I went to this show two weeks ago I think it was very interesting. Unfortunately this show has ended. It was held by Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park which I formerly worked at.

Here’s the exhibition introduction:

Wicker Park says goodbye to its colorful history from the Lumpen Buddy days, to the Around the Coyote art fair and now the Double Door.Everything Must Go! reflects the selling of our neighborhood and with it our art and culture. This new wave of corporate colonization is being felt all over the city with Google’s tech boom in the West loop, displacing artists and galleries.

Historically Wicker Park was home to artists. By the late 70’s artists that were gentrified out of Old Town and Lincoln Park began settling there in large numbers. As more artists came they began to transform loft space into livable studios, storefronts became galleries, music venues, coffee shops, and bars. Roberto Lopez a native and long time superintendent of the Flat Iron Building  said “Wicker Park wasn’t just a place, it was a state of mind.” At it’s peak was Around the Coyote that began in September of 1990, this art fair changed the cultural landscape by drawing tens of thousands of visitors–and hundreds of thousands of dollars–to the community. A victim of its own success, this new bohemia attracted economic investment. The neighborhood feared yuppies and  “Lincoln Parkization.” They recalled how the visual arts industry created a real estate boom on Manhattan’s lower east side, that ended in the Tompkins Square anti-gentrification uprising of 1988. The community feared that Wicker Park’s unique ethnic and artistic diversity was at risk and that its growing popularity would lead to their displacement. “Anytime a community is discovered, the indigenous population is forced out and the new colonizers reap the benefits.” Theories of gentrification indicate that capital follows culture and identify artists as the main agents for gentrifying working class neighborhoods. Whatever pandered to the “commodification of the artist’s lifestyle in the service of a real estate market” was fair game for protest wrote the Lumpen Times in the mid 90’s. Back then anti-gentrification groups and radical neighborhood activists printed flyers and used guerrilla tactics. They sabotaged businesses by gluing their doors shut, breaking windows, and spray painting “The Natives Are Restless” and “Gentrafux”. Many people fought to keep the neighborhood but as time went on one by one they all left. The nail in the coffin came in 2012 when Wicker Park was featured by Forbes as one of the 5 hippest neighborhoods in the U.S.

Everything Must Go! speaks of the loss of authenticity and to a new era of political passiveness where people are carried by the wave. Over the past 15 years many artist and independent businesses have been priced out of Wicker Park. Heaven gallery that was established in 1998 in the Flat Iron building and in its current location for the past 16 years is one of the last stands that reflect the spirit of the old neighborhood.

Claire Molek and Heaven Gallery invite galleries and curators to rummage through works they have on hand, as a celebration of unique producers, and recalls the collective histories and togetherness of artist neighborhoods and street art fairs. Intersecting the boundaries between a clearance sale and an art fair, the exhibition further explores the magic of unknowable context, and what it means to encourage practice over product, or product over practice.



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This was the first time I had been to Chicago Expo, and really, any sort of art fair of its kind. I’m fairly new to the idea of the art world as a capitalist market, but I suppose, so is the art world (at least on the scale it has amassed to in the last thirty years or so). Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. On one hand, it was an opportunity to see the up-and-coming artists of our time in a fast-paced, very dynamic environment, but on the other, it was hard to get past the flock of rich old white people collecting bad, beaten-to-death art, and talking big numbers through wine-stained teeth. However, I saw some absolutely brilliant painting, although it was often shadowed by larger, more novel pieces. I suppose that’s the thing that really made me question the nobility of it: it was a lot of novelty and timely work, of pseudo-pop money-making artifacts, with more the conceptual, discomforting, and craft-oriented pieces left by the wayside. However, Kerry James Marshall’s talk did help me to reframe the lens from which I was viewing the art. He made a point about how the purpose of art is to present something to someone that they wouldn’t otherwise see. It was something which should have been obvious, but something which I hadn’t heard articulated so well in my art education. And so I suppose that there is a point to be made with the tacky CD-eyed portraits and giant slabs of acrylic. Their value lies in their funkiness. That is their point: to be present. So I’ll forgive them for that, even though I personally wouldn’t give them the thousands of dollars at which they were priced.
I suppose then, Expo taught me to broaden my perceptions on art, even though my taste might be quite different from the greater art community. But it wasn’t Expo that taught me this, it was the wisdom of a true master of our time. So, ultimately, Expo was a productive experience, though I have tremendous criticism for the way it values craft and the ultimate purposes of art. (It was overwhelmingly capitalistic, was hard to focus on the art in such a stock market environment, not to mention its being hosted in Chicago’s glorified food court (i.e. Navy Pier), &c.) But still, compelling.

Me Wondering Around Expo Chicago

Written by Zoey Wan

I attended Expo Chicago on Saturday because I wanted to hear the talk held between the SAIC professor Joseph Grigley and the well-known curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. So I’m going to talk about this conversation and the Expo in general.

The Conversation:

I don’t want to make a judgement of whether this event was executed well or not, since I’m not a professional critic and I feel like I just came for the talk. I’m definitely interested in the topics Joseph and Hans were mentioned in their conversation.  I’m not very familiar with both of them, but I know briefly about Hans for few years. I followed his Instagram and have seen his posts of the handwritten notes (The Art of Handwritingproject) for a while. It is lucky to hear that Hans expanded this conversation based on his project, and also introduced another archiving project of his own collections that professor Grigley is currently working on at SAIC.


They brought up this idea of the crisis of handwriting which I’m also aware of all the time. I remember they talked about how handwriting indicated evidences and features that reflect the actual personality of the individual that the digitized typing would never be able to copy (or not yet). The action, and performative essence in handwriting is a form of art that many people are ignoring. Hans defined things such as the fade away of handwriting as the the disappearing cultural phenomenons. The disappearance which caused by multiple facts like the development of technology, the colonialism, etc. There were also discussions about the method of archiving and the practices of the exhibitions. The predicament of both physical and digital archives, and what on earth is the condition of an exhibitions (what defines an exhibition, what space should an exhibition happen).

I find the topics and ideas Joseph and Hans were talking about were the very grounded matters that should always be brought up at the first place, but yet easily overlooked later on.

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The Expo:

I didn’t go through the entire conference hall, or didn’t pay that much careful attention. I did find few interesting works as always, and I did find the uneasy feelings of this environment, as always. I feel like I have this bizarre double-minded thinking process in my brain. On the one hand I feel distracted to be here because when I found a work I’m interested in, t seems like I’m not supposed to express my interest due to my poor financial condition. Money was the biggest word hanging around my mind, so on the other hand I really do wish I’m just a rich buyer who has all these market-fitted codes of manners that could at least gain me a little vanity.

Picture1.pngHowever, I enjoy observing the art market, and want to get in deeper. I’ve always been thinking the meaning of art and its relationship to us in person. When we were young, what our education taught us was “art” is a beautiful thing that touches everyone, and is for anyone. Then we grow up being more and more distant to art, or even being confused by art (especially the contemporary, which coexist with us at the moment). When I went through all these art market events, what I feel was the strong detachment between art education and the art economy. So I was wondering what makes art so special? And what makes art so secular?







Installing Sabina Ott’s Work at Expo Chicago: A Consideration on Commerce in Art

Written by Cassie Kise


It began with an ordinary dull moment, scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed–a pause in the downwards motion of my thumb. I stopped and skimmed over a friend’s check-in at Mana Contemporary Chicago. Pictured was my friend, Anna, arms-deep in a mammoth amount of foam. Alongside the image a caption reads, “just had a wonderful day of working on the lovely Sabina Ott’s piece for EXPO chicago!” The entire scene looked rather outlandish and Anna looked like a little kid posing for her Mom–and as dorkish as it felt, I also wanted to be knee deep in the embrace of an absurd amount of foam. I emailed Anna, and was able to get in contact with Sabina and help with her EXPO install.


A couple weeks later, I found myself lost on Navy Pier, surrounded by the same tourism ethnoscape that exists along travel destination waterfronts throughout the U.S. Sabina had instructed that I meet her at “entrance b,” which seemed unlikely to exist in the same realm as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Giordano’s. Eventually, I saw her outside, flailing in her arms in the same fashion that my grandmother does when we drive away from her home each summer.


I entered the convention center and Sabina led me upstairs to check-in. I received a florescent yellow name tag indicating that I was part of the Wednesday set-up crew. People scurried in and out of the convention center; speaking in a plethora of languages, and in a range of emotions. Many were wearing black pants, white shirts, with their iPhones glued to their ears as they hurried about; navigating around other individuals on power lifts, pushing carts, and wearing white gloves for handling precious cargo. It felt like living within Andreas Gursky’s photographs of the New York Stock Exchange.

A thought occurred to me as I watched the scene unveil before me; that many artists and visitors that attend EXPO every year critique EXPO for feeling like a garage sale, or a marketplace instead of focusing upon the art. Yet, after witnessing the energy and logistics of the set-up and the context of the Pier, it seemed as if it could not function as anything but a place of exchange.


After checking in, we tracked down some black coffee in small white paper cups, and I was introduced to others who were helping to complete the finishing touches. These individuals were folks that install shows in various parts of the city and they were busy running extension cords across the top of the sculpture, searching for remotes and Windex, sweeping up debris, and other silly odds-and-ends jobs that seem symbiotic with any small business. I ended up with one of the most crucial and banal tasks of all; scrubbing foam off the floor.

One of the wonderful aspects about having to do monotonous task is that it allows for a ton of time to focus on a subject. So while I wore the sponge to bits, I thought about the facade of the event in relevancy to the effort that is put forth to create such an event. As I felt myself trying to flush through my personal sentiments on the subject, Sabina would unknowingly pull me away from this inner dialogue of theory, asking if I needed more coffee, or a new sponge, and where I had learned to clean so well. I laughed, and answered “my mother”, tabling my seriousness and built-in critique mind set.

I ended up making it to the last couple hours on the Sunday of EXPO weekend. It was jarring, in the difference of energy, and in the contrast to my experiences of EXPO years prior. The involvement I had had with Sabina and the community of construction seemed to melt away the unapproachability of work I had felt during prior shows. In past years, I had felt the frustrations of balancing ideologies of how art should be versus commercial production and sales. Now it seemed out of necessity–in the realm of the Art Fair at least–that they must be one and the same, shattering a belief system priorly held. After such involvement, it seems that now I cannot help but lend my critique not of the specific works on view, but on the system that has been created to house such pieces of cultural commodity.




Expo Chicago: Review

Author: Nicholas Giorgini

Expo Chicago was something I had not experienced before.  I had heard so much about the Expo since I’ve lived in Chicago for over a year now.  It was not at all what I had expected.  From the walk all the way through Navy Pier’s mall, up to actually entering the Expo was an extremely odd experience.  The journey into the fair set a very peculiar frame for Expo that felt consumer centric.  The entire atmosphere of the fair was perplexing.  It’s rather odd as an art student, to go to a fair like the Expo, which is primarily for dealers and collectors.  As a student, most of the dealers felt unapproachable, they seemed to be mainly concerned with the potential collectors.  While very understandable, as it is a fair for dealers and collectors, it was an odd area for me to be in.  The food and drinks were overpriced as well.  Bottles of water were $5, while wine was $12 a glass or more.  The fair as a whole had the feel of a high school art show blown out of proportion, where the art is actually selling for large sums of money and the food and drinks are overpriced.  The event really seemed to be for the wealthy, students like myself would have to go back downstairs to Navy Pier’s shops to get food and drinks.

The art itself ranged from extremely uninteresting to very interesting.  There was so much work that was uninteresting that it’s fairly hard to remember the work I was interested in.  There was a particular German booth I was interested in with bronze and ceramic wall pieces, as well as oil and acrylic paintings.  When I inquired about these pieces the dealer just gave me a pamphlet which I looked at later.  The pamphlet was in German and I don’t speak German, so I was rather discouraged.  I don’t know if it was because I was obviously a student and not a buyer, or if she just didn’t know much about the artists and work she was showing, but I didn’t get much information from her either way.

There was a particular piece that puzzled me not as the viewer but as the person watching the people looking at it.  It was a cylindrical wall piece that had a mirrored back and mirrored interior walls.  The piece created an infinite visual space within it that just kept seemingly receding to the viewer.  People were absolutely amazed by the piece and even looked around the other side of the wall to check that it didn’t actually go through the wall.  I knew how this piece worked and was rather amused by their astonishment.  However, upon further thought, I realized that this is probably how the public views a lot of art.  As an artist I sometimes forget that I study and understand art differently than the general population, not in a snobby way, just in a practical way.  The one thing I really took out of Expo was this event.  I usually experience art in a gallery setting with other artists and other people interested in art.  A fair like Expo, really does have a wider scope than a regular gallery setting.  I suppose it’s rather disappointing that all I took from Expo was a changed perspective, I hoped that at least one piece would catch my eye.

Ear Taxi Festival


A music festival celebrating Chicago’s new music scene with a number of events including; concerts, lectures, marathons, webcasts and artist receptions.  For more information visit: http://www.eartaxifestival.com/

Harris Theater
205 E. Randolph Drive
Chicago  Illinois  60601

Painting in Time: Part Two



Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series

Founded by artists Warren Fischer (SAIC 1991–93) and Casey Spooner (SAIC 1989–93), Fischerspooner is an ongoing project about the relationship between art and entertainment.

September 21, 6 pm
SAIC Auditorium


Laurie Simmons lecture

Laurie Simmons

September 20, 6pm
Society for Contemporary Art
AIC, Rubloff Auditorium