This week: We talk to Carl Baratta and Oli Watt and we actually run this interview unlike when we did this last year.
Big news! ACRE is moving to a bigger and better location!
As you mayknow, ACRE has been operating out of my storefront apartment since its inception in 2010. I started searching for a new home for ACRE last spring and found a building in Pilsen that is absolutely perfect for us. A former funeral home, large enough for us to expand into over time and featuring remarkable restored historic elements, the building is an ideal base of operations for our growing organization.
You are among the first to know, and I am reaching out to you for help making our ambitious vision a reality. ACRE has already received a generous donation to cover a portion of the building renovation cost. In addition, we are launching a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the remaining $20,000 needed to realize our plans for the new space. We are hopeful that our campaign, which was specially selected by Art Basel’s Crowdfunding jury, will garner both financial and community support for the project. We softly launched our fundraiser today and will begin promoting the campaign publicly on May 25th.
Due to your valuable and continued support of our organization, I am hoping that you may be able to make a contribution of at least $100 during the lead up to our public launch. If you are able, I ask that you please contribute between now and the 25th. Your contribution will make an even greater impact if made at this time, as it will help us to build momentum for the campaign’s launch and indicate to future donors that there is enthusiasm for the project.
Here’s a direct link to ACRE’s Campaign:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1569629484/help-build-acres-new-home-in-chicago
I sincerely hope you will consider helping ACRE take this crucial step in our development. I’ve always felt that ACRE has an uncanny knack for being able to accomplish a lot with very little. I can’t wait to show you what we are capable of with a new and improved home base.
Sincerely and With Great Excitement,
PS- If you are interested in making a significant contribution outside of the campaign please feel free to contact me.
Work by Jeremy Bolen, Alan Cohen, Adam Ekberg, Myra Greene, Shane Huffman, Barbara Kasten, Jason Lazarus, Aspen Mays, John Opera, Jason Reblando, David Schalliol, Matthew Schlagbaum, and Adam Schreiber.
DePaul University Art Museum is located at 935 W. Fullerton Ave. Reception Friday, 6-8pm.
Curated by Lucas Bucholtz with work by Carl Baratta, Zack Wirsum, Lauren Ball, Nathan Carder, Mariano Chavez, Karolina Gnatowski, Pedro Munoz, and Mindy Rose Schwartz.
SideCar is located at 411 Huehn St., Hammond, IN. Reception Saturday, 5-10pm.
Work by Paulien Oltheten, Odette England, Atget, Garry Winogrand, Sohei Nishino, Simryn Gill, and Vito Accondi.
Museum of Contemporary Photography is located at 600 S. Michigan Ave. Show opens Friday.
Work by Harvey Moon, Nick Briz, Yaloo Pop, Jason Soliday, William Robertson, Daniel Rourke, Incidental Music, shawne michaelain holloway, Kevin Carey aka Yung Pharaoh, and Chris McLaughlin.
TRITRIANGLE is located at 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave. Fl. 3. Reception Saturday, 7pm.
Work by Slang, Zore, Ish Muhammad, Hebru Brantley, Uneek, Statik, Brooks Golden, Chris Silva, Your Are Beautiful, Oscar Arriola, and more.
Chicago Cultural Center is located at 78 E. Washington St. Reception Friday, 5:30-7:30pm.
October 8, 2013 · Print This Article
Guest Post by Â Kevin Blake
As his upcoming show at Sidecar Gallery in Hammond, Indiana approaches, Carl Baratta is poised for a timely event that will delve into the world of ghosts and mythologyâ€“subjects in which he is well versed. From his home base, Baratta builds on a legend of narrative-based painting in Chicago, and lends insight as to how that structure is the driving force of his work.
Kevin Blake: I’d like to start by asking about your upcoming exhibition “Ghosts Don’t Burn.â€Â You are showing with another artist, Zack Wirsum, and the two of you seem to have some interesting parallels in your work. Can you talk about the title of the exhibition and how it reflects the works that will be on display?
Carl Baratta: ‘Ghosts Don’t Burn’ is curated by Lucas Bucholtz and in addition to Zach Wirsum, the artists Lauren Ball, Mindy Rose Schwartz, Nathan Carder, Mariano Chavez, Karolina Gnatowski, Michael Kaysen, and Pedro Munoz will have work on the second floor.
Originally, the show centered around Gustav Flaubert’s ‘The Temptation of St. Anthony’ and Ivan Albright’sÂ painting of the same name and myth. Since thenÂ a lot of the themes have evolved for us and the Temptation of St. Anthony is more of a departure point for the actual show.
We chose the title for the show because it’s open to interpretation. Since this show is a collaboration between Luca, Zach and myself, we all agree itÂ makes usÂ think of how ghosts are emotionally tied to the things that they love andÂ howÂ oneÂ deals withÂ this burden. Also the title is a fact. Ghosts don’t burn. Try it. It’s impossible.
Both Zach and I use narrative as an organizing structure in our work and we both seem to pick haunting moments with an unsettling relationship between shifting sometimes nightmarish landscapes and figures in duress. We both draw a lot of inspiration from different mythical/ artÂ historical sources as well.Â For me,Â this is about caring for what you love the most, which isÂ the art making version of being haunted.
KB:Â Do you see a direct correlation between the evolution of the show’s undercurrents and the fact that you are using the narrative form as the ‘organizing structure’ in your work? Does that structure require flexibility and a willingness to change gears, so to speak?
CB: In this case yes! Not always though. Depending on how the myth is used it can be pretty strict in terms of what imagery/ spacial configuration goes in and what stays out. Since this particular story is about hallucinating and being tempted by everything it’s much more flexible and allows for the evolution of ideas.
It’sÂ a similarÂ flexibility Bosch was drawn to when depicting a Christian Hell or Heaven. Basically it’s an arena or stage where anything can happen under a very broad header. So really obvious imagery that everyone understands symbolically is limited but stream of conscious imagery can get a free pass, but just because stream of consciousness gets to be fancy free doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Another important aspect to understand about organizing imagery through myths is deciding on which moments are being depicted. For Bosch, it’s an eternal moment during somewhere in the middle of all the action narratively speaking. Everything is going on at the same time and fixed. So as a viewer you can look at everything at your leisure.
But you can pick before or after as well. A good example is Goya’s ‘Witches Sabbath’ for depicting after. Whatever the goat headed guy just said scared the crowd but as a viewer you come in right after he spoke. What did he say that would scare everyone so much? We’ll never know.
Instead of depicting during an action where you can leisurely look and see everything happening, depicting afterward, in this case,Â lends some drama to the moment because as a viewer you will never know what you missed. As an artist, understanding which moment is best depicted for what you want to do, givesÂ a bunch ofÂ freedom to the most stringent of narratives.
KB: So, as an artist using myths as a departure point, when do you depart? At what point does the paint dictate the outcome? It seems to me that your paintings are as much in dialogue with the painting language as they are with the language of mythology. Your work, at times, reminds me of David Hockney’s landscapes of the early 90’s in your mark-making strategies and it seems that you allow yourself enough intuitive moments to keep the paintings fresh and unaffected by a rigid narrative structure.
CB: Sometimes IÂ will set up vignettes and each area has literally big spaces between events that I leave open so it stays responsive when I get into color. Other times I’ll take several images of paintings and want different aspects of each and in order to do so I have to have intermediary mark making that is totally different than what I’m drawing inspiration from.
I really love the colored mark making of David Hockney’s landscapes in the 90’s actually. ToÂ be honest, when IÂ first saw them back then I didn’t really getÂ those crazy vibrating color paintings. Luckily I gotÂ to see a Van GoghÂ retrospectÂ of hisÂ black and white landscape drawings.Â That wasÂ one of the missing pieces to the puzzle and helped putÂ Hockney’s color landscapes in perspective. The light and temperature of as well as Hockney’s mark making was too much to see first. I guess seeing landscapes stripped down to bare bones helped me wrap my mind around the Hockney stuff.
It wasn’t until I saw how Moghul painters used pattern and how Fauvist painters used color as light that I could even attempt to use it though. But for some reason those fit into place for me. I want them otherworldly but not so alien that it stops a viewer from entering them and getting lost.
KB:Â A couple of your paintings seemed to me to operate at the edge of abstraction. To be clear, in some of the paintings, the landscape and the figures within it are not as concrete or traditionally composed (a painting like ‘Double’s Double 2’ comes to mind), and it is in these moments that the narrative seems secondary to paint, and for me, that is exciting.Â Can you talk about how you make that assessmentâ€“what sort of limits exist for the viewer’s ability to digest your work?Â Is abstraction/representation the difference for the viewer? Is abstraction the ghost in the room for you?
CB: I was trained initially as an abstract artist. It’s kind of weird because traditionally an art student gets trained in figurative stuff and then they are allowed to meander into other modes of painting. In undergrad, I had a bunch ofÂ former students ofÂ NYC AbEx painters as my professors (students of Al Held for example). The figurative painters I did end up taking taught me how to find and extrapolate forms from what was around me. So basically literal abstraction.
The work I’m doing now isÂ me backing out of pure abstraction and color field painting into something more figurative. Navigating between these two things is a major theme in my studio.Â Paint isÂ always first to me even when I’m trying to figure out the shape of a nose or a chicken, so it naturally is always first and foremost in my mind. I can’t help it, I was brought up that way.
To answer the alien question directly though, if I’m painting a landscape and no ocular rules are followed at all, the pieceÂ becomes ungrounded.Â Things like temperature, weight, light, near and far, or flatness help ground a viewer.Â They can relate toÂ a painting as a window into another spaceÂ because they walk around a world that obeys those rules. Like good fiction, an author must suspend the readers disbelief so I guess the ghost in the room is the balancing act.
KB: One really learns by following one’s curiosities and in that sense your approach to investigating those things that make you tick is enthusiastic. Can you talk about your curiosities outside the studio, and how those interests inevitably find a way into your paintings? Through your Facebook posts, I would assume film, particularly bad film, is one of these interests.
CB: Yes B-movies for sure. Although I mean it in the truest sense of the term. Not A-movies. I like lesser known stars,Â sad little budgets, and this feeling of wonky duct tape freedom. I mean yes I could say I love the fragility of them in the same way I appreciate a river-hobo-canoe made almost entirely out of Bondo, but honestly, the ones I love are the most apeshit, and the most apeshit are the ones that make me laugh the hardest. And I get bummed out so easily that watching them keeps me out of opium dens. So thank you B-movies.
I also love Shaw Brothers kung-fu movies. Actual ground fighting, that is to say visceral ass beating,Â will never be replaced by slow motion crying to piano music! PlusÂ all the computer generated fighting in newer Chinese kung fu flicks? Come on.Â I make fists at them and throw my arms in the air! You suck!
Anyway, I try to mix all that up with art history stuff. I mean, allÂ these movies come from retellings of history so might as well bring it back around. I also love comics, sci-fi novels, Skaldic poetry, trashy disco….. The list is as long as it is insane. Basically I will use anything I can get my hands on and if I can get the color and composition to hum and blush to myÂ liking I will probably try and use it.
Kevin Blake is a Chicago based artist and writer.
There is just too much good stuff this weekend, 5 spots aren’t enough. Here’s what I think everyone should see, in chronological and alphabetical order:
Friday (4/1) –
Work by Will Arnold, Jung Eun Chang, Justin Farkas, Karri Anne Fischer, Motoko Furuhashi, Amy Gilles, Jim Graham, Dan Gratz, Ben Grosser, Ben Hatcher, Dan Krueger, Katie Latona, Erica Leohner, Maria Lux, Nick Mullins, Kerianne Quick, Michael Smith, Paul Shortt, Laura Tanner, Jessica Tolbert, Nicki Werner, Sarah Beth Woods, and Michael Woody.
Co-Prosperity Sphere is located at 3219 S Morgan St. Reception Friday from 6-10pm.
Work by Maria Calderon.
Fill in the Blank Gallery is located at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave. Reception Friday from 7-11pm.
Work by Casey Riordan Millard
Packer Schopf Gallery is located at 942 W. Lake St. Reception Friday from 5-8pm.
Work by Jeff Badger, Carl Baratta, Amanda Curreri, Joanne Lefrak, Kathy Leisen, and Dan Schank.
Lloyd Dobler is located at 1545 W. Division, 2nd Fl. Reception Friday from 6-10pm.
Work by Peter Allen Hoffmann.
NOTE NEW LOCATION: Thomas Robertello Gallery is located at 27 N Morgan St. Reception Friday from 6-8pm.
Saturday (4/2) –
Abstract Location features work by work by Steven Bankhead, Katarina Burin, Fritz Chesnut, Jacob Dyrenforth, Freeman & Lowe, and Ryan McGinness. Anthotypes features work by John Opera.
Andrew Rafacz Gallery is located at 835 W. Washington. Reception Saturday from 4-7pm.
Work by Andy Cahill, Alan & Michael Fleming, Yasi Ghanbari, Danny Greene, Joe Grimm, Marissa Perel, Arron David Ross, and Michael Vallera.
LVL3 is located at 1542 N Milwaukee Ave #3. Reception Saturday from 6-10pm.
Sunday (4/3) –
Work by Joe Baldwin, Timothy Bergstrom, Brian Calvin, Federico Cattaneo, Edmund Chia, Dana DeGiulio, Dan Devening, Cheryl Donegan, Judith Geichman, Andrew Greene, Magalie GuÃ©rin, Antonia Gurkovska, Seth Hunter, Michiko Itatani, Eric Lebofsky, Diego Leclery, JosÃ© Lerma, Jim Lutes, Rebecca Morris, Sabina Ott, Noah Rorem, Erin Washington and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung.
Julius CÃ¦sar is located at 3144 W Carroll Ave, 2G. Reception Sunday from 4-7pm.
Edgar Allan Poe inspired work by Robert Ladislas Derr, Jac Jemc, Ryan Dunn and Joseph Kramer.
Threewalls is located at 119 N. Peoria St., #2C. Reception is Friday from 6-9pm.
Presenting new work from his Pulse series, as part of the ACRE Residency Program.
Johalla Projects is located at 1561 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception is Friday from 7-11pm.
Featuring the work of Joshua Abelow, Carl Baratta, and Josh Reames.
Swimming Pool Project Space is located at 2858 W. Montrose Ave. Reception is Saturday from 6-9pm.
New sculptural works by Chicago artist Chris Bradley.
Shane Campbell Gallery (Oak Park) is located at 125 N Harvey Ave, Oak Park. Reception is Saturday from 6-8pm.
Work by Hyeon Jung Kim.
Roxaboxen Exhibitions is located at 2130 W. 21st. Reception is Sunday from 7-10pm.