F ing Good Art
Number Five
January 26 2001

In selfless service to our community

Recent Shows

Ed Ruscha and Catherine Opie at the MCA

For a man of few words, Ed Ruscha's retrospective at the MCA is excessively verbose. How many one-word paintings does it take to make a sentence? Count them; this show is a run-on sentence that would make a high-school English teacher blush. And is it just me and my Japanocentric bias, or is "Los Angeles County Museum on Fire" a modern version of the late 13th-century Japanese scroll, "Burning of the Sanjo Palace?" At least in Kamakura-era Japan the arsonists weren't invisible. who's burning the museum now?

Never mind the sophomoric Technicolor portraits of her wacky friends. With the Domestic Portraits series, Catherine Opie feeds my interior decoration voyeurism. No more walking around the neighborhood at night, when the lights are on and I can better see into people's living rooms; here are well-lit, smartly-composed, large-scale photographs that do the same, only better. And those high modernist, Weston-esque, platinum prints of LA freeways? Can you fuck an overpass?

Lori Waxman

Curtis Stage at Deluxe Projects

Deluxe is located at 500 W. Cermak (close to MN Gallery, Seven Three Split but even closer to Dogmatic). It is a pretty cool space and its directors, Danielle Gustafason-Sundell, Andrew Moore, Carrie Gundersdorf and Adam Scott have the most refined taste in town and the current show is living proof. Sequel, a video installation by LA auteur Curtis Stage is a visual feast. Although the video depicts Curtis, either as a villain or hero and in contemporary garments, being shot by cowboys (the image of Curtis is imposed in scenes from westerns classics) the video projection looks so good and sharp and clear and big that you can't just help but wonder at such quality. Its great to see him act and slide to his death. No narrative, no political statements, just back to basics -- an ode to perception. (312) 492- 7986

Pedro Velez

Terra Museum's controversial move to D.C.

At the last Temporary Services show, there was a public-commentary piece about some ugly plaza-plopper on the NW side. My favorite comment read, "I don't care what you white people do. I live on the South Side."


A Video Miracle, K & D Productions

The video miracle was a one night event held at an old church during Christmas time. It included a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, candy canes and a lot of video. Although most of the videos had something to do with the season, the worst gift Santa could have dropped was Greg McKenna's self portrait imposed in some strange characters from an actual kiddy show. The problem was that the whole thing was so long and redundant and contrary to the expectations, it wasn't funny at all. Another disappointment was Ursula Hodel's strange and depressing naked human Christmas. Among the good stuff was urban rescues by Type A. Exhilarating and full of action, urban rescues plays like a short from Woody Allen. Also, Paul Simpson's exercise in text and color was truly entertaining and quasi-amazing. A video Miracle proved to be a real gift for those of us who showed up and,for those who didn't, shame on you once again.

Pedro Velez

A show about love at Seven Three Split

You know what? I really like this show. Maybe it is because it is a fresh new space or maybe because of artist I had never seen before. Although the show is about love it is not romantic or cute but pretty much straight forward and cold. Yuki Kokubo's photographs seem more like magazine ads for some kind of cold medicine and the electronic sculptures play like an impoverished Jenny Holzer and that is a good thing. Also a video about average looking people kissing each other and oral hygiene by Tim Fleming. Also a sound installation by Jeff Swanson which quite frankly I don't remember but I'm sure it was OK.. (312) 829-3743.

Who knows what at Deadtech

Who knows what was going on there. The best excuse we got for not having a list of works was that the show was put up at the last minute. Gimme a break.. I spent a half hour looking at some loud video projection and a guy working really hard around a lot of equipment.

Tony Tasset's Judy at Donald Young

Well, although I basically love anything Tony does, this one, to put it in simple terms, sucks. The gaze is too rehearsed and anticlimactic. But, as usual in the art world, people will love it just because it is not as cold as the rest of his work. To put it in even more simple terms, Judy is for Tony what Jack was for Francis Ford Coppola.

The worst miscasting

Adelheld Mers's beautiful light sculpture in the rather ordinary "what they half create" at Columbia's Glass Curtain Gallery.

What the hell?

Adam Brooks and Max King Cap's boring and endless ode to who cares at Doppelganger.

Highly Recommended

Lora Lode's sanded cereal boxes at U of I's Doppelganger

Ten by Ten issue on Plastic. This is what cool is about...

Art from Poland at The Cultural Center

Most Amazing curatorial outing of the year,
so far...

Remix at I Space.

What to avoid

Magdalena Abakanowicz at the Cultural Center.


Yet another Ellen Rothenberg show in Chicago.


Wood Street Gallery

The thing that the UIC folks have become best at is promotion. It is very likely that, even if you don't know several of these students now, you will know their work in a year or two. The show illustrates the difference between academic art and the other kinds.

Academic art can be fascinating and important, but inevitably elitist and potentially obfuscatory - somebody has to argue about angels on the heads of pins and expand the realm of theory inch by inch, but without a shared familiarity with the literature du jour, some stuff just doesn't make much sense. In school, there are lots of points earned for elaborate stories and explanations; in a gallery we expect an accessible hook. Here there are both kinds.

What are we to make of a ball of string, a bad print of a Salinger novel, paper spewing from a wall slit or one young woman wiping another, without the back story? But then, Scott Wolniak's plein aire painting adventure, Julia Hechtman's lush nudes in nature and Will Staples's directions for taking out the garbage are among those that don't need footnotes.

There's lots of photography, but it's all just pictures, and I wish Cindy Loehr would show us either the rest of her church or the rest of her gym.


Remix at I Space

Friday's opening of Remix was crowded. More evidence that River North is being taken over or rather taken back by artists and curators with more than just images - they have ideas. Confirmed by recent exhibitions such as Doppelganger at NIU, TBA's current programming, I Space's recent showings, Zolla-Leiberman calendar of younger artists and Schneider Gallery - check out the remarkable large format Polaroids of Maria Magdelena Campos Pons - definitely someone to watch.

At I Space curator/artists Lora Lode and Kevin Kaempf have once again succeeded in bringing together disparate works in a meaningful and well thought out manner. To their credit there is actual curating going on here. These curators, hence the name, have taken pains to bring together and unify differing strategies in a substantial and readable manner.

Kaempf and Lode have gathered objects, as well projects that cross the line between disciplines in and outside the art world ranging from farming to fashion. The positioning of artists and makers in relationship to the others establishes a discussion, such as the juxtaposition of Brett Bloom's wall made of a year's worth of packaging next to Frietag's fashionable recycled bags made from European trucking vinyls and rubber innertubes.

This is the second edition of Remix, if you saw the first edition in a loft on Webster two years ago, you will be delighted to see the enlarged scope and revisiting of earlier themes of recycling, reuse and rearrangement.


Queer musings:
Catherine Opie and Issac Julien's The Long Road to Mazatlan
at the MCA

"Oh. Look at me. I'm tattooed and pierced and acting weird, but it's a lifestyle choice and don't you dare say anything about it." If gender/orientation really doesn't matter, then what is the point of this? If it does, how do these annoyingly flamboyant kitschy extravaganzas, preaching to a PC museum crowd help? What's the difference between art and a self-ghettoization as flat as a cartoon?

Presumably, there are purely aesthetic elements that carry the work, but the imagery is so hot as to overpower any other flavor, yet so predictable that it is impossible to get excited - like too much seasoning in the stew. Snapshots of fashionably counter-culture friends, some simpering faggot crying in a swimming pool, over a macho, posturing pretend-cowboy. No narrative, but brief bits that, were someone inclined to make up stories, could be the germs, but without incentive to do so.

On the other hand, this is the MCA. The tourists may be challenged and it is pretty much fun to see how the nice docents explain things on free Tuesdays.

Adam Leech and Lucas Ajemain at TBA

Empty paintings of empty rooms and a video loop that is, at best, Matthew Barney without the weirdness. There may be some clever footwork that gets these boys through classroom critiques, but here, what little they have is from the hip, elitist cachet of the gallery's reputation for showing interesting, difficult art. That validating umbrella is weakened when the gallery shows unripe student work.


to Jim Yood at Art Forum -

Is the last surviving Imagist really the art most worthy of print? Has anyone told you that the River North galleries worth seeing have moved about a mile south?

Yes, our distribution system sucks.

We are part-time geniuses, not routing managers. You found this issue, though, and maybe you'll find another one. Feel free to samizdat it to your friends and enemies.


Upcoming shows -

I don't know the work, but Helidon Gjergji has a fun name and a really shiney mylar invite. Artemesia on Groundhog's Day. Video and mirrors.

I am one of the few who does know this work - Nick Black at Joymore, two days after Valentine's. Formal structures of melted toys and Santas, paintings with aquarium rocks and plaid.. Both more and less stupid than it sounds. Shennanigans promised.


John Henley's Video Lounge at California Clipper

On Saturday the 20th at the California Clipper all was quiet in the backroom, not for lack of viewers, but because all were engrossed in watching Mr. Henley's silly sweet videos "Ala Turk," "The Moldau," and "The Legend of Thane Livingstone." Set in Turkey, the Czech Republic, and Scotland respectively, these videos' narratives are couched in outrageous stereotypes of these cultures and are so ridiculously off they're comical. But these settings are only a subtext to the underlying themes of difference and sexual preference.

Mr. Henley weaves his stories in order to subvert their content, by doing so he complicates what appear to be sometimes simply idyllic escapades. This is all the more interesting because he manages to make his images using simple methods such as puppets and stop action animation. He does so much with so little. Adorning the tables at the California Clipper were his delightfully shaped aluminum foil animal and floral nut dishes.

Mr. Henley's underrated work is a bargain at $10.00 a tape. Definitely the buy of the year.

Adam Leech at TBA

At TBA Adam Leech's three paintings evoked a now distant past, a ruined luxury. Heavily glazed these paintings of dark scenes of high living are reminiscent of romance novels dust jackets. I was interested in them because my own response was so immediate. Upon entering the gallery I was, I thought, reminded of a movie I had recently seen. I kept trying to remember the name of the movie or even what it was about. It suddenly dawned on me, it was a book I had just read - The Great Gatsby in fact. When I explained my reaction to his paintings Leech seemed to like this incident. Which leads me to believe that these painting were exactly referencing text. Not the text of painting but historical narrative in both literature and film. A pastiche of wealth they act as a screen.

julia marsh

This just in - another apartment show

lots of people I don't know. February 2, 7-10 824 W. Sunnyside #3 773 907-0542

Tulip's Gossip

Best dressed - Kevin, Rob and Katrina

Cutest couple - Alison and Scott

Coolest work - Mark Fisher.

Miss Tulip doesn't have much to say this time, but she does have an email address.

An open letter to Artforum

please write to them and cc us (or, the other way)

Letters to the Editor
350 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY. 10001

subject: letter to the editor


It kills me to look at your review section for Chicago every month and find out that the art scene here is reduced to old - style imagism or some boring classical painting show at some gallery worthy of no attention at all . Not to say that James Yood is a bad writer but it seems to me that he caters to a certain group of collectors or galleries that have no influence whatsoever in the Chicago art scene or in a bigger scope. Maybe Art Forum has no clue but I doubt it, so let's just put the blame on poor James.

Here is my own top-ten or so subjects your magazine might be interested in researching. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Maybe James could dare cover some of these...

  1. Law Office, four group curatorial collective, recent projects: Beer Tasting 2, Hot Sauce

  2. The Suburban, a contemporary gallery in the middle of suburban Oak Park. Recent projects: Joseph Grigely and Yvette Brackmann

  3. The young spaces: Suitable, Standard Gallery, NFA Space, Bodybuilder and Sportsman, Temporary Services.

  4. Francesco Bonami, a curator to die for...

  5. Gaylen Gerber, gray paintings anyone?

  6. Dan Peterman's Monk Parakeet recycling- studio center.

  7. Jennifer Reeder (video artist), most recently seen at the Whitney Biennial..

  8. Monique Meloche, a dealer with taste and pull.

  9. Gravy, low brow and in your face independent art publication on-line

  10. The young Chicago artists: Stephanie Brooks (all-around she goes), Chuck Jones (sound and its packaging), Lori Daniels (video and human relations), Laura Mosquera (a damn good painter) and Ben Stone (minimal and pop-oriented sculpture)

  11. Apartment and Hotel Shows, we are experts on organizing those events that NY embraces now with such enthusiasm...

Pedro Velez

SMALL PRINT: Assembled and distributed as a service to you, by a collection of artist/critic/curators including: Michael Bulka, Pedro Velez, Julia Marsh, Leah Finch, Lori Waxman, Tulip Inthefield.

URL of this page: http://spaces.org/archive/fga/fga5.htm