December 14, 2010 · Print This Article
In his artist statement for a recent exhibition at the Institute of Visual Arts, John Riepenhoff used Colby cheese to make a comment on regionalism. His bio describes him as an “artist, curator, gallery director, art fair co-organizer and inventor of artistic platforms for the expression on others.” Although it may sound like hyperbole, all of those titles accurately define the multifaceted practice of the Milwaukee-based creative. I first encountered John at the 2006 Milwaukee International Art Fair, where I had the honor of working the Ooga Booga booth. I was stunned that John and his collaborators had managed to gather The Suburban, Gavin Brown’s enterprise, White Columns, CANADA, Karma International, and more in the community center/bar/bowling alley of the Polish Falcons Beer Hall. I distinctly remember the after party: Spencer Sweeney was DJ-ing and I was dancing on a spaceship with artists from Oslo, New York, and Iowa City. It remains my most favorable art fair experience. Since 2004, John has run The Green Gallery, which offers an innovative program of fun, rigorous artwork. I’ve exhibited alongside John, worked with him at The Green Gallery, constructed booths with him for 12+ hours at the Swiss Institute, and long admired his work. As he’s simultaneously winding down from participation in the NADA Art Fair in Miami and gearing up for his forthcoming exhibition at Peregrine Program in Chicago, I thought it would be fitting to talk with John about being an artist/curator/gallery director/art fair co-organizer/inventor in the Midwest (and beyond).
Written and overseen by Meg Onli, our beloved BAS teammate, Black Visual Archive is a terrific new blog/website dedicated to contemporary black and post-black visual culture that launches this week. What’s more, the website is designed by another invaluable BAS colleague, Martine Syms, who as you all know also runs Golden Age. I love the crisp look of this site, and the range of subject matter, which promises to be pop-y, eclectic, smart yet fun, too. Right now, Black Visual Archive has a beautifully written review of Kerry James Marshall’s exhibition catalog Mementos from his 1998 exhibition at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, which looks at the thematic and conceptual implications of the book’s design and content. They’ve also posted on a performance of Nina Simone’s “Feelings” at the Montreau Jazz Festival and the Berry Brother’s Fascination’ Rythym. A brief excerpt from “Kerry James Marshall | Mementos” follows:
Historically, a souvenir painting is a literal interpretation of an event, however, instead of painting the march from Selma to Montgomery or a portrait of the Little Rock Nine, Marshall’s “Souvenir” paintings all depict the interior of a middle-class household. In Souvenir I, (1997) the home becomes sanctified with the souls of black folk who hover above a couch. Their visages, reproduced with screen-prints, which are a sharp contrast to Marshall’s hand, are of deceased men, women and children with angel wings. In gold glitter the phrase “in memory of” is scrawled just below them. Is this our souvenir? The ability to ascend to a higher social status? Are these men and women our post-Movement saints? Powell notes, “one gets the sense that the ‘Souvenir’ paintings have just as much to do with process of memorializing as they do with the ‘idea’ or ‘theme’ of the memorial: painting likeness and building effigies to the one-time mortals-but-now-gods; creating a functioning, commemorative alter in one’s home; and constructing a hierarchy of African-American sainthood.”
There’s much more to come, so check out the site on a regular basis, or subscribe to the RSS feed for more.
Bad at Sports is pleased to have Martine Syms of Golden Age as a guest blogger with her picks from last week’s New York Art Book Fair. “Martine Syms is a conceptual entrepreneur based in Chicago, Illinois. You can usually find her doing “research” (reading blogs) in the back office at Golden Age or watching television shows on DVD. Golden Age is a concept shop, founded in 2007, that sells publications, music, apparel and other editioned works created by artists. Golden Age makes a statement about an alternative mode of making and selling art; that it can be straightforward, accessible, and moderately priced.”
This year Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair claimed all three floors of P.S.1 to present over 200 international booksellers, galleries, and independent publishers/artists including art luminaries Dexter Sinister, Peres Projects, Electronic Arts Intermix, and E-Flux. Unlike most commercial art fairs this year, the NY Art Book Fair managed to escape the shadow of the recession. Everyone seemed to be having fun amongst the many DIY initiatives that have been doing so much with so little for so long. However, similar to most art fairs, NYABF was incredibly overwhelming and I couldn’t possibly see everything. Here are some highlights from last weekends event, if you want to link to projects that I missed, please do so in the comments.
A Modest Proposal For A Serving Library – Dexter Sinister
A Modest Proposal For A Serving Library, Nick Relph and Oliver Payne Dexter Sinister [http://dextersinister.org] (designers Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt) presented a very heady not-so-modest proposal for taking over an abandoned library in Los Angeles that is also the site of the newest video by Brits Nick Relph and Oliver Payne. In the video, books are chroma-keyed onto shelves, and the librarian’s serve red wine. Over the weekend the Serving Library also hosted a screening of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 with an introduction by my favorite Dot Dot Dot contributor Rob Giampietro.
The Werkplaats Typografie
The Werkplaats Typografie, a Dutch post-graduate design program, brought all 17 students to New York for the fair. Across from a wall displaying their most recent graphic output, the students set up studio in which they would bootleg any of the Werkplaats’ catalogs for a mere $5.
Here’s what I’d go to, if I were you…
1. Co-Prosperity Sphere
Bert Stabler is bending you brain this 4th of July with SALAD-CHURCH-EXERCISE: A show about self-improvement through self-denial. With work by over 20 local artists, a massive salad potluck, and taglines like, “While large-scale organs of control, such as schools, hospitals, and prisons, enforce the social contract through a restriction of choice and a remote delegation of authority, personal or cultural techniques for redirecting and mastering libido, the inner primordial chaos we carry within, can be found in the options represented by salad, church, and exercise.” How could you go wrong. You can take the Orange Line to Ashland, Saturday from 2-6pm.
2. Julius Cæsar
For the day after Independency Day, lets raise our torn jean jacket clad arms an Question Authority! Mmm…high school. But seriously, Kaylee Rae Wyant and Jerome Acks are doing something cool over at Julius Caesar called Hear Here. Framed as work “examining the many ideals and complexities encompassing freedom, democracy and revolution” it should be interesting to contemplate after a flag choked day of “patriotism”.
3. BEN RUSSELL
How many ways can you put your own name on a show? Well, if you are Ben Russell, as many as humanly possibly. How is “Ben Russell, presented by Ben Russell, at Ben Russell” for ya? Weird thing is, it ain’t a solo show. Ben Russell is a new space in Pilsen, go there and check out work by Marco Kane Braunschweiler, Martine Syms, Paul Chan, Miguel Cortez, Roxane Hopper, Julie Rudder, and Kelly Kaczynsk are doing their performance piece at 9pm the opening night. Drop by for the Sunday opening from 6-10pm.
As a celebration of the closing of the Bucky Fuller exibition, the MCA is hosting Jen & Ira & You at the MCA Meet Buckminster Fuller Meeting the Hippies in Golden Gate Park, a performance piece by Jennifer Karmin & Ira S. Murfin. Ever wondered why hippies loved this son of the atomic age? Well, here’s your chance to find out. The performance is free with the cost of admission, so if you get into the MCA free, you’re good to go.