EDITION #11

June 17, 2013 · Print This Article

Tony Tasset is watching you.

Painting the town red

Everyone knows that going to a museum or a gallery is usually more trouble than it’s worth. What, with all the disapproving glances, heady talk and questionable wine selections. Wouldn’t it be easier just to look at art while you shop? Or during your morning commute to the Loop?

Citizens of Chicago, have no fear. Murals and public commissions are popping up all over (and around) the city. Just this past week the CTA announced the seven artists commissioned to beautify North Side Red Line stations. Lynn Basa (renowned public artist and my former boss) posted this mock-up for her Byzantine glass mosaic that will adorn the Argyle stop on facebook. Basa, who [literally] wrote the book on public art commissions mentioned to me this weekend that she is elated to be creating a public work in her hometown.

Basa mock-up for the Argyle station.

As if the CTA commissions weren’t enough, some of my very favorite Miami artists from Jim Drain to Bhakti Baxter have been descending on the town of Rosemont to complete murals in a new mall scheduled to open sometime this summer. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the ever-relevant New York Times devoted print space to this “ambitious” project. What’s the T? has heard that the mall will also feature an Alvaro Ilizarbe piece that is “his sistine chapel” and worth the trip to the mall-seum. See you there?

Chicago artist, Josh Reames, working on the Drain mural.

Threewall’s ‘Power of Ten’ was a party for way more.

Screw Basel and Venice, the Threewalls 10th anniversary benefit this weekend was on point! The Power of Ten at Salvage One had everything – food, drinks, crazy antiques and baubles, steampunk-style old-timey tin-types, circus performers, drink, dancing, a silhouette cutting artist, music, drinks, and even some art.

Even though we still don’t know where they’re moving (do they even know where they’re moving to?!), here are ten fabulously done-up attendee’s in honor of the power of ’10′:

Threewalls Programming Director, Abby Satinsky with artist and curator, Anthony Romero. Abby’s dress is just killer and La Croix continues to trend.

Auction guest curators and Chicago fashion icons, Ben Foch and Chealsea Culp of New Capital with Threewalls Director Shannon Stratton.

Formerly featured on Who Wore it Better, the daper Daniel Tucker and Anthony Stepter.

Artist Jason Lazurus flanked by up-and-comers Raven Munsell and Jesse Malmed. LOVING the seersucker suit!

Totally Trending

Face paint was definitely a big winner at the ACRE Block Party last Saturday, June 8th.


The Weatherman Report

Mary Heilmann , San Gregorio, 2012 Oil on canvas (15 x 12 inches) Image provided by hyperallergic.

SMALLTIME ARCHIPHILE:

Roberto Clemente Post Office

Consistently referred to as the worse post office in the world, the Roberto Clemente Branch of the USPS in Logan Square is a wonderfully ‘brick’ building, not in material but in shape. Thats not to say it’s shaped like a brick, but the bricks become different shapes. I say this because brick is on display, not for what it wants to be – sorry Lou Kahn – but for what it tries to simulate. It’s like when Neo sees Agent Smith shrouded in binary code – parts to whole, whole to parts, but without the make-up.

Post office exterior.

Usually used as a traditional building material, mostly flat and controlled through joining patterns, bricks do not become cylindrical columns, filleted edges, curves, almost tapestry like frames for tall beautiful window displays of people waiting two hours for a package, like at the RCPO. Opened in 1937, this building threw me for a loop because I dated it later, but the deco interior and amazing mural insice should have been more of an indication.

The mural in all it’s glory.

The changes in the bricks attitude is mad postmodern, but it was done at the mid-stage of American modernism, lending itself to the deco ideas of streamline. That would explain the curvaceous bod on this beauty, but not her brick dress. Beauty might be only skin deep, but when you use rounded bricks to complete a homogenous cladding of a building that could have been expressed in steel or another more plastic material, you’re trying to say something about normal buildings out there, namely ‘who cares what the brick wants to be.’

Located at 2339 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

SLAC studios take hold on Milwaukee Ave

If you live in Logan Square you’ve probably been wondering what happened to that garrish pink bakery on Milwaukee Avenue near the Spaulding Blue Line stop. Unwilling to let it lay dormant, Gwendolyn Zabicki, founder and director of the South Logan Arts Coalition is putting this and other vacant storefronts on Milwaukee Avenue to use. SLAC’s studios will be open to the public with exhibitions featuring a total of 40 artists during the 2013 Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, June 28-30th.

What’s the T? caught up with Zabicki and some of the SLAC artists for sneak peek of what SLAC has in store for MAAF:

Matthew Woodward with his work in the bakery turned studio.

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival will also feature local favorites and newcomers such as the Trailer Park Proyects, Threewalls, The Comfort Station, Document, Reform Objects. We also heard the food is going to be the bomb.com.

SLAC continued…

Milwaukee Ave Arts Fest flyer at Reform Objects.

Natalie Krick in her SLAC studio.

Zabicki in the studio being occupied by Krick.

Location to Stationers

Summer Dreamin’

Location to Station: Help my ACRE homies fulfill their vision quest to super rad places like Cahokia. The artists are all super talented, and the “perks” for donating are real sweet.

ACRE Kitchen: ACRE does a lot of intangible things for the over 90 artists who visit the residency in Wisconsin each summer, but one of the most substantial and delicious parts of the program is feeding everyone twice a day. Anyone who’s been to ACRE knows the food is awesome, fresh, sustainable, all that jazz and the staff is tireless. Help ACRE help you! Plus it’s tax deductible. Hurry! There’s only a few days left!




The Density of Light: An Interview with Deborah Boardman

May 25, 2011 · Print This Article

A Porous Space, COD Gahlberg Gallery Installation, View shows Painted Wood Singing Platform, 10' diameter, divided in two by the Faults Strip, which runs along the gallery's underground fault line, and Book of Faults, unique painted book of the artist's personal faults supplemented by those donated to the project, 2010

A few days ago I paid a visit to Deborah Boardman’s studio. Having made my way up to Rogers Park, I walked down a side street into a neighborhood that brimmed with pre-summer activity; lawn mowers and birds both seemed endlessly active and I thought about how we’d all emerged for an after-winter stretch before the heat set in. On this street lies Boardman’s house. At the front door I was greeted first by two dogs and then the painter. We climbed up the stairs to her studio on the third floor. Windows on all sides. Leafy, green trees billowed around us where they caught the wind and it was impossible to see the street below. I felt like I was in a green cloud. Boardman has been painting in this room for the last 15 years: a light-addled attic with one, tallest wall where she paints. Other walls are either interrupted by windows or fall at angles defined by the peaked roof. The floor is wooden, spattered with paint. There is a sink in one corner of the room and everything smells vaguely like turpentine. What struck me immediately was the way the light in Boardman’s paintings matched the light in her studio. I understand that usually happens—paintings reflect the space they were produced in, but I always forget that light has variant qualities, depending on where and when it shines. This was a palpable, pervasive shim of light. I’ve never thought of light having density before, but in this room it did. And in Boardman’s paintings the light also has body. It defines the space between lines and marks.

Her work is in constant communion with this place, whether literally depicting the studio as a subject, or by using its same palette and wind. Motifs repeat like patterns as she paints from life in oil, then transcribes that painting multiple times, again and again, with different variations into gouache on paper. While looking over her work, I began to learn the language she uses–to parse clusters of marks from other lines, differentiating what lines referred to the wooden trunk standing against another wall of the room and what series of marks described another painting. I was able to see how the depiction of the trunk lost it’s literal authority as, time and time again, it was redrawn in ever increasing abstraction. Other motifs were similarly repeated—the sink, a bottle of dish soap, paint brushes, other paintings, photographs, books and vials. The most prominent window is also a regular image as are the objects it boasts: small vials, a meditation cloth, books and small, skeletal remnants of a bird, an entire crayfish, the jowl of a fish. Different paintings feature the tree outside with leaves or bare with winter. To start understanding Boardman’s work is to spend time in this space, in her studio—a place so integral to her process it becomes not simply the location of work, but also its subject. She also paints patterns. Patterns are painted onto canvases and paper; where sometimes they stand alone, in other instances one pattern abuts another pattern, in still other instances a patterns lies, like a veil, over domestic landscapes. Sometimes those landscapes are represented simply, without a pattern, but there is a dialogue between those choices. It’s a dialogue about seeing and how we see and how we locate ourselves within what we see. What follows is an interview I embarked upon with her. We talk about painting and the canvas and pattern and windows.

Winter Studio 18, Gouache on paper, 2011, 22" x 30"

Caroline Picard: Can you talk a little bit about how your painting practice has developed over time? Do you notice a consistent investigation of themes or ideas?

Deborah Boardman: Definitely there are themes I return to over and over again.  One is my relationship to painting in which it becomes evidence of my physical body and my hand conveys a kind of emotional warmth, no matter what image is represented. Another is my love of other people’s paintings, whether artists like Watteau or Manet or Noland, or friends’ paintings. I find the emotional timbre in the works of my friends gives me a sense of affirmation, like singing along to a great song. I often find myself connecting to the work of others by copying them, rendering these works as cluster of notes I am examining in my studio, including my own.

CP: I’m interested in how you talk about the canvas/painting as an emotive,
expressive front. I was wondering if you could describe more about what that
is like, for you. Does a painting inspire warmth for you? Or is it the act
 of painting? And, if it’s possible to ask, why?–where does the emotion come
from for you and what is it for?

DB: I can say that both looking at painting and the act of painting elicit similar feelings of warmth, excitement and vigor. There is usually a struggle with self doubt in both circumstances…the great painting that I want to emulate, but can I and my own paralysis when faced with the unknown and what feels like sometimes overwhelming inadequacy.

Where it comes from is harder to answer. I think there is both a physical recognition through bodily memory, especially if the one looking at painting also paints, and empathy. Yet I know people who don’t paint at all who have looked at my painting and got that physical recognition. It’s a kind of resonance, a pleasure (and often pain) we feel in common.

Book of Faults (Some of Mine Some of Yours), Painted Book, 2010, Detail, gouache on paper, 17" x 36" Contains images of paintings of Boardman's studio, her own personal faults and those of others contributed to the project.

CP: How do you think about pattern in your practice?

DB: Pattern is everywhere, sometimes it is more obvious to us. I love when painting reveals something fresh about the coherence in the world which sometimes I observe and sometimes is just subtle sensation. When I paint patterns, I focus on the color and the size and weight of the brush stroke, and the variances that occur when my hand wobbles, or when the water blurs, things that I try not to control and that surprise me. The focus painting patterns brings is very different than looking at my surroundings, which in some ways is more difficult, and requires greater discipline. I like combining the two in my studio paintings.

CP: I feel like this is a question I’ve been meaning to ask for a long time, actually. I started wondering about it when I noticed all of your paintings of your studio. I then thought about it again when Chicago was doing its city-wide studio investigations (via the MCA and Smart Museum). How do you think about the studio as a source of inspiration?

DB: Yes, quite a long time ago, I decided to counter my tendency to make very curvy, gestural images out of my head with attempts to ground myself in the present world. The most obvious place to start was my studio and that led me naturally to Matisse and his studio paintings. I also stumbled upon a painting by a student of David’s one summer visiting the Louvre. The painting depicts about twelve of David’s students painting in a small, dimly lit studio. I was so struck by the state of absorption and evident pleasure represented in the painting that I copied it many times and also researched other versions of artists in their studios, mostly from the 19th century. I think I found affirmation and reassurance through these paintings in what is often a lonely and doubt-ridden pursuit. I think the studio is a concrete stand-in for the self and ultimately what one deals with as an artist is the weight and sum of how to find meaning and connection to others through ones work.

CP: When you talk about the studio as being a representation of the self, I’m
immediately curious about what your physical experience is like, when you
enter your studio…like how does that feeling of being inside your studio
compare to being in a classroom where you teach, or a room in your house?
And then, too, what is it like for you to walk into the studios of others?

DB: My studio is deeply familiar and generally feels good to be in. Sometimes there are periods when I am working out of a particular palette that I end up disliking and crave the antidote. I make periodic purges of work, editing and cleaning out, which refreshes and opens up the space again.

My studio doesn’t need to accommodate others, at least at this point, and in that way is very different from the spaces I share with others, like my family or students. I really dislike the classroom studios at saic, as they are overwhelmingly gray and anonymous. I tend to love the studios of friends and of artists I admire that I may not be close to, like Byron Kim. I love to see the ordering of the space, and what is prioritized and valued.

CP: What happens to the studio space when it becomes public? (whether being
presented in an exhibition, or in a painting or via an open studio?)

DB: The public studio space is less intimate, and becomes an artifact of itself, and therefore theatrical. An exhibition is always in some aspects, a version of the public studio space.

A Porous Space, 2009, Installation at Heskin Contemporary, New York, Gouache on paper paintings function as stained glass in gallery windows.

 

CP: How does a canvas relate to a window?

DB: While my canvases evoke the renaissance ideal of looking through a window into another world, they also remain very much objects in the physical world. I am less interested in the illusion of space than alluding to other spaces, while reinforcing the material and physical conditions of the body.

CP: How do you negotiate ideas of failure? I was thinking partly about *The Book of Faults* and the LaLaLa Singers, for instance—in that instance it seemed like an idea of failure became a collaborative performance that was then able to transcend itself…?

DB: It was such an epiphany to learn about Xavier Le Pichon’s idea of geological faults being necessary to the health and wellbeing of the earth as a living being. He makes the analogy that human frailty is also necessary for our survival as a species and reveals to us our essentially interdependent nature. It is a very different model than the competitive, survival of the fittest, only the “best” artists or “best” anything deserve our attention. I love how Le Pichon’s theory dovetails with the modernist idea of failure, as a kind of heroic risk taking one must experience despite of ones anxieties and belief that artistic perfection, let alone trying to make anything worthwhile, is impossible to realize in the modern world

What singing with the La La La Singers reminds me again and again, is that connecting with other human beings, singing in harmony is a kind of effortless, pure joy that creates the kind of warmth I crave.

I also find working with ED JR. relieves an enormous amount of the anxiety about self worth. It is easier to trust the instincts of our collective minds, and a heck of a lot more fun. That said, I am not giving up my “day job” as a painter in the studio, as I find the solitude and introspection it brings, also essential to my clarity and growth as an artist.

This Sunday, on May 29th, Deborah Boardman’s collaborative group, ED JR (also Edra Soto, Jeroen Nelemans and Ryan Richey) will present their performance, Painting is Dead from 3-7pm at the Charnel House. With special guests Charles Mahaffee, Diego Leclery, Kayce Bayer, Chris Lin, Hannis Pannis, La La La Singing, Laughing Eye Weeping Eye (Rebecca Schoenecker and Patrick Holbrook). Painting is Dead is part of an on-going series called Five Funerals.