November 22, 2011 · Print This Article
Ah yes, it’s that time again! Time for another panel discussion on art criticism in Chicago. Luckily for y’all, this one is filled with great folks who really know their stuff. AND: it’s been organized in celebration of The Essential New Art Examiner, a compendium edited by our friends Kathryn Born and Terri Griffith of the best writings from the venerable Chicago-based art journal. Born and Griffith will appear on tonight’s panel, along with BAS’ fabulous pal and dapper man-about-town Abraham Ritchie (Chicago editor of ArtSlant), Lori Waxman (Tribune), Jason Foumberg (New City), Steve Ruiz (The Visualist) and Ann Wiens, former New Art Examiner editor, all of whom represent different yet equally vibrant aspects of the Chicago critical scene. The whole shebang is moderated by critic and SAIC faculty member James Yood. So there you have it! Go go go! The panel takes place tonight, Tuesday, November 22nd at 6-8 pm in the Second Floor Ballroom of the MacLean Center (112 S. Michigan Avenue). The full, official-like press release info follows below.
The panel discussion “Art Criticism in Chicago: Past, Present, Future” will occur 6-8 pm on Tuesday, November 22 in the Second Floor Ballroom of the MacLean Center (112 S. Michigan Avenue). Organized in memory of distinguished art critics Kathryn Hixson and Polly Ullrich (both SAIC faculty and alumna), this wide-ranging investigation into the challenges and triumphs in art writing in Chicago also honors the recent publication of The Essential New Art Examiner, a compendium of essays originally printed in the most significant Chicago-based art publication of its era (1973-2002). The panel will move forward from that to assess the current state of art criticism in Chicago, both print- and web-based, and analyze the rapidly changing milieu for arts conversation in Chicago.
The panelists are Kathryn Born and Terri Griffith, editors of the “The Essential New Art Examiner”, Jason Foumberg of Newcity, Abraham Ritchie from ArtSlant: Chicago, Steve Ruiz from visualist, Lori Waxman from the Chicago Tribune, Ann Wiens, former editor of the NAE, and James Yood, moderator of the panel and former editor of the NAE. (Griffith, Waxman, and Yood are members of the SAIC faculty, and Foumberg, Griffith, Ritchie, Waxman and Wiens are SAIC graduates.) The event is free and open to the public, and is supported with the assistance of Lisa Wainwright, Dean of Faculty, Paul Coffey, SAIC Vice Provost, and Candida Alvarez, Dean of Graduate Studies.
Richard Rezac has a wonderful exhibition up right now at Rhona Hoffman Gallery (through February 2, 2010). In addition, the Modern Wing of the Art Institute is currently displaying six Rezac sculptures (spanning the years 1985-2008) from its Collection — they’ll be on view through early May. Rezac had a survey exhibition at the Gahlberg Gallery of the College of DuPage last year (the exhibition’s catalogue, which contains an enlightening essay by James Yood, is available for download on the Gahlberg Gallery’s website; just click on the link above to go there).
Richard generously agreed to answer a few questions about his latest works via email. I’m very grateful to him for taking the time to provide such illuminating and thoughtful responses.
You won the Rome Prize fellowship in 2006, which enabled you to travel to Italy to study Roman architecture in greater depth. To what extent did having a more sustained, daily interaction with Roman architecture impact your work?
That 11 month experience in Rome and in numerous parts of Italy has had a strong, and I trust, lasting effect, though because it was so substantive, I still do not know the extent of the influence. My purpose was to study the Baroque architecture of Francesco Borromini, whose 11 or so buildings are all in Rome. My approach in taking this in was naturally one of an artist, not an historian, though I certainly read what I could about his work and that of his immediate predecessors and those he influenced, especially Juvarra and Guarini in Turin.
The great pleasure was in seeing Borromini’s architecture (and eventually a large group of drawings in Vienna) on a near weekly basis, allowing me to feel aspects of his accomplishment and study many details. I was also privileged, by the American Academy’s offices, to gain entry to parts of his buildings normally off-limits.
The effect on my sculpture is not so clear to me, other than a continuation of some complexity – several materials or layers or juxtaposed forms within one work resulting in a, perhaps, more broad, gently argumentative, dynamic. In the long arc, though, of my sculptural language from the past 25 years, there has been an evolution from simple and concrete form to more extended, thin, linear and colored form, so the desire to be around Borromini’s architecture was in some sense anticipated by my work before I went there.
Along with architecture, I often think of interior design when viewing your sculptures. Some of them, for me, bring to mind things as mundane as contemporary kitchen and bathroom fixtures! After coming home from viewing your show, the kitchen faucets, towel racks, and cabinet knobs in my house–the particular geometries of their placement and their relationship to my body–all of a sudden stood out for me. Even the old-fashioned diamond tile in my bathroom floor started to “dance” for me in new ways. Am I being overly-specific here, or do you yourself ever draw inspiration from commonplace domestic interiors?
There is certainly a resemblance to ornament, facets of interior design objects, furniture, and architectural detail, such as moldings, in my sculpture of the past 6-8 years. I attribute this mainly to geometric form – the basic language in which my sculpture originates. Perhaps most manufactured applied design objects rely on the ease of elemental, efficient geometric forms. So there is an overlap, to be sure, between the common domestic accessories often handled or those elements produced in multiples as in tile flooring and the appearance of some of my forms or combinations.
I consider most of my sculpture, and all of those that are untitled, to be abstract and they may only arrive at some suggestiveness or association to domestic elements when completed and then exist in our space. I have rarely begun a work with the intention of representing another existing form, if anything it is in pursuit of a persona or complex phenomena. I am most interested, in as much as is possible for me, in starting with nothing and finding a satisfying form or arrangement.