Morris, Nancy Spero, Matt Mullican, and Martin Barre. Apologies, but I could not get a half-way decent shot of Barre’s “76-77-C,” oil on canvas painting, nor could I find an image of it online.
Matt Mullican, Untitled (Before Birth), Untitled (Death), Untitled (Sign), Untitled (Heaven), 1980, sign paint on paper. A Society for Contemporary Art Acquisition Selection

Matt Mullican, Untitled (Before Birth), Untitled (Death), Untitled (Sign), Untitled (Heaven), 1980, sign paint on paper. A Society for Contemporary Art Acquisition Selection.

Paul Chan, a Society for Contemporary Art Acquisition Selection

Paul Chan, 6th Light, from the series 7 Lights, 2007, digital video projection. A Society for Contemporary Art Acquisition Selection.

Rebecca Morris, Untitled (#15-07), 2007, a Society for Contemporary Art Acquisitions Selection

Rebecca Morris, Untitled (#15-07), 2007, oil on canvas. A Society for Contemporary Art Acquisitions Selection.

Nancy Spero, Woman Breathing, 1978, hand print on paper, a Society for Contemporary Art acquisitions selection

Nancy Spero, Woman Breathing, 1978, hand print on paper. A Society for Contemporary Art acquisitions selection.

Partisan: Another special exhibition was the Mary Jane Jacob-curated Partisan, a group show of work selected from galleries exhibiting at Art Chicago “dedicated to the artistic exploration of social and political ideas.” You know, take what you will from a show of political art at an art fair. It’s a brave thing to attempt and I respect the effort, I’m just not sure how much attention viewers are willing to pay to a show like this one when there’s so much distraction surrounding them.
Partisan at Art Chicago

Partisan at Art Chicago.

Peter Drake, Horn, 2008, acrylic on canvas, at Partisan/Art Chicago.

Peter Drake, Horn, 2008, acrylic on canvas, at Partisan/Art Chicago. (Photo from Linda Warren Gallery)

Partisan at Art Chicago

Partisan at Art Chicago.

Dinh Q. Le, Untitled from the Hill of Poisonous Trees (two men), at Partisan/Art Chicago

Dinh Q. Le, Untitled from the Hill of Poisonous Trees (two men), at Partisan/Art Chicago. Photo from Artnet; PPOW Gallery.

Dinh Q. Le at Partisan / Art Chicago

Dinh Q. Le at Partisan / Art Chicago.

Tania Bruguera, San Titulo (Habana, 2000), 2006, lambda print

Tania Bruguera, San Titulo (Habana, 2000), 2006, lambda print, at Partisan/Art Chicago.

Interview with NEXT First-Timers Mahan Gallery

May 4, 2009 · Print This Article

Colleen Grennan of Mahan Gallery

Colleen Grennan of Mahan Gallery

Mahan Gallery owner/director Jacqueline Mahan and her associate director Colleen Grennan are both art fair newbies, or at least they were before participating in NEXT this past weekend. Mahan Gallery, which is widely regarded as one of the best galleries for younger contemporary artists in Columbus, Ohio, has been open for almost five years. At NEXT, their booth featured the paintings and drawings of Ric Ocasek (yes, that Ric Ocasek).

On Monday, the last day of the fair, I asked Grennan to share some thoughts about her experience at NEXT/Art Chicago.

How did you like NEXT? Was it a positive experience for you?

Definitely. We’ve been able to meet and network with so many galleries that we hadn’t made personal physical contact with before now. (After being open for five years) we’re finally at a level where we felt we could contribute something to an art fair. Being here has kind of broken a psychological barrier for us. We’ve learned so much about what other galleries are doing, about new artists that are out there. It’s been a learning process – we overpacked artwork, for one thing. We’re learning where to stay, what to do, how to effectively network. Jacquie and I were both able to see what other galleries were doing and I think it will give us the courage to do even more challenging exhibitions ourselves.

Were you happy with your sales?

Our sales were really low. We did sell some work but definitely did not cover what we paid to get here. Sales seem to have been low with everyone we talked to. One dealer told us in past years, booths would sell out at the preview. So (the sales end of things) was a disappointment to us.

Were you able to go to any of the talks, panels and discussions?

I was able to go to two talks, and I found them both to be valuable. This fair is about the young and the new, so we see it as an opportunity to immerse ourselves and just soak up everything it had to offer.

What kind of response did Ric Ocasek’s work receive?

“Is that Ric Ocasek from the Cars? Wow, I didn’t know he was an artist!” That was always the first reaction. This fair, and his April show at our gallery, are the first times he’s ever shown his work publicly, so there is always some initial surprise. Then people would get into the work and get excited about seeing this person that they know as a musician in terms of his work as a visual artist. People could make connections with him in new ways.

So what do you think you’ll take away from your experience here?

Personally it’s made me think a lot about how to engage local audiences and a larger national audience at the same time. We’re ready for that next step as a gallery and being here has given us the opportunity to think about how to position ourselves and to get our name on the map outside of Columbus.

Ric Ocasek at Mahan Gallery

Ric Ocasek at Mahan Gallery

Ric Ocasek at Mahan Gallery

Ric Ocasek at Mahan Gallery

Ric Ocasek at Mahan Gallery/NEXT booth

Ric Ocasek at Mahan Gallery/NEXT booth