Anna Shteynshleyger at The Renaissance Society

January 4, 2010 · Print This Article

Anna Shteynshleyger, Nylon Challah. 2004-2009

While I was looking at the photographs of Anna Shteynshleyger at the opening of this Russian-born, Chicago-based artist’s new solo exhibition at at The Renaissance Society, a middle-aged woman wearing a fluffy, faux-fur coat sidled up next to me. “Do you know what that is?” she asked me, pointing to the image I was peering at intently. It was a blue-tinged photograph of some sort of twisted, fleshy material that looked like raw bread dough.

“I’m not exactly sure,” I replied. “I can’t tell if it’s soaking in a bowl of something or what.”

“It looks organic,” the woman mused, “like an organ from a body.”

“Well, it’s challah….It’s not baked yet. But I can’t make out what this part is,” I said, gesturing to the circular, fan-like opening out of which the doughy form appeared to be rising.

“Oh, it’s challah!?” she exclaimed. “I know what challah is — I make challah. But that looks more like a body part. How do you pronounce the artist’s name?” I told her I had no idea, and she nodded. “She should have changed it to Smith!” Read more




Is the $100,000 Ordway Prize Too Much?

November 18, 2009 · Print This Article

I’d never heard of the Ordway Prize until a few weeks ago, when two highly respected Chicago-based arts professionals (artist Tania Bruguera, who also lives in Havana, Cuba, and Hamza Walker, curator at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago) were included on this year’s list of finalists. The Ordway Prize is a relatively new award, established in 2005 as a joint effort by Creative Link for the Arts and the New Museum. The selection process for the Ordway Prize is outlined on the New Museum’s website as follows (excerpt):

The prize acknowledges the contributions of a Curator/Arts Writer and an Artist whose work has had significant impact on the field of contemporary art, but who has yet to receive broad public recognition. Finalists for the Ordway Prize are midcareer talents between the ages of forty and sixty-five, with a developed body of work extending over a minimum of fifteen years.

Now, it’s always great to see behind-the-scenes culture professionals get recognized for their outstanding work. This goes double for curators, who get paid relatively little and yet play such a critical role in bringing art to the public.  So if a little cash gets thrown at said curators while recognizing their contributions to the field, that’s nice too. I’m not of the view that culture workers need to be poor to have integrity. That said, however, I think that $100,000  is an inordinate amount of money given the fact that a) the prize is unrestricted and b) this year’s nominees, as well as past Ordway Prize winners, are institutionally-affiliated curators as opposed to those working independently and earning income on a project-by-project basis. Read more




In lieu of a review of ‘Several Silences’ at The Renaissance Society…

June 1, 2009 · Print This Article

…I’ll ask you to try this instead:

Go to your iTunes. Create a ringtone for John Cage’s 4’33” (if you don’t want to spend money for it on iTunes, you can find a free ringtone for 4’33” here).

Install that ringtone on your cell phone, and assign it to one of your frequent contacts. Keep it this way for at least a week (no cheating!).

That’s it.

The Hamza Walker-curated group show “Several Silences” closes this weekend at The Renaissance Society, so if you still want to catch it, best get there soon.

Installation view, "Several Silences" at The Renaissance Society

Installation view, "Several Silences" at The Renaissance Society




Episode 182: Jim Lutes

February 22, 2009 · Print This Article

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downloadJim Lutes

This week: Duncan and Richard talk to artist, professor and musician Jim Lutes about his work, his career, and his recent show at the Renaissance Society.

“Chicago-based painter Jim Lutes is often considered heir to the Imagist tradition. This, however, is only part of the story. Having come to artistic maturity in the late 1970s, Lutes exemplifies a larger and more complex historical narrative that entails the emergence of figuration and regionalism under the declining influence of Abstract Expressionism. This would be born out over several bodies of work in which Lutes would vacillate beween a populist mode of figuration and a painterly abstraction, the combination of which produced a style along the lines of Picasso in the 1930s or Guston in the 1970s.” Read more