Michael Bulka, midnight rant

Number 3



There are a few new names on the list, and a few deletions. As usual, if you don't like the artcritspam just let me know and you won't get any more. Or if you want to argue, thank you in advance.

Your correspondant is experiencing a bout of stup-oidity, but we press on. This news is a little stale. I thought I might do a little research, but then, that's not really in the spirit of a rant, is it? I will try to go back down to the Ren and listen to the tape of the talk I missed, but for now, I'll run with hearsay.

Part One - The Judy and Judith Show

Judy Ledgerwood's Cold Days at the Renaissance Society.

OK, maybe it is not so much artists I have a problem with as with institutions. Were Judy showing in a little storefront gallery, or, where the work really belongs - decorating some yup-scale low-fat fusion-cuisine restaurant - I might be able to see the paintings as the pretty things they are. As it is, all I can see is the rep of the Ren.

With it's setting at the U of C, it's history of important shows, it is the perfect venue for many shows, but here Judy seems out of place.

Huge canvases, of course, with soft blues and whites and gentle iridescent circles and stripes - they almost glow. Historical significance? of a sort

What really glowed was Judith Kirchner in her conversation with the artist. The paintings reportedly embrace modernism and post-modernism, feminism and pragmatism and luminism and consumerism and pretty much every ism what am.

For her part, the artist talked mostly about how much she likes the home-decorating catalogues she gets out there in Oak Park and how much they assure her that she is in tune with popular taste.

I think I can write the history of this show in a scentence or two, without resorting to any ism but cynicism:

She's a fine painter, but in the crowd she runs with, that is not nearly enough. She has hidden her painterly nature in a PoMo pose of appropriating renaissance skies, and was the benificiary of the academy's smirking flirtation with the notion of beauty.

But one can only paint so many turbulent skies and pretty dots, and meanwhile, at the small galleries, folks like Rebecca Morris and even Michelle Grabner have been taking some risks, exploring beauty and kitch. They have some success and make the waters safe for Judy. Except that with her friends, she's not at the Hyde Park Art Center, or even in Wicker Park, but at the Ren, and soon at a museum near you.

Part Two - Advice to artists

The first and most important bit of advice is to choose. Do you want to be a good artist, or a successful one?

The basic requirements of a good artist are intelligence, curiosity, willingness to take risks and live on nothing.

As I have said many times, the requirements of a successful artist are good connections and a stable income.

A good artist will question everything. Is what I'm doing worth doing? Is there a better way to do what I am trying to do?

The only questions a successful artist needs to ask are: What works? and How can I get in on it?

A good artist will pay attention to the world. It is not that the crap for sale at dollar stores, an article in a journal of some other field, something on late-night public-access cable, the actions of a poilitical group, an obscure out-of-print book or the classics you should have read in school, or human interaction at the local grocery or tavern may be "relevant to the work", but the possibility that it may make the work irrelevant.

For a successful artist, the world is a distraction. Maintain your focus. Look at the pictures in the few remaining important art magazines. Wait for someone one rung up the ladder to tell you what to say you've read. Watch your students for clues about hipness to impress your peers.

There may be more later, but for now, good luck to both camps.