Guest post by A.Martinez
Kate Ruggeri is a Chicago-based artist, DJ, and curator who has shown at Roots & Culture (Chicago), Green Gallery East (Milwaukee), Western Exhibitions (Chicago), and Important Projects (Oakland). She is one of those people who exudes a humble cool, yet is enthusiastic about all she’s committed to, and excited about life and the people and things in it. After a handful of years of staying in touch from afar, I wanted to connect more closely to ask Kate some questions about her life and her work before she moves to New Haven in July to pursue her MFA at Yale.
A.Martinez: Were art and making art important to you from a young age?
Kate Ruggeri: Oh, yeah. Totally. My parents were always really encouraging. In elementary school I started taking drawing classes outside of school. I won a few poster contests. I used to do this thing every year called The Olympics of The Visual Arts, which is a New York State program. Pretty much you assemble a team, work on a year long project, and then compete against other teams. When I got a little older I got really into dark room photography. You know, carrying a camera around all the time and developing film in your bathroom. My mom and I took figure drawing classes together. A lot of colleges have art classes for kids during the summer, so I was always doing that too.
Martinez: How long have you kept a journal? And what does this practice of journaling do for you and your art practice?
Ruggeri: Since elementary school. I think my first one has a little lock on it. I never really stopped. It’s actually super important, to clear your head, to drain it. I try to write every day. I feel very scattered if I don’t. For art making, it’s good for me to work through ideas and to understand impulses I have. Often I make something and I’m not sure why I made that decision or was drawn to that form. Writing brings everything to the surface. It brings clarity. Studio work is one way of thinking and writing is how I detangle everything. Not just artwise, but life wise. It’s all the same, of course.
Martinez: How long have you had your own studio space? What does it look like?
Ruggeri: After school I had a tiny studio in a building across from Moonshine on Division. It’s been torn down since. I’ve been in the spot I’m at now for a little over a year. It’s a co-op at Damen and Fulton. I moved in there after my old spot on Elston burned down. We have an entire floor that is divided amongst us. My studio’s a mess. I see other people’s studios sometimes, and they have a turntable and little plants and it’s very cozy. My place is like a construction zone. I like that better. It lets me focus on the work.
Martinez: What is a typical day in the studio like for you?
Ruggeri: Nights are better. I like working when no one is around. You can play music loud. I believe in a witching hour. It really depends, though. I usually am working on one sculpture and 4-5 paintings at the same time. If I just finished something big or just installed a show, I draw and watch movies at home. I don’t really have a routine. Ben Medansky once described his ceramic studio as being around a million crying babies. That’s how I feel in there. I work a lot in series, so I just treat 6 pieces at the same time, and then have some experiments going. Right now I have some exercise balls I’ve been sort of doodling on. Then I’ll carve on these wood paintings until my hand hurts. Then I’ll cut some wood shapes out to paint. Or dump plaster on something. It’s a mix of working on very planned pieces and experiments. Everything always changes though.
Martinez: How do you begin a painting?
Ruggeri: Putting something down, anything! I break it in. I try not to think about it too much and just get the ball rolling. Usually it’s a good color.
Martinez: You work in both 2D and 3D- how does a piece become one or the other?
Ruggeri: When I was in school I used to trip myself up with that question. I can say now that they’re all paintings. I’m a painter that has sculptural impulses. I try to feed both ways of making. I try to be democratic about it. The larger sculptures can be exhausting to make, so there is often a down period of just painting and drawing before starting one again. Material, color, and mark making can drive a piece to be 3D or 2D. Finding a good object. Seeing a particularly inspiring show of painting or sculpture.
Martinez: What artists inspire you?
Ruggeri: Philip Guston, Mike Kelley, Matisse, Picasso, Claes Oldenberg, Cy Twombly, Franz West, Rauschenberg, Joan Miro, Giacometti, Sterling Ruby, William J. O’Brien, Jonathan Meese, Mary Heilmann, Huma Bhabha, Gerhard Richter, Howard Fonda
Martinez: You have a pretty extensive record collection and DJ monthly at Danny’s. Do you feel there’s a connection between your music endeavors and your art-making?
Ruggeri: Yes. It feels very connected.
Martinez: What musicians inspire you?
Ruggeri: Parliament/Funkadelic, Dead Moon, Congos, Minutemen, Bad Brains, Robert Wyatt, Brian Eno, Miles Davis, Captain Beefheart, Sparks, Beach Boys, Lee Scratch Perry, Roxy Music, De La Soul, Neil Young, Patrick Cowley, Big Star
Martinez: What do you typically listen to while in the studio working?
Ruggeri: It’s different every time, chosen for the day and mood. But Nas “Illmatic” gets played a lot. J.Dilla, Shuggie Otis, Pastor T.L. Barrett, Skip Spence, Velvet Underground. Mixes from friends. Jorge Ben, Milton Nascimento, Witch, Amanaz are all good…
Martinez: Do you do collaborations with other artists?
Ruggeri: Sure, I’ve done it a few times. Right now I’m working on a collaboration with Alex Valentine. He gave me these plates to draw on, and then we’ll print them together on newsprint, and then use them to paper mache a sculpture. It’s great because Alex is primarily a printmaker and I know barely anything about the process. I love the idea of making a sculpture made out of drawing. A perfect hybrid.
Martinez: In 2012, you co-curated a show, “Quarterly Site 11: Line-of-Site“, at Western Exhibitions. How did you land this opportunity? What was the experience like for you? And do you think you’ll curate more shows in the future?
Ruggeri: Jamilee Polson Lacy asked me to do it. She’s been doing these curatorial series for a while now, asking artists to curate a show at a different gallery. It was great. I got to work with Alicia Chester and Karolina Gnatowski. It’s fun to be on the other side of things, and it gave me an opportunity to create a show entirely different from my practice. I really wanted to see a show of top notch performance work. Curating is a lot of work, but I would love to do it again. I think the trick is when you start to think, “Why isn’t ___ kind of work being shown? Why hasn’t someone curated a show about ____?” is when you should get on curating a show. I’m starting to feel that, but I would need the right time and space.
Martinez: You and I actually met while undergrads at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. What is something that has stuck with you from your education and experience there about being a painter, artist, or person?
Ruggeri: Something that always stuck with me is remembering how I felt there: supported, invigorated, and that changing the world was definitely possible. It’s good to protect that enthusiasm, even when you’re working 9 to 5 and feel too tired to go to the studio.
Martinez: How has your experience at Ox-Bow School of Art as student and then again as a fellow affect your art? How long were you there total?
Ruggeri: Ox-Bow. Oh, man. I first went in 2007 as a student, and pretty much tried to take as many classes there as I could. If you got work study, you just had to pay for the credits, which I needed anyway. I went three consecutive Summers and one Winter. The Summer of 2010 was great, I took a class with Jose Lerma called “Expanded Painting, Expanded Sculpture.” Not hard to see it was a big influence on me. I was really lucky to receive a Joan Mitchell Fellowship this past Fall and I was an artist-in-residence for 5 weeks. As a student, classes meet everyday. I also had to wake up every morning to clean toilets for work study. This time, as a resident, it was like being at a beautiful retreat. There were only other residents, I had my own studio, and I got to structure my own day. It was incredible.
Martinez: Congratulations on your acceptance to the MFA Painting program at Yale! What are you most excited about in starting this program in the fall?
Ruggeri: Thanks! I’m most excited about a fresh start. And making better art.
Martinez: What do you think are some interesting things happening around the city of Chicago art-wise?
Ruggeri: Ryan Travis Christian has a show up at Western Exhibitions that I need to get over to. William J. O’Brien at the MCA. Isa Genzken at the MCA. Alexander Valentine has a show at 3433 coming up.
Martinez: What are you currently working on?
Ruggeri: I’m finishing up a re-make of a sculpture I lost in the fire. It’s a harp. I just wrapped up these brooches I made for the Three Walls Gala coming up in June. Starting some new paintings. I keep thinking I need to stop because I’m moving, but I have some projects I want to do before I leave. I have an ongoing series of fake album covers, and I have a photo shoot coming up for the next installment.
Martinez: Your recent show, “Tropical Depression” at LVL3 just closed May 4th. Do you have any other openings coming up?
Ruggeri: No, thankfully! I’m moving to New Haven end of July. I’m trying to tie up loose ends.
Martinez: Is there a piece of advice, art related or not that you think of often?
Ruggeri: Say yes to all opportunities offered to you. Avoid excessive thinking about the past and future.
To find out more about Kate, her artwork and her upcoming shows go to http://kate-ruggeri.com/
All photos courtesy of the artist.
A.Martinez is a freelance art and music organizer living in Chicago, IL. She is currently working on a performing arts summer festival called The Living Loop, and will release her first book of poetry this summer.
Related articles across the web
Guest Post by Britton Bertran
I didnâ€™t get out to see a lot art in Chicago this year as I was too happily busy being a Dad to the best little boy in the world. Â Nonetheless, here are some lists of what I did see, what I didnâ€™t, some predictions and some things Iâ€™m anticipating.Â I know we all have a love/hate with these kinds of lists, but this should be pretty easy to digest.Â Click on those links.
Exhibitions I saw:
- Amalia Pica at the MCA
- Fragment: Sampling the Modern at the Elmhurst Art Museum
- Wendy White at Andrew Rafacz
- Andrew Holmquist at Carrie Secrist Gallery
- David Salle: Ghost Paintings at The Arts Club of Chicago
- Vivian Maier
- EXPO Chicago
- AICâ€™s Modern Wingâ€™s closed 3rd floor
- The Way of the Shovel at the MCA
- Chicago Sculpture Internationalâ€™s Sculpture on the Boulevards
Exhibitions/Events I didnâ€™t see:
- RH Quaytman at the Renaissance Society
- Medium Cool
- Steve McQueen at the AIC
- Matt Nichols at Corbett vs. Dempsey
- Mike Andrews at The Suburban
Anticipating in 2014:
- The Whitney Biennial
- William J. Oâ€™Brien at the MCA
- Christopher Wool at the AIC
- Christopher Williams at the AIC
- A new permanent space for Threewalls
- The Whitney Biennial fails in the eyes of critics
- A major commercial gallery in Chicago will close, another will open
- A storied institution will lose itâ€™s curator
- A galvanizing work of public art will really piss people off
- A better year than 2013
Bio: 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. Â
Work by Dan Mills.
Chicago Cultural Center is located at 78 E. Washington St. Reception Friday, 5:30-7:30pm.
Work by Ethan Rose.
Experimental Sound Studio is located at 5925 N. Ravenswood Ave. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.
Work by Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven.
Public Works Gallery is located at 1539 N. Damen Ave. Reception Friday, 7-10pm.
Curated by Michael Rea, with work by Chris Naka, Matthew Hebert, Kate Ruggeri, Kassie Teng, Zach Meyer, Ethan Gill, and John Phillip Abbott.
Ebersmoore is located at 350 North Ogden Ave, Suite 100. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.
Work by John Vogl, Landland, and Casey Burns.
Galerie F is located at 2381 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception Friday, 6-10pm.
Hello again everyone. Sorry for the silence last week, I was on an adventure to California. It was great, except for the fact that someone out there got me sick, and now that I’m back with my nose to the grinding stone and a shoot to go to this weekend (both kinds), and I’ve got a wicked cold. Art’s been slimming down in preparation for the big Sept. 10th blowout, but there’s still a lot of great work up. Here’s my weekend picks…
Work by Chicago artists Jeremiah Ketner, Myong Kurily, Jim Pavelec, David Rettker, Shawn Roberts, and Chema Skandal.
Rotofugi Gallery is located at 1955 W. Chicago Ave. Reception is Friday, from 7-10pm.
Paintings and prints by Justin Santora.
Fill in the Blank Gallery is located at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave. Reception is Friday, from 7-11pm.
Work by Elijah Burgher, Sara Fagala, Terence Hannum, Chad Harrison, Ivan Lozano, Adam Ludwig, and Rebecca Walz.
Johalla Projects is located at 1561 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception is Friday, from 7-11pm.
Work by Kim Curtis and S.J. Hart made at Tryon Farm in Michigan City.
Kasia Kay Art Projects Gallery is located at 215 N. Aberdeen St. Reception is Saturday, from 4-6pm.
Work by Liz Nielsen, Kate Ruggeri, and Brendan Sullivan.
LVL3 is located at 1452 N Milwaukee Ave, #3. Reception Saturday, from 6-10pm.
Oh, may darling lovelies, I will miss you all this weekend. I must leave you to travel north for the weekend. Friday night will find me sitting in a cabin on the edge of a lake, drinking rum and trying to figure out how to not loose at poker. It will be good, and I so dearly need it. But, I am not leaving you with nothing. Though I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while now, I am bummed about the line-up I’m going to be missing this weekend, for it is a good one. Before I go on to the list, I did want to mention one thing. My friend Laura Shaeffer (of Home Gallery) is running the second iteration of the Op-Shop down in Hyde Park and is looking for proposals for the space. It is an old Hollywood Video with, I shit you not, the CREEPIEST FUCKING BASEMENT in the whole of time. Want to make some crazy site specific art ASAP? Proposals are due by Saturday! And now, for the list…
1. WTF 1.0 at Kunz, Vis, Gonzalez
And I quote, “KVG cordially invites you to attend the opening of WTF 1.0 curated by Rosalinda March 19th 2010 from 6-10pm at 2324 Montana Chicago, IL. WTF is a Kunz, Vis, GonzÃ¡lez exhibition series introducing the viewer to contemporary ideas on the cult ofÂ ‘new and youth.’Â WTF uses humor and the absurd in visual art to delight the viewer and create a reflexive lens in which to view radical shifts in cultural perspectives.” Can’t argue with anyone who calls an art show WTF. Perhaps my next show will be called FUBAR, or possibly BOHICA.
Kunz, Vis, GonzÃ¡lez is located at 2324 W. Montana St., in the garage. The reception is Friday from 6-10pm.
2. Irena Knezevic: Gesture Guild at Threewalls
And I quote, “The League of Dark Departments have joined forces in the Gesture Guild, a bureau for the recovery and acquisition of lost gestures. The Gesture Guild aims to return and reinforce the primordial anxieties responsible for head-bending weight and other liquid spiraling disasters, topical and tropical.” Oh and I love the editors note: Sailor attire is strongly encouraged, those who do not arrive as sailors will be made into sailors.
Threewalls is located at 119 N. Peoria St, #2C. The reception is Friday from 6-9pm, performance begins at 7pm.