Guest post by Thea Liberty Nichols
Email interview conducted with Steve Ruiz
Steve Ruiz is an artist and writer from Chicago. He is the Managing Editor of Chicago Art Review (.com) and has contributed to a number of publications including Jettison Quarterly, NewCity Magazine, and Proximity Magazine. Information on his artwork can be seen at steveruizart.com.
TLN: Can you start by telling us a little bit about Chicago Art Review? I’m especially interested (as a former participant) in the audio component you have on there, which, as far as I’m aware, is unique to your site as a listings format.
SR: I started Chicago Art Review in April 2009, right around the time I was graduating from college. The blog started as a joke (I’d told my former professor, Geoffrey Todd Smith, that I would write a gonzo review of his show) but I quickly realized the project’s potential as a way of engaging with the Chicago art community, which I was pretty unfamiliar with after spending five years studying elsewhere. Chicago Art Review became a reason to get out to shows, meet artists, and know about their work. My idea was to learn in a public way and I think people appreciated the effort, especially as I didn’t really know anything or anyone and was writing from the hip on first impressions.
TLN: On that note, since several of the folks you just mentioned also have blogs or websites of their own, or contribute to other publications online or in print, can you tell us a little bit about how you expanded your network to include them? And do you feel like more an editor (vs. a writer) because of it?
SR: I My approach to involving other writers with Chicago Art Review is pretty casual. I don’t have any regular contributors, but I try to involve other people when I think they have an interest in writing something that I’d like to read but wouldn’t otherwise have a place to read it. The loose format on the site allows me to publish writing that wouldn’t fit elsewhere for whatever reason, and sometimes the appeal of “do whatever you want” is enough to get contributors on board. But no, I don’t think I work hard enough to feel like a Managing Editor.
TLN: It sounds like Chicago Art Review takes a very experimental approach to things and is happy to evolve by recognizing what works best for it– knowing what you know now, do you ever wish you could go back and take a different tact? Like do you feel the internet is written in stone or invisible ink? And where do you see Chicago Art Review going next– anything interesting in the hopper?
SR: No, I don’t think I’d change anything I’ve done, but I’d like to have done more of it. But its early, we’ve got time.
If anything, I’m happy to have established a sort of authoritative sounding brand based on formal experimentation and stubborn amateurism. Not to flatter the context here, but a lot of my ideas about art criticism were informed by seeing how the Bad at Sports podcast could deliver rich critical content in form based on the unlikely combination of a lack of claimed authority, persistant volunteerism, over-education, topical expertise, conversational tones, and alcohol. That relationship with criticism feels much more appropriate for this city’s community. I’m interested in finding a written form and style that reflects the culture here, and that serves our needs and demands for writing, which are very different than in other cities. Some things are valued less, some more, and I feel like that should be taken into consideration.
As for going forward, a few months ago I started – but do not claim any ownership of – a Facebook group called #chiart for art writers and artists to talk to each-other about art in Chicago. The name comes from a slightly problematic twitter hashtag I’d got going, but which was hard to use for bigger conversations. The Facebook group has worked much better, and I’ve been amazed at the quality of conversation there and at the ability for a certain number of engaged individuals to generate high-value critical dialog while essentially slacking off at work. Its easily my primary resource for almost all the tasks I’d previously have gone to didactic journalism for, making it harder to justify writing that kind of thing. I’m fascinated by the idea of body surfing legitimate critical discourse on crowds of distracted experts, and am looking for ways to turn that kind of conversation-based model into something that can produce discrete pieces of writing for us to print for binders and to cite on our CVs. Doesn’t that sound fun?
Thea Liberty Nichols is an arts administrator, independent curator and freelance writer. To listen to an excerpt from the “Form and Content of Writing” panel she moderated as part of Stockyard Institute‘s exhibition at DePaul University entitled Nomadic Studio, please click here. (Featuring commentary from Patrice Connolly, Claudine Ise, Abraham Ritchie and Bert Stabler)
Hey again everyone! First off, I need to give a shout out to all my buddies, including Aaron Delehanty, Daniel Lavitt, Duncan Anderson, Helen Maurene Cooper, Robin Dluzen, Takeshi Moro, and so many more, as well as myself, who are involved in the Art Loop Open. The space crawl is tomorrow night from 5-8pm, and voting must be done on site, so come and vote for us to get some moolah.
As for the Top 5, here you go:
Paintings of David Bowie by Carlos Ramos.
Rotofugi Gallery is located at 2780 N. Lincoln Ave. Reception is Friday, from 7-10pm.
Cartoon craziness from the mind and hand of Karl Haendel.
Tony Wight Gallery is located at 845 W. Washington Blvd. Reception is Friday, from 5-8pm.
New work by the dynamic duo of Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger.
Western Exhibitions is located at 119 N. Peoria St., suite 2A. Reception is Friday, from 5-8pm.
New works by Chicago artist Caleb Lyons.
DIG is located at 2003 N Point, #3. Reception is Saturday, from 7-10pm.
Jewel-encrusted madness from Rob Bondgren.
Peregrineprogram is located at 500 W. Cermak Rd., #727. Reception is Sunday, from 2-5pm.
Work by Learning.
Fill in the Blank Gallery is located at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave. Reception Friday, 7-11pm.
Work by Nancy Rosen.
The Family Room is located at 1821 W Hubbard St., # 202. Reception Friday, 6-11pm.
3. FLAT 7 at Floor Length and Tux
Work by Julie Rudder, Kendrick Shackleford, David Moré, Catie Olson and EC Brown. This fish is not the work, it’s just FLAT’s awesome logo.
Floor Length and Tux is located at 2332 W Augusta Blvd, 3F. Reception Saturday 7-10pm.
Shameless self promotion, but it’s going to be an awesome show. Co-curated by Andrew Blackley, Stephanie Burke and Steve Ruiz. Featuring the work of Duncan Anderson, Susan Giles, Anna Kunz, Oliver Laric, and Nathaniel Robinson.
LVL3 is located at 1542 N Milwaukee Ave, 3. Reception Saturday, 6-10pm.
Bring a T-shirt to silkscreen. Work by Tony Tasset, Pamela Fraser, Rebecca Mir, Aay Preston-Miint and others.
He said, She said is located at 216 N Harvey Ave, Oak Park. Reception Sunday, 2-4pm.
This week my Top 5 in actually a Top 4. Why? ‘Cus I say so damn it! I’ll probably be out of town on Saturday, but luckily, my Top 4 are all on Friday. So, without further ado…
1. The First Five Years at 65Grand
We all know the city gives shit to apartment galleries, even though it was recently discovered that the city itself didn’t even have its own damn story straight on what was illegal and what wasn’t. Well, unfortunately, Bill was one of those that ended up with the shi..ahem…short end of the stick. This is your last chance to see 65Grand in its original incarnation, and get an overview of the last five years of exhibitions.
65Grand is located at, well, you figure it out. Reception is from 7pm to 1am.
2. The Intuitive Photography of Jay King and Lee Balterman at Stephen Daiter Gallery
Daiter presenting more of the work he does best. I’ve really come to love Stephen Daiter Gallery over the last year. Street and personal photography spanning a 60 year period by Chicago natives Jay King and Lee Balterman.
Stephen Daiter Gallery is located at 230 W. Superior St. Reception is from 5-8pm.
3. I’ll Be Your Mirror at Spoke
From the venue that brought puppies into the gallery (I shit you not, it was awesome), comes another round of strangness. The artists of I’ll Be Your Mirror, and I quote, “will focus their energy on exploring the possibilities of mutually beneficial relationships rooted in conversation, exchange and sincerity.” Included in the exhibition are Lise Haller Baggesen and Anni Holm of Chicago, Gitte Bog of Mexico City, Gudrun Hasle and Berit Nørgaard of Copenhagen.
Spoke is located at 119 N Peoria St. #3D. Reception is from 5-8pm.
4. About Face at Thomas Robertello Gallery
An amazing show dealing with the face. Don’t miss it, you will be sad if you do. Including works by Jason Robert Bell, Cody Critcheloe (SSION), John Delk, Scott Fife, Emily Noelle Lambert , Nikki S Lee , Noelle Mason, Mike Nudelman, Ed Paschke, Grant Schexnider, Travis Leroy Southworth, and Julie Weitz.
Thomas Robertello Gallery is located at 939 W. Randolph St. Reception is from 5-8pm.
Sorry for the missed week, I was rocking out in the lovely and exhausting Yosemite, climbing waterfalls, almost falling to my death (I shit you not, and it was completely my fault), looking at Pileated Woodpeckers (the Woody Woodpecker ones), drinking lots of Tecate and burning lots and lots of firewood. But now I’m back. It’s getting into that summer session, where things get lean. But as always quantity does not indicate quality, and following that, I give you my weekend picks. Mmmm, tasty!
Hyde Park Art Center is located at 5020 S Cornell Ave. Crit Friday, from 6-8pm.
Your last opportunity to see this month long event created by artist Kimmy Noonen.
Art on Armitage is located at 4125 W. Armitage Ave. Closing reception Friday, from 6-9pm.
How long has it been since you visited Lloyd Dobler Gallery? It’s been a while for me, so I’m heading back to one of the first galleries I visited in Chicago, and still one of my favorites.Solo show of Sebastian Vallejo.
Lloyd Dobler Gallery is located at 1545 W Division St, 2nd Fl. Reception Friday, from 6-10pm.
Monument 2 Gallery is located at 2007 N. Point St. Reception Saturday, from 6-10pm.
I’d make a joke about the title if it weren’t already such a depressing fucking joke. Bound to be some good work though. Work by Deborah Stratman, Jim Zimpel, Jesse Avina, Daniel Baird, Jake Myers and the Pentagon Education Collective.
Pentagon is located at 961 W 19th St., 1F. Reception Saturday, from 7-11pm.