Tag Archives: Chicago

Snow Yunxue Fu’s work on view at the Chicago Artist Coalition

Kissing in Heaven, Friday, May 1, 2015 to Thursday, May 21, 2015

HATCH Projects exhibition, Kissing in Heaven, brings to mind a perfect experience, a suspect fantasy that nevertheless sustains many of life’s efforts. The works on display focus on this tension between desire for the ideal and the material limitations which obstruct it.

Andy Roche uses video and lightboxes to examine both the comedy and the anxiety of the life cycle. Snow Yunxue Fu uses digital media in gesturing towards a higher reality, while utilizing technology and artifice to achieve that vision. Hideous Beast (Josh Ippel and Charlie Roderick) defy the rarefied status of art by performing and documenting the installation of the entire exhibition themselves. This direct handling of the artworks suggests how physical, tactile, and intimate processes counteract the purity of the ideal. Kissing in Heaven is curated by Allison Lacher, HATCH Projects Curatorial Resident.

Artist Bios

Andy Roche is an artist and filmmaker from Dubuque, IA, currently living in Chicago.  His work has been exhibited in galleries and presented at film centers including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Kala Art Center, Berkeley, S8 Gallery, London, Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center, Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival, among many others.  Recently, his fiction has been published in Rough Beast Magazine, Berlin.

Snow Yunxue Fu is an artist who lives and works in Chicago. Her work approaches the subject of the Sublime using topographical computer rendered animation installation. She exams and interprets the world around her through virtual reality, where she draws a parallel to the realm of multi-dimensionality and the spiritual.

Fu has exhibited her work nationally and internationally including Chicago Filmmakers, Kunsthalle Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, MoMA PopRally Online Screening, NURTUREart Gallery in Brooklyn NY, TEMP Art Space in New York, The Gallery C Space in Beijing, Prak-Sis New Media Festival in Chicago, Currents: Santa Fe International New Media Festival, Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, West Village Art Gallery in Chengdu China, SIMULTAN Festival in Romania, and 9:16 Film Festival in Australia.

Fu is currently teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in both the Film, Video, New Media, and Animation Department and the Continuing Studies Department.

Hideous Beast is a collaboration between Josh Ippel and Charlie Roderick. Since 2004 they have worked organizing structured participatory events, publishing how-to manuals and most recently creating interactive sculptures and installations that examine survival culture.

Currently Hideous Beast operates out of Chicago, IL. Primarily working with non-commercial art spaces, they have exhibited work with a variety of artist-run spaces, galleries, museums and festivals nationally and internationally.

Curator Bio

Allison Lacher is an artist, educator, curator, and community arts advocate. She serves as the Visual Arts Gallery Manager at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS); has previously held positions with the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City, and has been a grant panelist for the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA). She has exhibited extensively and is a previous recipient of the IACA Artist Fellowship Award. In 2013 she co-founded DEMO Project, an alternative contemporary exhibition venue, in partnership with UIS affiliates. Collaboration, alternative projects, and community engagement are at the forefront of her exhibition programming initiatives.


Programming

Kissing in Heaven: Artist Forum
Chicago Artists Coalition
217 N Carpenter St.
Saturday, May 9
12:00 – 4:00pm

Artists Snow Yunxue Fu, Andy Roche, and collaborative Hideous Beast present Kissing in Heaven: Artist Forum. The event will offer expanded insights into exhibited works through workshops, phone calls, exchanges and discussion. Kissing in Heaven is a HATCH Projects exhibition curated by Allison Lacher at the Chicago Artists Coalition.

12:00-2:00pm: Hideous Beast, Workshop

2:00-3:00pm: Andy Roche, Call 312-806-3240 Immediately

3:00-4:00pm: Snow Yunxue Fu, Sight, Seem, Slight

Station to Station

Station to Station is a multi city “happening” from New York to San Francisco

Station to Station

September 6 – 28, 2013

Participants:

Performers

  • Mavis Staples
  • No Age
  • Theaster Gates’ Black Monks of Mississippi
  • Thurston Moore & John Moloney/Caught on Tape
  • White Mystery
  • and others…

Nomadic Sculptures

  • Kenneth Anger
  • Urs Fischer
  • Liz Glynn
  • Carsten Höller
  • Ernesto Neto

Art Works

  • Doug Aitken
  • Kathryn Andrews
  • Thomas Demand
  • Meschac Gaba
  • Lawrence Weiner
  • and others…

Moving Images

  • Doug Aitken
  • Francis Alӱs
  • Allora & Calzadilla
  • Kenneth Anger
  • Dara Birnbaum
  • Kate Casanova
  • Bruce Conner
  • Cheryl Donegan
  • Fischli & Weiss
  • William Forsythe
  • Yayoi Kusama
  • Nam June Paik
  • Raymond Pettibon
  • Nicolas Provost
  • Kelly Sears
  • Stephen Shore
  • Roman Signer
  • Ryan Trecartin
  • John Whitney
  • John Whitney Jr.
  • and others…

Printed Matter

  • Doug Aitken
  • Taylor Ruth Baldwin
  • Yto Barrada
  • Abraham Cruzvillegas
  • Sam Durant
  • Urs Fischer
  • Karen Kilimnik
  • Catherine Opie
  • Jack Pierson
  • Raymond Pettibon
  • Ed Ruscha
  • Josh Smith
  • Ryan Trecartin
  • and others…

A full list of the event’s participants can be found HERE

Doug Aitken is primarily known for his text framed images and large scale visualizations, or even perhaps is musical home in LA, but he also has a thing for organizing neo-happenings. His latest venture, Station to Station, is a multi-city tour that carts a fluctuating group of high profile artists, musicians and foodies from New York to San Francisco on a train, stopping at cities along the way for performances, screenings and music.

Last night, the train pulled into Chicago for it’s due stop. My girlfriend and I had read about the endeavor, it’s expansive and impressive list of participants, and were having trouble wrapping our heads around how the event was to actually take shape. So, like any logical decision made by poor artists in graduate school, we decided to cough up the $25 and go see for ourselves.

What we found, at it’s core, was a cue from festival culture, essentially tailoring a musical experience for people like me who want to see the work, without the 19 year olds and glow sticks. The traveling installation works by Ernesto Neto, Urs Fischer, and Liz Glynn were arranged in a three tent format, one for each artist, and housed a series of music videos in each. I stood in Urs Fischer’s white-on-white carpeted and mirrored disco ball bedroom, while Ariel Pink played an acoustic set on his back for a crowd and a very expensive camera.

Though the work wasn’t all that trite, there was an excellent and palpable live performance by a couple of bull whipping cowboys, an incredible set by Black Monks of Mississippi, and a trip down Art History lane with a few classic videos to buff between sets.

All in all the the night was fun and tipsy, but proved to be more social than anything else. Although, if anything can be said, it is inspiring to see the willingness of so many talents trying to pull together and actually do something, whether Levi’s is paying the tab or not.

Images of the Chicago event can be found here. Next stop Minneapolis.

Joan Mitchell at The Poetry Foundation

“Joan Mitchell: At Home in Poetry” at the Poetry Foundation, is elegant and sober. It is perhaps too sober knowing the intensity and expression of Mitchell’s works. As a contemporary art lover, the idea of visiting the Poetry Foundation may not seem the most appealing, but don’t let that stop you from seeing this show.

The extremely well funded Poetry Foundation opened its River North home in 2011 at the corner of Dearborn and Superior, designed by the Chicago firm John Ronan Architects. I first looked at Mitchell’s Minnesota (1980) – large quadriptych painting installed in the entrance of the institution – from outside the building. The transparency of the building, the reflection of the outside trees superposed to the painting itself was uncanny, more than being inside the gallery space. (See the image below)Image

Mitchell is not known for her lines. Only as a child she wrote poems, but literature and poetry would remain sources of inspiration throughout her career as a painter and printmaker. Her mother, Marion Strobel, was a fiction writer, editor and poet and was an associate editor at Poetry magazine. (The Poetry Foundation is the publisher of Poetry). Poetry and painting have been in a long and complicated relationship. Clarifying poetry through art exhibitions, lectures and other events, has been a goal of the foundation, to make poetry less insulated and open it up to the public, not just to the academic community. I’m not sure if this is successfully achieved but poetry is perhaps the most difficult of all literary forms to teach. Through Mitchell’s example, the foundation may seek to address the difficulties and rewards of bringing the visual and the verbal into friendly contact.

The exhibition also includes four vitrines in the library featuring several photographs of Mitchell’s childhood and later years, the December 1935 issue of Poetry in which her poem “Autumn” was published, letters from her parents. Another vitrine showcases correspondence between the poet, art critic and curator Frank O’Hara and Mitchell: their gossip-filled letters, an original copy of O’Hara’s poem “Adieu to Norman, Bon Jour to Joan and Jean-Paul,” (1979), and photographs of the two.

Image

Although Mitchell lived most of her life in France, her childhood memories of the Lake Michigan and the Midwest were always part of her oeuvre. As she said, “I carry my landscapes around with me,” she also carries poetry with her, another landscape.

“Joan Mitchell: At Home in Poetry” is on view through May 31 at the Poetry Foundation; poetryfoundation.org.

“Downtown 88”: The Art of Business, After the Show

In April, Chicago-based artist Hebru Brantley hosted “Downtown 88” at the Lacuna Artist Loft’s Ultra Gallery. The event revealed new works by the artist during a private dinner for collectors and VIPs in the early evening, and the space transformed into a party that night for a more expansive group of energized young professionals. The event drew a crowd of 1000+ attendees and featured live music and entertainment, including fire-breathing acrobats, break-dancers, and iconic hip-hop deejay and lyricist Q-tip.

“Downtown 88” was reminiscent of the artist’s partnerships with brands like Red Bull, Bombay Sapphire, and Skyy Vodka for artist competitions, advertising campaigns, and related marketing events last year, which has undoubtedly brought the Hebru Brantley brand (Hebru Brand) visibility on both the global art and commercial consumer markets. With sneaker deals, album covers, celebrity commissions, international art fairs, and more involvement with partners from the corporate sector to come in 2013, it should go without saying that Brantley’s approach to branding is a bit of an anomaly for a young, black male artist in Chicago. In essence, the visibility afforded to the Hebru Brand through these networks and partnerships have blurred the lines between audiences/consumers, cultural producers/commercial consumer brands, as well as arts/business.

Brantley’s strategy seems to involve appealing to dynamic, urban consumer class that recognizes the interconnectedness of popular, material, and visual culture. This approach to branding suggests that people buy brands, and that brand equity is achieved by going beyond simple awareness in order to communicate the brand identity to audiences. This then leads to validation in which value and audience are connected—the question is no longer “Who is the artist?” but rather “What is the artist about?”

As an attempt to answer this question, I sat down with Brantley’s manager, Pia Johnson, to discuss the complexities of the “Downtown 88” event within the framework of the contemporary art exhibition or gallery opening. Thus, it seems that this willingness to redesign business structures, processes, and norms has produced a powerful competitive advantage for Brantley as an emerging ‘street’ artist in Chicago, while also fostering a management approach conducive to growth and experimentation:

BN: Talk a little bit about the inspiration for these new works and how you begin pulling things together from a brand manager/dealer/gallerist/consultant position when the artist has an idea?

PJ: In particular, with Downtown 88, the party came before the work. The work was a continued idea to have the entire party under the influence of “things past”…. “Downtown 88” was a night in celebration of Hebru’s 32nd Birthday, as well as a moment to celebrate other greats that have come before, in music, art and sports. Being a child of the 80’s, the year 88’ for Hebru is considered to be as powerful as infinity. A collective moment in history, where all things either came together or fell apart, where his memories begin. Memories that vividly include Michael Jordan & Mike Tyson’s early years in sports, to the deaths of Jean Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol. “Downtown 88” [was intended to be] a reflection of these greats, with art that re-appropriates their work, to music and dance that reflects the energy of the times.

BN: Hebru Brand productions often blur the lines between art and live entertainment through fusing art, live music, and performances and “Downtown 88” was the biggest example of that yet. In what ways do you ensure that new collectors can engage with the artworks so that they actually sell?

PJ: Most of the work is generally sold before the actual event. We have shows simply for everyone to appreciate the work. However, our collectors constantly purchase.

BN: Hebru’s work is very different than the stuff you see in the West Loop galleries, which has encouraged an entrepreneurship, risk-taking, and innovation. Has the Chicago art scene paved the way for the unique business model that defines the Hebru Brand?

PJ: I don’t think any “Business” model is readily followed in the art world. A lot of people crinkle their noses at the business aspect and the art of functionally bringing in dollars no matter if on merchandise or art. I think the art scene in Chicago will get on the bandwagon soon. Understanding that you can’t always produce art for arts sake…how do you support yourself, have a work space or even purchase materials if there are no dollars coming in the door?

BN: All shows and events are hosted from the studio/office/exhibition space in Lacuna Artists Lofts. What are the next steps for Ultra Gallery?

PJ: A lot more group exhibitions and collaborations. One idea we are working on is how we can efficiently exist within the art/gallery world BUT not take the place of a museum. Not just having work on the walls alone. But some way people can interact and have a relationship with the work. It’s all in the making but soon to come.

[Unfortunately, the awesome images that were intended to accompany this post have not been attached due to the absence of an “Add Media” option in WordPress. Thus, you are strongly encouraged to view the artist’s work by other means. Sorry folks, blame me not.]

Fortunes of Abstraction: Matthew Metzger at Kavi Gupta Gallery

Chicago-based artist Matthew Metzger’s three works in Waver at Kavi Gupta Gallery, aim to do nothing less than mark the space, or even better, several overlapping spaces – the space of the commercial gallery, the space of painting, and the space of abstraction.

As you enter, on the left wall of the smaller room of the gallery is “Apparition,” originally installed in 2011 as “Ghost” in the Smart Museum of Art (University of Chicago) in the institution’s entryway. It is a large painted red and white latex scuba “diver down” emblem in the middle of a canvas that echoes the flags used on the water to indicate that there was a diver below. At the gallery, the work is installed with the two extreme sides falling and draping giving the sense of the flag wavering in the ocean. Or perhaps the message of the sign, used here for a different purpose, is one that feels doubtful, unsteady, wavered. Although the sculptural painting points to a specific sign with a specific form, the work seems to be about “nothing.”  By this I mean to the issues of both nothingness and likeness, inescapable provocations when dealing with abstract art.

The scuba sign is appropriated from Edouard Manet’s The Dead Toreador (1864) that depicts a dead man lying down with a flag. Manet represents the birth of abstraction and also the death of figuration, something that inspired Metzger’s works titles pointing to the “dead man.” For the first time in his career Metzger re-contextualized his own work by moving “Ghost” from the Smart Museum to “Apparition” at Kavi Gupta. By appropriating Manet’s work and his own gesture, Metzger creates a dialogue between the three works together.

“Apparition” is a composition of geometric shapes – basic forms that are also part of a “high” culture once they are in the gallery. Although simple to construct, the work becomes complex and charged during the process of creating the image. The big question I asked myself walking around the space was “Why abstract art?” or “What is or means abstraction today?” These questions became more relevant when I connected Metzger’s show with other two exhibitions I visited recently: Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Inventing Abstraction at the MoMA. These two museum exhibitions are historical but maintain a modern relevance by setting forth questions like those that are asked in current times regarding aesthetic issues, void and nothingness. Do abstract artists today do not pretend to the great ambitions of the early 20th century – revolutionary and utopian? It seems that Metzger is not interested in abstraction as a social idea or a historical category, but believes in the possibilities of non-objective image making. His works show a sort of “evolution” towards a deep abstraction; they make the viewer look at what’s not there.

Two other paintings were installed in the center of the two remaining walls of the room – The Other Side of One and Three Signs (Left) and The Other Side of One and Three Signs (Right). Almost identical, the two medium size works are painted in Ultimatte Green, a color that is used in the motion picture and video industries today to maintain extreme detail in figures on the screen. The colors chosen by Metzger, the red and the green, create a dizzying combination in the small room and it makes it necessary to think about the strong chromatic choice that is at stake. Similarly to Peter Halley, there is a deep sense of pessimism in all this bright and affirmative color. And this clash or tension between red and green, makes the work much more appealing.

Abstract art apparently refers only to invisible, inner states or simply to itself. But in Metzger’s oeuvre it seems that abstract art refers to something else today. That reference is unclear; it reveals emptiness and a history of eternal appropriations. The blurring on the wall or in one’s own mind, suggests mental representations of some vague unclear trace of past ideas.

Review: “The Incomparables Club” at Rhona Hoffman Gallery

In the darkened second floor gallery space at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Karthik Pandian’s Reversal plays behind curtains.  The single channel moving image program is paired with six heavy humming speakers strategically placed throughout the space allowing viewers to slowly settle in with the moving image.  Filmed with two cameras onto 16mm film, Pandrian’s video is a selection of still images that fade in the Ken Burns style drawing on the nostalgia for documentaries.  Red rectangles slowly move across the stills that allude to 1960’s performance documentary.  With such attention to documentation it comes as a surprise that the image stills and rectangles appear through a program that Pandian has designed to produce random selection choices.  The sound, as well, is produced through chance calculations that play six synthesized tones, which in turn, structure the empty darkened spaced with an auditory architecture.

In the lower gallery objects, which were used or visible in the video stills, are exhibited as a collection of ephemera.  His selection of objects draws on Pandian’s earlier interest in archeological methodologies.  Cast bronze gloves, an perpetually emptied bottle of whiskey, and boxing gloves on a curved arc, all are objects that concern themselves with tongue-in-cheek reference to 60’s conceptualism and its historic lineage to the Dada readymade.  For Pandian this archeological methodology comes as no surprise.  In his 2011 exhibition at the Whitney Museum “Unearth,” Pandian turned to the Native American city of Cahokia and featured monolithic columns filled with earth and embedded strips of film.  In “The Incomparables Club” he nostalgically exhumes the cool of the 60’s, and with it, the insularity of the “cool” of the time.

Pandian considers each of these images encapsulated “medium and motion” memories that zoom through the contained space of the projection room.  In it, he allows viewers to be mesmerized and captivated by synthesized humming that displaces focus with aestheticized seduction. And much like the minimalist artists of the 60’s, we are left out of the club.  Indeed, the surface of the objects are polished, reflective, and presented with such autonomy that they disregard the viewer.  In fact the gaze reflects from the object towards other objects in the room, seeking to find one that will allow entrance into Pandian’s club.  In the back room Muddy Waters, a mop leaning against the wall has been used to clean up Drakkar Noir cologne.  Paired with other objects that resemble ready-mades, Muddy Waters leaves viewers inspecting for perfection in the object’s imperfections to find the punch line.  The objects in the gallery are left as reminders of what was seen in the film, they comparable to objects seen in galleries to remind us of what has been seen in history.  Unfortunately with Pandian, this might not be the cool club we wanted to remember.

“The Incomparables Club” is now on view at Rhona Hoffman Gallery through April 20th, 2013.