April 29, 2007

Take Deep Breaths and Waste Sweet Seconds

The weekend's photos are really starting to backup up in here.

I've only just now had the chance to upload my pics from Thursday night's Bridge Art Fair preview (selections posted below).

Not yet posted: more photos from Art Chicago, selections from New InSight and The Artist Project, and a near-full accounting of the Version 7 exhibits and doings from both the Co-Prosperity Sphere and the Zhou B. Center this afternoon.

And, even as I slumber tonight, my laptop should continue to grind away of its own accord, uploading some 255 photos from Friday's Carnival of Art on the River (aka, Art War), which should hopefully all be available on Flickr by morning. [Update: Uploadr choked on the upload overnight, but close to half have made it so far and can be found here, the rest to follow.]

Anyways... For now, a little bit of that Bridgey goodness:


"Take Deep Breaths and Waste Sweet Seconds"
Posted by Dan at 03:32 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

April 27, 2007

You can't see it all

As 9pm rolled around last night, I found myself hopelessly lost in the maze of Art Chicago.

I'm going to have to consult the map to figure out what I missed.

For the time being, some selections from Art Chicago (see more on Flickr):


"You can't see it all"
Posted by Dan at 12:16 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (2)

I'm Gonna Take Satisfaction, I'm Gonna Get Rock Action

Charging down to the Merchandise Mart (after a full day of work today) for the Preview Night festivites of Art Chicago and Bridge has already pushed me past the brink of early exhaustion. It's barely Friday, but please don't tell my poor feet what I have in store for them later today.

As if the fairs themselves weren't enough to undermine my precious vitality, 11 pm Friday night will find me at the doors of the House of Blues for a rendevouz with recently reunited Chicago punkers Naked Raygun. (It will be the second show of the evening, so here's hoping they save of a bit of the rocket fuel for us Johnnie-come-latelies.)

The full bill: "Naked Raygun with Special Surprise Guest, Dillinger Four, and the Bollweevils." A surprise guest? Tantalizing.

Punknews.org reports that Raygun will be joined onstage by Dan Schafer (aka, Dan Vapid) and (drum roll...) Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers.

Not 100% shocking, let alone unprecedented:

Can we bank on Jake joining them for "Suspect Device" tomorrow, too? This could be sweet.

Though it'll be cool to see the recently reunited Bollweevils, it's kind of a shame we won't be getting the Effigies as well. They're playing the 6:00 show, but John Kezdy will be running off to DJ at Exit afterward.

Anyways, I'll make the rest of this brief... Sharing is caring, so enjoy the following:

Super special meta goodness... The Bollweevils cover Naked Raygun: "New Dreams"

And a special bonus... Ripped from my copy of the Bollweevils' "Ripple" 7-inch: "999-Stoney"

(Do enjoy the snap, crackle and pop of the latter. Like a warm analog blanket.)

"I'm Gonna Take Satisfaction, I'm Gonna Get Rock Action"
Posted by Dan at 04:10 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

April 26, 2007

Quick Hits: The Wages of Art Blogging/Chicago Pachydermata

A quick Chicago art link-around for your afternoon reading.

First, a little where-are-they-now on a couple reformed fromer art bloggers...

If you look over here you'll find Newcity's newest, Jason Foumberg (ex-Houndstooth*), discussing one Rowley Kennerk (ex-Folding Chair, since disappeared from the living internets) and his eponymous West Loop gallery:

Kennerk's gallery is currently passing its six-month mark in existence. As the new kid on the block of Peoria Street, Chicago's real-estate ground-zero for contemporary art galleries, Kennerk must contend with such legendary heavyweights as Rhona Hoffman Gallery and Donald Young Gallery. While Hoffman is celebrating her thirtieth year in Chicago, the legacy of the work that she has supported continues to succeed beyond bounds. In fact, conceptual art is flourishing, tagged with the prefix neo, and is being carried into this century by newcomers such as Kennerk. Currently at Rhona Hoffman, a geometric sculpture by conceptual-art pioneer Sol LeWitt represents the staying power of idea-based art, and as it is composed of building blocks stacked in a gentle upward thrust (reminiscent of the Sears Tower), it reminds us that chronic lust for "the new" often succeeds by pushing off from the shoulders of the giantess.

Kennerk does not own LeWitt's sculpture, but what LeWitt codified exceeds the structure of formal or expressive art; it is a prescription for a moral life. Or, in LeWitt's words, "Ideas can be works of art." Idea art does not become dated in the way that Op art or even Pop art from the same period yellows—conceptualism is the product of an international cosmopolitanism. Rowley Kennerk's programming is turning out to be like this sculpture, or perhaps like a Mies van der Rohe building—it is both assertive and supportive of the new canon of art. If both art and life can be stylized, then Kennerk is International Modernism, which was (and continues to be) such a powerful code for living because it could exist anywhere in the world without appearing out of context, untranslated from one locale to the next.


Neo-conceptualism, drawing from Sol LeWitt's design, and which grew exponentially in Chicago in the 1980s and 1990s with such artists as Jeanne Dunning, Gary Justis and Richard Rezac, is not Chicago-bound; it connects a network of worldwide intellectual practices. Similarly, Rowley Kennerk, who was born, raised and educated in the Midwest (from Indiana to Michigan to Chicago), is working independently of the hard-nosed Chicago style. Instead, he seeks to bring new ideas and artists to Chicago viewers. Some art in the gallery's short exhibit history directly references 1960s culture and the breakdown of absolutism, such as works by Richard Prince and Sam Durant. Others, such as David Liekse and Florian Morlat's works (who Kennerk will show later this year), press on the barriers of history in favor of an openness to the universal. By introducing the work of these "significant emerging" artists to Chicago audiences, Kennerk hopes that we will be as challenged as he is, and that our taste for uncertainty, as well as the uncertain future, will be edified.

Deliciously meta.

But how about multi-tasking, fellas? (Like I'm one to talk.)

[*Update: Huh. Would you look at that. Possibly not an ex-blogger after all? But what's become of the archives?]

Also, a belated tip of the hat to Tony Fitzpatrick, who had an editorial in the April 15 Sunday Tribune:

Chicago talks to me. On my best days, I listen, and put those voices into my work.

I'm not sentimental about the "old" Chicago—wistful maybe, but not sentimental. I do not miss the city that enforced segregation with brutal efficiency, not to mention bricks and bottles. I do not long for the days of mutual distrust among the myriad of ethnicities in this city.

It's not as if those struggles are completely behind us. We are still a segregated city. We are still a city of tribes or, put more gently, a city of neighborhoods. My friend Alex Kotlowitz, the author of the splendid Chicago work, "Never A City So Real," describes Chicago as a city of "messy vitalities" and he is right.

I think my task as an artist is to remember this place. To put some sense and order to it for myself, and then hope that these combinations of drawing and collage have some resonance for others as well.

I believe there is a magical Chicago—one that transcends the rusted, steel-belted old tropes of Sandburg poems. Don't get me wrong. I love the Sandburg poems. They are the seminal text of my work. They are also very old and unforgiving. They also sometimes miss those moments when this city is heart-stoppingly beautiful. Like when I was 7 years old, riding in my father's big shark of an Oldsmobile, in the dead of winter, past Chicago Stadium and seeing a boy, no bigger than I was, walking three enormous costumed elephants through the snow into the back of the old barn. I had never seen anything like it. It was one of those moments where the incongruities meld into a magical reality—elephants on Damen Avenue in the middle of the gray West Side. That was the day that I was hypnotized by Chicago. It is a spell I am still under.

This city has something to do with what I know, and how I know it.

"Wistful maybe, but not sentimental." I like that.

As the kids say, read it all.

"Quick Hits: The Wages of Art Blogging/Chicago Pachydermata"
Posted by Dan at 02:06 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (3)

Look Upon Me! I'll Show You the Life of the Mind!

In addition to packing the weekend with a variety of performances and concerts (not to mention a modicum of art), ARTropolis organizers have prepared some special programs that will illuminate the mind and dazzle the eye. And they run the gamut.

Holding it down at the Mart will be a range of discussions in concert with both Art Chicago and Intuit's satellite show.

And just a stone's throw across the Loop, something called Symposium C6 (that is: Conversations, Creativity, Collaboration, Culture, Community, Chicago) will find a home in Millennium Park's Pritzker Bandshell.

Over 30 participants will trade turns donning the Moustache of Understanding for a three-day conference, kicking off tomorrow morning (that is, Thursday), entitled "The Art World is Flat."

Originally conceived as an invite-only VIP event, it's since been opened to the plebes at a mere $100 bucks a head per day (or a flat $250 for the full course).

With lunch included, it's a hell of a bargain.

Schedules ho...

Art Chicago

Friday, April 27

1:00—The Next Wave: MFA Production and the Future of Art
Lisa Wainwright, Leslie King-Hammond

New InSight is an exciting opportunity for young artists to meet, present their work, and talk about the contemporary art issues. Join this town meeting-style discussion with the graduate students who were selected to participate in this unprecedented exhibit.

3:00—Public Art: The Collaboration Between Architect and Artist
Dirk Denison, Walter Hood, Mary Jane Jacob, Mary Miss, Edward K. Uhlir

Artists and architects have had creative and contentious relationships over the years as they struggle to bring new buildings, parks and art to the public. These panelists will talk about the new models that are emerging and the public’s reception to them.

5:00—Stolen Art and the Experts Who Retrieve It
Robert K. Whitman

From raids on the treasures of cultural heritage sites internationally, to repatriation of works taken as war’s plunder, to ingenious thefts at well-secured museums, the traffic in stolen art, and the challenges of locating and returning it to its rightful owners, continues to frustrate and fascinate.

Saturday, April 28

1:00—On the Cutting the Edge: Young Curators on Young Contemporary Artists and the Art Market
Courtney J. Martin, Dominic Molon, Sara Reisman, Franklin Sirmans

Young curators are often on the cutting edge when it comes to identifying talented young artists. Dr. Isolde Brielmaier, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Vassar College and Director and Chief Curator of The Rotunda Gallery, moderates this discussion with a dynamic group of young curators. Each of whom will share their experiences and thoughts on working with highly popular young artists.

3:00—Painting Protest: Art in a Time of War
Leo J. O’Donovan

Over the centuries artists have responded vigorously to the destructive and dehumanizing effects of war. This lecture will recall some of the most memorable images created in response to the violence of the 20th century, including work by Otto Dix, George Grosz, Max Ernst, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, and Jacob Lawrence, and assess their influence. In conclusion it will pose some questions about painting today in the 21st century and our emerging views of wars.

Sunday, April 29

1:00—Artists in the Current Political Climate
Paul Shambroom, Jeremiah Barber, Mary Patten

Recently there has been a resurgence of contemporary art exploring the questions of if and how cultural practice can affect political change. Adam Brooks, artist, curator and educator at Columbia College Chicago, member of Industry of the Ordinary, moderates this panel discussion on strategies of resistance employed by contemporary artists.

3:00—Art and New Technologies
Erika Dalya Muhammad, Jon Winet, Benton C. Bainbridge

Artists in all disciplines are using new media technologies in unprecedented numbers, and delivering their work to new audiences both inside and outside of the traditional gallery and museum systems. This panel discussion is moderated by Amanda McDonald Crowley, executive director of Eyebeam, an art and technology center in New York.

Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art

Friday, April 27

12:00–1:00—Outsider Art 101

2:00–3:00—The Art of Daniel Watson

Presented by Mary Donaldson, curator of the exhibition Don’t Fence Me In: The Art of Daniel Watson. Admission: $10

Saturday, April 28

12:00–1:00—Outsider Art 101

2:00–3:00—The Art ofJoseph Yoakum

Presented by Carl Hammer, Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago. Admission: $10

4:00–5:00—Q&A with Mr. Imagination

Meet the prolific, self-taught Chicago artist known for his bottle cap creations. Admission: $10

Sunday, April 29

12:00–1:00—Outsider Art 101

2:00–3:00—Talking with David Philpot

Visit with Chicagoan David Philpot, creator of elaborately bejeweled wooden staffs. Admission: $10

4:00–5:00—Henry Darger and the Realms of the Unreal

A presentation by Jane Kallir, Galerie St. Etienne, New York, on America’s most well-known outsider artist—Chicago’s own Henry Darger. Admission: $10

Symposium C6

Thursday, April 26—9:30–4:15

New Capital(s)
Hegemony and Resistance in the Global Cultural Economy

How do shifts in wealth encourage or limit cultural visibility and diversity? Will new cultural centers emerge, offering new possibilities? What are the new models of interventionist cultural practice? Why are new patrons creating alternative structures and processes for cultural experiences?

Keynote (10:30–11:30): Peter Sellers, "Globalism—Crisis and Opportunity"

Panel Discussion (1:00–2:30): "New Models of Cultural Production and Distribution"

Panel Discussion (2:45–4:15): "Interdisciplinary Artists and Unconventional Interventions"

Friday, April 27—10:00–5:00

No Borders Here?
Cultural Hybrids, Nomads, Refugees

What economic, political and cultural imperatives drive the new nomadism? How is technology erasing traditional hierarchies and boundaries of cultural production, distribution and interpretation? How is the restless peripatetic creative class producing new dislocations, networks and communities?

Panel Discussion (10:00–11:30): "Challenging Cultural, Political and Formal Boundaries"

Conversation (1:00–2:00): Robert Enright interviews Ken Lum

Panel Discussion (2:15–4:00): "Connecting Local to Global/Past to Future"

Keynote (4:15–5:00): Bruce Ferguson

Plus... a private screening of filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson's Strange Culture, a film about the mindblowing (and ongoing) harassment of artist Steve Kurtz at the hands of the FBI. 9 pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Saturday, April 28—10:00–4:00

Green World
Art for a Sustainable Ecological Consciousness

What new solutions to the ecological crisis are emerging from collaborations between science, culture and technology? How are green artists, designers and architects using developments in science, genetics and technology? What role does culture play on the brink of environmental catastrophe?

Panel Discussion (10:00–11:30): "Creating a Sustainable Future"

Conversation (1:00–2:00): Lawrence Wechsler interviews David Buckland

Panel Discussion (2:15–3:45): "New Artistic Practices in the Culture of Ecology"

Followed by a performance by Anna Deavere Smith, 5 pm at the Merchandise Mart.

"Look Upon Me! I'll Show You the Life of the Mind!"
Posted by Dan at 12:37 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (184)

April 21, 2007

Back up in your ass with the Resurrection


I suppose it's a probably a couple weeks too late to exploit the full blasphemous polysemy of this title, but I think it remains apt enough, considering.

After all, and my own incipient return to blogospheric glory notwithstanding, there's a certain other resuscitated elephant in this room at the moment: a little upcoming Chi-town to-do, what goes by the name of...

ARTropolis (aka, Art Chicago Premium Edition).

222 Merchandise Plaza

But we're getting ahead of ourselves...

Alternate Takes

Art fair fever actually gets its unofficial jumpstart this weekend with the inauguration of Version 7, this year dubbed "The Insurrection Intenationale."

Lumpen's latest international convergence kicked off with video and performance at The Compound on the West Side Thursday evening and the opening of "We're Rollin',They're Hatin'," the fest's flagship exhibition, at the new Public Media Institute/Lumpen Pleasure Dome Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport last night.

Beefed-up (Deanna Isaacs has Edmar claiming a budget of $50,000) and now officially not-for-profit (since last December).

From Isaacs:

Marszewski expects his expenses to rise to as much as $50,000 in '07. "This year we want to make sure we have a budget to build more things, fly in more people from overseas, and also pay for security and cleanup staff," his e-mail said.

The latter was mostly a joke, but the costs, which keep increasing, have "been draining," he says. "It's really tough to do two festivals a year just relying on [volunteers]; we have to institutionalize in order to improve." Besides encouraging individual donations, nonprofit status will allow Public Media and its participants to dip into the grant pool. Sixteen years after he started Lumpen in Champaign, Marszewski is supporting his empire by carpentering, designing Web sites, and working at his mother's Bridgeport bar. At 38, he sees the need to "get a base" to sustain people. "I'm going to burn out soon," he says. "We need a structure in place to continue without me."

With some two and a half weeks' worth of programming on tap, Version 7 certainly offers up an imposing schedule. But it also offers a soothing, non-commercial palliative to art fair overexposure and is well worth a visit in the midst of it all.

In addition to the aforementioned "We're Rollin', They're Hatin'" at the Co-Prosperity Sphere (a show organized around the theme of fantasy role-playing games), Version is also presenting two photo shows at the The Zhou B. Center, both opening next Thursday: the 43rd Annual Versionfest Photographic Invitational (works by ten photographers from across the country, curated by Brian Ulrich and Jonathan Gitelson) and UNKRAUT (a selection of current works from nine German photographers).

The Zhou B. Center will also play host to the Version NFO XPO, a science fair-styled expo of artists, spaces and projects from Chicago and beyond.

There will be roving interventionist street art in the form of customized moving trucks, a preemptive May Day celebration on the 29th in the form of a guerrilla history tour departing from the West Loop Haymarket Memorial, plus video, music and workshops galore.

The capper, though, at least in my own fevered imagination, is Version's sponsorship of a spectacle that could easily prove the highlight of this year's art fair weekend if it lives up to its description, as "hundreds of artists, performers and cultural workers of all stripes" lay siege to ARTropolis' capitalist stronghold:

This Year Version will wage an Art War on the existing Art Fair structure of Chicago. We will engage the enemy by land, water and air. Dozens of organisations and groups have organised the alternative art festival: Carnival of Art on the River on April 27, 2007.

Siege of Helm's Deep

(Survivors to adjourn to Sonotheque after the war for the enjoyment of noise rock.)


Some 25 hours before the insurgent art warriors of Version and cohort join their assault on the citadel of art commerce, Merchandise Mart Properties is set to finally raise the curtain on their ambitious relaunch of Art Chicago.

If you missed out on the troubles plaguing last year's edition you could do worse than consulting the various news and blog reports on the topic I distilled at the time. In short, though: when the Merchandise Mart bailed Thomas Blackman Associates' already foundering fair out of an eleventh hour crisis last year (72 hours to show time, give or take), Blackman sold his operation to the Mart, making them the proud producers of the once (and dare we hope future?) King of the American Art Fairs.

Come 2007, the once-venerable Art Chicago is now being relaunched in what was described to Victor Cassidy as "a public-private partnership similar to Art Basel."

Roping in some pretty decent civic, institutional and commercial support (not to mention "the tacit support of Mayor Richard M. Daley," insofar as, I suppose, Hizzoner II hasn't explicitly protested their plans), the Mart is constellating a full complement of social and cultural happenings around the occasion of art fair weekend under the umbrella of ARTropolis.

They're also pulling the Bridge Art Fair (formerly NOVA) into the fold as one of three "satellite shows" alongside the main fair and the Mart's spring antiques fair. Also on tap in the satellites: an outsider/folk art show from Intuit and an exhibition of 48 unrepresented artists dubbed The Artist Project.

Additionally, as a part of the main fair itself they'll be presenting New Insight, a special (and apparently first-of-its-kind) exhibition featuring work from 24 MFA students from major American grad programs curated by the Renaissance Society's Susanne Ghez.

All that with just one ticket to see them all, one place to find them.

The main show will feature 132 exhibitors (including a relatively healthy contingent of 40 dealers from NYC)—still a far cry from the fair in its heyday, but also a marked improvement over the last couple of years.

There will be only 20 hometown representatives (more on which in a moment), but included in the exhibitor rolls are a few Chicago A-listers notably absent from the local fairs in recent years: Rhona Hoffman, Richard Gray, Kavi Gupta and Alan Koppel.

And, if Edward Winkleman is to be believed, the opinions of collectors and gallerists are on the rebound:

We were very pleased to learn we had been accepted, but still remained a little nervous. What if they threw a world-class art fair, but nobody came. The proof is in the total experience, and a big part of that is attendance.

But slowly the excitement has begun to grow, and I'm beginning to hear from collectors near and far that they're curious, impressed (the VIP program for this fair is pretty astounding actually), and increasingly excited. Chicago is rolling out a very comprehensive and enticing red carpet, with a city-wide approach that combines a wide spectrum of arts and culture (learn more about this feast of options at the Artropolis website).

... Do please stop in if you're attending. And consider coming if you hadn't already. From all indications, you'll want to say you were there the night Chicago was reborn.

Rebirth, you say?

Paul Klein, too, dropped these two cents around ABMB time:

Let me preface my remarks about visiting the myriad art fairs in Miami the past few days by saying that I’ve been privy to the Chicago 'Merchandise Mart's presentations about what they have been doing and will do to revitalize ArtChicago. Clearly the Mart has very deep pockets, an army of caring, quality event organizers and a passion for substance. In a nutshell, it would not surprise me to see ArtChicago win a World Series long before the Cubs do.

A bit oblique, perhaps, but no less positive.

So, the upshot is that, with a bit of (apparently) competent management at the helm, the early buzz is (apparently) turning out pretty good.

But, to paraphrase David Byrne, how did we get here?

Let's review to the tape...

As Winkleman notes, a major focus of the Mart's efforts has been to revitalize the fair's VIP offerings.

Charles Storch and Alan Artner highlighted this in a December 3, 2006 Tribune article (now offline), "How the Mart is trying to repair Art Chicago":

On Thursday, Art Basel Miami Beach, the sun-tanned spawn of the great Swiss international art exposition, cuts the ribbon on its latest installment. A-list dealers and collectors from around the world are expected to attend the four-day contemporary art fair—as well as several satellite marts in its orbit—and to party with celebrities in homes of the super-rich or the most exclusive nightspots.

Many may even be lured to a party that is to be given by the Chicago-based Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. The Mart last year bought Art Chicago, the longest-running and once-leading contemporary art fair in the country, from its longtime producer. Its team will be at Art Basel Miami Beach—as it has been at other such fairs around the world—to try to make the contacts and find the elements that could return Art Chicago to international prominence.

"We recognized [after last spring's Art Chicago] that to revitalize the show we had to raise the caliber of the dealer base," said Mark Falanga, Mart senior vice president, in an interview last week. He added, "We're mindful there is damage to repair. That's why we are creating a more broad-based, ambitious show than has been here the last few years."


Luring top collectors

Some of the ARTropolis partners have been involved in the Mart's plan to indulge the penthouse tastes of top collectors and other VIPs. Falanga said a three-day symposium on "globalism" would be convened solely for A-listers at Millennium Park's Pritzker Pavilion. They also will get preferred access to Mart shows and receptions, tickets to concerts, reservations at fine restaurants, use of a car service and other perks.

"We're cognizant of what other shows are offering VIPs, and we will be competitive," he said.

But will parties and other favors be enough to draw prospective buyers should top galleries not be represented at the fair? And would the continued absence of more-prominent Chicago dealers undermine the show's appeal to their counterparts elsewhere?

The notion of "a more broad-based" show bears certain undeniable echoes to the populist designs of Pfingsten Publishing's erstwhile Art Chicago usurper, Chicago Contemporary & Classic. As does the Mart's attempt at some level of art-antique fusion.

But by all indications there's a sense of ambition and wide-angle vision in the Mart's plan that was almost entirely lacking in CC&C's 2005 bid for the art fair crown.

Flashing back to '04:

"If somebody were to announce an Art Basel-like show for Chicago, it wouldn't work, because that's such a high sliver of the marketplace that couldn't be pulled off overnight," said Rob Spademan, Pfingsten's marketing director. "Chicago needs to go for the $5,000 to $50,000 price point for collectors."

Mark Lyman of Chicago-based Expressions of Culture Inc.—whose competing bid to produce an art fair in the same time slot at Navy Pier was rejected—disagrees, adding that he is still in discussions with partners for a Chicago show that would aspire to the very top echelon of art fairs.

"They were probably realizing that they were going to have difficulty filling up the hall with the top-level fine-art dealers, so they're taking a more generalist, lower-level approach to this," Lyman said. "I think this makes it very clear that there's a strong opportunity in Chicago for a top-level art fair that would span contemporary and later modern art."

Incidentally, Lyman (of SOFA) remains a sideline figure in the art fair chronicles. Always seemingly on the brink of dipping his toes in the Chicago fine art fair waters, he again pulled back from doing so this past December:

Looks like the Merchandise Mart and Art Chicago won't have to worry about a competing art fair at Navy Pier in 2007; DMG World Media has pulled the plug on its plan to hire a director and mount what producer Mark Lyman had said would be a "world-class show" at the Pier. Lyman says that after polling a number of key dealers internationally, DMG decided the best thing for Chicago would be to "sit tight a bit and let time take care of some things."

Still waiting-and-seeing, then?

Hard to blame him, quite honestly. In their December Trib report, Storch and Artner found Rhona Hoffman and Paul Gray still withholding their blessings:

"There are well over 100 fairs. In New York alone, there are at least a couple a month," said Paul Gray, a director of the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago and New York.

His gallery has been absent from Art Chicago for some years but is represented in four other large fairs. He said each takes up "a better part of a month" in preparation and execution and the four combined cause a "strain on the availability of inventory."

Although he believes the Mart is trying to "bring the fair to a higher level," he doubts that it can "put together a roster of exceptional galleries that would motivate me" to be represented there in 2007.

Not committing yet

Like Gray's, Rhona Hoffman's gallery here had been a mainstay of Art Chicago until recent years. Like many others, she is adopting a wait-and-see attitude to joining the fair.

"I support my city. People in the greater Midwest would love to have a good art fair here," she said. "If [Mart people] get together a group of first-rate galleries—I don't care if it's 10 or 200—I will sign on."

Roy Boyd, president of the Chicago Art Dealers Association, said he is "very impressed" with the actions being taken by the Mart and is among those who want to have their galleries at the show. One of them is Stephen Daiter, a local dealer in photography who long has been an advocate for the fair.

"I think it will be a lot, lot better than in the last two years," Daiter said, adding, "It sounds to me a very good, at least, regional fair."

Art Chicago expects to draw up to 150 exhibitors. Falanga said the Mart has received 125 applications, with booth deposits, from galleries. He said many of those galleries were not here last spring, and a number of them are of high caliber.

Falanga said the Mart already has brought together dozens of collectors, art administrators and business people for a host committee to assist in planning the fair and ARTropolis. It will seek to recruit about 12 dealers from around the world for a gallery selection committee.

As we've noted already, however, both Hoffman and Gray have since signed on the proverbial dotted lines. Deanna Isaacs fleshed out some of the intervening happenings (and a bit of controversy thereof) in March:

Kennedy said the first thing the Mart did to get this year's show off the ground was solicit the support of the Art Dealers Association of Chicago (CADA). CADA members recall that Mart representatives held a series of enthusiastic meetings with them last fall, turning on the PowerPoint charm and enlisting them as ambassadors to recruit dealers nationally and internationally. A few remember a warning voiced by one of their own: "They might mount a show we can't get into." But at least some felt the Mart was focused on creating a fair with a distinctive Chicago identity. "We were very excited," says Flatfile’s Susan Aurinko. "I was the biggest cheerleader in the city for what they were doing. We were calling people and saying, 'You have to apply.'"

Art Chicago appointed a ten-member gallery-selection committee that included three Chicago representatives: CADA president Roy Boyd, photography dealer Stephen Daiter, and—in a coup—the queen of the city’s tiny A-list, Rhona Hoffman. All three will have booths at the show, and even A-lister Richard Gray was lured back. But only 20 Chicago galleries made the list, which was released last month. Flatfile was out, as was Jean Albano (which would have been showing Karl Wirsum and Gladys Nilsson). Thomas Masters, whose gallery was also turned down, says CADA members realized they'd been "spun off the wheel" in an event striving to be elite rather than inclusive. "Without the Art Dealers Association of Chicago, I'm not sure Art Chicago could have happened this year," Masters says. "The fair was floundering. They came to us and said, 'What should we do? We cannot get this fair off the ground without you.'"

Masters says the Mart abandoned a core group of half a dozen dealers who gave their time and support to the fair with the tacit understanding that they were "forging their way into it." He says "the selection committee was not made aware of their contribution."...

Hoffman, who was in Telluride the day the selection committee met (when it reportedly reviewed 300 applications in about ten hours), says she participated by FedEx and phone. "The goal was to be an international fair," she says. "Sour grapes" notwithstanding, "not everyone should be in it."

Paul Klein, again parenthetically sharing his optimism for the coming extravaganza, also emphasizes Hoffman's role:

There are three world-class galleries in Chicago: Rhona Hoffman, Richard Gray and Donald Young, and quite a few contenders. Rhona Hoffman and Paul Gray (of Richard Gray Gallery) have been major players in contributing to the culture of Chicago and deserve significant credit for supporting ArtChicago in its meteoric rise from the ashes to the celebratory showcase we’re about to see in two weeks. Rhona particularly has been front and center in cajoling her peers to come to town.

Could helping bring a once-proud art fair back from the brink turn out to be the crowning jewel in Hoffman's 30th anniversary year as a Chicago art dealer?

There seems to be hope for the moment at least. So... watch out, Utica: Art Chicago is an art fair on the... grow.

Sauron Sees All

Post Scriptum

Long as this post has grown, I find it necessary to append a postscript; if possible, a short one.

A check of Thomas Blackman's old domain reveals yet more unpaid bills. It's something that's really neither here nor there at this point, but interesting nonetheless:

ThomasBlackmanAssociates.com is Unavailable

This site has been disabled due to issues of non-payment by Thomas Blackman for a period of over 15 months. Thomas, please contact your hosting company to resolve these billing issues soon. Thanks.

Good luck with that.

According to Google's cache, this notice was posted at some point after Mar 30, 2007 13:03:58 GMT, placing the start of the as-yet-unresolved 15-plus-month delinquency squarely in the heart of the run-up to Debacle 2006.

Hardly shocking, I know, but...

"Back up in your ass with the Resurrection"
Posted by Dan at 02:47 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (4)

November 29, 2006

He's beboppin' and scattin', and I'm losin' it!

"Critics should probably stay out of the predictions business," Tribune Entertainment Editor Scott L. Powers writes, "but I predict in the articles that follow, the Chicago Tribune arts critics will have a wide variety of TV shows, movies, plays, architecture, music, dance and art that they will argue deserve another look."

A bold prognostication? Really, he's just laying the formula bare: "Critical Reversals" was the watchword of the day in Sunday's Arts & Entertainment, "Upon further review..." was the headline.

It was a clever little weekend feature, offering the paper's arts critics a chance to reconsider some snap judgments and to otherwise humanize their opinions. A chance for candor and a chance, perhaps, to even eat a little crow.

The motto: "Critics change their minds. And they can be just plain wrong."

In probably the pithiest piece in the section, Chris Jones says he "blew it" when it came to MacArthur genius Sarah Ruhl, "inarguably one of the leading contemporary American playwrights." He also, for good measure, apologizes for urging readers to give Twyla Tharp's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" the benefit of the doubt. "It was one of the worst shows I have ever seen in my life."

Blair Kamin shares his realization that his response to Rem Koolhaas' IIT Campus Center was clouded by ideological preconceptions and explains how he's warmed up to the structure since its 2003 unveiling.

Greg Kot admits he was mistaken in doubting U2's "Achtung Baby," misguided in his praise of R.E.M.'s "Monster" and just plain wrong to take Jesus Jones over Oasis in the Britpop sweepstakes.

Sid Smith admits that "A Chorus Line" is probably not all that when all's said and done, and that Michael Bennett is no Bob Fosse.

Michael Phillips, doing little to overcome my impression of him as a bit of a benign jackass, confesses to a misplaced faith in the taste and discrimination of the greater movie-going public (as well an underestimation of the appeal of Borat).

Maureen Ryan goes sour on Studio 60 and Phil Vettel regrets giving a gimmicky, derivative crab shack three stars ("that lack of perception still rankles").

Michael Wilmington tells of his change of heart concerning "Waiting for Guffman," Howard Reich tells us that a singer whose schtick quickly wore out its welcome in 1990 is now among his favorite performers, and John von Rhein assures us that, his early praise for it aside, the acoustics of post-renovation Orchestra Hall are atrocious.

Ah. But I hear you asking, "What, pray tell, is our friend Alan G. Artner rethinking?"

Why the Imagists, of course, Chicago's very own homegrown art movement (if you dare to call it such).

Never mind that Alan is reaching back a quarter century in search of his critical faux pas. The Hairy Who, Nonplussed Some and their cohort are certainly a promising enough topic, if only for the prospect of seeing this renowned crank with heavy formalist sympathies and serious-art pretensions—our tireless guardian of the high against the creeping incursions of the Entertainment Culture spectacle—revisiting his animus toward a fundamentally anti-serious, pop-culture-inclined set of rabble-rousers.


Might he really recant? Really? Is this a come-to-Jesus moment, however slight? A great metaphorical deathbed confession?

Are you crazy?

No. The message of Alan G's "Critical Reversal," titled "Early attacks on Imagism lacked reason" and conveyed with that trademark weary irritation we've all grown to tolerate, is as clear as it is ridiculous... My only regret is that I cared too much:

I set out to do things differently, as an outsider, thinking my words were motivated solely by the work I saw. But the language in which I wrote about my recoil from Imagism was wrong because it was vehement. And that vehemence came from the mistake of reacting as much to the environment Imagism had caused as to the work itself. Imagism was only a style, here for a moment and, even among those who made up the "movement," soon gone. Art was not brought low by it. Art is more resilient than is thought by would-be protectors and defenders. Art in Chicago simply would move on.

...What did I think would happen if an art greater in appetite, deeper in thought and subtler in feeling had attention instead of Imagism? The history of Chicago art might have recognized sooner that the city's greatest aesthetic achievement lay in photography, not painting. But the rest of the world already had started to see that and, really, the biggest change would only have been that power and money would have been distributed differently, providing ego gratification, unnecessary possessions, drugs and cosmetic surgery for a whole other set of players. I am embarrassed not to have seen it.


If I remained in agreement with critic John Canaday's early-'70s verdict that Imagism was "greasy kid stuff," I don't believe the tone of my writing about it was as wrong again as it was in the beginning. Anger in criticism initially may sweep a reader along, but it seldom ages well because the emotion behind it seems to have gotten the better of reason, hobbling the argument. A particularly regrettable mistake is to go with that feeling over a finely reasoned argument—and in regard to Imagism, I made it.

He was right all along, see, and remains so. He just regrets his failure to appreciate that the rest of the world would eventually catch up (so says Alan) and he now just wishes that he hadn't been so "vehement" in his dismissals.

Quite a reversal there, Al.

This is all so self-evidently and embarrassingly asinine, I'll keep my response brief.

I don't doubt the value of a fire-breathing iconoclast taking aim at market-driven consensus. Nor do I question this erstwhile outsider's earnestness in countering the Great Malignant Hegemony of Vulgar Taste. But to be waging the same battles and gouging the same eyes 23 years after the fact—and, what's more, to be couching it in terms of a critique of incivility—is a wee bit perverse.

To further seize upon an editorial exercise undertaken in a spirit of critical humility as an opportunity to take a bitter, self-regarding victory lap? That's nothing short of classless.

But, then, Jim Nutt was a total dick to Alan once during the intermission of Cav/Pag. Yeah, and this one other time, on a Wisconsin pleasure cruise, Nutt laughed at him...

"He's beboppin' and scattin', and I'm losin' it!"
Posted by Dan at 11:01 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (2)

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