Interview with Ali Bailey

April 14, 2010 · Print This Article

Ali Bailey, "It's the Real Thing," installation view at Andrew Rafacz Gallery

I profiled Ali Bailey last year on the occasion of his solo debut in Chicago at Golden Gallery, an exhibition titled “You are Young” (the piece appeared in New City; you can read it here). Bailey is definitely what I’d consider to be ‘a comer.’ (Isn’t that a terrible word to apply to artists? It has such unfortunate equine associations). His works sold well at last year’s Next Fair at Art Chicago – no small feat in an extreme down market – and he’s already busted out with his second Chicago solo show, at Andrew Rafacz: a startling new body of work that he thinks is his most complicated to date. I agree. Bailey’s sculptures have changed a lot since his first exhibition, and I wanted to talk to him in greater depth about the progression from that last body of work to this one.  Sadly for Chicago, Bailey’s next big move is a geographic one: he’ll be setting up digs in Los Angeles soon because his wife, artist and curator Kristen Van Deventer, will be attending graduate school there. I am very grateful to Ali for taking the time to provide such well-considered answers to my often clumsy and inordinately detailed questions. His show continues through May 8th at Andrew Rafacz Gallery.

CI: The most obvious shift or change that’s apparent in your new body of work at Andrew Rafacz is that it is much more abstract than the group of sculptures shown at the “You Are Young” show at Golden last year. That earlier work drew upon recognizable and sometimes even iconic imagery: a basketball and a baseball, an ice cream cone, a tree stump covered in gum and graffiti. Your latest work still gives me the feeling that there are exterior referents at play but now they seem more art historical and less pop-cultural. For example, I saw in your use of the grey felt material in the piece East Meets West / Worked Out a little Beuys joke, I loved how it’s slung over a sculpture that looks like a looming, abstracted version of a Stairmaster or some other type of exercise equipment that quickly becomes ‘useless’ and soon comes to function primarily as a clothes hanger. Can you tell me a little bit about this shift between the two bodies of work — what have you been thinking about lately that’s caused this move towards less immediately recognizable forms?

AB: You’re right about there being a distinct move toward a more abstract language, both in terms of subject and form and in a way, this shift is a direct result of problems that I’ve created for myself. For me, the last body of work operated in two different ways and that was very important. On one level it was about objecthood in a broad sense, making (and the presence of the hand), and a kind of tension resulting from a push-pull dynamic between inherent contradictions in the work and a kind of Gober-esque uncanny. The other prominent characteristic of the work was a pop-cultural critique and I suppose that this is where you could talk about the poetic content and the more accessible qualities the works had. In these ways I think the work was successful. The thing that really didn’t work and this is what I’ve been battling with recently, is being able to convey a distancing or a kind of knowing-naivety or to set up a dialogue that talks about authenticity. In my mind, it was clear that what I was presenting was not authentic in any sense nor was it really concerned with being ‘truthful’ – I was trying to examine certain narrative tropes but instead ended up giving people an easy out – they often never got further than the narrative or the overt poetic strand of the idea. Read more




Top 5 Weekend Picks! (2/26 & 2/27)

February 24, 2010 · Print This Article

1. Pamela Fraser at Golden Gallery

Golden Gallery, generally a crowd pleaser, is putting up another strong show. This round it consists of works on paper by artist Pamela Fraser. The works (from what I could find and discern) are all abstract, hyper-color pieces. Is “eye candy” a bad word in the art world?

Golden Gallery is located at 816 W. Newport Ave. Opening reception is Friday from 6-9pm.

2. Alumni at David Weinberg Gallery

I went to SAIC for grad school, but I don’t believe that gives me a complete bias for SAIC grad work. However, when I see good work from my fellow alums, I got to give it a shout.  David Weinburg is putting on an exhibition of “recent” SAIC grad work, including that of Amy Mayfiled, Noelle Allen, Helen Maurene Cooper, & Michael Ratulowski. If you haven’t seen their work yet (which, if you’ve been in Chicago a while, is unlikely) make sure you stop by. If you already know their work, head over for a refresher on why they’re awesome.

David Weinberg Gallery  is located at 300 W. Superior St. Opening reception is Friday from 5-8pm. Read more




Top 5 Picks (1/15 & 1/16)

January 14, 2010 · Print This Article

Ahoy again, me mateys! Thar be arts in them thar  waters. Yarg! And for this week’s briny picks, we’ll be casting broad our ores…or something. Ok, enough of that. But really, we are a bit scattered about for this weekend’s picks. I’ll be driving my trusty Jeep round, dashing through the snow and such. Perhaps, I’ll see yo ass out there? And now…

The True and Trusty Top 5:

1. Matters at Golden

Golden Gallery has impressed me with their selection of work since they opened about a year and a half ago with my buddy Jill Frank’s work. This round looks like more of the same, in the good way. Opening this week is a solo show of Joseph Cassan. And really, anyone who can take Kleenex and a bloody Band Aid, put it together, and make me think of Caravaggio is worth a look in by book. Rock on, dear Golden Gallery.

Golden Gallery is located at 816 W. Newport. Opening reception is Friday from 6-9pm.

2. The Dog and the Wolf at Monique Meloche

I friggin’ love Laura Letinsky. ‘Nuff said. She’s having a solo show at Meloche’s joint. Go see the show.

Monique Meloche is located at 2154 W. Division St. Opening reception is Saturday from 4-7pm.

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Top 5? Well…not quite, but…

October 23, 2009 · Print This Article

OK, so here’s the deal for right now. Every week (well almost every week) I do a pick of shows that I think are most likely worth seeing (I am often wrong). The problem is that I sometimes don’t get to go to all the shows on my list (I generally see art on the weekend and usually just go to openings, I don’t have the “it’s so crowded in here, I can’t see the art” issue, I just shove my way through and look, but I digress). So this week I am giving ya’ll a list of where exactly I am going. I chose this route because I noticed something odd this weekend, there are seven apartment gallery show openings and closings in the next three days. I figured, what the hell, I’m going to be out, some of these places I like, some of them I don’t really like, some of them I’ve never visited, why not make a circuit of them all, a selection of this Chicago art institution known as the “Apartment Gallery” and see the “State of the Apartment” so to speak. And (this was added after the list was mostly done), I like openings that go till 10 or 11 at night, you can cram a lot more in that way.

APARTMENT GALLERY OPENINGS (AND CLOSINGS) THIS WEEKEND:

1. Australia at Concertina Gallery

Aron Gent, detail from Australia (Hugh Jackman & Nicole Kidman) 2009

Aron Gent, detail from Australia (Hugh Jackman & Nicole Kidman) 2009

And I quote, “Acting as a springboard for works by both Anthea Behm and Aron Gent, Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 movie Australia provides loaded content for each artist to pick apart and reconstruct. Though the artists work off the same source material, they diverge in form and intention. Triggering questions of cultural ownership and responsibility, Behm and Gent address the cultural transmission between those represented and those representing.” This is how the gallery describes the show. I’m most interested in going to see Anthea’s work, she’s a friend of mine and I’m curious to see what she’s been doing.

Concertina Gallery is located at 2351 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd Floor. Opening Reception: Friday 7-10pm

2. Double Fantasy at Noble & Superior Projects

The card-announcement-thingie for Double Fantasy (why this? no other pics on their blog, that's why)

The card-announcement-thingie for Double Fantasy (why this? no other pics on their blog, that's why)

So this place is brand-spankin’-new. I don’t even know if it is actually an apartment gallery, though all indicators point to that (especially the directions that once you get to the address, “Rear House, Through The Gate!!!”). As you can see by the ever-so-informative card-announcement-thingie, the show features the work of Ivan Lozano and Kate Brock. I can’t find a website for Kate Brock, guess you’ll just have to go to the show.

Noble & Superior Projects is located at 1418 W. Superior St. #2R. Opening Reception: Friday 6-10pm

3. 2-for-1: After Effects at secondBEDROOM and Side Effects at Medicine Cabinet.

A two for one in Bridgeport. For those of you who haven’t been there, these two “galleries” are both part of the same apartment, secondBEDROOM located in, you guessed it…and Medicine Cabinet is the name for the installation space/bathroom.

Thad Kellstadt "what we do is a secret" (2009)

Thad Kellstadt "what we do is a secret" (2009)

In the secondBEDROOM: “Thad Kellstadt’s After Effects attempts to explore the possible afterlife of objects, once dependent on human touch, now neglected but possessing a new presence. Some believe that the breaking of a mirror brings a lengthy stint of bad luck due to the soul confiscating power of the mirrors reflective surface.” Yep.

Side Effects by Jesse Mclean

Side Effects by Jesse Mclean

and in the Medicine Cabinet: “Pharmaceutical marketing strategies and scenic nature photography combine to serve up a warning: Don’t get too comfortable on that plateau. While the view is spectacular there are other forces at work, just out of earshot and bubbling their way toward the placid peaks.” Uh huh.

secondBEDROOM and Medicine Cabinet are located at 3216 S. Morgan Street Apt. 4R. Opening Reception: Saturday 7-11pm.

4. The Trunk Show at Barbara and Barbara

The Trunk Show at Barbara and Barbara

The Trunk Show at Barbara and Barbara

Barbara and Barbara do love you, as their web address so astutely says. For this round the Barbara-ganza is putting on a show dealing with the idea of travel.The show includes the work of a crap-load of people, incuding: Sierra Berquist, Ben Bontempo, Peter McLean-Browne, Evan Burrows, Pete Cuba, Fred Frederick, Julia V. Hendrickson, Landon Manucci, Colin Nusbaum, Emma Powell, Scott Reinhard, David Schalliol, Elizabeth Stoutamire, Christopher Sykora, Sean Sykora, Jessie Vogel, Kelly Wallis, Rustél Weiss, Hannah Zurko

Barbara and Barbara is located at 1021 N. Western Ave. Opening Reception: Saturday 7-10pm.

5. Exhibition 2. 10242009 at MVSEVM

Exhibition 2.10242009 at MVSEVM

Exhibition 2.10242009 at MVSEVM

Ok, so I’m a bit confused as to who exactly MVSEVM are and whether or not there are two of them. So, instead of linking to the blog that seems like it might be theirs but says they are on vacation, I’m linking ya’ll to the On The Make (another wonderful site) page about the show and gallery. And I quote, “For its second exhibition MVSEVM invites eight diverse artists to contribute site specific works and installations that address the ambiguity of the space as both domestic and professional, private and public, as well as external concerns. In Exhibition 2.10242009 these inquiries manifest in an interrogation of social paradigms, raising questions pertaining to human relationships filtered through biological and technological themes.” Artists in the show: David Brooks, Joe Cruz, Chris Cuellar, Szu-Han Ho, Jesse Vogler, Gabriel Martinez, T UM’, Andrew Yang and Harley Young.

MVSEVM is located at 1626 N California Ave. #2. Opening Reception: Saturday 6-10pm.

6. Deedee Davis and Casey Roberts at Home Gallery

Deedee Davis and Casey Roberts - Works and Collaborative Works

Deedee Davis and Casey Roberts - Works and Collaborative Works

Less of an apartment gallery and more of, well, a home (go figure), Home Gallery is located down in Hyde Park and run by Laura Shaeffer. For this round of exhibitions, Home will be featuring the work of Deedee Davis and Casey Roberts.

Home Gallery is located at 1407 E. 54th Pl. Opening Reception: Saturday 6-9pm.

7. Marginal Waters at Golden Gallery

Doug Ischar "MW 22"

Doug Ischar "MW 22"

So, this isn’t and opening, it’s a closing. Golden is also, like Home, on the edge of the “apartment gallery” definition, but what the hell. For this round of Golden-tastic-atude, they are closing out Marginal Waters, work from the 80s by Doug Ischar. And I quote, yet again, “Ischar will exhibit a body of photographs from 1985, never before seen in its entirety, taken on the now defunct Belmont Rocks in the city of Chicago, and a new single-channel video work.” The closing is also rolled together with the catalog release, and there’ll be an interview with John Neff.

Home Gallery is located at 816 W. Newport. Reception/Catalog Release: Sunday 3-6pm.