The Propeller Fund has announced the 15 winners of its first round of awards aimed at building “the small, self-organized operations that constitute a large catalyst for the creative activity and vitality of the Chicago visual art world.” The 15 winners of awards at levels of either $6,000 or $2,000 were selected from over 140 applications. The list of awardees includes a nice mix of new and familiar entities around Chicago, all of whom proposed projects that will be initiated in the city over the next several years.
The winners and their summaries of the projects:
The Storefront ($2,000)
Directed by Brandon Alvendia, The Storefront is an exhibition, event, and publishing venue in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. It is designed to support local artists working on either temporary and/or long-term sustainable projects. Projects will be archived and published for international distribution.
The Lady Dissident Chicago Travel Auxiliary ($2,000)
Continuation of the Lady Dissident Publications Series by Alana Bailey and Anne Elizabeth Moore through the creation and production of 10 new editioned screenprinted Chicago neighborhood posters.
Nicholas Bastis, David Fleishman, and Brandon Pass ($2,000)
Destination architecture placed in neglected places. With collaborators Fleishman and Pass, Bastis will explore the outcomes of subverting construction and spatial hierarchies by building a temporary replica of a Frank Gehry building in a vacant lot in the West Side of Chicago.
Todd Diederich and Sara Fagala ($6,000)
With the Ballroom scene of Chicago, Todd Diederich and Sara Fagala combine their efforts to work and bridge different communities. The project includes throwing a ball, displaying pictures of Todd’s documentary project, and a photo shoot and fashion line just for the Ballroom scene.
Pilot Studies is an ongoing publishing project, initiated by InCUBATE and involving a wide range of collaborators, to gather strategies and perspectives on how to organize and support noncommercial, grassroots and community-based creative projects.
ChicagoRICAN is a curatorial and exhibition design project by Jorge Felix that addresses the arts production of Puerto Rican artists in Chicago. ChicagoRICAN promotes a dialogue on the contributions of migrant artists‚ arts production in the building of communities in contemporary America.
Dorchester Project ($6,000)
Located in Grand Crossing, out of two neighboring spaces, Dorchester Project envisions a South Side collaborative that encourages community development and access to knowledge through explorative exercises related to arts, culture, and design, with distinctly Chicago-based identities.
The Suburban and N55 ($2,000)
Replacing the N55 LAND Cairn formerly located (2001-2008) at Position: N 41¬∞ 53′ 03,4″ E 087¬∞ 46′ 06,8″. Area: 160 m2. Chicago, USA.
Kirsten Leenaars and Lise Haller Baggesen: Mutualism ($2,000)
Mutualism is a collaborative curatorial project organized by Lise Haller Baggesen and Kirsten Leenaars that explores the ways in which networks of friendship and artistic collaboration can be used as a model for curating. Artists based in Chicago and the Netherlands will participate.
The Alliance of Pentaphilic Curators (Jason Dunda and Teena McClelland, representatives) ($6,000) Five funerals scheduled to occur in April 2011 at a funeral home in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Each funeral is dedicated to the contemplation of one notional death and hosted by a select Chicago cultural producer.
Erik Peterson, Benjamin Liu, Koobmeej Lee, Gary Kupczak, and Laura Thompson ($2,000)
Qeej Hero is a video game that combines the instrumental karaoke of popular mass-market games like Guitar Hero with an ancient Hmong musical instrument in order to facilitate transnational communication and develop a hybrid form of cultural production.
Laurie Jo Reynolds, Stephen F. Eisenman, and Jeanine Oleson ($2,000)
Two innovative cultural projects (photo series, calling cards) will be produced with maximum community involvement, and included in a series of dialogic public presentations on the subject of sexual violence, sex offender policies, and harm reduction.
Ben Russell and exhibiting artists ($2,000)
Space Program is a bi-monthly, semi-nomadic screening series of experimental films and videos. Each program is named after, and thematically related to, one of the 8 planets in the solar system.
Yet to be named advisory group facilitated by Daniel Tucker ($6,000)
Utilizing Tucker’s history in documenting local publishing, education, spaces, community, and public art, he will convene an advisory group to conceptualize and produce a catalog/archive to document compelling projects that make up Chicago’s socially-engaged art history.
Tamalli Space Charros Collective: Omar Ureña Ximénez, Tamatz Juanes, Irradiador, The Aztlán Cardinal, La Pocha Catalana, Luis Humberto Valadez, Saúl Aguirre, Armando Morales, and Luis Muñoz ($6,000)
TSC:Interdisciplinary, a business project bringing multimedia art and Mexican cuisine into an arena where boundaries will be crossed to explore and reinvent the Chicago food scene through a social network.
For more information:
Launched in May 2010, Propeller Fund is administered jointly by Gallery 400, UIC and threewalls. Initial support for the program is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts as part of its initiative to promote informal and independently organized visual arts activities across the United States.
Art:21′s new “Calling from Canada” blogger Raji Sohal has written a great piece on the curatorial decisions made by the Vancouver Art Gallery‘s director Kathleen S. Bartels and artist Jeff Wall in organizing Kerry James Marshall‘s first solo exhibition in Canada, which runs from May 8, 2010 to January 3, 2011. Sohal’s piece is well-worth perusing; I’ve included a brief excerpt below to entice you to read the entire post. (Kerry James Marshall was interviewed in Episode 61 of Bad at Sports’ podcast and Jeff Wall in Episode 96).
“So how does this exhibition get framed within Vancouver? As a transplanted Vancouverite, Marshall’s paintings got me thinking about representations of blackness but also about my own identity as an Indo-Canadian person in Canada. More than fifty percent of Vancouver’s population speaks English as a second language. British Columbia is now considered Canada’s most ethnically diverse province, and the city is home to a relatively large population of Indo-Canadians and one of the largest diasporas of Punjabis in particular. So where is our experience represented in art? The most prominent representations are found instead in and by dominant media culture. Moreover, historical incidents involving new immigrant groups have transpired without the kind of acknowledgment or monumentalizing of atrocities (i.e. erecting monuments or holding services) that we have seen occur in the U.S. or in Western Europe. In British Columbia, this includes Japanese internment camps, Chinese railway worker exploitation, and the Komagata Maru incident, which prompted the Canadian government to enact exclusion laws preventing Indians from immigrating.
So while seeing Marshall’s large-scale figurative paintings at VAG provide an access point for thinking about black representation in America, framed in Vancouver, the exhibition also provokes questions about representation on home soil too. The adversity faced by the city’s ethnic groups is unique, of course, and not to be homogenized under one large minority umbrella. However, seeing this show in multicultural Vancouver is curious in light of Marshall’s comments in past interviews about how when he was a kid, he didn’t see blacks in pictoral space. Recently, Marshall told Vancouver newspaper The Georgia Straight that part of his own project has been to “figure out how to make paintings that could get to be part of the story.” (Read the full post at art21:blog).
Meg emailed me about this forthcoming Ed Paschke exhibition, curated by Jeff Koons, a few months ago. I can’t remember if WTF?? was actually stated in the email or just implied, but we both kind of rolled our eyes and thought, whatever. I replied that the Koons curation part maybe wasn’t so bad — Koons was Paschke’s assistant, after all, and Koons has often expressed his admiration for Paschke, who died in 2004 (see the MCA Chicago’s 2008 exhibition “Everything’s Here” for one example). But this morning I noticed the following Tweet: “Jeff Koons gets a second chance: his show of former employer Paschke’s work @Gagosian opens Thursday.” Ugh. It more than sucks that this exhibition of Paschke’s work, which no doubt will rock the house, is already being framed as some kind of Jeff Koons extravaganza. Or even worse, as Koons’ chance at redemption, a way to show that he does, indeed, have some fragment of a soul.
Luckily, the Gagosian Gallery itself has thus far refused to improperly hype this show (other than by having Jeff Koons curate it in the first place, some might argue). But the gallery’s press release is comprehensive and focused. At the top, the text notes that Koons worked as Paschke’s studio assistant in Chicago in the mid-1970s while the former was attending the School of the Art Institute. A line or two follows about Koons’ admiration for Paschke. But the rest of the two-page text is devoted to Paschke himself, as it should be. It’s a very well-written release, so I don’t feel the need to paraphrase. A couple of excerpts:
“Born in Chicago in 1939, Paschke studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago during the
height of the Imagist movement in the late fifties, while supporting himself as a commercial
artist. He avidly collected photograph-related visual media in all its forms, from newspapers,
magazines, and posters to film, television, and video, with a preference for imagery that tended
toward the risqué and the marginal. Through this he studied the ways in which these media
transformed and stylized the experience of reality, which in turn impacted on his consideration
of formal and philosophical questions concerning veracity and invention in his own painting. At
the same time, he sought living and working situations — from factory hand to psychiatric aide -
- that would connect him with Chicago’s diverse ethnic communities as well as feed his
fascination for gritty urban life and human abnormality. Thus he developed a distinctive oeuvre
that oscillated between personal and aesthetic introspection and confronting social and cultural
“Unlike most of his Pop predecessors with their unthreatening embrace of popular culture,
Paschke gravitated towards the images that exemplified the underside of American values –
fame, violence, sex, and money – a preference that he shared with Andy Warhol, who was one
of his foremost inspirations. Although long considered to be an artist of his own time and place,
his explorations of the archetypes and clichés of media identity prefigured the appropriative
gestures of the “Pictures Generation,” and for a new generation of global artists his totemic,
eye-popping paintings have come to embody the essence of cosmopolitan art.”
A fully illustrated catalogue is being published in conjunction with the exhibition, with essays by Koons (natch), Dave Hickey, and reprints of significant texts on the artist by Richard Flood and Dennis Adrian. And presented concurrently here in Chicago will be a survey show titlted “Ed Paschke’s Women” from March 26 through May 22, 2010, at Russell Bowman Art Advisory.
Paschke is a well-known figure to art historians in Chicago and the Midwest, but he certainly never attained star status by anyone’s measure. No doubt it’ll be tempting for NY critics to try and frame Paschke’s work in terms of Koons, or better yet, to frame the latter’s work in terms of the former. But I hope those who see Paschke’s Gagosian show will resist this temptation and instead take his work at face value, as it were, without politicizing it or using it as an opportunity to disguise the fact that the artist they really want to write about is Jeff Koons (again….yawn.). It’s a shame that this show risks being framed via the hand that Jeff Koons has played in “presenting” it, but make no mistake: this is an Ed Paschke show, and from its outlines, at least, it promises to be a fairly significant one.
The Chicago Tribune’s Sunday edition includes a lengthy article by Mark Caro and Lauren Viera on on how Chicago’s art galleries are weathering the recession. According to the Trib, many gallery owners in the River North area are reporting that business took a downturn last summer and has stayed that way so far. Yet a number have also seen enough positive economic activity of late to feel glimmers of hope about the future.
“Compared with New York, where The New York Times reported in June that more than 20 galleries had closed, Chicago’s leading art districts have remained relatively stable. River North, the most established gallery area, has seen some businesses move or otherwise constrict their operations, but the bulk are still standing. The West Loop has suffered a few closings, while empty storefronts dot Pilsen‘s developer-designed art district.”
The article notes that Chicago galleries are using various recessionary strategies to stay in business. David Leonardis offered a buy-one-get-one-free sale earlier this summer, while other galleries have also offered special discounts. Still others, like Zolla/Lieberman, are highlighting more modestly-priced works for collectors feeling gun-shy about spending a lot of money during financially anxious times. And in line with what’s happening nationally, dealers who specialize in high-end artists, like Richard Gray, have found the market to be as strong as its ever been for “really rare, really fine, highly exceptional works of art.”
The arts district in Pilsen has not fared nearly so well, with numerous ‘For Rent’ signs on storefronts. Also highly worrisome news: UIC’s non profit I space Gallery may be in trouble. Its private foundation support “dried up,” and director Mary Antonakos is quoted as saying she’s worried the space will close.
It should be noted that although the Trib’s article includes numerous interviews with Chicago dealers in various media and price-points, it’s noticeably thin on accounts from dealers outside the River North area (the piece does include a quote from Carrie Secrist, whose gallery is located in the West Loop, but none from her neighbors Tony Wight, Kavi Gupta, Monique Meloche or Rhona Hoffman–prominent Chicago dealers all).
In the end, however, a gallerist’s actions probably speak louder than his or her words. The fact that all of the above-mentioned dealers are planning strong new shows to inaugurate the new fall season suggests that everything remains on track, for now anyway. Chicago art dealers appear to be hanging in there–holding their breath, to be sure, but hanging in there. Read the Tribune’s full story here.
If Don Colley’s drawings were movies, I’d be first in line to see them. The Chicago-based artist’s noirish, grab-you-by-the-throat depictions of evil clowns, brawling boxcar hobos, and flamboyant carnie types are intensely cinematic, evoking angsty narrative scenarios that are part Nicholas Ray, part Coen Brothers, and part Mad Men, with a dash of Bruce Nauman thrown in for good measure. They’re sinister and alluring, able to suggest entire storylines within a single drawing (many of which are seen in close-up, tightly wrapped in beautifully carved wooden frames that are themselves reminiscent of artisinal tramp art).
Colley’s drawings and paintings can currently be seen in Midwestern Blab! (on view through July 22nd at Columbia College’s A+D Gallery), an exibition of five Midwest-based contributors to Monte Beauchamp’s Blab! magazine. There are some terrific large-scale works by Colley there that can only be seen in the exhibition (photography was not permitted in the gallery) so if you’re in the Chicago area, try to check it out before the show closes in a couple of weeks.