From the Road: One View of Twin Cities

June 20, 2014 · Print This Article

It is summer already, and I am on early vacation, driving through the West, living some version of the American dream involving fast cars, tops down, endless sunsets, and the long slow rise of mountains from the two-dimensionality of plains.

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I map my understanding of city landscapes through walking. I slowly gather the layers of lived urban experience as I travel through neighborhoods – the clanking of dishes being washed through open windows, the constellation of droning lawnmowers growing and shrinking, the blue flicker of late night televisions. My map of the urban landscape, however, is limited by my physical access. The boundaries between public and private realms are complex, but they correspond to the physical limits of my body as it encounters walls, fences, and manhole covers. My mind is only as free as my body as I move through urban space.

I have spent more time in a car in the past week than I have in years, reveling in the freedom of landscapes unfolding over miles and the understandings of skyscapes not possible from tree- and building-confined urbanity. Driving frees my mind to expand outside of the physical container of my body as it rushes along the highways. I imagine climbing the mountains, walking along wooded ridges, foraging with the bison, antelope, and bears whizzing by. Driving long distances is exhausting because your mind roams far and wide among the vast landscapes you survey. Your body is stiff from the disjunction between the exploration the mind has envisioned and the cramped position the body has rested in.

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The wilderness I have explored combines the walking of the urban environment and the freeing vision of driving. I have been walking on groomed, maintained trails that wind through pine cathedrals, disclose the beauty of windswept meadows, and open to vistas of glaciated mountains. My mind expands to place me within all of these inaccessible locations. I clamber over rocky cliffs, descend cascading waterfalls, creep along animal paths far above the tree line, but my body is confined to the explicitly manmade paths carved from the landscape to preserve the wilderness. My mind is freed, as my body is confined. My understanding of the world expands as I navigate the limited and controlled space of physical interaction with the wilderness.

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These different modes of exploration pull me back to the art landscapes through which I have passed. Summer brings vacations as much as it brings art fairs, open studio tours, and outdoor arts festivals. My mind has been so occupied with landscape, with the sublimity of natural beauty that I cannot bridge the gap between it and the recent open studio tours in Minneapolis and Saint Paul and the multiple arts walks I have happened upon during this vacation. I struggle to know how to site the vast array of work I have seen; the excellent studios I revisited and the galleries and storefronts full of horse paintings struggle to coexist with the moose calves nuzzling against their mother as they stumble along the stream and the mountain peaks breaking through mist to catch the first rays of daylight. By leaving my normal life behind, I am reminded that I need new and different ways of learning, of experiencing the world that expose the mental and physical constraints of my normal life, that replace the known experiences and people that populate my days with the possibilities of the futures I do not know how to envision. I hope we can all get away, rejuvenate our minds and our bodies even if we cannot leave town. Change your world by experiencing something new, something unexpected, something beyond what is in front of our eyes every day. Let’s all leave the art world for a moment; it will look radically different when we return.




EDITION #12

July 1, 2013 · Print This Article

The scene on Milwaukee Avenue this weekend.

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival Roundup

As if Logan Square wasn’t already the best neighborhood in Chicago (sorry haterz), this weekend’s Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival was the perfect combination of art, craft and deliciousness. The festival had everything: boneless rib sandwiches, hot dogs, cheese burgers, italian sausages, cheese fries, funnel cakes, Wisconsin cheddar curds, corn dogs, chicken strips, cheese sticks, cheese curds, nachos and potato skins. Here are a few of the highlights:

All of the things!

Lisa Lindvay somehow managed to make Doritos gorgeous at one of the SLAC storefront exhibitions

We loved Natalie Krick’s clever use of the dressing rooms in the abandoned clothing store where one of the SLAC exhibitions took place.

WTT? is a longtime GDBD fan, so we were of course delighted to see member Jamie Steele’s work, Lady (2013) at MAAF.

The extremely lovely and extraordinarily talented Nadine Nakanishi at her booth for Sonnenzimmer.

Photo courtesy of J. Herrington

Finding Sustenance at CAC’s Starving Artist

Starving Artist. It’s a charged phrase that elicits reaction from our guts – whether artist, admin or educator – so it was no mistake Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC) chose it as the banner to hold over their annual artist+chef mash-up, raising funding and awareness for its mission to build a sustainable marketplace for artists and creative’s.

Photo courtesy of J. Herrington

Billed as “the experiential artist and culinary event of the year,” CAC pairs a handful of chefs from foodie institutions across the city with esteemed visual artists to inspire one another in creating edible “installations” to be enjoyed by the crowd and new works of art to be auctioned off the night of the event. 2013 saw collaborations between Jordan Martins and Abraham Conlon (Fat Rice), Sabina Ott and Bill Kim (bellyQ), Theaster Gates and Erick Williams (MK), Cody Hudson and Jared Wentworth (Longman & Eagle), and Marissa Lee Benedict with Benjamin Newby (Hennessy Black.) Additionally, Claire Ashley and Andrea Morris transformed CAC’s main gallery into an ethereal, celestial-like space, perfect for the obligatory after-hours dance party.

Photo courtesy of J. Herrington

Now in it’s third consecutive year, Starving Artist has proven to be a perfect concoction of collaboration. By partnering with taste makers (pun intended) throughout the food industry, which has its very own devout following for the artistry of the chefs they love, CAC has found a way to cross-pollinate audiences, capitalizing on shared aesthetics while aiming to develop new audiences for the arts. So far it’s a sweet – and savory – success.

Photo courtesy of J. Herrington

The Weatherman Report

Georges Seurat, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, 1884-6 Oil on canvas (81 3/4 x 121 1/4 in.) The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.

Totally #Trending

Getting your nails did: If you haven’t signed up for an mani appointment at Dzine’s Imperial Nail Salon (my parents’ living room) at the MCA we don’t even know you.

The always fashionable Etta Sandry‘s nail sensation.

Chelsea Culp’s manicure even has chains! I die.

Cardboard: From cats to art fairs, card board is totally trending.

Colin Dickson‘s formal yet functional Donald Judd-esque cardboard cat scratcher in the window of “The Whisker.” We can haz cats while waiting in line?!

Aron Gent’s cardboard palace for Document & Threewall‘s joint booth at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival.

Orange: No further proof needed than the ongoing and extreme popularity of the negroni slushies from Parson’s Chicken & Fish.

Mobile negroni slushie’s at MAAF this weekend. Photo via Parson’s Facebook.

You Spin Me Right Round

Rotating cermaic pot by Chealsea Culp & Ben Foch on view at Rainbo Club in Wicker Park. Is it weird that an art opening at a bar feels more like an art opening than most art openings?

SPOTTED!

LS Alderman, Rey Colón, checking out a photo by Garrett Baumer at one of the SLAC’s pop-up art exhibitions on Milkwaukee.

Robert Chase Heishman‘s work at the MAAF Document/Threewalls booth VS an Urban Outfitter’s backsplash. I think we all know who the winner of this battle is…

Come one, come all!