Can I Come Over to Your House?, the anthology commemorating the first ten years of The Suburban, has a strange power to make its beholders confess to their unwavering love of co-founder Michelle Grabner. “I know I’m impulse buying, but I have to get this because Michelle Grabner is my hero,” a buyer admitted before purchasing a copy. A few days earlier another artist had disclosed that she “wanted to impress Michelle Grabner” while she fondled the stout red volume. Some visitors have taken to staring deeply into the cover and clasping their hands around the book. I try not to interrupt them.
I was surprised to hear this outpouring of devotion to Grabner from so many artists. I thought I was the only who dreamed of being her best friend. Everyone loves Michelle, especially those who “hate” her, and this little book reminds us why. The encyclopedic publication features contributions from the art world’s heaviest hitters from James Welling to Olivier Mosset to Wade Guyton to the Midwest’s patron saint of art David Robbins. Anyone who had ever exhibited under the umbrella of The Suburban was asked to submit four to six images and a brief text that “would best represent” their practice.
Karl Haendel’s provocative text, Questions For My Father begins, “Why did you decide to have children? What if I came out retard? How close did you come to hitting me?” Amy Granat opts for the traditional artist statement, while David Hullfish Bailey provides two (three?) artist statements AND an essay by Danish curator Jacob Fabricius. Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer gives us no words and only images. If an exhibition at The Suburban is “more closely related to what happens in your studio” as Grabner said in a recent interview, then Can I Come Over to Your House? successfully translates that practice to print in this thousand page guestbook-cum-sketchbook.
Can I Come Over to Your House? is available at Golden Age in Chicago. Visit The Suburban this Sunday for the opening reception of Jeff Gibson and Geoff Kleem and come to Golden Age on September 25th for the launch party of Can I Come Over to Your House?.
Remo Camerota’s blog of Japanese manholes is now availiable in coffee table print form for everyone to see the bizarre imagery unpluged. Camerota has collected images of the striking manhole covers from all over Japan that were created as part of Japan’s 20 year beautification program that included multiple foundries and pitted once city against another to stand out the most with their covers.
From happy crabs, dinosaurs, cherry blossoms, skyscrapers & little red ridding hood there is little that has not been depicted on these covers.
I just started reading Six Nonlectures by E.E. Cummings and I love it. Each time I set down my book I fantasize about being a Harvard grad class of 1936 (or earlier) and I want to write in that canonical W.A.S.P.-y literary style. A style first introduced to me in middle school through The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye, and later impressed upon me in college through Burroughs, Stevens, Kerouac, and other dudes. These frequently referenced stories are part of an American myth that I can’t seem to shake.
My friend Paul Cowan knows what I’m going through. He recently released a collection of short stories entitled The Music and the Wine that follow a series of unnamed protagonists through everyday scenarios. The vignettes are about “nothing,” meaning ideas that are hard to describe: why your favorite pants are your favorite or what it feels like when someone steals your jokes. Paul once told me that he thought reading fiction was indulgent and his writing is decidedly enjoyable.
The Music and the Wine is a bizarre homage to the great American novel. In Wilke Dairy Co. Cowan acknowledges his indirect nostalgia for a time that only really exists in retrospect. He celebrates the Midwest and the 1950s. In Wilke Dairy Co. the narrator recalls a perfect night making out with Ann Wilke, a dairy heir, in her parents’ basement. The narratives are funny, nearly satirical, and my favorite is about a divisive social butterfly. It begins, “It’s a thin line between love and hate. And I never walk that line.”
The Music and the Wine is available from Paul Cowan and Golden Age. On Saturday, March 27th 7-10pm please join us at Golden Age for Alla Prima, a show of new works by Paul Cowan. Visit www.shopgoldenage.com for more information.
“So Much Better” is a debut novel about a self-sabotaging Credit Union employee, a cold woman at odds with and alone in the world. In the absence of her lover, she seduces her lover s sister, wades through old storage units and wonders after her own absent family. Printed in an edition of 500 w/ silkscreen covers by Nick Butcher of Sonnenzimmer.
Terri Griffith’s writing has appeared in Bloom, Suspect Thoughts, Bust and in the anthologies Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class and Are We Feeling Better Yet? Women Speak about Health Care in America. Along with Nicholas Alexander Hayes, she is co-authoring a transgressive retelling of the Greek Myths. Terri is the literary correspondent for the popular contemporary art podcast Bad at Sports and she also co-hosts the online reading series The Parlor.
Henry Roy’s Spirit seems to live even as it lay open on my kitchen table. The cover image depicts a sleeping man in breathtaking color. The man’s rich, dark skin and the green of a plant in the background pop against the amorphous beige interior that surrounds the scene.
Spanning the past ten years of his career, Spirit collects nearly 50 photographs and 6 short stories that capture a mystical energy. With the eye of a portraitist, Roy skillfully isolates his subjects and obscures their circumstance. Working in a “very intuitive, almost mediumnic way,” Roy manages to express a poetic tension between reverie and the mundane in his images.
My favorites stories in the book are Paris In October and A Night In Africa. The former is a brief ode to the Parisian autumn, while the latter tells of a half-drunken protagonist urinating on a bathroom wall. Both stories are narrated by an urbane young man suffering from a bout of ennui. The ordinary settings of the narratives provide a nice counterpoint to the dreamy images, and make me a little less jealous of Henry Roy’s life.
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