NEXT Fair Follies

May 1, 2009 · Print This Article

Rarely have I felt the sting of my own digital poverty to the degree that I did today, my first day at Art Chicago, which would have been so much more pleasant had I not been lugging a flippin’ laptop around for hours (I thought they’d have wi fi in the press room and I could blog every so often while on -the-go, but alas, there were no such free connections, and so my laptop was about as useful to me as the proverbial ton of bricks and quickly starting feeling that way). Rendering me even more the unwieldy dinosaur was the fact that I do not presently own an iPhone or similar small multipurpose lightweight phone and texting device that would allow me to Tweet my reactions to things on the spot, which would have saved time on the front end of things (or is that the back end? I don’t even know, I’m so tired right now) and now that I’m home I don’t have the energy to fully recap everything I saw in a manner that will do it all justice. Oh and did I mention that I also don’t have my digital camera at the moment? Yeah. An iPhone would have helped with that too.

But apart from all that I thought NEXT was pretty great, and I spent my day exclusively there on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart, with plans to “do” the Art Chicago portion tomorrow (the latter being the part devoted to the more established galleries, while Next focuses on up-and-comers, emerging artists, the fresh and the new, etc.).

Art Chicago is extremely well-run and I thought the floor devoted to Next looked terrific. Clean, bright, and surprisingly spacious booths for the exhibitors. I felt like I could breathe and actually look at things, tho this, as with all Fairs, isn’t the place to try and digest too many big ideas. This was my first time at Art Chicago, but they had plenty of super nice Mart employees stationed right when you walk in to guide everyone to the right place with hardly a blip of initial confusion. The first thing I did after checking in (and pouting internally about the lack of wi fi)  was zoom to the 7th floor to catch the first panel scheduled for that day, “Crisis and Opportunity: Programming and Exhibitions in the New Economy,” which was part of the “CONVERGE Chicago: Contemporary Curators Forum” program.

I loved the set-up for NEXT Talk Shop, the area devoted to the panels and discussions. It’s basically a lounge, with rows of chairs facing the speakers but some comfy couches and tables towards the side. It’s not in a separate room but totally open to the rest of everything else,  so that it’s easy to drop in late or leave early without causing offense or undue commotion. A perfect way to stage these sorts of discussions in this context. The Crisis and Opportunity panel was great, and if I have the energy later on I’ll post bullet points from the presentations and discussion, but I would encourage everyone attending the fair to check out at least one of the panel discussions scheduled in the NEXT Talk Shop area — it’s comfy, the audio and visuals are working well, the speaker line up is fantastic, and it provides a nice sort of palette cleanser in between all the frenzy of the visual.

Except, NEXT isn’t really frenzied at all, and that’s what is so refreshing about it. I expect it will be a lot more crowded tomorrow and there were certainly plenty of people there today, but the booths were all concisely curated, and each focused on only one or two artists rather than the full slew of what a gallery has to offer. Don’t miss the Goffo section of NEXT, which had a really fun, laid-back yet energized feel to it.  There were a lot of great, ultra-affordable artworks, books, prints and small editioned pieces. Also in the Goffo section was Tara Strickstein’s Jelly Roll: The Spectacle, which involved a cute girl (was in the artist herself? not sure) wrestling various volunteer (?) participants in a rubber pool filled with some type of silicone crystals. Scoops of the sweat-soaked, hair and skin-coated crystals were bottled after each performance and sold as multiples, although I neglected to ask for how much.

Once I get my hands on a camera I may go back and photograph some of the booths, but for now here are just a few of the artists whose work caught my eye in a good way, in no particular order. Consider this just a teeny slice of what there is to see (all of the images below are lifted, but these are the actual works that are on view at NEXT right now).

Ben Gest at Steven Daiter Gallery

Ben Gest, Mom on Beach in Belmar, 2006, archival inkjet print

Ben Gest, Mom on Beach in Belmar, 2006, archival inkjet print

Ben Gest, William, 2007, archival inkjet print

Ben Gest, William, 2007, archival inkjet print

Jesse McLean, “Somewhere Only We Know,” (6 min. video), part of Gallery 400′s special project for NEXT, “Better to light a candle than curse the dark.”

Andy Harper at One In the Other Gallery, London (fyi, Harper’s work needs a way-better pic than what I can presently provide):

Andy Harper, The God Particle, 2008, oil on linen, 110 by 180 cm

Andy Harper, The God Particle, 2008, oil on linen, 110 by 180 cm

Sarah McKenzie, Jen Bekman Gallery

Sarah McKenzie, Interior 2, 2008, oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

Sarah McKenzie, Interior 2, 2008, oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

Carlos & Jason Sanchez, Light + Sie Gallery

Carlos & Jason Sanchez, Rescue Effort, 2006, digital C print

Carlos & Jason Sanchez, Rescue Effort, 2006, digital C print

Carlos & Jason Sanchez, Masked,  2007,  ink jet print, 60 x 75 inches

Carlos & Jason Sanchez, Masked, 2007, ink jet print, 60 x 75 inches

John Sparagana at CTRL Houston (he has a piece up at Tony Wight Gallery right now, too):

John Sparagana, Politico Fist - 2008, Sampled magazine pages, mylar on paper 50 x 32 in.

John Sparagana, Politico Fist - 2008, Sampled magazine pages, mylar on paper 50 x 32 in.

Sangbin Im at Dean Project

Sangbin Im, People 2, 2008

Sangbin Im, People 2, 2008

Florian Sussmayr, OK Girls, 2007, Oil on Canvas

Florian Sussmayr, OK Girls, 2007, Oil on Canvas

Florian Sussmayr, Nicholas Robinson Gallery, New York

Florian Sussmayr, Untitled 2008, oil on linen

Florian Sussmayr, Untitled 2008, oil on linen




Artropolis/Art Chicago Picks

April 30, 2009 · Print This Article

Here is just a slice of what I’m planning to see at this weekend’s Artropolis/Art Chicago events. There is so much going on, make sure to click through to the Fair’s website to check out everything on offer for yourself.

At NEXT, The Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art:

GOFFO
“GOFFO, a special section that debuted at NEXT 2008, focuses on multiples, editions, artist books, prints and handmade objects. GOFFO returns to NEXT 2009 with an exceptional curated selection of presses, artist collectives and small galleries. Find it on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart.”

At Art Chicago:

Partisan
“Curated by Mary Jane Jacob, executive director of exhibitions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Partisan is a special exhibition of works culled from Art Chicago galleries that are dedicated to the artistic exploration of social and political ideas.  With hopes of initiating dialogue about art, activism and social change, Partisan provides a critical and challenging space of thought provoking and project-oriented works within an art fair context. ”

The Hairy Who and Imagist Legacy in Contemporary Art
“To honor Chicago’s legendary Hairy Who and Chicago Imagists, artists best known for a colorful and subversive aesthetic, Art Chicago will present an exhibition of works by contemporary artists whose work demonstrates an Imagist influence, whether it is for an unusual approach to representation, rebellious technique or link to the Imagist lineage.  This exhibition, featuring work by artists represented in the fair, will be curated for Art Chicago by Lynne Warren, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and expert on the history of artistic practice in Chicago. The Hairy Who and Imagist Legacy will be accompanied by a display of works by original Hairy Who and Imagist artists including Roger Brown, Ed Paschke, Karl Wirsum, Barbara Rossi, Gladys Nilsson, Art Green and others.”

New Insight
“An exhibition of top MFA students from some of the country’s most influential graduate art programs, New Insight is curated by Susanne Ghez, director of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.  A platform for new talent and innovative ideas, New Insight provides the opportunity to view work by some of the brightest young minds working in diverse graduate programs across the country.”

JELLY ROLL : The Spectacle
An ongoing performance presented by Tara Strickstein of Bloodshed Event.

Artropolis Panels/Discussions/Talks:

There are also so many good panels planned for Art Chicago Speaks that I’m worried I won’t have enough time to see all the art; these are just a few of the many talks I’m hoping to attend, but make sure and click the link about and check out the full diverse roster of conversational topics, it’s really pretty incredible.

11am – 12:30pm: Friday, May 1
Crisis and Opportunity: Programming and Exhibitions in the New Economy
A CONVERGE Chicago: Contemporary Curators Forum program
In recent months, museums and art centers have been forced to shave budgets, reduce programs and exhibitions, and even cut hours and staff.  Many curators, however, are successfully and creatively mounting ambitious and well-executed projects.  In this panel, curators discuss innovative uses of the exhibition space and fresh approaches to programming that are fueled by big ideas rather than big budgets.  Moderated by Brian Sholis, Artforum, this panel includes Ruba Katrib, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Dean Sobel, the Clyfford Still Museum and Benjamin Godsill, The New Museum.
Location: NEXT Talk Shop

2:30-4pm, Saturday, May 2
Museums on the Line: Cutbacks, Closures and Opportunities
A CONVERGE Chicago: Contemporary Curators Forum program
Michael Rush, director of the Rose Museum of Art at Brandeis University, a discussion about how recent and dramatic shifts in the economic and political climate have profoundly affected virtually every aspect of museum practice. Panelists include Anthony Hirschel, director of the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago and artist Mary Lucier.  Using Rose Museum de-accessioning controversy as a starting point for an extended dialogue, this panel will address museum de-accessioning practices; the symbolic value of public collections; institutional transparency; and the role of the museum in tough times.
Location: Merchandise Mart Conference Center

11-12:30pm: Sunday, May 3
Art and the New Economy
Presented by ArtTable
Join Paul Morris, Vice President of the MMPI Art Group, for a discussion about art and the changing economy.  Focusing on positive and effective ways to navigate challenging times, this discussion will explore funding, collecting and the market.  Panelists include Sarah Herda, executive director of the Graham Foundation, Rhona Hoffman, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, and Dominic Molon, MCA Chicago.
Location: Merchandise Mart Conference Center

1-2:30pm, Monday, May 4
Response: Art and the Art of Criticism
Presented by I Space Gallery, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in conjunction with the Chicago Art Critics Association
This panel addresses art criticism as the center of a resonant, disorderly and critical cultural conversation that fosters dialogue about the place of visual art in the contemporary world.  Based on a related exhibition at I Space, this panel will feature Chicago-based critics from the show hich includes Fred Camper, Janina Ciezadlo, Alicia Eler, Jason Foumberg, Claire Wolf Krantz, Corey Postiglione, Lane Relyea, Polly Ullrich and Lori Waxman.
Location: Merchandise Mart Conference Center