Circa 2005: Is 2013 to early to get teary-eyed about 2005?

September 24, 2013 · Print This Article

Guest Post by Britton Bertran

I was there in 2005 at the beginning of Bad at Sports (Episode 4!) and I hope I’m not there at the end.  It was the year I opened my gallery, 40000. It was a good idea at the time. I was fed up with not seeing what I wanted to see and equally mesmerized by controlling my own destiny in a commercial sort of way. There were plenty of other interesting things happening and I figured – why the hell not.

Gallery at 1001 N. Winchester, Summer 2005

Gallery at 1001 N. Winchester, Summer 2005

The years 2005 and 2006 were ok years for Chicago Art. It seemed to be an upswing couple of years when apartment galleries and art interest were peaking. (These things come in waves – I’d put us in a upward motion now after reaching the bottom in 2011.) The MCA was showing interesting work (a Dan Flavin Retrospective, Deb Sokolow and William J. O’Brien had 12 x 12’s), blogs were percolating with critical activity (anyone remember panel-house.com or iconoduel.org?) and this new fandangled thing called a podcast had people sitting with their bulky desktops and REALLY listening.

Catalog cover for Versus, January 2006

Catalog cover for Versus, January 2006

I took a leap of art faith and quit my job, borrowed some money from my mom and with the help of a couple close friends including a now-deceased bartender from Phyllis’, rocked out a storefront space on Winchester and Augusta. A year and a half later, some guy bought the building and wanted to turn it in to a really small Italian restaurant. I moved the gallery in the summer of 2006 to the bustling 119 N. Peoria building (soon to be home to only one gallery in 2014.)

Like-minded nice folks like Corbett vs. Dempsey, The Green Lantern, 65GRAND, Fraction Workspace, Western Exhibitions, Lisa Boyle Gallery, Duchess and a couple of more spaces, were all blazing fiery paths outside the West Loop in WestTown (does anyone even know where this is now?). We even organized, set up a network, handed out flyer/maps and coordinated openings. It worked for the most part. I think.

There was no social media except for Friendster and then that thing called Myspace. My digital camera had something like 3 megapixels and took incredibly shitty pictures. It took a solid hour to update my clunky website. It was rough out there in a walking up the hill backwards in a snowstorm kind of way. But it was great. Lots of visitors – mostly artists – came, drank and stole beer during openings, I sold art here and there, got a few reviews in national art magazines, was invited to fancy pants museum openings, met not-so-nice individuals who essentially run the art world, shook hands with some artist heroes and even did the occasional art fair in and outside Chicago.

A West Town Gallery Network pamphlet, designed by Deb Sokolow, 2006

A West Town Gallery Network pamphlet, designed by Deb Sokolow, 2006

But mostly, having this gallery gave me some pretty solid insight into how artists work, what they think about and what really matters the most to them career-wise. Surprisingly, and thankfully for me, it wasn’t money. 40000 was definitely a failure in that regard and the main reason I closed in 2009. I was also unable, and did not want to, secure a sugar daddy/momma, which I slowly realized was the only way to sustainability. [A little secret – there is less than a handful of galleries in Chicago that don’t have one of these.]

I think it’s pretty telling that almost half of the original West Town Gallery Network is still in effect.  Corbett vs. Dempsey just got admitted to the Main Fair of Art Basel Miami Beach (a big damn deal). Western Exhibitions is still cranking out shows with aplomb and has incredible dedication to it’s artists. 65GRAND (all caps no gaps, please) is run by one of the smartest and nicest gallerists in Chicago. Only one of these galleries is still in West Town – though it’s stretching it a bit. All of these spaces work so damn hard it’s difficult for me to even comprehend how they’re possibly doing it. Most of us are still here in Chicago, I think. Whether or not we are running galleries, we are all getting old, raising families, have “real” jobs, etcetera. I hope you won’t forget us.

Closing/Moving Benefit, 2006

Closing/Moving Benefit, 2006

The artists I worked with are for the most part pretty successful in their careers. One or two I never hear from, a couple of others I never want to hear from. Nonetheless, it gives me great pleasure to know that I have a place in Chicago art history. It’s funny though, I seriously often wonder what would have happened if I had at least a 10 megapixel camera back then.

Roy Rogers and Joe "40,000" Murphy

Roy Rogers and Joe “40,000″ Murphy

A little addendum here: I was often asked, “What the hell does 40000 mean?”  In fact a couple of months ago a collector emailed me out of the blue and straight up asked.  So I told him.  I named the gallery after Joe “40,000″ Murphy.  “40,000” was a Chicago outsider artist and events usher in the 1950’s who either knew 40,000 famous people, or was renowned for saying “about…. 40,000 empty seats!” when asked how many people where coming to that day’s event.  When people asked me, I made them guess. Nobody got it right.

Britton Bertran ran 40000 from 2005 to 2008. He currently is an Instructor at SAIC in the Arts Administration and Policy department and the Educational Programs Manager at Urban Gateways. An occasional guest-curator, he has organized exhibitions for the Hyde Park Art Center, the Loyola Museum of Art and several galleries. You can find him trying to be less cranky about the art world on twitter @br_tton. Stay tuned for a couple more guest posts where Britton will be discussing his tumblr-famous tumblr “Installator” and his take on what’s wrong with the Chicago art world circa 2013 – while thinking out loud about how to fix it. 




Big and Bold

May 30, 2013 · Print This Article

Some big things worth mentioning — maybe…

Anna Berndtson COURTESY OF ANNA BERNDTSON

Anna Berndtson
COURTESY OF ANNA BERNDTSON

1. RAPID PULSE, an international performance festival, is taking place this weekend and next week. The Chicago Reader just wrote a great something something, with the evocative sub-header “Wafaa Bilal wants Twitter’s help to inflate a giant head, and other oddities, at Defibrillator Gallery’s second annual Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival.” Find out more info about that here, or if you want, download the schedule of events via this link: RP13_poster-brochure.

According to The Reader:

Pure voodoo at its best, performance art traffics in psychic violence, provoking questions that viewers, by virtue of their emotional disturbance, feel compelled to answer. Defibrillator Gallery’s Rapid Pulse, now in its second year, is designed to make the genre more talkative: the festival, which includes window shows, public spectacle, and video screenings, coordinates performances with discussions, spread over ten days and four venues (Defibrillator, 1136 N. Milwaukee; Electrodes, the gallery’s front windows; Hub, 1535 N. Milwaukee; Nightingale, 1084 N. Milwaukee). Come for the bad vibes, stay for the nauseating hypersonic jolt. ()

2. EAT WHAT ARTISTS EAT:

Our friends at ACRE launched a Kickstarter Campaign for their unique Residency Kitchen Program. There (among other things) you can get a copy of the ACRE cookbook, and support a good program that feeds creative acts/minds all summer long. In their words:

We believe meals equal community and the ACRE kitchen strives to foster a place where residents, visiting artists and local farmers can cross-pollinate.

Funds raised through kickstarter will go towards supporting locally grown and produced agriculture and conscientious businesses, purchasing equipment that will make the kitchen more efficient and sustainable, our yearly cookbook KADABRA, a collection of recipes from each year’s residency, and will give us the support we need to keep creating a diverse selection of considered, artistic, and nutritious menus for our residents.

KADABRA VOL 3, Annual Cook Book

Cook Book cover and selection of pages
cover designed by Edie Fake & Daniel Luedtke
artwork and recipe contributions by the ACRE Kitchen Staff & Resident Alumni
3. THE FLOOD THAT NEVER CAME:
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I often overhear and/or participate in conversations about cultural amnesia in the arts — shows and spaces come and go with out a trace. Despite material evidence, however, I believe finite works continue to exercise their impression well into the future. With that in mind, I responded to a recent call on Art21′s blog asking for articles about hindsight. I responded by writing a review of Heather Mekkelson’s show, Limited Entry, at a long-gone apartment gallery, Old Gold:

It was the summer of 2008. It was hot. And humid. Everything was green and/or sweating. People who didn’t sweat stood out. Their reserve both enviable and mysterious—a contrast from everything else. Refuge from the heat was similarly impressive and constantly sought. Most apartment galleries were barely tolerable for their heat. At cooler exhibition sites, visitors inevitably took considerable time examining the works of art on display. That August, Heather Mekkelson had a solo show at an apartment gallery—or what maybe we should call a basement gallery—half a flight downstairs in Logan Square called Old Gold. With its dark 1970s style wood paneling, built-in bar and enough floor space for a pool table, Old Gold looked like an old rumpus room. It was anything but  neutral and its unapologetic, undeniable character forced artists to continually incorporate the space into their exhibitions. Mekkelson’s project was no different. Limited Entry was based entirely on the unique environment. And at that particular time, it was significantly cooler than anything outdoors.

oldgoldchicagologo

In order to access the stairs down to the gallery, one walked through a front gate and around the side of an apartment building. According to rumor, the landlord and upstairs resident did not know Old Gold existed. Being an unpredictable fellow, gallery directors Kathryn Scanlan and Caleb Lyons preferred to keep the professional aspect of their curatorial project discreet. They didn’t advertise much and the only label on the door was composed from Home Depot stickers, appearing more like the absent-minded work of a teenager than anything formally significant. This place was easy to miss. (read more)

4. Longtime Chicago champions Elijah Burger and Deb Sokolow are featured in VITAMIN D2 (video courtesy of Western Exhibitions):

 


 

 

 




Chicago Art in Pictures: March-April 2013

April 15, 2013 · Print This Article

A graphic, editorial overview of art, artists, and visual art events, found in and around Chicago over the course of the preceding month. All artwork copyright original artists; all photography copyright Paul Germanos.

Daniel Shea @ Gallery 400

Daniel Shea @ Gallery 400

Above: Daniel Shea with his photography in Gallery 400, as seen on April 13, 2013, at the closing of UIC’s third MFA exhibition.

“A Spectre Is Haunting”
2013 UIC Art MFA Thesis Exhibition 3
April 9 – April 13, 2013
Gallery 400
College of Architecture and the Arts
University of Illinois at Chicago
400 S. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Artwork by Liliana Angulo Cortés, Ian Curry, Daniel Shea, and Daniel Tucker
http://www.danielpshea.com/

Jennifer Mills @ Chicago Artists Coalition

Jennifer Mills @ Chicago Artists Coalition

Above: Jennifer Mills (right) with collaborator Christopher Ottinger (left) in Mills’ CAC/Bolt installation “101 one-liners; Falling Flat,” on March 30, 2013.

Jennifer Mills
“101 one-liners; Falling Flat”
March 15 – April 2, 2013
BOLT Residency
Chicago Artists’ Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://jennifermills.org/home.html

Picasso @ Daley Plaza

Picasso @ Daley Plaza

Picasso @ Daley Plaza

Above: 2013 promotional “P-I-C-A-S-S-O” installation by Chicago Scenic Studios, foreground; 1967 Picasso sculpture, background.

Daley Plaza
Washington between Dearborn and Clark
Chicago, IL
http://www.chicagoscenic.com/

“Picasso and Chicago”
February 20 – May 12, 2013
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL
http://www.artic.edu/

John Neff @ The Renaissance Society

John Neff @ The Renaissance Society

Above: A 30-second exposure indicating spectator movement within Neff’s installation.

John Neff @ The Renaissance Society

Above: A talk with the artist (John Neff at left, Hamza Walker at right) at 5:00PM, on March 3, 2013, in Kent Hall, Room 107, University of Chicago campus.

John Neff @ The Renaissance Society

Above: Following the artist’s talk, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung (far right) raises a question.

John Neff
March 3 – April 14, 2013
The Renaissance Society
5811 S. Ellis Avenue
Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418
Chicago, Illinois 60637
http://www.renaissancesociety.org/site/

Christopher Ottinger @ Chicago Artists’ Coalition

Christopher Ottinger @ Chicago Artists' Coalition

Above: Christopher Ottinger, background, at the opening reception, his uncovered, kinetic light art seen rotating in the foreground.

Christopher Ottinger
“Ghost Machine”
April 12 – May 2, 2013
BOLT Residency
Chicago Artists’ Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://chicagoartistscoalition.org/

Lossless @ Chicago Artists’ Coalition

Matthew Schlagbaum in Lossless @ CAC HATCH Projects Residency

Above: Matthew Schlagbaum’s kinetic light installation visible within its smoked vitrine housing.

“Lossless”
April 12 – May 2, 2013
HATCH Projects Residency
Chicago Artists’ Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Curated by MK Meador
Artwork by Jordan Martins, Matthew Schlagbaum and Theodore Darst
http://chicagoartistscoalition.org/

The Wail of Silence @ ROOMS Gallery

The Wail of Silence @ ROOMS Gallery

Above: Alex de Leon lifts her veil in “Ritual No. 4 – Toll of Eyes,” a three-hour performance, 7:00-10:00 PM, March 8, 2013.

“The Wail of Silence”
March 8, 2013
ROOMS Gallery
1835 S. Halsted
Chicago, IL
http://roomsgallery.com/

Psychosexual @ Andrew Rafacz

Scott Hunter @ Andrew Rafacz

Above: “Psychosexual” curator Scott Hunter in the foreground, with artwork, left-to-right, by Nazafarin Lotfi, John Neff, and Peter Otto, visible in the background.

Psychosexual @ Andrew Rafacz

Above: Artwork by Peter Otto, Rachel Niffenegger, and Brenna Youngblood, seen left-to-right in Andrew Rafacz Gallery.

“Psychosexual”
April 6 – May 25, 2013
Andrew Rafacz Gallery
835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago IL 60607
Curated by Scott J. Hunter
Artwork by Lutz Bacher, Tom Burr, Edmund Chia, Matthias Dornfeld, Jayson Keeling, Jutta Koether, Nazafarin Lotfi, Jeffry Mitchell, John Neff, Rachel Niffenegger, Peter Otto, Kirsten Stoltmann, and Brenna Youngblood
http://www.andrewrafacz.com/

Lauren Edwards & Kera MacKenzie @ ACRE Projects

Lauren Edwards & Kera MacKenzie @ ACRE Projects
Lauren Edwards & Kera MacKenzie @ ACRE Projects

Above: Lauren Edwards and Kera MacKenzie, participants in UIC’s first MFA exhibition of 2013, seen within their subsequent show at ACRE Projects’ home site in Pilsen.

Lauren Edwards & Kera MacKenzie
“Burden of Proof”
April 14 – 28, 2013
ACRE Projects
1913 W. 17th St.
Chicago, IL 60608
http://www.acreresidency.org/

Michael Ian Larsen @ PEREGRINEPROGRAM

Michael Ian Larsen @ PEREGRINEPROGRAM

Michael Ian Larsen
“The Tree, the Gift, and the Amphibian”
March 10 – April 7, 2013
PEREGRINEPROGRAM
3311 W. Carroll Avenue, #119
Chicago, IL 60624
http://www.peregrineprogram.com/

Tina Tahir @ Gallery 400

Tina Tahir @ Gallery 400

Above: Tina Tahir at her closing reception with the installation “41.876503,-87.649666,” an ornamental ‘rug’ made of ash and magnetite mineral, whose title provides its GPS co-ordinates. Intentionally made available to foot traffic throughout the course of the exhibition, said piece is shown disturbed from its original state.

“A strange house in my voice.”
2013 UIC Art MFA Thesis Exhibition 2
April 2 – April 6, 2013
Gallery 400
College of Architecture and the Arts
University of Illinois at Chicago
400 S. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Artwork by Cameron Gibson, Ben Murray, and Tina Tahir
http://www.tinatahir.com/

Laura Wennstrom @ The Peanut Gallery

Laura Wennstrom @ The Peanut Gallery

Above: Gallery patron interacts with Wennstrom’s “Block City” during the opening reception; cameras hang ready to document the action.

“Artificial Turf”
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign MFA group exhibition
March 15 – April 9, 2013
The Peanut Gallery
1000 N. California Ave.
Chicago, IL
http://artgraduatestudentorganization.wordpress.com/

Jesse Butcher & Anthony Romero @ Happy Collaborationists / ACRE Projects

Jesse Butcher & Anthony Romero @ Happy Collaborationists

Jesse Butcher & Anthony Romero
“Cyclical, Circular. Like Vultures.”
April 6 – 27, 2013
Happy Collaborationists, in partnership with ACRE Residency
1254 N Noble
Chicago IL, 60642
http://happycollaborationists.com/

Michael Robinson @ Carrie Secrist

Michael Robinson @ Carrie Secrist

Michael Robinson
“Circle Spectre Paper Flame”
April 6 – May 11, 2013
Carrie Secrist Gallery
835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.secristgallery.com/

Co-Prosperity School

Co-Prosperity School

Above: A Co-Prosperity School student’s presentation on March 18, 2013.

The Co-Prosperity Sphere
3219-21 S. Morgan St.
Chicago IL, 60608
http://coprosperity.org/co-prosperity-school/

Autumn Space Benefit Auction

Autumn Space Benefit Auction

Autumn Space Benefit Auction

Autumn Space Benefit Auction
March 10, 2013
1700 W. Irving Park #207
Chicago, IL
http://autumnspace.com/

Deb Sokolow @ Western Exhibitions

Deb Sokolow @ Western Exhibitions

Deb Sokolow
March 15 – April 20, 2103
Western Exhibitions
845 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.westernexhibitions.com/index.html

Diegesis @ Logan Center

Daniel Rosen @ Logan Center

Above: “The Index for an Encylopedia” by Daniel Rosen

Maymay Jumsai @ Logan Center

Above: “Smell.RB.MFA 2013″ by Maymay Jumsai

“Diegesis”
University of Chicago MFA Show 1
April 5 – 14, 2013
Logan Center Gallery
915 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
http://arts.uchicago.edu/

Christopher Meerdo @ Document

Christopher Meerdo @ Document

Christopher Meerdo
“Anthology”
March 15 – April 20, 2013
Document
845 W. Washington Blvd. Suite 3f
Chicago IL 60607
http://christophermeerdo.com/

Juneer Kibria @ The Sub-Mission

Juneer Kibria @ The Sub-Mission

Above: Juneer Kibria in his installation, opening night.

Juneer Kibria
“Hidden Noise”
March 8 – April 20, 2013
The Mission (The Sub-Mission)
1431 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
http://themissionprojects.com/

Rebecca Beachy @ Iceberg Projects

Rebecca Beachy @ Iceberg Projects

Above: An audience member views “Warm (bed)” through a rectangular aperture just above the floor; 109 dozen factory-farmed eggs, ground, lit by heat lamps, lie within the piece.

Dan Berger before Deborah Stratman @ iceberg projects

Above: Iceberg Projects proprietor Dan Berger within the gallery space on June 23, 2012

“The Bearer”
March 10 -April 1, 2013
Iceberg Projects
7714 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60626
Artwork by Rebecca Beachy and Walker Blackwell
http://icebergchicago.com/home.html

Lisa Walcott @ threewalls

Lisa Walcott @ threewalls

Lisa Walcott
“Pretty Good Shape”
Artists in Research – Residency
(Closed on March 21, 2013)
threewalls
119 N. Peoria #2c
Chicago, IL
http://www.three-walls.org/


Paul Germanos: Born November 30, 1967, Cook County, Illinois. Immigrant grandparents, NYC. High school cross country numerals and track letter. Certified by the State of Illinois as a peace officer. Licensed by the City of Chicago as a taxi driver. Attended the School of the Art Institute 1987-1989. Studied the history of political philosophy with the students of Leo Strauss from 2000-2005. Phi Theta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. Motorcyclist.




Top 5 Weekend Picks! (3/15-3/17)

March 15, 2013 · Print This Article

1. Deb Sokolow at Western Exhibitions

Sokolow2013_promo

2nd solo exhibition at Western Exhibitions.

Western Exhibitions is located at 845 W. Washington Blvd. 2nd Fl. Reception Friday, 5-8pm.

2. Anthology at Document

MG_0693-SMALL

Work by Christopher Meerdo.

Document is located at 835 W. Washington Blvd. 3rd Fl. Reception Friday, 5-8pm.

3. You Gotta at The Octagon Gallery

tumblr_mjh9un1efX1qio7vbo1_500

Work by Meredith and Anna.

The Octagon Gallery is located at 120 N. Green St. Unit 3B. Reception Friday, 7-10pm.

4. Yellow Humid Picture Night at Autumn Space

joshdihle

Work by Josh Dihle.

Autumn Space is located at 1700 W. Irving Park Rd. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.

5. Transference at 3433

transference_720

Work by Jade Boyd and Nicole White.

3433 is located at 3433 Kedvale Ave. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.




Deb Sokolow Interview

March 15, 2013 · Print This Article

SOKOLOW_card_front72

I have known Deb Sokolow for some time and I can say with frank honesty if I ever end up with extra cash I will buy up her book pieces. Not only do I see her career on a well-deserved upward trajectory, she hits many of the themes that tickle my fancy: paranoia, information, books, systems, and an eye to detail that I stand in awe of. For me her work is that rare culmination of fun, thought provoking, serious (particularly in the technique), and the result of much hard work and thought. Take a listen to our interview with her where she talks about her process.

http://badatsports.com/2009/episode-201-deb-sokolow/

I received a notice the other day that she has a new show at Western Exhibitions (who is home to lots of other artists I enjoy and admire, and BAS hasn’t managed to make Scott angry in years now, so a visit to WE is a love fest for me), which opens Friday the 15th of March. You should go check it out! In anticipation of the exhibition I did a brief online interview with Deb to talk about the new show and it goes a little something like this:

RH: So Deb, we’ve interviewed you, followed your work, like it greatly. I’ve heard you have an exciting new show opening the 15th at Western Exhibitions; can you tell us about it?

DS: The show comes from a story I wrote while at a residency in Norway this past summer. The story is loosely based on the residency’s environs and I wrote the residency’s administrators and the other artists there into the story as characters. I won’t get into too much of what the story is about here- I don’t want to reveal too much- but the idea for it comes from this feeling I had about the place. The entire two months I was there, I kept thinking, “What’s the catch?” Because the place is an artist’s fantasyland: Each artist receives a monthly stipend, a travel stipend, a beautifully designed cabin and a large, gorgeous studio with a whole wall of windows looking out on the most beautiful Nordic forest scene ever, and there is a significant amount of uninterrupted time to work. Everything about it just seemed too good to be true, so I thought that maybe the place could be a front for something else.

When I came back to Chicago, I took the story I wrote and made it into a 28 foot-long, text-and-image drawing, plus a few other ancillary drawings and books that relate directly or indirectly to the large piece or to my time spent there. For the show at Western Exhibitions, I decided to put these ancillary items in the front room so that they might function as a sort of precursor to the large drawing in the second, back room. I’ve been reading Thomas Pynchon and
Joseph Heller lately and thinking about how in their narratives, certain characters and organizations and locations are continuously mentioned in at least the full first half of the book (in Pynchon’s case, it’s hundreds of pages) without there being a full understanding or context given to these elements until much later in the story. And by that later point, everything seems to fall into place and with a feeling of epic-ness. It’s like that television drama everyone you
know has watched, and they tell you snippets about it but you don’t really understand what it is they’re talking about, but by the time you finally watch it, everything about it feels familiar but also epic.

RH: You say you spent two months in Norway on a mountain top. What was that like?

DS: The residency is on a small mountain above the small town of Dale, which has a population of 980 people and a few waterfront areas alongside a fjord. The next largest town is about an hour away. It’s fairly isolated, but luckily there is a pub that opened recently and makes its own IPA. The brewer there tells me his IPA is modeled after Indiana’s Three Floyds’s IPA. Small world. Also, one of the best parts about that mountain in the summer: the wild berries- all kinds, and picking and eating them for breakfast. So good.

RH: Berries and beer, the breakfast of champions! Was it easier to work in the relative silence or harder? I sometimes find that when I am away from the base level din of urbanity I find the lack of it distracting.

DS: It was hard. I usually make work about people, and so it was strange to be in a place with so few people. The beauty of the place also ended up being pretty distracting. I kept saying to myself, “Why am I making art when there is the most beautiful landscape out this window that I could look at for hours and hours.”

Looking back on the experience, though, it was incredibly productive in that I came back to Chicago with so many ideas that had been generated by those two months in Norway.

RH: Was there lutefisk?

DS: I think there was, but I never had it, and they weren’t serving it in the café in town. Mostly, I remember eating a tasty, creamy fishball soup and having a reindeer stew, which was delicious.

RH: So wait, the main protagonist in this piece is a disgruntled Art Institute security guard, I was one of those once (both 1st and 2nd shift), are you writing my unauthorized biography? Your unauthorized biography?

DS: I should have talked to you before I wrote the piece. I’ve never been a security guard at an art museum. Maybe you could have given me more insight into the Art Institute’s security set-up, such as whether there are any one-way mirrors in the place or whether there might be any particularly vulnerable masterpieces in the joint. What a missed opportunity!

RH: I don’t know, it was a seriously unexciting job. The highest drama I ever experienced was the demographic of the guards largely women post 50 who were serious about the religion and clean living and I was like 20 and hung over most of the time. I got lectures a great deal. They were very sweet, they wanted me to clean up my lifestyle. Their heart were in the right place.

Your work is often very narrative, with an overarching trajectory, examining events, conspiracies, the lives of drug lords, and now art thieves. Do you write prose works as well? These tales strike me that they would make great novels too.

DS: I’ve never written a novel, and the thought of doing that scares me. I have enough trouble focusing on writing a short story! Also, I think I would have some difficulty telling a story without the use of images.

RH: You work often has a set of complex sub-theme weaving in and out of the narrative. The movie Rocky comes to mind in one of your prior series. Are there various threads worked throughout this work? If so, what, if not why not?

DS: There are several sub-themes in this work: A certain fascination with the machinations of crime syndicates, the strangeness of being an artist and the strange relationship that I think any artist working in an art museum might have with that institution. I was once an intern in an art museum, and while my immediate boss was great, in general I felt like I was a tourist or sometimes an intruder in the place. Later on, after the internship, I ended up exhibiting at this museum, and the relationship this second time around to the place and to the people I had once known as an intern was very different. There are also multiple mentions of
different food items that I find humorous and have appeared in past works (i.e. noodles, sandwiches and pickles). Sandwiches in particular, I think, have this comedic potential that other foods just don’t have.

RH: I am a big fan of your book projects, do you have any planned in the near future?

DS: There are two artist books in this show- one is called “A Short History of Unconventional Ingredients Found in the Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich” and the other one is called “A Walk in Nature or the Faces of Former Bosses.” I also just wrote a short book called “The Truth about David Copperfield” (the master illusionist) which isn’t in this show, but it’s up in a concurrent exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Connecticut. I saw him perform once when I was a kid and have been fascinated with him since. I mean, seriously, the guy made the Statue of Liberty disappear. How cool is that?

RH: I think he was just in the news proclaiming himself the greatest magician who ever lived. What is on the horizon, what is next for you? A life of crime? Have you considered a side-line as a private detective, you have that investigative drive to chase down all possible paths.

DS: Well, Richard, I’d rather be a detective than a criminal, although criminals lead much more interesting lives. Art-wise, I’m in the brainstorming phase with a narrative that relates to my cousin Irving’s real-life connection to Lee Harvey Oswald. Irving had been a mentor to troubled youth in NYC, Oswald being one of them. It’s a story that I’m trying to flesh out and connect to other things, but I’m not really sure where it’s going. This will be a project for a Drawing Center show this fall. And after that, who knows? I’ve considered starting up a business in which people hire me to pay regular house calls to their cats to come and
entertain them… I’d wear a tool belt with all kinds of different cat toys on it. There are a lot of lonely cats out there, so I actually do think this could be a viable career option.

RH: Like a cat superhero, or cat ninja!! I love it! Thanks for talking with me Deb.

March 15 to April 20, 2013

In Gallery 1 + 2

DEB SOKOLOW

For her second solo show at Western Exhibitions, DEB SOKOLOW will exhibit a 28-footlong drawing as well as a selection of separate but tangentially-related items inspired by a recent two-month stay at the mountaintop artist residency, Nordisk Kunstnarsenter Dalsåsen, in Norway. The show opens on Friday, March 15 with a free public reception from 5 to 8pm and runs through April 20, 2103.

Full press release:
http://westernexhibitions.com/current/2013/2_Sokolow/index.html

Deb Sokolow’s concurrent MATRIX166 show “Some Concerns About the Candidate” at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, up now through June 30, was recently reviewed in THE NEW YORK TIMES and HARTFORD COURANT. See the reviews here and here. Her work in the just-closed group show “How I Wrote Elastic Man” at Invisible-Exports in New York City was discussed on ARTFORUM.COM. See the review here.

Western Exhibitions
845 W Washington Blvd
Second Floor
Chicago, IL 60607 USA
(312) 480-8390
Gallery hours: Wed-Sat, 11am-6pm
westernexhibitions.com