The CACA Newsletter
an organ of the Chicago Art Critics Association

May 1999, Volume 2, Number 1

Bonus Page


Last minute miscommunication. It happens. A rant-mail supplement got into the Newsletter production machine, and newsletter copy got misplaced. So, here's this. Not proofed by Ann, not Quarked by MJ. Blame it all on Bulka

Daley's sense of public decoration

The Nelson Algren fountain at the "Polish Triangle"

This is either an insult or high comedy. Algren celebrated the life within the element that da mayor has specifically targeted for cleansing. To "commemorate" an author who was spurned while he lived here, with a catalog-ordered, generic piece of plumbing that would blend into any of the suburban malls that serve as Richie's ideal of civic planning, a fountain that can't do better than to dribble a little water in a place where vendors used to congregate, is at best absurd.

And when placing a piece of public decoration in an area that still has the reputation (gentrification notwithstanding) of having one of the largest concentrations of artists in the US, might it not have been appropriate to solicit input from the artists who walk Algren's streets, or even to put up either some kind of community-based expression Algren would have appreciated, or a fitting memorial from someone who had read one or two of his books! I might as well move to Shaumberg, before Shaumberg moves here. MB

Critics for free

On a recent Friday night I talked to a successful artist and tenured faculty member. She was a little annoyed at being asked to donate work for charity auctions. Then, in the next sentence, she reminded me of the dates of final crits (just in case I wanted to drop in as an unpaid visitor). Later, a curator was complaining about the one review he wrote for the Examiner - how little he was paid and how long it took to get it. He thought the most appropriate response to people complaining about the lack of art coverage would be, "How much work are you willing to do for fifty ddllars7" MB

Raymond Pettibone at the Ren

I can remember when his drawings were crude and his jokes offensive. Now, its twenty years of the same stuff, but the art is elegant and the text is zen. Amazing what a little perspective will do. MB

Fresh Meat -- SAIC

For all the shiney new iMacs on display, I was surprised I didn't see a banner saying "sponsored by Apple's computer for paint-brush exchange program." A few interesting bits scattered in the art-mill's warehouse, but this year's theme seemed to be little plastic business card and postcard holders. If these kids had as much investment in product as they do in promotion, there might have been something to see. MB

Fresh Meat -- UIC

Again, a few pleasant surprises, but mostly a crop of good students. The big personality faculty are largely of a similar Po-Mo flavor, and you can see it in their product. I was looking for the students who were either too smart or too stupid to do what they were told, but maybe those folks get screened out by the admission procedures these days. MB '


An apartment show in a zine. Harder to find than this Newsletter, much lower production values than Cakewalk, less experience and more energy and attitude than either. We don't care enough about celebrities to read Coagula, but there are some folks reading and writing about art. Online at MB

Jacob Hashimoto at Cultural Center

This is a lovely decoration for above the food court at the MCA or any other mall. An ounce of idea in a ten-pound box. Toy sailboats bobbing too rapidly, hanging on "invisible" filament from a too noisy home-made machanism. Serene? No, corny. There's art that's dumb in a good way, and then there's this kind, that expects child-like credulity from the viewer. I've come to expect much better from the Cultural Center. MB

Muntean/Rosenblum at CPR

Lately, this room has been less about Chicago Projects than about saving us a trip to Vienna. The paintings and comic books and posing-our-friends-as-fashionably-bleak are clever enough, but is it neccessary to go to Europe to find people who can't tell the difference between art history and fashion photography! Although, it is much hipper to be chatting with folks with those cute accents.

Arthur Myer/Shuko Wada at Margin

I would have appreciated the insulated floor, warm white painting, and tiny scrawled notes around the water heater a lot more had I made it to the show at the begining, when it was still winter. The junk in the back room, though, is fine junk, and of course it comes with stories. Art without a story is just stuff. Stuff with a story ... ?