EDITION #26

March 19, 2014 · Print This Article

March Goes in Like a Lion and Out Like a 501(c)3

Nothing says Spring like “Gala,” WTT? couldn’t be more excited to see the ice finally THAW. Speaking of, have you bought tickets for the Links Halls annual spring fling? It’s on April 4th, and really more like a three-storey drunk performance art odyssey than a party. Last year I got an sickening sparkly free mani from Aiden Simon at the Girl Don’t be Dumb salon, went inside of a space photo booth, saw Hope Esser ice skate on soap and watched more burlesque than I’d like to admit. For performance art, it’s not too weird, it’s really fun and it’s not that expensive for how open the bar is, what more could you ask from a Thursday night? And the inclusion of DJ CQQCHIFruit and La Spacer this year? Too much.

Enough gushing. Clearly, this benefit season is going to be huge, but don’t worry, WTT?s got you. Here are some notes on the best auctions and charity bashes around, in my not-so humble opinion. Can not wait to see what everyone looks like without a coat on!

Spotted: Todd King getting his feet did at THAW in 2013. Andrew Mausert-Mooney does his best Jesus in the front.

THAW

You already know the scoop, tickets can be purchased through their website.

hArts for Art 5 : LVL3

LVL3′s annual benefit auction is known to bring great names at reasonable prices with all works starting at $30. Past years auctions have featured Jon Rafman and Israel Lund amongst others. This years is no exception. We also love the LVL3 auction because the raffle prizes are copious and always awesome and it doesn’t hurt that each year the event benefits local non-profit, Arts of Life. Learn more about the auction and the organization here on the LVL3 website. Full disclosure: I take no prisoners on the auction floor. The event takes place on March 29th from 6 to 10PM at 1542 N. Milwaukee Ave. Last bid is accepted at 9:30PM so be on time!

Summer Forum : Hosted by TUSK

Sandwiched comfortably in-between the LVL3 and R&C auction is the Summer Forum fundraiser and art auction at everyones favorite bite-sized boutique, TUSK. There are quite a few repeats from both LVL3 and the R&C auction, though it doesn’t look like anyone got the hat trick. E-Dogz will be on hand, serving some serious benefit crossover and unlimited food with the purchase of a ticket ($25 presale or $35 ATD). Advance online bidding begins March 31, and the IRL event starts at 7pm on Saturday, April 5th at TUSK, 3205 W. Armitage Ave.

Roots & Culture 8th Annual Spring Gala

You don’t have to be Hamza Walker to know that Roots & Culture’s Eric May throws some of the best events in Chicago. Did someone say sangria and tapas? The lineup for the auction is pretty impressive too. Britton Bertran wasn’t kidding when he called the night’s auction list an Who’s Who. The List features some of my favorite Chicago art luminaries and at least one Whitney Biennial-er.

I’d tell you who I’m excited about seeing at the auction, but I want the art all for myself! Find out yourself, the auction takes place May 3, from 7-11PM at 1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Threewalls

Spring benefit season is bookended by major heavy hitters with Threewalls rounding out the season. Another reliably good time, this year’s gala is being held in the spacious digs down south at Mana Contemporary. The full lineup hasn’t been revealed but, I’m jazzed on the news that DJ Earl (who you might have read about in the last edition of the T) will be there. The details might still be a little fuzzy but you can already buy tickets on their site. Looking forward to finding out what a Gunnatowski “wearable” looks like.

FLASHBACK! Trending artist Jesse Malmed (right) with Trunk Show co-director, Raven Munsell (left) and artist Jason Lazarus (center) at Salvage One last year for Threewalls Spring Gala.

The Weatherman Report

Charles Ephraim Burchfield, Early Spring, 1917, Watercolor and graphite on paper, 21 × 28 1/4 inches. James Goodman Gallery.

Bad at Sports finally trending.

What’s the TRENDING?

Pillows: After being relegated to cameos in the backgrounds of painting and photographic portraits for centuries, pillows are finally stepping out on their own. Last week during the Whitney Biennial/ New Yawk City hullabaloo the internet was plastered with images of the biennial and various fairs, but nothing stood out more than the freaky pillows of Bjarne Melgaard at the #WhiBi. With the help of NY based artist and collaborator Amanda Browder, Bad at Spots finally reached the cutting edge with their Volta bed-in installation and recording booth. As if the original Richard and Duncan aren’t creepy enough on their own, Browder created life-size pillow versions for the Volta booth. Good work, team!

Detail of Norwegian American artist Bjarne Melgaard’s cracked out living room installation. Image by Hyperallergic.

Browder with pillows only a mother could love.

Jesse Malmed: Usually it’s difficult for individual artists to be in enough places at once to qualify as a trend, by that’s no problem for trending artist, Malmed. The co-director of Trunk Show and UIC grad student must not sleep. This past weekend Malmed did double duty at the MCA, as one of The Nightingale programmers on Friday night and then again on Saturday for his own presentation of selections from The Body Electronic: What Television Taught Me about Art, a live televisual lecture performance. Trunk Show also hosted an opening/ 5-act play by artist Brandon Alvendia outside the Multiples fair on Sunday and whatever HALLWALLS2 is had an opening on Monday afternoon. And that’s just over four consecutive days. If you’re interested in getting in on the Malmed Madness, and you clearly should be, the artists’ MFA show at UIC is opening on April 18th. If you feel like waking with the sun tomorrow, he’s also hosting a dawn equinox performance, more info here.

Eric Fleischauer’s official Alvendia for Trunk Show Vine. More official documentation can be found on Fleischauer’s “vine box”.

I’ll take all of it! Images from Drapes by Ashley Scott.

Drapes: Thank god standing out and looking good are finally back in style. The Ashley Scott designed brand has already been getting some much deserved exposure for her tremendous style, but the recently released images for the Chicago designers ‘Drapes of Wrath’ Collection, styled by Mister Wallace and shot by Foto by Mateo, are to die for. Not only are the boys beautiful, the accessories are killer (see what I did there?) and SO MANY TASSELS. The collection debuts April 1st, check out the rest of the images and prepare for the wrath on the the Drapes website.

Foto by Mateo gets Draped.

Chicago CD Showcase Back for 2nd Edition at The Mutiny

What? Did you really think we’d spend out St. Patty’s day anywhere else? Sorry Charlemagne Palestine. If you missed last year’s showcase, here’s a little refresher. Don’t do it again!

Despite reports that Thorne Brandt would never play, he softened a tough crowd with his flashing lights and “worst samples ever.”

After last year’s majorly lazery blow out, Free the Universe was resurrected as Apocalypse Forever. Their “children of the corn” performance was a seriously trippy affair.

The love child of Chicago CD Showcase.

This years showcase saw the merger of two of last years performers. Pajama band made their jammy debut featuring members of Fish, Phish, Ghosts and My Bad at The Mutiny on Monday night.




EDITION #25

March 3, 2014 · Print This Article

Behind the scenes photos from Pedro Vélez‘s Instagram.

City Vacant as Artists Depart for Chicago Edition of Whitney Biennal

Did some big movie thingy happen last night? Whatever. The real thing we’ve been waiting for is finally here: The Whitney Biennial plus Armory double punch. Chicago is about to be quieter than a John Cage performance and emptier than Detriot as the Midwesterners gear up for their big moment at the WB this week. Nevermind this list of 21 art events in March, the action’s happening in NYC.

In the tradition of William Siertua’s 2012 Whitney Houston Biennial at Murdertown in Logan Square, another posthumous tribute biennial is set to take place at Julius Caesar in Chicago. Painter and pedagog, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung is the only artist to appear in both the 2014 Whitney and 2012 Whitney Houston Biennials, but MZH and co-2014 “participant” Diego Leclery are absent from the 2014 WHB at the space they formerly ran together. Opening March 16th, the Julius Caesar edition of the Whitney Houston Biennial features those artists who assist and collaborate with Whitney Biennial artists.

Not to be one-uped by Chicago, NYC is countering with their own “everywoman” Whitney Houston Biennial in Dumbo, and raises with the last ever Brucennial, which we hear is also a ladies only exhibition. Looks like women, or at least nods to them, are big in the forecast in 2014.

At least those of us back home in Chicago can take some solace in the fact that the VIP opening is shaping up to be the equivalent of a really good Ren opening. No shade though, WTT? couldn’t be more stoked for the 17 or so Chiagoans in the Biennal. We’re especially curious to see what cool dad Diego Leclery cooks up, and who doesn’t love a good Elijah Burgher occult dropcloth? Oh and did we mention that you should also totes go gawk at B@S’s own Duncan MacKenzie and Richard Holland doing interviews at Volta?

We’ll be here waiting on the couch until y’all get back.

Sassy Fleischauer takes on Hollywood Sign Meme

Hollywood Sign Gif

“Here’s how to use that hollywood sign generator,” asserted Fleischauer last week on Facebook.

NY artists bring “Borough” to Chicago

The West Loop felt anything but “regional” at Deanna Lawson’s and Derrick Adams’ opening at RHG last Friday night. Hour d’erves were passed and the galleries were filled with well suited-up New York banker looking cats. Posh attendees, including artist Mickalene Thomas (both artists first appeared at Hoffman’s in Thomas’ exhibition tête-à-tête in 2012) and Bomb Mag editor, Betsy Sussler, (who both flew in for the affair) swirled around the charasmatic and stylish Lawson and Adams, who were just as striking as the work. Blurring the lines between the two, Adams showed up to the exhibition in a herringbone suit and camoflague print button-up that matched the patterns in the trees of his large scale collage works.

Photo by Deanna Lawson

Bad Mickey!

The main gallery was devoted to Deanna Lawson’s nothing if not sumptuous large format photographs. The most arresting piece in the show is arguably Mickey & Friends <3, 2013, a commanding horizontal photograph of unclad women embracing in front of a Mickey Mouse mural. Mickey licentiously glances over at them. The three nude ladies posing in unison in front of a red velvet curtain was a close second. Lawson even manages to make a simple pink blanket on a red bench look steamy.

Work by Derrick Adams in “Borough”

Karthik Pandian and Derrick Adams

Dapper Dudes: Karthik Pandian and Derrick Adams in front of Adams’ work.

Gallery girls and Rakowitz

Gallery Girls: Claire Flannery, Anastasia Karpova Tinari and Cara Lewis with The Breakup artist Michael Rakowitz.

In the front two rooms of RGH, Derrick Adams’ large collages merged the architectural with the psychological. Adams constructed his own “Borough” of homes from elementary school fence decorations, Restoration Hardware catalog furniture, and camoflague pattern trees. Figures are incorporated into the doll houses through fashion mag cutouts, sewing patterns and art historical fragments. Further underscording the metaphorical dimension of the homes are the miniature versions of portraits from Adams’ Deconstruction Worker series hanging on the walls of his own doll houses. The exhibiton is capped by an actual doll house in the front gallery window construced from silhouettes in Adams’ distinctive style.

Adams' dollhouse

Adams’ doll head house.

Rhona’s been killing it on the freshness tip lately. The Lawson and Adams exhibitions are on view until April 5th.

Rhona Hoffman Gallery is located at 118 N Peoria St #1A.

Who wore it better? Mexican Andrew or Chicago Andrew? Did you hear there’s a California Andrew version as well? Rafacz just went public with a gallery he’s opening in L.A. called Loudhailer.

Cultural Center Legitmately Cultural

DJ Earl

Lunch party time with Deejay Earl.

If you work anywhere near the Cultural Center you owe it to yourself to visit for Wired Fridays. We caught footwork master Deejay Earl two Fridays ago and it was pretty much life changing. The “study room” area on the first floor turns into a club with most eclectic midday crowd you’ve ever seen. Best people watching ever, old ladies, footworkers, tourists, you name it. Earl took the bizarre scene in stride and his set was on point.

Every first and third Friday of the month at the Chicago Cultural Center, Randolph Square, 1st Floor North. 78 E. Washington St.

Reading is Fundamental

Case of the Vase. Art never makes the headlines unless it’s something bogus like that whole Ai Wei Wei fiasco at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. Be still my Facebook stream. At least this one thoughtful meditation by Ben Mauk on the medias overblown reaction to the case almost makes up for it. Mauk’s mention of Damien Hirst’s hundred million dollar monstrosity also reminds us of Rachel Cohen’s fascinating piece for Believer Magazine on the relationship between bankers and artists throughout the ages. Overlap much?

Really though? If you do happen to find yourself in big ol’ New York City trying to fit in at Whitney Biennial Fashion Week, you might want to stock up on ADIDAS pants and slip on sandals with socks. Just remember one thing: no one out-normals Chicago. We’re not even really gonna get into it but this article pretty much sums up our feelings on the norm-non-matter.

[Social] Practice makes perfect at CAA. Obvi must read Jason Foumberg’s Scene + Herd for Artforum. That Dieter Roelstraete photo is beyond.

#Your an idiot. Can’t help it, I really feel that “really annoying—while at the same time making you kind of half smile every time you read it” thing.




EDITION #24 – MEXICO, DF

February 17, 2014 · Print This Article

Good times in Mexico City.

WTT? Goes SoTB

MEXICO, D.F.– Last week art world snowbirds descended upon Mexico City for the biggest Latin American art fair outside of Art Basel Miami Beach. While ZONA Maco, now in it’s 11th year, is obviously the big fish, 2014 also saw the launch of MACO’s first satellite, the ambitious Material Art Fair. We couldn’t stand the idea of missing out, so WTT? headed down to Mexico City to experience the fair scene in DF first hand. Armed with recording equipment and having just watched an Anthony Bourdain program on Mexico City, we were off.

The colonia we stayed in, Condesa, was just west of the center of the city and felt like a way cooler Logan Square. Nice apartments, lots of cute cafes, tons of bars and restaurants. Everyone, including Bourdain, told us that tacos al pastor were the best. We ate like a million immediately at a place closest to our airbnb. We briefly made it to the opening of Material Art Fair and after a comically unsuccessful attempt to go to the after party we ended the night at a dank little bar with heavy red curtains for doors called Bósforo.

First up. MACO, the monolith, was just that. It featured all of the usual bells and whistles: a massive convention center, an artsy partnership, a myriad of sponsors and all of the regulars. MACO also wins the award for worst branding and website possibly ever.

Fancy seeing you here.

Finally, something that even I couldn’t kill in the design section at MACO.

To be fair to the fair, we did discover a couple of sweet Mexican galleries: O.M.R., Kurimanzutto, LABOR and House of Gaga. Apart from the local galleries, Nuevas Propuestas, the smaller single artist booths were the most interesting. Featuring younger artists and more comprehensive views, we spotted work by one of our fav Miamians, Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, at Alejandra von Hartz’s booth. Rodriguez-Cassanova’s precise assemblages of screens, 2×4′s and vertical blinds felt oddly appropriate in the setting of the hastily constructed booth partitions.

Work by Rodriguez-Casanova in the Alejandra von Hartz booth.

We also loved seeing new work by Leonor Antunes on view in the “curated” section, Zona MACO Sur, with Marc Foxx gallery. Attracting our attention through the labyrinth of drywall, her bronze hanging work based on Anni Albers’ textiles were just the right amounts delicate and gold. Bonus points for having the most impressive rigging in the fair. The scaffolding supporting the works were tied with thick black ropes around the convention center’s ceiling vents.

Work by Antunes in the Marc Foxx booth.

The Vázquez at Odabashian.

On the way out we met the charming father and son team at Odabashian, who were only the millionth people that day to advise us to visit the Museo Nacional de Antropología. One of their rugs was even designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, the architect of the museum. In retrospect, you can totally see the repetitive polygonal facade of the museum in the gold and silver geometric pattern of the rug.

Before leaving Condesa for downtown on Saturday morning we walked to House of Gaga in Condesa and then O.M.R. in La Roma just to the east. On the way we grabbed the most amazing cornbread I’ve ever eaten from a bakery/cafe called Maque. It was my favorite breakfast in DF and really cemented our love for our temporary home of Condesa. Over at House of Gaga, Emily Sunblad’s en plein air paintings of elephants and jaguars at the Santa Barbara Zoo were just as delightful as the cornbread. Less delightful were the various cuts of meat placed throughout the gallery, but I was really feeling the dresses and the casual floral still lifes in the back. We also heard that musician Matt Sweeney performed with her at the gallery and was spotted at Bósforo during the fair. If you’re interested, the performance audio (which was avaiable on USB’s throughout the gallery) is also on the gallery’s website. The exhibition was House of Gaga’s first in their new space, the paint was still fresh and made our head buzz.

Work by Sundblad at the House of Gaga gallery.

A wall of happiness at Maque.

Facing the Plaza de Rio de Janiero and a gigantic bronze David replica, O.M.R. is easily the most grandiose gallery space I’ve ever been inside. Mexico City is terraformed and like many of the old buildings in DF, the luxurious old house is sinking back into the swamp. From the moment you open the iron gate into the ornate white staircase it’s on. I’m convinced that the gigantic marble slabs rigged up by Jose Davila for his exhibition only enhanced the effect of the sloping floors and vise versa. Also on display were some wild old James Turrell work from his Mendota Hotel period in the early 1970s.

Can I just live here already!?

Cristobal Riestra in front of work by Jose Davila in the O.M.R. gallery.

The main galleries were impressive but I was most partial to Pia Camill‘s work in the project space adjoining the main gallery. Her bright abstract curtains with sumptuous blues hanging in front of windows and throughout the gallery were complemented by the large shapely ceramic works and painted walls. Despite the massive population of the city, the art world in Mexico DF feels roughly Chicago-sized, so we weren’t too surprised to discover that Francisco Cordero-Oceguera, the artist behind Lodos Contemporáneo also has a gig as Camill’s assistant. The bookstore downstairs was pretty cute too. We found a kids book designed by Niki de Saint Phalle called Malo Malo that I only wish I had as a toddler.

Pia Camill at O.M.R.

Our final stop before returning to Material was the oft recommended Museo Nacional de Antropología. Totes worth it. From the Vázquez building to the Sone of the Sun and the countless artifacts and displays, you could spent an entire vacation in the museum. It was all pretty spectacular, even if we could only decipher about half of the label text. After drooling over the elaborate marble and molar sacrificial jewelry we took a walk through Chapultepec Park where the Museo Rufino Tamayo is also located.

Antique artists pallets and tools.

Just some morning yoga at the museo.

Sacraficial teeth necklace!

Recreation of a mural inside of the pre-Colombian wing.

Bone instruments at the Museo Nacional de Antropología.

For the slightly more adventurous and internet savvy art enthusiast, Material Fair at the Hilton Reforma in El Centro was the place. The marked difference between the two fairs was palpable as soon as you made it to the entrance on the fourth floor. Far from a chore, Material felt like a hip family reunion with newly discovered extended cousins. Their signage was also way more to my liking. By invitation only, the fair was a tightly curated selection of 40 art galleries and alternative spaces from Mexico, the States and Europe. I like to think that this fair would have been Bourdain’s preference.

While some familiar veterans like Andrew Rafacz (Chicago), Kinman (London), Clifton Benevento (New York), Michael Jon (Miami) and Green Gallery (Milwaukee) were present, the inclusion of project spaces (aka alternative spaces, apartment galleries, pick your favorite) such as Queer Thoughts (Chicago), Regina Rex (Queens) and Important Projects (Oakland) galvanized fairgoers and established fraternal bonds amongst the visiting artists and galleries. The anchors of Material were absolutely the Mexican project spaces (Yautepec, Otras Obras, NO Space, Neter, Lodos Contemporáneo, and more) who also acted as generous hosts and guides for the artists and gallerists visiting from abroad.

Chelsea Culp’s work inside the QT booth.

QT booth on the opening night of Material.

The success was largely due to the personal touch and attention of fair organizers, Daniela Elbahara and Brett W. Schultz, who also run Yautepec in the neighborhood of San Rafael. Drawing on relationships they established through visiting other cities and fairs, and the observation of like-minded spaces on the internet, the fair felt like more of an authentic survey than whatever Hans Ulrich Obrist thought he was doing with 89plus.

I was feeling the crying payaso at NO Space’s booth.

The always easy to spot Birk and Delmar at the fair.

The project spaces, many showing outside of their own closet or living room for the first time, responded in a variety of ways. Some spaces, such as Important Projects, who’s own small residential Oakland space usually exhibits single artists, presented a group show which included DF locals and NO Space proprietors Debora Delmar Corp. and Andrew Birk. They also debuted print editions from Leisure Press, a project of Medium Cool’s Ria Roberts. Regina Rex’s booth was dominated by Black Beach, an impressive clay wall by Hugo Montoya, which was created on-site and continued to dry and crack throughout the duration of the fair. It paired particularly nicely with Michael Merck’s plaster casts of limited run fast food items and Alina Tenser’s jiggling vases in her Hip Openers video.

Schultz participating in a trust exercise at Otras Obras.

La_Compañía’s booth at Material Art Fair.

Other’s took a more experimental approach. Yautepec’s booth featuring Debora Delmar Corp. and Natalia Ibañez-Lario was installed with a mix of curtains, pillows fitted with printed bras, semi-household objects and brightly colored cut out legs that made it feel like the most fucked up living room in the best way. The unofficial faces of the fair, NO Space’s Birk and Delmar decided to show finished garments alongside the raw material of fashion designer Roberto Sanchez. Otras Obra’s use their booth as a studio and filmed many of the artists and attendees over the weekend. The resulting film, Dando y dando: pajarito volando is available to watch here

New blog idea…

The Regina Rex booth at Material.

Michael Hunter’s work at the Important Projects booth.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the closing party for Material, a showcase by Mexican label N.A.A.F.I. It more than made up for our first attempt at a Material Party. People were jammed packed into Bahia Bar, the music was good and loud and there was nothing else to do but dance. As you might expect, we spotted Schultz and Elbahara breaking it down right by the stage. The party was so fun we heard Sayre Gomez changed his flight back to the states just so he could stay at Bahia longer.

Yautepec’s booth at Material.

Artists Chelsea Culp, Leonardo Kaplan, Sarah & Michael Hunter and Ben Foch on their way to Bósforo.

Elbabara receives all the flowers on a night out in Plaza Girabaldi.

The Friday night Lodos opening for an exhibition by Important Projects’ Joel Dean and Jason Benson at their space in San Rafael only reinforced the camaraderie. On the corner across from the gallery I fulfilled my dream to eat blue masa tortillas like Anthony Bourdain did and it was divine. Back to the exhibition, it was based loosely on the last line of an Amiri Baraka poem, “Another Name for Liar,” and was crammed with the fanciful arrangements of the duos “post-studio” practice. Dean’s “Poster Boy,” a double sided takeaway featuring Elroy Jetson and Trayvon Martin on the back was the most singular and powerful work in the exhibition. Other arrangements seemed to rely on an inner narrative and possible a speaker set up that wasn’t audible over the din of the crowd. That night we also got a chance to see the NO Space space, located in the dining room of Delmar and Birk’s super sweet apartment on the top floor of a nearby building.

Delmar and Dean at the opening for “Another Name for Liar” at Lodos.

The holy grail.

“Poster Boy” by Dean at Lodos.

Artist Carson Fisk Vittori in front of work by Jason Benson at Lodos.

The point is that Anthony Bordain was right. Going to Material and seeing the impressive programming around the fair was like drinking a refreshing glass bottle of agua mineral. It also doesn’t hurt that Mexico, DF is probably the most captivating city in the Americas. It’s 100% nothing like people described it beforehand, except the water thing– that definitely seems real. Having visited though I’m not surprised to have met so many ex-pat artists living there. People are super nice and interesting, there’s an obscene amount of awesome wrought iron fences, brightly painted buildings, all kinds of old and new stuff smashed together, lots of trees and anything else you could ever want ever, and so much color. We left the way we arrvied, with tacos el pastor. Mexican food in Chicago is never going to be the same again.

So… Next year in Mexico City?


Hey! PS- Watch the podcast for my forthcoming interviews with Daniela Elbahara and Brett W. Schultz, Important Projects and Cristobal Riestra from O.M.R. for more on Material Fair, MACO and why you should move to Mexico City. Hasta luego!

Todos Juntos by Rirkrit Tiravanija at MACO.




EDITION #22

January 21, 2014 · Print This Article

Amelia Peláez

Amelia Peláez’s Havana Hilton Hotel mural, ca. 1957. Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami Libraries.

Travelogue: Three Cities, Three Retrospectives

It’s been a wild winter break, but What’s the T? is back in Chicago in time for dibs season and motivated by the artists brave enough to exhibit in the tundra. For those of you holed up in your apartment licking the radiator for warmth (like I am), here’s a recap of some shows outside of the snow globe.


Closing next Sunday, February 2nd (with a performance by Kim Gordon), is the exhibition that’s been blowing up my feed since it opened at PS1 in October of 2013. Mike Kelley’s retrospective is a 40,000 square foot sprawling colossus of an exhibition. Although I could have lived without the seemingly endless rooms of Kandors (a reference to the miniaturized capital city of Superman’s rival Brianiac) on the first floor, the exhibition impressively filled the sprawling school house and gave me a new appreciation for the artist.

Birdhouses by Mike Kelley

Birdhouses by Mike Kelley at PS1.

Never before in my life have I seen so many swastikas and phallus and felt pretty ok about the whole thing. Arguably the greatest mindfuck in the entire exhibition (taking up an entire floor, the cacophonous a/v installation Day is Done was a close second), Pay for Your Pleasure, a corridor of large portrait paintings and quotations from famous intellectuals effectively complicated the relationship between violence and creativity. By the time I reached the end of the corridor I had completely lost the ability to tell right from wrong.

Mike Kelley banners

Kelley’s banners in the hallway at PS1.

The oft-posted Deodorized Central Mass With Satellites was among the least interesting rooms (also the one with the longest line). Watching people pose in front of the hulking mass of leftover toys, I wondered how Kelley himself might have felt about powerful installation’s transmutation into a selfie photo-op. I did pop a huge boner for the dysfunctional birdhouses and the artist’s drawings of his own name. Most disappointing though was PS1′s lack of snacks. The M. Wells Dinette conceptual Mike Kelley menu was admirable, but would it kill PS1 to sell a girl a croissant or fruit cup? I traveled all the way to Queens for this.

Mike Kelley signatures

Mike Kelley at PS1.

Thankfully, we missed the Turrell retrospective at the Gug (heard the lines were unbearable even if the hole was amazing) in favor of seeing the exhibition in full splendor at LACMA. Apparently the artist, an LA native, made moves to stem the line issue by limiting the amount of guests allowed through the exhibition each day (and no photos allowed!). By the time my party of 5 arrived at LACMA , the $25 exhibition was completely sold out for the day. It was only through the loophole of student membership and my lovely friend, Conor Fields, that I was even able to see the exhibition. The antidote to the packed Kelley exhibition, my first glimpse of Afrum (White), the exemplary white cube that is the first of many light installations, was as religious an art experience as I’ve ever felt.

#today in (art) history

Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems, The Assassination of Medger, Malcom, and Martin, 2008. Archival pigment print, 61 x 51 inches. Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

The Weatherman Report

Benjamin Bulter, Leafless Trees, 2008, Oil on canvas, 16 1/10 × 19 9/10 in. Tomio Koyana Gallery.

Other works, such as “Bullwinkle,” a modest projection in the shape of an antique television screen, featured plaques helpfully suggesting minimal viewing times to aid visitors in experiencing the desired effects of Turrell’s complex combinations of light and color. Guests moved leisurely through the exhibition. The immersive installations were smartly punctuated with wall-based work, such as the artist’s delicate aqua-tint etchings and hologram series. Despite the 20 minute wait, the paramount moment of the exhibition was Breathing Light (2013), a absorptive environment that mindfucks you in an entirely angle than Kelley’s Pay for Your Pleasure. Heats of eight are invited to take their shoes off, don booties, and spend five minutes in the space which features rounded walls and a deeply saturated bath of LED light that slowly gradients between red and blue. Shout out to the world’s best docent, Rikki Williams, for doing an impeccable job at keeping the antsy visitors to Breathing Light in check (and for letting me stay an extra minute).

LA’s other most famous dude, Frank Ghery, also deserves a shoutout for the unbelievably well designed Calder exhibition in the same building as Breathing Light and the other (reservation only) large-scale immersive Turrell spaces. Having seen a couple of attempts of shoving a bunch of mobiles and stabiles into a large room (including the MCA’s most recent attempt), I can truthfully say I’ve never seen a better presentation of the artists work. Ghery’s specially built pedestals wind around the gallery and create niches that isolate and accommodate each piece. His specially designed walls and plinths allow the viewer to see the delicate balance present in individual works instead of a mess of primary colored circles and wires hanging everywhere.

Ai Wei Wei

You’re okay too, Wei Wei.

Not to be outdone by other major metropolitan areas massive surveys of mostly male work, the Perez Museum of Art Miami (still known to me as the Miami Art Museum) opened it doors in December with an inaugural retrospective by Ai Wei Wei. While the exhibition has a few highlights, I found the smaller retrospective of works by little known Cuban modernist, Amelia Peláez, to be a far more compelling and apt exhibition for the brand new bayside contemporary art museum.

Amelia Peláez

Painting by Peláez at PAMM.

I thought the inclusion of the furniture was a little much, but I loved the objects made by Peláez herself. Her ceramic work epitomizes the bright colors and modern, bold markings of her still-life paintings on shapely vases and cups. I would take the espresso set. The show was thoughtfully put together and I was delighted to learn of the artist’s life and work. Now I just wish I could go back in time to Cuba and see her Havana Hilton Hotel mural.

Amelia Peláez

Adorable.

Amelia Peláez

These too.

Back in Chicago, I’m waiting on my invite for what will be either the awesomest or worstest retrospective in Chicago history: David Bowie Is. Stay tuned.

Reading is Fundamental

  • The Return of Steve. Local critic, Steve Ruiz, has finally returned from his extended jaunt across the pond! Not only has his Chicago Art Review site been ressurected, he’s also jumped right back into the scene with this meditation on Sofia’s Leiby’s recent exhibition The Drama of Leisure for Daily Serving.
  • Sofia Leiby at Devening

    Leiby in coversation with Anthony Opal at the closing of her exhibition last Sunday.
  • Alicias take on Faith. Threewalls just opened the ambitious Faith Wilding: Fearful Symmetries Retrospective. If you’re looking for a historial feminist context take on the exhibition, check out Alicia Chester’s review on ArtSlant. Bonus points to Chester for managing to fit #Beyoncé into the review. More interested in the techno future of feminism? Try Alicia Eler’s piece for Hyperallergic surveying the re-performance of Wilding’s “Waiting.
  • Faith Wilding Performance

    Still from Faith Wilding’s “Waiting” performance as seen in the 1974 film “Womanhouse” by Johanna Demetrakas, (1974, USA, 47 min.) (courtesy of Johanna Demetrakas and Three Walls Gallery).
  • The Weekly debuts with hilarious email chain. Sunday was a big day for Chicago poet, Anthony Opal. Not only did he trudge through the snow to talk drama with Sofia Leiby at Devening Projects, he also launched The Weekly with some “Revolutionary Interactive Storytelling” by the very entertaining and all around solid dude, Fred Sasaki. Enjoy.




EDITION #21 – Art Basel Miami Beach Recap

December 10, 2013 · Print This Article

What’s the T? does Art Basel Miami Beach

Time for the annual pilgrimage of sun seeking art enthusiasts and their accompanying art advisors, handlers and the like to the city of Miami Beach. The fairs are numerous, spilling over onto the sand and the mainland. This year, my eighth year watching my hometown transform into an art circus, I decided to let the wind blow me where it may. As long as you’re doing something it can’t be that bad. In this special edition of What’s the T? we’re serving recap realness and some Miami T for Chicago’s inquiring minds and wannabe snowbirds alike.

Woke up to the news that Miami B-listers Christian Slater and his girlfriend, Brittany Lopez, tied the knot on Monday. We heard that Slater courted Lopez at her former job at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. Basel Tov!

Why wait until the weekend to party? Even though the “big fair,” at the convention center doesn’t open until Wednesday, there are just not enough party hours in the day. By the time we saw Locust Project’s exhibition by Nicholas Hlobo in their main space and Frances Trombly in the project room it was time. So we begin. Tuesday night marked the opening of Design Miami, the sister fair to Art Basel in Miami as well as in Switzerland.

Design Miami’s sandy tent

Always a classy, champagne’d out affair, this year was no different. It was a pleasure to see Chicago design galleries, Volume (showing Jonathan Munecke) and Casati Gallery (showing David Salkin). Trending this year at DM were lamps that look like floating jars, gigantic sand hills, e-cigs (which appeared to be trending everywhere, I think it’s New York’s fault). In attendance were a number of notables, including 2016 Olympic sailing hopeful, Sarah Newberry and artist, Emmett Moore; another celebrity here; Primary Projects’ Nick Cindric and Robins Collection Curator and Director of Cultural Programming for the Design District, Tiffany Chestler; Bleeding Palm’s Ronnie Riviera (who made a hilarious Basel Death Clock Site); and Locust Project’s Amanda Sanfilippo with artist, Justin Long. We even ran into our favorites, LVL3’s Vincent Uribe and Anna Mort, dressed impeccably as always.

Kiwi & Patti

Bleeding Palm’s Ronnie Riviera

sarah new

Sarah Newberry & Emmett Moore

tiff and nick

Tiffany Chestler & Nick Cindric

amanda and justin

Amanda Sanfilippo & Justin Long

It’s imperative at Basel to never to stop moving and as our party guru says, always leave the party before it gets old, so before too long we were off the island and en route to the Rubell Collection’s annual shindig at their museum caliber space in Wynwood. Unsurprisingly, the Rubell’s used the occasion (as they do every year) to feature their daughter, Jennifer Rubell’s, excessive food “installations.” One year it was a wall of old fashioned doughnuts, then there was the year with the honey falling out of the sky.

pie seesaw

So much egg custard.

This year, Jennifer busted out none other than the tiny-pie seesaw. A monstrously long but narrow white table, completely covered in miniature egg custard pies, slowing moved up and down, while waiters brought around bite sized versions of every other desert option possible on silver platters. There was, of course, a copious amount of alcohol (if you’re paying for drinks during ABMB then something is wrong), Perrier (totes trending and in three flavors), macaroni and cheese in martini glasses (don’t ask me), and fried rice in takeout containers. The party was totally banging, but the tiny custard pies were awful. Among the many illustrious guests were Siebren Versteeg and his new gallerist, Miami’s Brook Dorsch; artists, Patricia Hernandez and Christina Farah.

Kiwi & Patti

Patricia Hernandez & Christina Farah

Dorsch

Kizzy, Dorsch & Versteeg

On our way out we couldn’t resist stopping at the old Perrotin space down the street from the Rubells, The house/ gallery, now Galerie Eva Presenhuber, is simply gorg—classic design and a super sweet back yard, but the party was lame and we weren’t really feeling it.

Disappointed by the quality of the pie and weary of mixing vodka and sugary deserts, it was time for a cheeseburger interlude before moving onto the last stop of the night, Rat Bastard’s fifth annual Anti-Art Becomes Art Show at the only British pub in all of Little Haiti, Churchill’s. We finally got a chance to see Chris Corsano, the wunderkind solo percussionist hailing from Massachusetts.

Chris Cursano

Chris Corsano at Churchills

In the list of things I wish I made it to but couldn’t was the TM Sister’s beachside performance at the Untitled fair on Monday and Tuesday night. Also not spotted was Kevin Arrow, though we kept seeing his Kenny Scarf paint-bombed Honda Element driving through Little Haiti.

Another day, another art “experience.” We ditched the vernissage (sorry Sly) for the opening of Autumn Casey’s new curatorial venture, Space Mountain, right next to GucciVitton in North Miami. Being a NMB girl myself, I couldn’t be more excited that great galleries are moving north. Space Mountain’s first show, Big Deal, featured 12 ladies and a drag queen, all born in Miami. Needless to say, it was a big deal. Loved the zebra corner piece by Renata Rojo and the drawn over coasters by Beatriz Monteavaro. We spotted the Hartmann’s; and Miami It-girls, Serena Dominguez and Sarah Attias working it in overalls, side boob and Pikachu really hard. Outside the exhibition there was a serendipitous pop-up bar serving seasonal gourmet cocktails with cider and lattes.

Work by Renata Rojo. Photo by Autumn Casey

Space Mountain

Serena Dominguez and Sarah Attias

After some chill times and good vibes at Space Mountain it was time to head to Mana Wynwood for the Kendrick Lamar with Miami fave and all around sweetheart DJ, DZA. After much confusion and a bunch of naked ladies painted by Vanessa Beecroft and Kanye West (I’ll save you the suspense, Yeezus was a no-show), we found ourselves on a couch in the VIP section popping bottles and waiting for Kendrick. Waiting for Lamar took for-ev-er. Though the event started around 9 or 10 PM, Kendrick Lamar didn’t grace the stage until almost two in the morning. The only thing that made the waiting bearable was DZA’s super danceable sets in between each set.

If we did anything after Kendrick Lamar, it probably shouldn’t be repeated here anyway.

Thursday already? NADA VIP opening was obvi a must. It’s the only fair worth going to, in my opinion. The booths were looking fresh as always and the Midwest was repping hard with great booths from Scott Reeder’s American Apparel shirts in the lobby to Shane Campbell, our boys at the Green Gallery, and Midway Contemporary Art from Minneapolis. Locust Projects, Miami’s premiere non-profit gallery space had a booth right next to Midway with items priced to sell, including an edition of hip art historical hats from artist and yacht boy, Justin Long.

NADA

David Lewis MIA

Booths with no art were definitely trending at NADA. One booth just featured a copy machine spitting out invitations for another exhibition and we heard gallerist David Lewis’ sickness led to his empty booth, featuring an advertisement and email address. As far as booths that actually had art inside of them go: NYC’s The Hole booth was only half unpacked, with burned work by Kaspar Sonne and gigantic pours by Holton Rower suspended inside of plywood shipping crates. We were also stoked to see those sweet little Alain Biltereyst we loved at Devening on view with Jack Hanley gallery. John Rippenhoff at Green tipped us off to the mini XYZ collective booth, where we about died over the purple eggs and collages by soshiro matsubara.

NADA

The Hole

NADA

Anya Kielar at Rachel Uffner

Anya Kielar’s large scale screen prints at Rachel Uffner’s booth looked like cyanotypes and were just gorgeous. Could have lived without the gigantic beer cooler piece that everyone seemed to love, but I am still regretting not pouring myself a pina colada at San Juan’s Roberto Paradise Gallery, who were also showing work by Jose Lerma and Tyson Reeder. Lerma’s mirrors were irresistible to Luis Gispert as well, we ran into the artist checking out the booth. Another Miami native, I was also stoked to see his work at Rhona’s booth in the main fair.

Juni Figueroa at Roberto Paradise

Luis Gispert

Luis Gispert in front of Jose Lerma’s work at Roberto Paradise

Also spotted! Dan Gunn, but not that Dan Gunn, and a super preggers Lisa Cooley. She was really working that bump!

Dan Gunn

They knew about the real Dan Gunn. Were not amused.

Hugo

Hugo Montoya in the bass car.

By the time I mad it outside to the deep bass van outside of the fair I was ready to move on. Though the booths looked awesome, we were disappointed at the lack of chill on-going pool party outside. Just one medianoche from downstairs and we were out.

Chris Ingalls

Nailed it, Chris.

The official PAMM opening took place to much fanfare and back rubbing from the Miami community. It’s as if no one even noticed that the museum is still a construction site. Later that night Cop City Chill Pillars, great band and old friends from West Palm, played at Churchills to a small yet enthusiastic crowd.

CCCP

Cop City Chill Pillars

Friday morning is made for collector brunches. Some pastries at the Craig Robins collection followed by the best coffee at the de la Cruz Collection building. Oh, and I guess the art was OK, too. As per usual, the Miami collectors were ping-ponging off each other, with both collections prominently featuring Sterling Ruby and Wade Guyton. We were also surprised to see some new stuff, like Hugh Scott-Douglas (who at the ripe age of 25 was all over Basel and NADA) and a massive Rob Pruitt installation on the third floor of the de la Cruz.

Pruitt at DLC

Rob Pruitt faces at the de la Cruz Collection

Rich people and their handlers abounded. We’re pretty sure we spotted Klaus Biesenbach chatting it up with the fiery Rosa de la Cruz through an impressive Dan Colen basketball backboard sculpture.

Klaus

Biesenbach through the Dan Colen.

After sneaking in a quick lunch at Michael’s Genuine (where we saw many of the collectors getting turned away by the 2 hr wait), it was back to the beach for some lounging at the Mondrian’s Friends with You pool installation on the bay. By the time we saw the sun setting under FWY’s gigantic inflatables we were ready for what was yet to come.

Friends with you at the Mondrian.

Sunset at the Mondrian.

Youth Code at Gramps.

In a scene out of a sleezy Miami Vice episode, we slinked into the Kettle One/ Gigi’s party in Wynwood using just a name in order to pregrame for the Youth Code show at Gramps. Not only was the LA duo pretty hot, their set was awesome and way under appreciated by the too cool crowd at Gramps. Right after the YC set we bounced back to Churchills just in time to catch Wolf Eyes at Andrew McLees’ Look Alive two day music fest. The crowd was super NYC and super enthusiastic, though I thought the Wolf Eyes set was incredibly boring. Why are they famous again?

Saturday already!? We were almost at the finish line. What’s the T? spent Saturday getting back to our roots at the Bad at Sports bathroom recording booth. We jumped on the mic with Duncan McKenzie, Brian Andrews, Patricia Maloney during their interview of Miami’s the end/ SPRING BREAK’s Patricia Hernandez and Domingto Castillo. We mostly talked about boats, German cinema and 9/11. If it sounds confusing, that’s because it was. Without Richard Holland around there was no one to keep the jokes on schedule. I’m looking forward to hearing the cacophony posted on the podcast.

Domingo Castillo eating a banana with b@s

Otherwise, we thought the Dimensions Variable booth, featuring work by Frances Trombly and Martin Oppel amongst others was maybe the only thing worth seeing at PULSE aside from the chill hammocks outside of the Ice Palace.

frances

Work by Frances Trombly.

martin

Work by Martin Oppel.

DV booth

Dimensions Variable booth at Pulse.

After wrapping up the interview, we headed to the #followmeto (have you seen this thing? It’s ridiculous!) party at The Versace Mansion. Yes, that Versace Mansion. Shout out to our girl Linling at Inside Hook for hooking it up. The party was awesome and someone even jumped in the heavily mosaicked pool before the night was over! It was totally tripped out.

Versace

Since we were already on the beach, we decided to hit up Sandbar for the NADA party. Usually a choice against our better judgment, the Fade to Mind takeover was pretty rad. We ran into our Midway Contemporary pal, Nathan Coutts, along with most of the other NADA exhibitors and too many NYC snowbirds to count. More than anywhere else I had been last week, this party was on the internet. Check out born-to-blog Adam Katzman’s piece in the Miami New Times about the evening.

Loathe to let the evening end before 5AM, we made our way over to a warehouse on 71st street to catch Jelly, a star-studded trio featuring the Kerr brothers and Rainer Davies. As soon as we got there ran into Bhakti Baxter taking a disco nap and as soon as the show was over we had to turn in too.

We survived all the way until Sunday! We took our sweet time waking up and heading down to the convention center in order to say our final goodbyes to ABMB. Not really giving a fuck about the convention center, we checked out a few of the booths that we knew would be sweet (Rhona’s, Metro Pictures, Two Palms, Hauser & Wirth, Blum & Poe, etc). Mostly, we were there for the NOVA section, featuring galleries like Spinello Projects (which we heard sold out) and 80M2 Livia Benavides from Lima, Peru.

HSD at B&P

Too many first names: Hugh Scott Douglas at Blum & Poe

Work by Luis Gispert at Rhona Hoffman

Walking through the fair we saw a bunch of art handlers we knew ready to pounce when the public finally left, but we also ran into old friend and Curious City producer, Logan Jaffe with her sisters, Hunter and Chandler. Hot ladies with dude names? Yes please. We also wanted to check out the “pop-up” bar by Jim Drain and Naomi Fisher in between booths N26 and 27. The bar, Paradise Working Title, was staging Club Nutz on Saturday afternoon with Brian Cooper and members of the audience trying to make stiff Basel goers laugh. Artist, Malcom Stuart, was on the mic ripping a few as well. There was also a stripping magician and blood. That’s all I’m gonna say.

The Jaffe Sisters. So lindos!

Club Nutz at ABMB.

Jim Drain inside Paradise Working Title on Sunday.

After the fair and some sushi on Lincoln Road, we headed over to the misleadingly titled Babes of Bushwick party on Collins Ave. They called it “Pool Party,” yet there was no pool. Very disappointing. I thought the Sandbar party was on the internet, but this party was the internet proper. Still a good time though and we ran into some choice Miamian’s and our generous SF B@S bureau. We also ogled over our new BFF Malcom Stuart’s collection for Joyrich. Seriously, though.

Malcom Stuart’s collection for Joyrich.

With just a couple of hours of Basel remaining we headed back to the mainland and Gramps for the tail end of the Black Cobra BBQ. Straight from the Gramps to Miami International Airport and back into the tundra. Hello Chicago.

Shout out to Radz for picking out the two biggest trends of Basel: #ecigs and #purses. Thanks Miami!