Top 5 Weekend! (1/17-1/19)

January 16, 2014 · Print This Article

1. Ghost Nature at Gallery 400

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Work by Sebastian Alvarez, Jeremy Bolen, Irina Botea, Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Robert Burnier, Marcus Coates, Assaf Evron, Carrie Gundersdorf, Institute of Contemporary Zoology, Jenny Kendler, Devin King, Stephen Lapthisophon, Milan Metthey, Rebecca Mir, Heidi Norton, Okosua Adoma Owusu, Katie Patterson, Tessa Siddle, and Xaviera Simmons with AOO.

Gallery 400 is located at 400 S. Peoria St. Reception Friday, 5-8pm.

2. Center of the Circle at Heaven Gallery

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Work by Sarah and Joseph Belknap

Heaven Gallery is located at 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

3. Pictures and Places at Links Hall

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Work by Edie Fake.

Links Hall is located at 3111 N. Western Ave. Reception Friday, 7-9pm.

4. Walking Driftward at Spudnik Press

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Work by Hannah Ireland.

Spudnik Pressis located at 1821 W. Hubbard St. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.

5. Stone Throw at TRITRIANGLE

Men_curling_-_1909_-_Ontario_Canada

Work by Jake Myers.

TRITRIANGLE is located at 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave. 3rd Fl. Reception Friday, 7-11pm.




Top 4 Weekend Picks! (8/30-8/31)

August 29, 2013 · Print This Article

1. Self-Mythology at Roman Susan

troia- vincent - untitled 1_770

Work by Vincent Troia.

Roman Susan is located at 1224 W. Loyola Ave. Reception Saturday, 7-10pm.

2. Boulevard Dreamers at The Franklin

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Work by Lise Baggesen and Kirsten Leenaars.

The Franklin is located at 3522 W. Franklin Blvd. Reception Saturday, 6-10pm.

3. #404 Not Found at Co-Prosperity Sphere

Patrick Lichty

Work by Channel TWo (CH2), Jeff Kolar, Jon Satrom, Rob Ray, Patrick Lichty, Sarah Weis, Christopher Smith, Jake Myers, Amelia Winger-Bearskin, and Emilie Gervais.

Co-Prosperity Sphere is located at 3219 S. Morgan St. Reception Friday, 6-10pm.

4. Your Future Family at The Peanut Gallery

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Work by Danielle Chenette.

The Peanut Gallery is located at 1000 N. California Ave. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.




Chicago Art in Pictures: Summer of 2013

August 20, 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 months. All artwork copyright original artists; all photography copyright Paul Germanos.

CourtneyBlades
Mickey Pomfrey & Blake Cameron Harris @ CourtneyBlades
Above: CourtneyBlades’ partners, Mickey Pomfrey, left, and Blake Cameron Harris, right, in the gallery for the opening reception of “Definitely Living, Likely Cognitive,” on August 9, 2013.

Ria Roberts & Matthew Richardson @ CourtneyBlades
Above: “Medium Cool” art book fair organizer Ria Roberts, right, with Matthew Richardson, left, in CourtneyBlades.

Definitely Living, Likely Cognitive @ CourtneyBlades

Mickey Pomfrey is one of a relatively small number of people I encounter on a regular basis at gallery openings in Chicago. In spite of that fact, I’d never before brought a camera to the space (CourtneyBlades) which he runs with Blake Cameron Harris. And it was only because I happened to take photographs there on August 9, 2013, that Ria Roberts noticed me, and reminded me to attend Medium Cool: a new art book fair with which she’s involved.

Bea Fremderman, Brian Khek, and Micah Schippa
“Definitely Living, Likely Cognitive”
August 9 – September 1, 2013
CourtneyBlades
1324 W. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
http://courtneyblades.com/

Medium Cool
Tom Burtonwood @ Medium Cool
Above: Tom Burtonwood shares his 3-d printed book–which itself “prints” by means of being folded upon some plastic material.

Yuri Stone / Renaissance Society @ Medium Cool
Above: Yuri Stone for The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.

Scott Speh / Western Exhibitions @ Medium Cool
Above: Scott Speh of Western Exhibitions.

Ed Panar & Melissa Catanese / Spaces Corners @ Medium Cool
Above: Ed Panar & Melissa Catanese of Spaces Corners.

Vincent Uribe / LVL3 @ Medium Cool
Above: Vincent Uribe feigns interest in my shenanigans while the ladies of LVL3 ignore me. In truth, everyone smiled for the first picture; this was the fifth picture.

Medium Cool
(art book fair)
12:00 — 8:00 PM
August 11, 2013
Prairie Production
1314 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL
http://medium-cool.net/

LVL3
Chelsea Culp & Katy Cowan @ LVL3
Above: Chelsea Culp and Katy Cowan.

Matt Nichols & Josue Pellot @ LVL3
Above: Matt Nichols and Josue Pellot.

Whether called collaboration, the pairing of artists or galleries is now at least as common as food trucks outside, or bars within, our local venues.

“2 of a kind”
June 29 – July 21, 2013
LVL3
1542 N. Milwaukee Ave, 3rd Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60622
http://lvl3gallery.com/

The Mission
Yhelena Hall @ The Mission
Above: Yhelena Hall’s upper-gallery installation joining a helium-supported wooden craft with wall-mounted video.

Joshua Albers @ The Mission
Above: Joshua Albers’ lower-gallery (Sub-Mission) projected video installation.

Yhelena Hall’s da Vinci-like creation is built from fabric stretched over a frame, which method of construction reminds a Chicago resident of Linda Warren’s artist Juan Angel Chavez. But, maybe, within Warren’s stable the better comparison is to Conrad Freiburg–for as helium escapes its imperfect balloon, Hall’s wooden machine has a self-destructive potential.

Joshua Albers and Yhelena Hall
PARALLELS / A Collaboration with ACRE Residency, Part 2
August 2 – 24, 2013
The Mission
1431 W. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60642
http://themissionprojects.com/

Linda Warren Projects
Conrad Freiburg @ Linda Warren Projects
Above: The framing device “Undecagon Tripod,” 2013, at the center of Freiburg’s kinetic, wood installation.

Like Yhelena Hall at The Mission, Conrad Freiburg chose to present freestanding, three-dimensional objects made largely of wood, in the company of smaller, wall-mounted graphic works, which in this case are still images rather than video. Unlike Hall, around the perimeter of gallery interior Freiburg set a race, which in turn carries bearings or marbles as such activity is initiated by visitors. Four years ago, in June of 2009, Monica Herrera arranged a similar work at 65GRAND, there observed with an additional audio component: falling marbles “played” upon successive wooden elements with each drop in elevation.

Conrad Freiburg
“Before the Grave and Constant”
June 7 – August 10, 2013
Linda Warren Projects
327 N. Aberdeen (151)
Chicago, IL 60607
http://lindawarrenprojects.com/

Monica Herrera
Monica Herrera @ 65Grand
Above: A visitor interacts with Monica Herrera’s installation in 2009.

Eliza Fernand, Jodie Mack, Monica Herrera
“post-scarcity”
Curated by Thea Liberty Nichols
65GRAND
June 19 – July 25, 2009
1378 W. Grand Ave. (old location)
Chicago IL 60622-6450

Chicago Artists’ Coalition
Jake Myers @ Chicago Artists’ Coalition
Above: Audience members interact with Jake Myers at his cardboard sports bar.

Mothergirl @ Chicago Artists’ Coalition
Above: Attendees model the available Mothergirl costumes.

Jessica Harvey - Kera MacKenzie - Jenny Buffington @ Chicago Artists’ Coalition
Above, left-to-right: Jessica Harvey, Kera MacKenzie, and Jenny Buffington at the “pARTicipatory” opening on August 9, 2013.

When I hold a camera to my face and look through the viewfinder I’m blind to the room around me, so that it’s especially surprising to be struck at that moment. I write here with authority as I’ve suffered the aforementioned indignity on multiple occasions. On August 9, 2013, for the second time at one of Myers’ openings, someone threw something at me while I was taking a picture. If the games, and food, and liquor, all now frequently available at gallery openings, have served to draw in a certain sort of person then, maybe, they’ve done so only at the cost of another sort of person. After six years of work on this photographic project, my patience has been exhausted.

“pARTicipatory”
HATCH Projects Residents: Chaz Evans, Amber Ginsburg, Mothergirl, Jake Myers, Hoyun Son, and Latham Zearfoss
HATCH Curatorial Residents: Meredith Weber and Anna Trier, a/k/a the Happy Collaborationists
August 9 – August 29, 2013
Chicago Artists’ Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://chicagoartistscoalition.org/

Sonnenzimmer
Sonnenzimmer

Josh Berman @ Sonnenzimmer
Above: Acclaimed coronet player Josh Berman, foreground, nagged by my mother, background. It’s better him than me.

Nick Butcher @ Sonnenzimmer
Above: Nick Butcher, right, gave my mother, left, a Tecate, and she seemed concerned.

Sonnenzimmer print and design studio is Nadine Nakanishi and Nick Butcher. On July 14, 2013, Nick and Nadine held a sort-of art benefit / garage sale, during which Michael Bingaman (electronics), Josh Berman (cornet), Anton Hatwich (double bass), and Matt Schneider (guitar) played music. There, I bought a big Taschen contemporary art compendium for three dollars, and got a Design Bureau magazine for free. Everyone was cool! And John Corbett was there–because he’s really good about attending these things. Even my mother was happy.

“On the patio at Sonnenzimmer”
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
July 14, 2013
Sonnenzimmer
3605 N. Damen Ave., Rear
Chicago, IL 60618
http://www.sonnenzimmer.com/

Columbia College Chicago: Portfolio Center – Industry Events
Nick Albertson @ Columbia College Industry Events Photography Review
Above: Nick Albertson

Ryan Bringas @ Columbia College Industry Events Photography Review
Above: Ryan Bringas

Meg Noe @ Columbia College Industry Events Photography Review
Above: Meg Noe

Tim M. Johnson @ Columbia College Industry Events Photography Review
Above: Tim M. Johnson

Rikki Levine @ Columbia College Industry Events Photography Review
Above: Rikki Levine

The scale of the event was overwhelming. The quality of almost all of the work was very high. I spent most of my time with those presenters who seemed to have a fine arts orientation. Rikki Levine, above, was something of an exception as she seemed (?) most interested in travel and documentary work. But, her book (portfolio) looked too good to ignore. Whether they knew it, not a few graduates produced material recalling John Opera or Jessica Labatte. And I should have been yet more forceful in my exhortation to go out and look at what’s being made here and now.

Columbia College Chicago
Portfolio Center – Industry Events
“Photography Review”
May 16, 2013
Studio East
1006 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60605

Allan Sekula
Allan Sekula @ The Renaissance Society
Above: A visitor at the entry to “Polonia and Other Fables” seen engaged with one of Sekula’s photographs during the opening reception in 2009.

Allan Sekula died on August 10, 2013 after a long struggle with cancer.

Allan Sekula
“Polonia and Other Fables”
September 20 – December 13, 2009
The Renaissance Society
5811 S. Ellis Avenue
Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418
Chicago, Illinois 60637
http://renaissancesociety.org/site/

Chicago Art Department
Meg Noe @ Chicago Art Department
Above: “Mr. Grief” by Meg Noe.

“&again&again”
Jeffery Austin, Marne Provost, Kimberly Kim, Meg T. Noe, Jonathan Pivovar, John Brookes Turner
Curated by Jonathan Pivovar
Supported by Columbia College Chicago’s Photography Department
July 12 – 14, 2013
Chicago Art Department
1932 South Halsted #100
Chicago, IL 60608
http://www.chicagoartdepartment.org/

MCA Chicago
Amanda Ross-Ho @ MCA Chicago

The timing of this exhibition is either fortuitous or tragic depending upon one’s knowledge of the not dissimilar installation on Michigan Avenue, and sense of humor.

Amanda Ross-Ho
“THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS”
Organized by MCA Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm.
July – November, 2013
MCA Chicago Plaza Project
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago
220 E. Chicago Ave. (MVDR Drive)
Chicago IL 60611
http://www.mcachicago.org/

Frogman Gallery / Pop-Up Art Loop
Gwendolyn Zabicki @ Frogman Gallery / Pop-Up Art Loop
Above: Dmitry Samarov (painting) at left, curator Gwendolyn Zabicki at center, and Noah Vaughn (photo print) at right, in “Never a lovely so real,” opening night.

The Chicago Loop Alliance deserves credit for the good work it’s done in offering such opportunities to people like Gwendolyn Zabicki.

“Never a lovely so real”
Clarissa Bonet, Dmitry Samarov and Noah Vaughn
Curated by Gwendolyn Zabicki
Pop-Up Art Loop from the Chicago Loop Alliance
Sponsored in part by Columbia College Chicago
July 11, 2013
Frogman Gallery
108 N. State St. (Block Thirty Seven, First Floor)
Chicago, IL 60603
http://gwendolynzabicki.com/home.html

Chicago Artists Coalition
Jordan Martins @ Chicago Artists Coalition
Above: Jordan Martins in his projection, opening night.

Nick Butcher, Jennifer Salim, E. Aaron Ross, Aaron Delehanty @ Chicago Artists Coalition
Above, left-to-right: Nick Butcher (half of Sonnenzimmer), Jennifer Salim, E. Aaron Ross, and Aaron Delehanty standing in a projection by Theodore Darst at the Chicago Artists Coalition’s “Natural Fallacy” opening.

“Natural Fallacy”
Noelle Allen, Theodore Darst, Brent Fogt, Jordan Martins, Nicholas Sagan, and Matthew Schlagbaum
Curated by MK Meador
July 12 – August 1, 2013
Chicago Artists Coalition
217 N. Carpenter St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://jordanmartins.com/

threewalls
Brenna Murphy & Birch Cooper @ threewalls
Above: MSHR a/k/a Brenna Murphy & Birch Cooper performing an electronic audio work in their installation.

Hear it on Vine: vine.co/v/hamYhHDJJ0d

Abigail Satinsky, Lauren Basing & Shannon Stratton @ threewalls
Above, left-to-right: Abigail Satinsky, Lauren Basing, and Shannon Stratton, a/k/a threewalls, on the occasion of their last opening at 119 N. Peoria Street, Chicago.

Edie Fake @ threewalls
Above: Edie Fake’s installation, with spectators.

Joe Jeffers & Jeremy Tinder @ threewalls
Above: Joe Jeffers, left, and Jeremy Tinder, right, attending the opening.

Thanks to Abigail, Lauren, and Shannon for playing along. I’m sorry that I didn’t get a better shot of you three together. Good luck and best wishes…

“Binary Lore”
Edie Fake and MSHR a/k/a Brenna Murphy & Birch Cooper
June 28, 2013
threewalls
119 N. Peoria, #2C
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.three-walls.org/

Firecat Projects
Gil Leora @ Firecat Projects

Gil Leora
“In Between Drinks”
June 28, 2013
Firecat Projects
2124 N. Damen Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647
http://www.firecatprojects.org/

Smart Museum
Gigi Scaria @ Smart Museum

It’s too bad that a piece which suggests many questions related to resource allocation within the context of non-European, urban poverty, here found available for view in the lobby of a free, teaching museum, was ignored in an article entitled “Marginalizing Chicagoans’ Access to Culture” at Newcity.

Gigi Scaria
“City Unclaimed”
Sponsored by BMO Harris Bank
January 19 – December 8, 2013
The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art
5550 S. Greenwood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/

EXPO / Public Chicago
Duncan Mackenzie, Caroline Picard, Richard Holland @ EXPO / Public Chicago
Above, left-to-right: Duncan Mackenzie, Caroline Picard, Richard Holland, a/k/a Bad at Sports.

EXPO Chicago
Gallery Announcement
May 14, 2013
Public Chicago
1301 N. State
Chicago, IL 60610
http://expochicago.com/

Johalla Projects
Jessica Taylor Caponigro @ Johalla Projects
Above: Jessica Taylor Caponigro’s “There in a Darkness,” 2013, coal in cast glycerine soap.

Jessica Taylor Caponigro & Aimee Quinkert @ Johalla Projects
Above: Aimee Quinkert, curator, at left, and Jessica Taylor Caponigro, artist, at right, foreground; “What Was, Was I” and “II” on wall, background.

It’s the third of Jessica Taylor Caponigro’s installations which I’ve seen, each of the three having been abstracted from both architectural and also literary sources. The comparison between works made over time (a span of several years) is interesting, and maybe best reveals her intent.

Jessica Taylor Caponigro
“Black Damp”
Curated by Aimee Quinkert
May 11 – June 2, 2013
Johalla Projects
1821 W. Hubbard St., Suite 209
Chicago, IL
http://www.johallaprojects.com/

Rhona Hoffman
Fred Sandback @ Rhona Hoffman

Fred Sandback: Sculptures
April 26 – June 1, 2013
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
118 N. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.rhoffmangallery.com/

Columbia College Industry Events BFA Open Studios
Columbia College Industry Events BFA Open Studios
Above, left-to-right: Columbia College BFA Seniors Brianna Baurichter, Corinna Cowles, and Nicki Penz with artwork.

Columbia College Industry Events BFA Open Studios
Above: Madeleine Lowery with artwork in studio.

Columbia College
Industry Events
Fine Arts Open Studios
5:00 – 8:00 PM
April 18, 2013
1006 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL

The Storefront
Erik Wenzel @ The Storefront
Above: An overhead view of Erik Wenzel’s Artforum installation “Fernweh,” as seen within Brandon Alvendia’s The Storefront gallery, on the show’s opening night.

Wenzel, like Fake, above, and Andre, in the previous article, has made use of the floor for the purpose of presenting modular units in a grid pattern. Here the invitation to the audience to walk upon the artwork is wanted to be especially cheeky: an institution (magazine) and a commercial appropriation of culture resources (gallery ad) are both trodden upon, which action symbolically mimics Wenzel’s own “progress” through the real and metaphysical worlds of art.

Erik Wenzel
“Fernweh”
April 20 – May 12, 2013
The Storefront
2606 N. California Ave.
Chicago IL 60647

Vertical Gallery
The Economics of Art 2013 @ Vertical Gallery
Above: Work by Dmitry Samarov, center; Steve Seeley, at right.

The Economics of Art 2013 @ Vertical Gallery
Above: Vertical Gallery, exterior.

“The Economics of Art 2013″
Dmitry Samarov, Ian Ferguson, Julie Murphy, Steve Seeley, and Jimmy Bunnyluv, along with Anthony Freda, Dave Pressler, David Cooper, El Gato Chimney, Hernan Paganini, Klub7, Raudiel Sanudo and Ruel Pascual.
August 3 – 31, 2013
Vertical Gallery
1016 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
http://verticalgallery.com/




Chicago Art in Pictures: Best of 2012 – Year in Review

July 15, 2013 · Print This Article

A historical piece which points towards exceptional moments observed directly by the writer, in Chicago, over the course of the previous calendar year. Alternative, NFP, and commercial galleries, as well as art centers, museums, and public spaces, were visited more-or-less regularly, according to the nature of their programming. All artwork copyright original artists; all photography copyright Paul Germanos.


Per convention, “best of” lists and “year in review” articles are released late in December. And critics have tended to follow in lockstep. Yet such a schedule might be a cause for concern when one considers how little time in reflection is afforded the author of any such piece.

That said, it’s the original scope of the critic’s experience, and not the amount of time spent in reflection upon that experience, which is the greater issue in most cases. Readers have good reason to wonder about art writers: How much did he or she see in the first place? And what does it mean to be placed in a “top ten” list by a person who might have attended only ten events?

Of course, with regard to the utility of press, the writing itself counts for little; it’s a publication’s masthead and associated social connectivity which are really crucial. For whether the subject is artwork or the publicity related to it, heavily invested dealers, artists, directors, et al, labor to get the right bits in the right places, till the overall picture looks good–much like jigsaw puzzle work. The gaming of interpersonal relationships is, after all, the chief modality of the art world.

Let’s try something different!

(1) Best Artist’s Talk: “Andre Butzer @ Cochrane-Woods Art Center”
André Butzer @ Cochrane-Woods Art Center

Forgoing the pretense of a rational narrative, German painter Butzer dryly delivered pre-Socratic fragments–first in his native language and then in English–alongside projections of his artwork. The audio and visual elements in combination, amounting to a performance, were, in fact, stronger than his show which followed at Rhona Hoffman Gallery.

Butzer became moderately excited when, after the lecture, I presented him with a question about Nietzsche.

6:30 PM, January 25, 2012
Cochrane-Woods Art Center, Room 157
(adjacent to the The Smart Museum)
University of Chicago
5540 S. Greenwood Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637

Runner-up: Karsten Lund’s performance piece in Peregrine Program.

(2) Best Gallery Opening: “Short Court: Tropical Aesthletics @ ANTENA”
Short Court: Tropical Aesthletics @ ANTENA
Above: Jake Myers at left, in glasses, on the court in ANTENA.
Short Court: Tropical Aesthletics @ ANTENA

Curated by Jake Myers and Chris Smith, a/k/a “Tag Team,” and featuring 19 artists (Adam Farcus, Adam Grossi, Alberto Aguilar, Alex Bradley Cohen, Angeline Evans, Brian Wadford, Caroline Carlsmith, Cory Glick, Edra Soto, EC Brown, Irene Perez, Jeriah Hildwine, Jim Papadopoulos, Kevin Jennings, Nicole Northway, Pamela Fraser, Philip von Zweck, Thad Kellstadt, and Vincent Dermody) “Short Court: Tropical Aesthletics” was dominated by Jake Myers’ own performance in the center of the gallery.

There, Myers and company (including two professional players) offered to “take on all comers” in a high-spirited volleyball match. The boisterous physical competition which ensued was entirely contrary to the quiet struggle for rank which is usually present, if unseen, at such affairs. This was good. It’s yet unclear to what degree Myers’ work is ironic.

February 10 – March 10, 2012
ANTENA
1765 S. Laflin St.
Chicago IL 60608

(3) Best Art Writing: “Hamza Walker for The Renaissance Society”
Hamza Walker Gallery Walk-Through for Matt Saunders @ The Renaissance Society

With regard to the consistency and volume of his production, Hamza Walker has been exemplary: Every exhibition at The Renaissance Society is accompanied by a broadsheet containing one of Walker’s companion essays. Curiously, these essays usually go nowhere. Are they not read? not understood? not thought to be of any value? Sunday attendance at The Ren is too often like unto church: orderly, solemn, performed for fear of damnation, and forgotten on Monday.

(Ongoing)
The Renaissance Society
Bergman Gallery
Cobb Hall, Room 418
University of Chicago
5811 S. Ellis Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637

Runner-up: Jason Foumberg, skyrocketing in 2013.

(4) Greatest Spectacle and Drama: “NON GRATA ‘Force Majeure’ @ New Capital”
NON GRATA "Force Majeure" Chicago
NON GRATA "Force Majeure" Chicago

The Estonian performance collective NON GRATA staged the destruction of an American-made sedan on the grounds of New Capital: outdoors, late-winter, encouraging audience participation in the act. No fig leaf of sport covered the aggression here; this was a naked, public display of violence hitherto latent in the community. And it was possible to read the event as a sort of response to the call made by Butzer a little over one month earlier.

7:00 PM, March 4, 2012
Hosted by:
Defibrillator Gallery
1136 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL
Co-hosted by:
New Capital
3114 W. Carroll
Chicago, IL 60612

Runner-up: Unsolicited letters from Wesley Kimler.

(5) Most Noteworthy Young or “Emerging” Artists: Sarah and Joseph Belknap, Tyler Blackwell, Robert Chase Heishman, Sofia Leiby, Jake Myers, Meg Noe, Danielle Rosen, Joseph Rynkiewicz, Etta Sandry, Vincent Uribe, and Nikki Werner.

Over the course of the previous year, some memorable artwork, conversation, or public engagement was initiated by each the people listed above. Further, as a result of the good attendance at gallery openings and other events which most displayed, their names were easy to learn and remember.

(6) Best Museum Show: “The Language of Less (Then and Now) @ MCA Chicago”
Dan Flavin in John McCracken @ MCA
Above: Dan Flavin: Untitled (for you, Leo, in long respect and affection) 3, 1978; John McCracken: Untitled, 1967.
Carl Andre & Donald Judd @ MCA
Above: Carl Andre: Zinc-Lead Plain, 1969; Donald Judd: Untitled, 1970.

Curated by Michael Darling, the “Dimensions of Space” gallery within “The Language of Less (Then and Now)” exhibition wasn’t novel, or exciting, in the conventional sense. Rather, the thing had the appearance of being the logical conclusion of a long meditation upon the fundamental unit, or building block, of the works included, viz., the square. And this formal vocabulary hasn’t disappeared. For example, in “Binary Lore,” the most recent show local NFP threewalls, Edie Fake recalled Carl Andre.

Closed on April 15 , 2012
MCA Chicago
220 E. Chicago Avenue (MVDR Drive)
Chicago IL 60611

(7) Best Museum Opening: “Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art”
Enemy Kitchen in Feast @ Smart Museum
Above: Michael Rakowitz’ Enemy Kitchen, opening night.
Sonja Alhäuser in Feast @ Smart Museum
Above: Sonja Alhäuser’s butter buffet billy goat, opening night.

The Smart has made an effort to push its programming outward: into its lobby and courtyard. That physical movement runs parallel to the community engagement which has been a major thematic concern of several recent exhibitions. “Feast” wasn’t solely a remembrance of the past by means of a presentation of artifacts; rather, “Feast” was a new sort of moment, available to be experienced via the socialization which was possible at its opening reception.

February 16 – June 10, 2012
Smart Museum of Art
University of Chicago
5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Curated by Stephanie Smith
Artists: Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Sonja Alhäuser, Mary Ellen Carroll, Fallen Fruit, Theaster Gates, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, InCUBATE, The Italian Futurists, Mella Jaarsma, Alison Knowles, Suzanne Lacy, Lee Mingwei, Laura Letinsky, Tom Marioni, Gordon Matta-Clark, Mildred’s Lane, Julio César Morales and Max La Rivière-Hedrick, motiroti, National Bitter Melon Council, Ana Prvacki, Sudsiri Pui-Ock, Michael Rakowitz, Ayman Ramadan, Red76, David Robbins, Allen Ruppersberg, Bonnie Sherk, Barbara T. Smith, Daniel Spoerri, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and others.

(8) Best Performance: “Mikey McParlane @ Defibrillator”
Mikey McParlane @ Defibrillator
Mikey McParlane @ Defibrillator

Mikey McParlane’s performance on April 1, 2012, was really something special. Relevant to contemporary gender issues (whether I’m able to tease-out any deeper meaning) McParlane presented ambiguously in the guise of a harlequin. Here, the choreography, costume, makeup, audio and lighting came together perfectly. It was weird and beautiful.

April 1, 2012
“Second Annual Lyp Sinc Show”
Defibrillator
1136 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
Performances by: Happy Collaborationists, Ben Foch, Sasha Hodges, Mikey McParlane, Sofia Moreno, Jillian Soto, Courtney Macandanz, Rosé Hernandez, Robin Deacon, Taisha Paggett, Jake Myers, Sharon Lanza, Monica Panzarino

Runner-up: Edyta Stepien & Ayako Kato @ Chicago Art Department

(9) Best Installation – “Jacob Hashimoto @ Rhona Hoffman
Jacob Hashimoto @ Rhona Hoffman
Jacob Hashimoto @ Rhona Hoffman

Hashimoto’s work was interesting in its own right. But, too, quite literally depending upon fiber, it recalled gallery artist Anne Wilson’s past treatments of the space, and prefigured Fred Sandback’s recent showing there as well. Politics aside, it’s rare for a dealer (here) to survive long enough for such a formal thread to become evident–running through a succession of shows. Hashimoto was polite and professional, and he didn’t need to be so.

September 14 – October 20, 2012
“Super-elastic collisions (origins, and distant derivations)”
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
118 N. Peoria St.
Chicago, IL 60607

Runner-up: “Lane/Sirianni” @ New Capital

(10) Greatest Wasted Potential: “Color Jam @ Chicago Loop Alliance”
The Deterioration of Color Jam by Jessica Stockholder
The Deterioration of Color Jam by Jessica Stockholder

76,000-square-feet of colored vinyl, with a 500,000 USD budget, whose real cost was the good will of its patrons.

June 5 – September 30, 2012
The Chicago Loop Alliance’s “Color Jam” by Jessica Stockholder
State Street and Adams Street
Chicago, IL

Runner-up: “De-mystifying the Art Critic @ Chicago Artists’ Coalition”

(11) Best Residency: “ACRE Projects”
Kate Bowen @ ACRE Projects
ACRE Block Party @ ACRE Projects

Insofar as a tangible return on investment is concerned, ACRE stands head-and-shoulders above it’s peers. Whether related to the residency, the sheer number of shows produced by ACRE has transformed the landscape of the Chicago art world.

(Ongoing)
ACRE Projects
Home office:
1913 W. 17th Street, 1F
Chicago, IL, 60608
Residency:
Steuben, Wisconsin

(12) Greatest Misses by Chicago’s Critics: “Noelle Mason @ Thomas Robertello Gallery” and “Sheree Hovsepian @ moniquemeloche”
Noelle Mason @ Thomas Robertello Gallery
Above: Artist Noelle Mason explains the process by which the satellite-mapped US/Mexican border city “bird’s eye perspective” textile in the foreground was fabricated; pinhole camera prints documenting her substantial skydiving experience are mounted on the wall in the background.
Sheree Hovsepian @ moniquemeloche
Above: Sheree Hovsepian with her artwork.

We all wonder why some shows receive press while others do not. Mason and Hovsepian “did everything right,” and yet received scant critical attention.

Noelle Mason
“Blue Skies/Black Death”
September 7 – November 3, 2012
Thomas Robertello Gallery
27 N. Morgan
Chicago, IL 60607

Sheree Hovsepian
“Haptic Wonders”
February 4 – March 24, 2012
moniquemeloche gallery
2154 W. Division (@ Leavitt)
Chicago, IL 60622

(13) Best Painting: “Melissa Oresky @ Hyde Park Art Center” and “Davis/Langlois in Re:Chicago @ DePaul Art Museum”
Melissa Oresky @ Hyde Park Art Center
Above: Melissa Oresky
Davis/Langlois in Re:Chicago @ DePaul Art Museum
Above: Robert Davis and Michael Langlois

These two (three) were interesting for the same reason: brush or roller “strokes” were applied directly to the walls of the exhibition site. “Painting,” here, was no longer wholly a commodity but rather also a temporary transformation of the venue itself.

Melissa Oresky
“Trail”
May 6 – August 19, 2012
Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615

Robert Davis and Michael Langlois
“Living the Dream” in “Re: Chicago”
September 16 – March 4, 2012
DePaul Art Museum
935 W. Fullerton
Chicago, IL 60614

(14) Best Photography: “Dawoud Bey @ The Renaissance Society” and “Sade Kahra @ threewalls”
Dawoud Bey @ The Renaissance Society
Above: Dawoud Bey
Sade Kahra @ threewalls
Above: Sade Kahra

Bey was exactly as expected; Kahra was wholly unexpected. Both photographers presented evidence of the human condition, the bodily circumstance, of their subject. Whether relatively conventional or experimental in its execution, the genre of social documentation is alive and well. Sincere, but not maudlin, the work in each case was a relief from the tide of irony here yet to ebb.

Dawoud Bey
“1975 to the present, a career survey”
May 13 – June 24, 2012
The Renaissance Society
5811 S. Ellis Avenue
Bergman Gallery, Cobb Hall 418
Chicago, Illinois 60637

Sade Kahra
“UV Portraits”
threewalls’ artist-in-research residency
June 1 – June 30, 2012
threewalls
119 N. Peoria #2d
Chicago, IL 60607

(15) Best Public Sculpture: “Martin Creed ‘MOTHERS’ @ MCA Chicago”
Martin Creed Work No. 1092, Work No. 1357 (MOTHERS) @ MCA Chicago

After “Color Jam” and “Forever Marilyn” the bar couldn’t have been much lower.

Installed in August of 2012; now closed.
MCA Chicago
220 E. Chicago Avenue (MVDR Drive)
Chicago IL 60611

(16) Hottest Chicago Artist Who’s Not Theaster Gates: Heidi Norton
BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Heidi Norton
Above: Heidi Norton at the MCA.
Heidi Norton & Geoffrey Todd Smith @ EXPO Vernissage After Party
Above: Heidi Norton and Geoffrey Todd Smith at EXPO Vernissage after party.

Norton’s schmutzy floral collages incorporate all manner of found objects–cast or bound together with wax and resin. If her additive Ab Ex, Neo-Dada process might recall a male figure such as Rauschenberg, her palette and penchant for translucent materials are more distinctly feminine.

After showing at Johalla Projects and the late Ebersmoore, Norton graced the MCA in 2012. In 2013 she was hired by Northwestern University; and institutional connectivity is, we all know, key to longevity in Chicago.

August 7 – October 23, 2012
Curated by Karsten Lund
MCA Chicago
220 E. Chicago Avenue (MVDR Drive)
Chicago IL 60611


POSTSCRIPT

(I) The following errors were identified and corrected in the article above:

– “Sofia Leiby” was originally written as “Sophia Leiby”

– “Vincent Uribe” was originally written as “Vince Uribe”

– “Chris Smith” was not named as Jake Myers’ partner in Tag Team

(II) Image of Jason Lazarus at ACRE Projects removed:

– On March 25, 2012, the author of the article above created a photograph of Jason Lazarus in the act of igniting fireworks in the alley behind ACRE Projects. Uploading said original digital image to Flickr, the author of the article above maintained the nomenclature which he received on-site at the time of said event: ACRE staff referred to said event as Lazarus’ “Fireworks Extravaganza.” Regarding that reference, for 16 months no complaint was made. Jason Lazarus saw said image on Flickr 16 months ago, left a comment on Flickr at said time, and therein made no complaint about the presence of the words “Fireworks Extravaganza” in said image’s Flickr caption. After the publication of the article above a complaint was received by Bad at Sports, from ACRE, with regard to the use of the words “Fireworks Extravaganza” in said image’s caption on Bad at Sports. The offending image and caption have been removed from the article above.

(III) No Endorsement:

– The author of the article above failed to clearly indicate that even as his viewing experience was his own, so too his conclusions were his own. No individual member of Bad at Sports, nor Bad at Sports collectively, ought to be assumed to endorse the article above, in part or in whole. Errors and omissions are the fault of the author of the article above, not Bad at Sports.

Likewise, with the exception of content which he has produced, the author of the article above endorses no content on Bad at Sports, whether said content is found in the blog, podcast, or in any other place.

(IV) Schmutzy:

– In the article above, an image of John McCracken’s “Untitled,” 1967, appears opposite Dan Flavin’s “Untitled (for you, Leo, in long respect and affection) 3,” 1978. Whether appropriate, McCracken has been associated with “finish fetish” artists: meticulous practitioners of craft, whose minimal objects are denominated by clean, smooth surfaces, illustrated by the mirror-like reflectivity of McCracken’s piece in said image, above.

Heidi Norton, while having exhibited geometric figures in the same museum (MCA) in the same year (2012) as McCracken, is in no danger of being confused with him. Norton’s work of late has been hallmarked by blobs, drips (see the image of Norton’s work, above) and other surface irregularities.

The author of the article above chose to employ the word “schmutzy” to describe said formal qualities in Norton’s work. “Schmutz,” literally, means “dirt,” though it’s more broadly used to signify some foreign matter: possibly organic, probably only semi-solid, and definitely capable of making a mess. The primary meaning of the word cannot be overlooked.

Artists and critics, male and female, gay and straight, in contemporary Chicago, have set precedent for the descriptive usage. For example, the application of such material to a picture plane was the definition of “painting” provided by Vera Klement: “a mark with liquidy [sic] stuff…a recreation of the body in a way, it’s the stuff that’s in your body, sloshing around in there, that kind of feces, primal material,” at 8:42 – 10:05, in the BaS podcast “Episode 214: Constellations: Paintings from the MCA Collection” October 4, 2009.

http://badatsports.com/2009/episode-214-constellations-paintings-from-the-mca-collection/

And prior to said statement by Klement, Jason Foumberg wrote: “paint flows expressively like an ejaculation,” in his June 22, 2009, piece “Portrait of the Artist: Dutes Miller,” in Newcity.

http://art.newcity.com/2009/06/22/portrait-of-the-artist-dutes-miller/

Bodily processes and sexuality might be hinted at by a word such as “schmutz” when used in relation to the appearance of Norton’s work; but, the association is no more necessary than is forcing such a (bodily, sexual) reading of “finish fetish” in relation to McCracken’s work. And it’s wrong to conflate the artist and the artwork: a description of one ought not to taken as a description of the other. In no place has it been written that Norton is schmutzy, or is a schmutz.

Postscript above appended on July 21, 2013, by the author of the article above, subsequent to a letter received from the blog’s editor.




What Chicago’s Art Scene Can Learn From Vampire Bats

May 6, 2013 · Print This Article

The art world loves community.  Well, the art world loves the word, “community.”  Or, at least, it might, if we could figure out what the “art world” is, anyway, which is by no means a new problem.  The issues may in fact be quite closely related.  The art world is one of those subcultures that, while in reality a fuzzy-edged cluster of individuals, is easily perceived both by those within and without its borders as being the hard-edged rounded rectangle of an Illuminati card (Liberal, Weird).  “The CIA is going to attempt to control The Art World, and I’m going to put…50 Megabucks on that attack.”  (Which, by the way, actually happened.)

At least, we’d like to think that if the art world were an Illuminati card, it would be Liberal and Weird.  (If you’re not familiar with the game, just translate that as, “We’d like to think the art world is liberal and weird.”)  But that presumes a certain homogeneity that just isn’t there, as in fact did my own presumption that we (me, and you who are reading this) both want the art world to be the same, certain thing.  That is by no means a sure thing.  If for sake of discussion we can continue to refer to the art world as a single entity, then along with “community,” it also praises “diversity.”   That value is tested when one learns that diversity means hanging out with a bunch of people with whom one doesn’t agree, and whom one might not even like.

So what, then, does the concept of community really mean within the context of the art world?  The answers that spring to mind come in the form of analogies:  the art world as ecosystem, the art world as family, the art world as neighborhood.  Any of these metaphors can provide insight into the nature and structure of a subculture, but they can also be misleading, as well as potentially offensive and therefore divisive:  the vulture is an invaluable part of the ecosystems it inhabits, but few would want to be called the vultures of the art world.  (“He only collects work by dead artists.  Also, he’s bald, and when it’s hot out, he shits on his legs.”)

So it’s like Hannibal Lecter says in Silence of the Lambs:  “First principles.  Read Marcus Aurelius:  ‘Of each particular thing ask:  What is it in itself? What is its nature?’ What does he do, this man you seek?”  And as we try to piece together exactly what it is that we do, in this so-called art world of ours, to answer the question, I cringe, expecting any answer I give to be followed by Anthony Hopkins shouting, “No!  That is incidental!”

But nevertheless, the immediate answer, the “He kills women” answer that Lecter would have rejected as superficial, reveals part of the problem.   Mostly I paint, and draw, and I also teach, and write, and sometimes I curate, and perform, and basically do a whole bunch of different stuff.  All of this is part of what it means to be a member of the “Artist” subset of the art world.  There are also critics and curators and collectors and dealers, and while there is a lot of overlap, those who excel in one field tend to be specialists, if only in that the expenditure of time is a zero-sum game.

While each individual participant may bring something else to the equation, our individual efforts add up to a collaborative result, and that conglomerate of artwork and text and ephemera is the collective production of the art world.  And to what end?  I’d like to think, I think we’d all like to think, that our goal is to make the world a better place.  Like the fictional Weyland-Yutani Corporation from Aliens, perhaps our motto is, “Building Better Worlds.”  But isn’t that a bit vague?  After all, isn’t that how everybody, in any field, likes to see what they do?  Doctors save lives , lawyers fight for justice, invading armies are delivering freedom, and timber harvesting companies are creating jobs.  Any human activity can be rationalized in terms of making the world better in one way or another, and that includes a lot of things that are antithetical to the individual ethics to which many artists subscribe.  How can we be sure that we’re really making the world a better place, rather than merely producing luxury commodities ultimately no different from a BMW or a yacht?

One metric, and I’m not saying it’s a perfect one, might be that, rather than ends justifying the means we use to reach them, the means we use to reach our ends might give an indication of the worthiness of those ends.  In short:  If you have to do shitty things to reach your goal, maybe it’s a shitty goal.  Sometime around 1999 or 2000, Google informally adopted the corporate motto or slogan, “Don’t be evil,” and while opinions are varied on how well they are living up to this, the principle is a good enough starting point.  If it has a limitation it’s that “evil” as a word carries connotations of such unmistakable atrocity that it may be hard to see how it applies in morally ambiguous situations:  if we use the word “evil” to refer to something on the level of genocide, its hard to apply the same term to something like failing to credit the inspiration for an artwork.  In its place, we might simply say, “Don’t be a dick,” or in polite company, “Be cool.”

The question of the ethics and etiquette of the art world has been on my mind a lot lately, for a few reasons.  Last August I bought and reviewed “I like your work:  art and etiquette” by Paper Monument; actually my “review” consisted of answering the same questions that they asked of those they interviewed for the book.  More recently, though, I’ve been thinking about the idea of ethics and etiquette in the art world, and about art communities, and ultimately about what we’re all doing and why, because I’ve got some smart, awesome friends who are putting in serious work to make Chicago’s art scene a better place.  Claire Molek, formerly of This Is Not The Studio, is behind those ads you’ve seen on the Brown Line for the “Brave New Art World.”  The BNAW manifesto describes it as “an arts unification movement dedicated to the service of consciousness,” dedicated to the belief that “there is infinite, inherent value in the practice, product and distribution of art as a vehicle for consciousness.” What makes BNAW different is that, unlike a lot of the other (and also very worthwhile) alternative art organizations, it doesn’t seek to colonize an up-and-coming neighborhood with for-now cheap rent and no history of art exhibitions (or collectors).

The Brave New Art World kicked off this past Thursday in River North, a neighborhood with a long history of art exhibitions, high rents, and a reputation (deserved or not) for conservatism and an aging base of collectors and patrons.  It’s the neighborhood the cool kids love to hate, characterizing it as a bastion of old money and boring art.  By launching in this context, BNAW eschews the romantic appeal of the anti-establishment revolutionary ideology, and seeks instead to work within existing structures to renew and reform, rather than to destroy and replace.  It’s a smart move for everybody involved, if this mutualism proves sustainable, because it brings a new generation of innovative and experimental artists into contact with long-established galleries and collectors.  The galleries need new artists to remain relevant in an evolving art market, collectors (we’d hope) are eager to see things they haven’t seen before, and artists benefit by showing their work in established spaces where people actually buy art.  Some River North galleries have a strong history of showing emerging artists, and several have dedicated space or programming to this end:  David Weinberg has dedicated a portion of his space to The Coat Check, Catherine Edelman has a long history of supporting emerging photographers through The Chicago Project, and Jennifer Norback recently added The Project Room to her gallery.  The Brave New Art World has the potential to build upon and expand these programs and others like them, to breath new life into this long-established gallery district.

The launch of a new endeavor raises again the question of ethics and ideology, of what means shall be used to achieve these ends.  Another of my smart and awesome friends, Jake Myers, recently wrote a sort of opinion piece (published on the Brave New Art World site) on some of the dirty aspects of the art world, and opportunities to better, from an ethical perspective.  Some of what he wrote is prone to misinterpretation, and one passage in particular bears closer examination:

Instead of backstabbing, manipulating or using people for short-term gain, some people like to maintain healthy, friendly, long-term working relationships. Reward people who support you and bring other thoughtful, like-minded people into your cohesive crew. This is how communities and art movements begin.

Preceded by the heading “Friends who curate friends, “ and followed by a reference to a certain collaborative team, it would be easy to read this paragraph as a guilty plea to a charge of cliquish nepotism, but I read it differently.

We once bought a pair of feeder mice for our beloved ball python, Snake, but she was about to shed so she wouldn’t eat.  We kept the mice for a couple days in a small cage, fed them granola and made sure they had water, so they would be comfortable while they awaited their fate.  One morning I awoke to find that one of the mice had killed the other and eaten its face (here we are back to Hannibal Lecter again).  Apparently, I’ve since learned, mice kept in too close proximity will suffer stress, which can result in them killing each other and eating each other’s faces.  If you compare the number of graduates from art schools and MFA programs (to say nothing of the self-taught), and compare that to the number of available galleries, collectors, teaching positions, and other opportunities, we shouldn’t be so surprised to see an unfortunate number of young and not-so-young, struggling and not-so-struggling artists kill each other and eat one another’s faces, metaphorically speaking.

What I think Jake, and Claire, and a lot of other smart, awesome people, many of whom I am privileged to call friends, are saying right now, although maybe not in these terms, is that we need to stop being a bunch of mice, which are bitchy, murderous, face-eating piss and shit factories.  (I know, I know, they’re cute.  But they’re also really gross, and eat each other’s faces.)  Instead, we need to be more like vampire bats.  Now, if you’re familiar with Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, and with the discussion of biological altruism, you may have an idea of where I’m going with this, and may in fact already be mouthing the words to you rebuttal.  But bear with me.  Dawkins gave a good summary of the Vampire Bat model of Reciprocal Altruism on a radio interview with Tom Morton:

Well, vampire bats have a kind of blood donor scheme; vampire bats, as you know, eat blood, and it happens to be a case of reciprocal altruism that’s been well worked out. These bats roost by day and then at night they go out and look for an animal to suck blood from, and then they come back and roost for the next day. Well if a bat is lucky, and manages to find an animal to suck blood from, it usually engorges itself and becomes very, very full, has much more blood than it actually needs. But that is quite a lot of luck that goes into that, and there are other nights when a bat will come home hungry, having not found any blood. And that can be fatal. These little animals need constant topping up in order not to die. So the situation is tailor-made for reciprocal altruism. When these bats come back into their cave after their night’s work, so to speak, some of them will be almost overflowing with blood, and others will be near death from starvation, and so there’s a lot to be gained from the ones who’ve got a lot of blood giving some to the ones who haven’t got much, and they do it by regurgitating it, by sicking it up, and the others eat it. And they can expect to get paid back by those very same individuals on another night, when the luck has been reversed. And that actually happens, that’s been demonstrated and it’s a very good example of reciprocal altruism in nature.

The game theorists point out that because these bats know they’re going to see each other again, it’s not true altruism, but rather an investment in a community.  This may be an argument for the evolution of true altruism, but it’s an argument for, rather than against, its use as a model for behavior within a community.  Be cool to your friends, because they might be cool to you in the future.  Don’t try go game it, to only hook up your friends whom you expect to be able to do you a favor in the future.  Just do everything you can, to help anybody you can, because in the long term, it is in your self-interest to do so, as long as we’re all doing it.  So, let’s all help each other out, whenever and however we can, and everybody profits.

In other words, you barf blood into my mouth, and I’ll barf blood into yours.  That’s community.