It’s a busy time of year and a busy week on top of it. MFA and BFA events left and right, writing and grading papers, final presentations, vacation plans, residency plans, devised escape attempts, and closing remarks. That’s right folks, summer is almost upon us. #huzza But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. This week in review —
Episode 400 y’all! Duncan and Richard published their road trip. What is estimated to be a five hour drive between St. Louis and Chicago was boiled down into a healthy 45-minute reduction of audio sauce. Get your fill of those fellas here.
Otherwise, some Monday T from our favorite gossip columnist, Dana Bassatt. Bassatt asks after G.R. N’Namdi Gallery’s vacated storefront, offers insider reportage about her Dinner Party field trip, and offers a great eye-spy on an easily overlooked building in all its freaky grandeur (shout out to Kokorokoko — this building seems right up your alley, perhaps?). All that and more here.
I reposted a link to The Highlights: an online arts journal who’s latest issue presents blog works/art/articles that touch on labor, Marx, and biographical statements while presenting images of honey glazed turkey, black rectangles and to do lists.
One more reason for a road trip courtesy of Kelly Shindler who published a great list of things to look out for art-wise in STLA:
“It’s the first of May, which means that it’s May Day, International Worker’s Day, and you may as well watch the Bee Gees perform this. It also means that lots of art spaces and museums are getting ready to open their first round of summer shows. In solidarity, I present to you my (rather long) shortlist of what’s on in St. Louis in the coming weeks…”
Stephanie Burke posts the TOP 10 shows-to-see (obviously everyone has been hard at work all winter, and the fruits of labor are now, this very moment, EXPLODING). Which is to say, all good things are upon us. HERE
Another new columnist arrives at the scene, adding one more reason to open that bottle of champagne. Yes, that’s right, Mairead Case published the first post in an on-going series, MAINTENANCE. In her words:
I want this column to be about maintenance, because endings get so much press right now—education is increasingly privatized and teachers are undervalued, slow media is undervalued, pedagogy and art practice and criticism are going weirdo Cerebrus on us—and instead of getting ever-crabbier or just throwing in the towel, I want to talk about how we’re living. How we’re taking care, how we’re keeping the wheels turning. How we’re supporting ourselves long-haul. (Why books? I spend most of my time in libraries and classrooms, and reading, so books seem like a good place to start.)
MAINTENANCE will focus on reviewing new publications, but there’ll always be older ones in the mix. Again, if there’s something you’d like me to cover, please be in touch: mairead dot case at gmail.com. Hi!
So — with that, hope you had a good weekend, and let’s plan a day of hooky. Meet me at the beach, noon on Wednesday. Call it a National Day of Wellness and Leisure. Wear your best suits. I’ll bring the cold cuts if you bring the beach ball. Maybe we can look as dapper as the old timers downstairs. See you soon.
Last week we talked painters on and off the podcast! Featuring interviews and studio visits with Everest Hall, Mara Baker and Steven Husby — in addition to our usual treasure trove of cultural insights….Here’s a play by play —
Amanda Browder, interviews painter Everest Hall, who describes (among other things) the value of being raw in the studio:
“There is a responsibility that comes with being an artist to be naked and open and free. Let’s bring the audience to another place. Come with me. On this journey, I don’t know where we are going, but I see a clearing in the woods. Let’s go for a walk together and maybe make love in a pine forest. I think that sounds delicious.“
The week began with our latest guest contributor, Jaime Kazay. Kazay co-curates the Revolving Door Reading Series has a poetry collection out from Dancing Girl Press. This week she reflects on all things Barbie, asking a question I have continued to trip over all week — “I wonder if Barbie likes peanut butter?.”
Duncan and Richard made appearances on a WBEZ panel featuring a “panel of local critics [discussing] their role in the new media landscape.” #fahntsie
New York correspondent Juliana Driever published an interview with Social Practice Queens (SPQ), “a collaboration of the Art Department of CUNY Queens College and the Queens Museum of Art with the goal of developing an MFA pilot program in Social Practice.” Here is one excerpted Q&A:
“Juliana Driever: Unlike other social practice MFA programs, SPQ is in direct partnership with a major museum, which is a unique set-up for an MFA program to start, but even more so given that much socially-engaged art typically takes place beyond museum and gallery contexts. Does the QMA’s investment in this program also signal a shift in the role that museums play in support of such work?
“Prerana Reddy/Jose Serrano: At the Queens Museum of Art, we are constantly striving to examine whether the avant-garde in the realms of art and politics can actually meet. Can an art project simultaneously address aesthetics and concrete social goals in public space? This is a constantly evolving process, one that must be responsive to shifting demographics, economic conditions, political will, unplanned crises, and a constantly unfolding definition of art. Unlike the confines of the gallery or contracted set of artistic services rendered in non-museum spaces, engaging in complicated social relations in the “real world” involves a surrender of control over outcome as well as some amount of risk. This is not something that all museums want to enter into or are well-positioned to do.”
Monica Westin, wrote about Mara Baker, Mara Baker, “a self-described student of deterioration and residue” about her upcoming show at Sidecar:
“In the ‘residue’ series, spray paint and glass create transparent layers that give recycled materials ‘a new history,’ Baker says, ‘creating a sense of space without building up.’ She’s deeply interested in the interplay between the real and the representational in mixed-media work, and the paintings often employ representational images like blurred photographs that formally reference abstract elements. Where previous two dimensional work has been sculptural in its formal approach, she finds such materials can create space and depth without losing the surface of the picture plane. ‘Still, I’m most successful when piling, wrapping, and removing something.’ She points out a few paintings that have abstract white space, either scraped off or added to the top of her layered images—what Baker calls ‘the conceal, something underneath you can’t see’ that creates somewhat ‘quieter objects.’”
Stephanie Burke’s TOP 5 Baby!
Some great coverage from another new contributor Robert Burnier this week. Burnier took the time to review Steven Husby’s show, BRUTE FORCe at 65 Grand, “a studied exercise in emergence and the way that severe restrictions can somewhat paradoxically throw subtle expression and gesture into great relief.” In a subsequent interview with Burnier, Husby says:
“I would say that I’ve flirted with pictorial recursivity, deductive structure, and something like absolute opacity for years. The house–painterly way I work really started in undergrad as something to aspire to and something to work against. A kind of pop–inflected formalism was in the air – and I was young and impressionable. Over time I’ve generally found it to be worthwhile to give myself over to the more excessively restrained aspects of my practice, probably because I’m not a particularly neat, linear, or orderly person, but I like what happens when I try to behave as though I were. I think I was first attracted to limits both as things to provide traction and as things to be subverted in some way. I found as soon as I practiced these things, the force generated through restraint was greater than I could ever achieve without it. The channeling, focusing, and projecting of force – whether from inside or out – is absolutely key to the whole project.”
Kickstarter is bandied about once more, as Adrienne Harris discusses the ethics of Zach Braff’s recent success in raising money for his film, on his terms”
“I worry that the success of campaigns like Zach Braff’s… is going to change the way that studios and producers expect ALL film to be financed in the future. I worry that I will take my next screenplay into a meeting which I am lucky enough to score with Sony Picture Classics and they will say, ‘We love it Adrienne. Now come back with $2 million and we’ll see what we can do.’”
Which seems like the self-same conversation that came up a while back as far as art institutions go — will government funding similarly dry up in lieue of these public charity campaigns? Which I suppose furthers the question: who is responsible for footing the bill in creative enterprises? Where do we draw the line between entrepreneurial investment, friendship pennies, fans pitching in, and government support?
by Richard Holland
I went to law school and pursued my MA/MFA at the same time. From the academic institution/professorial perspective I suspect this made me a first class pain-in-the-ass. Pity my art professors. I hear they have all recovered well, although I don’t know how much treatment or scotch it took.
Both BAS NYC chief Amanda Browder and I were lucky to work with three professors in particular (Michelle Grabner was at UW at the time, and was a shining beacon of smarts) who were exceedingly smart, kind, and when necessary not going to put up with any of my pushy-lawyery bullshit.
This was refreshing as I found a number of professors who weren’t particularly interested in dialoging about their ideas, exploring the theory and practice of where the field is going, and embracing the intellectual joy in the complexity in contemporary art.
Aristotle (Aris) Georidiades and his wife Gail Simpson are clearly two of my favorite people; I admire their work ethic, commitment to educating artist as they begin their careers, I enjoy their work, and appreciate(d) their mentorship. They truly were the highlights of my MFA experience and are great assets to the University of Wisconsin art department. Fanboy gushing aside I know and enjoy their work. Aris has a solo show at Carl Hammer and will be present at the reception this Friday (Carl Hammer Gallery, 740 Wells Street in Chicago this Friday April 19th from 5:30-8:00). This show looks like an evolution and maybe a departure from the work I’ve seen in the past and I am looking forward to seeing the show. Upon reading the press release, I wanted to ask some questions, emailed Aris and he kindly agreed to do an interview.
RH: You new show is focused more on the idea of re-use and repurposing than your prior work, which also has used lots of materials that are construction type, non-precious materials. How does using “found” materials fit into this work? What do you mean by re-purposed sculpture? Are you reusing old work?
AG: Most of the work for this show is made of materials that I have collected that are generally related to buildings built prior to the 1960s. I also continue to use objects that might be considered obsolete or on the verge of being obsolete. I think that by using these materials and objects in my sculpture, notions of our current condition are brought to mind. Of course there are some typical motivations underlying this work. Typical in that I am a “maker” who appreciates materials and I notice the way the world around us is made. Materials and the methods of manipulating the materials can and should carry and covey meaning. Visual artists know this don’t they?
I should also add that I continue to believe in the power of objects. As an artist I find it very challenging to try to create compelling objects in a world filled with objects whether we call them art or not. I am not really repurposing old work although at times I do reuse materials from an old piece.
RH: You are one of the few artists I know who have pursued a career in doing public sculpture in your work as “Actual Size Artwork” with Gail Simpson, and also have pursued their own gallery career. How does that work in terms of ideas, do you have a set of Actual Size ideas and a set of ideas for your own practice? Both bodies of work have similar senses of humor.
AG: The gallery work and the work I do with Actual Size are usually pretty separate, although I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. They have different goals. Actual Size developed organically with Gail Simpson since we were partners working in shared studio space etc. That collaboration allows us to create primarily large scale temporary and permanent public artworks. The permanent projects usually are commission pieces that I consider more like design-build projects. There are a lot of factors that we take into consideration during the entire process, not the least of which is that it is going to exist in the public domain. Many artists can’t or won’t deal with many of the issues involved. We actually enjoy much of the work especially dealing a wide range of professionals outside of the art world. The whole thing ultimately makes me feel much more a part of our economy. The temporary projects on the other hand do allow for more flexibility and freedom of “artistic” expression” than do the permanent projects. It is inevitable that some of what each of us does in the studio carries over into the public works. I would say certain shared values, a sense of humor and other formal considerations.
RH: You are a professor at the University of Wisconsin, you run a public art company, and you make your own work, that is three full time jobs? How do you manage to do all three?
AG: Frankly, I don’t think I do a great job managing all three jobs. Fortunately the work of Actual Size Artworks is shared with my wife Gail Simpson.
RH: You are based out of Madison Wisconsin, which is one of the countries major public research institutions, but does not necessarily have the links to the “contemporary art world” whatever that means, you obviously have a gallery career and a collector base, how have you managed to promote your work outside of one of the major centers of art commerce? Has that had an effect on how you promote your work?
AG: Yes, living outside of a major urban area is really difficult for visual artists to maintain any kind of career. I would not be in this area if it were not for this great job that allows me a certain degree of freedom to pursue a career as a visual artist.
I am terrible at promoting my work, especially when juggling different career aspects. In general I believe artists need to do a lot of things to maintain and build a practice. Certainly there are a number of artists that have developed a collector base or some type of funding source that allows them to focus solely on the artwork they want to do, when they want to do it. A long time ago I heard a comment by an internationally known artist giving a talk at SAIC say that she knew of no successful artists in New York that did not have a trust fund. She was completely serious. I am not part of that, for better or worse. New York is still the center of the art world but most people who have been in the art business for any length of time know that there are good artists all over the place. Obviously there isn’t a system to support them so major urban areas become the places where artists can be noticed. Of course in the past couple decades the concentration of power and markets in the art world has become even more concentrated in fewer and fewer places.
I can see that this could turn into a rant and I would rather discuss this in person some time. But…
Just as a side note since I think you might be interested in knowing that Wisconsin’s senator Ron Johnson, soon after being elected, was quoted as saying that he did not understand why they teach the Humanities in higher education. I also understand that the governor of Florida is talking about raising tuition on students studying humanities since they do not contribute to the economy. These are really tough battles to fight, don’t you think?
RH: Can you tell us about some of your public art projects people can see.
AG: The only permanent piece we have up in Chicago at the moment is at Maxwell Street Market. It is the signage that acts as a backdrop between the Market and the highway The signs are references to the long history of the melting pot of cultures that have driven the market over the years. We also have a temporary sculpture still on view at Morton Arboretum.
RH: What projects do you have on the horizon?
AG: We are currently under consideration for a couple of public art projects at the moment, in Chicago and out west. We are almost always on the lookout for interesting opportunities for projects to do.
RH: Thank you for taking my questions
AG: My pleasure!
by Richard Holland
If law school resulted in no other tangible change to my life/personality it truly cast in stone my craving for escapist entertainment. I’ve seen crime scene pictures galore, I’ve done legal aid work, I work with BAS, I’ve seen enough horror. I like my entertainment light and happy, more or less. Also, I am a complete sucker for magical realism, I admit it, I’m out of the closet, you wanna make something of it. Any of you who got excited about Harry Potter, I dare you to scoff.
I saw this movie, shortly after it’s release on the airplane back from Paris. The friend we were visiting there, Adam Jolles (now the Chair of Art History at Florida State University), between spats with his dramatic, angry and lovely French girlfriend, raved about how much he enjoyed the movie and I must see it. So when I saw it available as an option on the flight, I figured why not.
What ensued was as over the top charming a movie as one could endure without slipping into diabetic shock. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Written by Jeunet with Guillaume Laurant, I had seen Jeunet’s work before with the unique films Delicatessen and City of Lost Children (far darker films, but completely enjoyable, they are definitely on the “Brazil” pile).
The film’s protagonist is Amelie (Audrey Tautou doing an excellent personification of every straight art-boy’s dream girl) a shy, introverted waitress in Paris. Her simple life is set into upheaval by her fateful discovery of a treasure trove hidden in her apartment by a boy many years ago. After secretly returning the box to the now middle-aged man and unexpectedly changing his life, she has an epiphany and dedicates herself to elaborate attempts to aid others by giving fate a nudge (not all positive, she tortures a cruel grocer in a masterful way). At the same time she stumbles upon and finds her perfect match in a man who collects discarded photos from photo booths in Paris, who is just as much an odd-duck as she is. Wacky misadventures, misunderstandings, and tangents worthy of a Shakespeare comedy ensue.
If that wasn’t enough the Yann Tiersen soundtrack is amazing.
It is cute, yes, sappy, probably, but if you are feeling like the world is a dark evil place, no one gives a shit, everyone hates you, etc. this film can’t help but generating some happy feelings.
Is the banality of your world getting to you? Does the rote day-to-day sameness make you long for some sort of mental Horace Greeley telling you to “Go west young man”(or woman)? Did three hours go missing on Saturday night? Well, have I got a show for you. If you happen to be in a market that carries it, Coast to Coast AM will bring back those X-files feelings of fear and giddiness you have forgotten. A nightly radio program that offers the opportunity to consider that the world is more complicated, magical and/or insidious than you had imagined! If you are awake, from 1am to 5am EST each night you can learn about topics as diverse as: Brain & Imagination/ UFO Updates, Our Alien Ancestry, Preparedness & Human Trafficking, Demonic Harassment & Open Lines, Near Death Experiences, Planet X (the secret planet in our solar system), and so much more. It is a magical realism meets paranoid dream come true.
Originally started by the legendary broadcaster Art Bell in 1978 as a political talk show (as West Coast AM) and evolving in 1995 to a show that covered the fringes of society, the mysteries, the unknown, the conspiracies, and fielding calls from the people wearing aluminum foil hats. Art has retired several times, seemingly for good and the host duties have moved to a team of professional broadcasters. Having produced a weekly show for the last 8 years, I cannot image the challenge of generating content for a program that runs daily. I have interviewed many people both as part of Bad at Sports and as an attorney, having done so I have a great deal of respect for people who do so professionally. While most people are perfectly nice and you can parse out their story, you don’t believe everyone, you don’t like some of them, and you worry that a few might follow you to the subway afterwards. I am impressed by how, regardless of the message and worldview of the guests the host treat each guest seriously and with respect. The guests range from professionals with vetted pedigrees, to people who likely chart fairly deep in the mental illness continuum, and each is taken seriously.
Most importantly, what if it is true? What if the Greys are secret breeding with us because their DNA has become damaged from cosmic radiation suffered in space travel, and need to build their army for the coming war with the Browns? What if the fluoride in the water is a Chinese plot? What if there is a way for a gifted medium to tap into the Akashic records (an interdimensional library that has recorded in text every single moment of everone’s lives)? What colorful world it would be.
It is great escapist entertainment. And they just might be right. Check it out.