Fashion World Unrelated to Real One

Walking into the tented entrance of SAIC’s THE WALK felt stepping off the rainy downtown street into another dimension. Maybe we picked the wrong art world to focus on? This was unlike anY “opening” we’d been to before. There were like 6 different types of hors d’oeuvres, multiple bars with at least not the cheapest wine option, and, shockingly, people both above AND below 26.5 years of age.

We saw a woman wearing a beak on her face like it was no big deal, and all levels of over done. In this overdressed scene, the opening performance by Claudia Hart felt lackluster, especially at the beginning when the dancer closest to me was off her mark, ruining the projection illusion. We were into the concept: put voguing dancers in wild cutout outfits that serve as projection screens, but it somehow fell flat.

“The Dolls” by Claudia Hart.

Fortunately the eleganza returned for the student presentations. Sophomore presentations, while restricted to a single piece with white and gold coloring, certainly ranked amongst the most exciting offerings of the evening. While we are impressed with pretty much anyone who can thread a needle, we have to say that Kellia Yao, Michel ‘Le Forrest, Yalin Zhao and Dave Klibanoff (who’s face garment seemed to totally disregard the palate) made us the most excited for 2017’s show.

Looks by Michel ‘Le Forrest and Dave Klibanoff.

Looks by Kellia Yao and Yalin Zhao.

If you were looking for a capsule collection, THE WALK is certainly not the place. The Swarovski crystal accents were about the most casual part of the show (and that’s to say, not casual at all). The juniors were just as over the top and Mady Berry’s gigantic cactus knitwear complete with fur draping and a flower on top pretty much stole the show. Franky Tran’s train with two male attendants was a cherry on top. From our seat in the back of the tent it was hard to see the details of the designs, but we knew when the audience was pleased by polite applause and literal oo’s and ahh’s coming from the front rows.

Mady Berry’s gigantic cactus knitwear.

Finally, it was time for the main event. No, not the post-show snacks (though we’ll get to that), the senior presentations. Really there were just two collections that really gave us life. Kaleigh Moynihan’s collection, Davinia Francois, was hands down my favorite. From the first note of “Tip toe through the tulips,” you could tell it was going to be something else. And it was. Aside from showing a strong vision, Moynihan was the only student to use her own models, breaking the “walking stick” template and using real people of various shapes and sizes, including one model who was completely swallowed by a garment that appeared to have wheels or be robotic. The gender bending of the garments was effortless, unlike her colleague Carly Callis, whose blonde wigs seemed forced and awkward. Most importantly, as artist/model Amina Ross and the other likely artists on stage ‘tiptoed,’ they genuinely appeared to be having fun. The boob pockets, the “I don’t know” cape, the floral pasties, I could go on.

Kaleigh Moynihan’s creations on the runway.

Fransisco Gonzalez’s mickey-inspired runway looks.

The only other senior to really make me swoon was Fransisco Gonzalez. His Clairvoyance collection was equal parts space sportswear and Mickey Mouse. The fact that I’m from Florida might have something to do with my affinity for the mouse, but the way Gonzalez wove the characters into the not-quite ready-to-wear pieces in his collection felt like something we would totally try to pull off.

Creepy effigy and eggs.

After the last presentation, and the real Diane Pernet was presented a “Legend of Fashion” award, the entire tent moved across the street to the Harris theater for a reception where you could see a creepy Pernet’s effigy designed by local drag queen, Jojo Baby (who was looking quite dapper and carried a Pernet Barbie-sized doll). The reception was nothing if not elaborate. I gagged over Moynihan’s models and tried to work up the courage to talk to the young designer with daises in her hair, while spraying down my sushi with perfume bottles full of soy sauce (least practical vessel). I sampled the “couture eggs” (weird) and ate endless dumplings while trying to balance my dirty martini (the bartender had said, “I hope you like it straight up”).

To be fair, it was a fundraiser to support student work and scholarships at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Regardless, it was shame to have to leave the fashion world for the real one.

If you wanted a spot on recap of the best of the fashion show, you’re in the wrong place. Check out Isa’s “Best of” for the Reader.

Reading is Fundamental

Think of this as your month in review.

  • Now Here, Here Now
    Eric Asobe on being connected virtually and physically to the world of art and art in the world. With a dash of summer thrown in for good measure.
  • MarKEt/Foward and Nikki Johnson at the Pfister Hotel
    Sid Branca’s long-awaited recap on the MarKEt/Foward is an outsiders view of an insiders symposium.
  • Studies of Exhaustion
    Jacob Wick continues to interrogate what he finds phony, this time intertwined with Filipídicas, Vega Macotela’s first solo show at Galería Labor in Mexico City. Find out why Wick believes Macotela’s exhibition is a “step in the right direction.”
  • Window Shoppers
    Erin Leland has the most interesting conversations. Eavesdrop on her and curator, Andrew Blackley’s, afternoon of window shopping that merges seamlessly into Blackley’s work on Keith Haring and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
  • Paris on the Prairie: Part I
    The Ladies Almanack has taken up residence on our blog as they prepare to begin the second phase of shooting in Chicago. Find out more about the project here and look for more updates throughout the month of June.

T around Town

It’s Spring and Chicago is awakening! The warmth is warming the ‘lil ‘ol Florida girl’s ice heart. So much happened this past month, check out what you missed below!

Marcel Opening

Marcel Alcala at his opening for The Mayor at the Hills.

Chicano Opening

Josh Rios discussing his work with Kate Bowen at the opening for Please Don’t Bury Me Alive! Part Two at Sector 2337. The exhibition, featuring drawings by Ernest Hogan, will be on view through June 14th.

Chicano Opening

Romero and Rios at their opening on Saturday, May 9th.


The Weatherman Report

Intro, 2015, by Alan Gutierrez currently on view at Kitchen Space.

The opening for elsetime: A Solo Exhibition by Ellen Rothenberg also on view at Sector 2337 until July 3rd.

Chicano Opening

Lorelei Stewart (sporting an adorable new do) and Andreas Fischer looked like pure spring in front of work by Michael Hunter at the Roots and Culture benefit auction on May 2nd.

Cosmosis Opening

Work by Daniel Baird on view at Cosmosis at the Hyde Park Art Center through August 23rd. (Weirdly can’t find the photo I shot of the expat artist at the Roots benefit the evening before! Mysterious indeed.)

Cosmosis Opening

Sarah and Joseph Belknap were serving true wonder at the opening for Cosmosis, including this chameleon of an installation.

Alberto Aguilar performing with Edra Soto at “Made-Up in the form of a Variety Show” at the Arts Club (yes, it was swanky) on May 13th.

Madeline Aguilar playing music from her album, Made In, at the live tapping of Made Up with Danny Volk at the Arts Club. Aguilar will be releasing Made In at the Hyde Park Free Theater this Saturday at 2PM.

Alex Bradley Cohen his the opening for the Midwest Edition of New American Paintings. You don’t have a to travel all the way to Elmhurst to see the artists work, Cohen has an exhibition with Kelly Lloyd opening at Carrie Secrist opening June 5th.

Work by Brookhard Jonquil at Ideal Perfection, on view at LVL3 until June 21st.

Emily Green and Megan Stroech at the opening for Ideal Perfection.

Work by Matt Mancini and Megan Stroech on view at LVL3.

The scene at the Humboldt Park Boat House for Lilli Carré’s Trunk Show opening. Purely pastoral. Get your own here.

The crowd outside the Suburban for their last Illinoisan opening. We heard the house goes on the market June 1!

Work by Katy Cowan in the Green Gallery South at The Suburban (we assume this is also their last show in this location).

Katy Cowan crewed up with members of American Fantasy Classics, The Hills and J.Laz.

Adorable handmade teacup sculpture by Noelle Garcia on view at Ordinary Projects. There will be a performance in the space this Sunday, May 31st at 3PM.

We’re still dying over Caleb Yono’s gorg painting/ sculpture/ light/ beauty installation at the SAIC 2015 MFA Show.

The MFA show actually had a lot of great work these year, including Nick Butcher’s installation featuring this video of the artist trying to wear a paper cut out and a chromatic vinyl record.

We can’t resist a Miamian in Chicago. Alan Gutierrez outside the Trunk Show with materials for his exhibition Intro.

A peek into the strange and wonderful world of Hope Esser, during a #wip installation at Links Hall.

Notice: the title of the exhibition will change every hour.

After my experience at Gabriel Sierra’s exhibition at Kurimanzutto last February I was really over it. My experience of the exhibition, titled ggaabbrriieell ssiieerrrraa amounted to me, my friend Brad and Jacob Wick waiting in line to see a mysterious exhibition that could only be entered two at a time. I hate queues and close to 10PM we gave up and split for a party/opening behind wrought iron gates that seemed more inviting. Discarded on a high-top table, I found a exhibition map from Kurimanzutto.

You can imagine my surprise, six months later, when I was invited for a press preview of Sierra’s exhibition. The providence was too much, I had do be the first to see it. I read the press release and thought, “the title changes every hour, how pretentious”. When I arrived at the Ren, three days before the opening, I was surprised to see a bunch of my friends installing the exhibition, which didn’t look anywhere near complete. Like, hay everywhere, weird half unfinished troughs on the ground, rocks on the floor, people painting the walls, etc. I took a short tour of what was yet to be, with explanations from my host Anna on the preconditions that Sierra was still working out (?!).

The scene at the Ren the Friday before Sierra’s opening.

I was ushered into the office where I sat before the (extremely handsome, like wtf handsome) artist himself and a plate of sugary pastries. I was certainly “in the moment.” We discussed my experience at Kurimanzutto, and Gabriel pointed out that the elongated spelling was an effort to stretch out time. We talked in circles about time, the present, experimentation, his interest in seasonal change, the institution, architecture, Miami (a recurring topic for me). Kind of about the show. He tried to explain the instructions, he apologized for his English (though that wasn’t the issue). This was not what I had expected. I started to feel anxiety about not understanding.

I was interested in the conditions that the Sierra set up for the Ren staff: switching the press releases every hour, guiding spectators through the exhibition after the artist has gone. They seemed very involved in the realization of the work. After about an hour, our discussion turned to Anna and the purchase of water bottles for one of the embedded tasks. He wanted something clear and simple looking. Immediately, I brought up an image of Topo Chico (my favorite sparkling water from Monterrey) on my phone and said “this is what you need.” Anna said she’d work it out.

At the opening late that weekend, the space was transformed. The troughs became a sort of obstacle course, and Sierra’s “Assembly Instructions” brought everything together. The instructions and their “Ikea-like” drawings made the austere obstacle course sweet. I saw couples walking up and down the flat pedestals and I saw that Gabriel took my recommendation about the Topo! Much to my chagrin, it turns out he’s not blowing smoke (I suppose I trust the Ren to spot a phony). It really was about the experience of art work and each other.

Topo Chicago task in action!

Nothing better.

I just missed the talk but saw Gabriel after. His greeting was warm and he thanked me for the suggestion. Enthusiasts clustered around him, though he was extremely modest and seemed less interested in making dinner plans than experiencing the exhibition again post-talk. I have to say he won me over.

I still don’t get the rotating titles (ok, I do, but I still don’t really want to), but one of them is “Few Will Leave Their Place to Come Here for Some Minutes.” The exhibition is up at the Renaissance Society through June 28th. Enjoy the Topo!

ACRE Moves to New Chicago Space!

BIG F’IN DEAL ALERT!: Our better half, ACRE, is moving to a new space! We’ll spare you the details (because hopefully they’re flooding your Facebook feed as you’re reading this) but please check out the Kickstarter campaign and watch the video below!

Speaking of Links, unless you live under a rock you probably know that Live to Tape Festival happened last week. Of course the video curation was point, but we were equally impressed with the live performances. We particularly loved this performance, Space Pursues Them by Andrew Mausert-Mooney, Kera Mackenzie and Nate Whelden. We’re not quite sure why Mausert-Mooney needed to spray water on Whelden but we were to into it to care.

Vaudeo Motion performing at Live to Tape last Thursday evening during “Ecstatic Static.”

Live to Tape also brought us the opportunity to see Marisa Williamson’s immaculately executed talk show, Hemings and Hawings, where the artist (as Sally Hemings) interviewed Monica, Whoopi, Oprah and Marilyn. Thanks L2T! Are we doing this again next year? 😉

Since we have fashion on the brain we’d be loathe not to point out Marie Casimir’s amazing Madonna jacket she sported throughout Live to Tape. She kept trying to tell us that it wasn’t about the Material Girl, but we’re not hearing it!

Header image features a detail image of The Chicago 77, a 77-line poem comprised of found text and objects from each of Chicago’s 77 community areas currently on view at the Poetry Foundation until May 29th!

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Dana Bassett
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