F ing Good Art
Number Three
September 29 2000

Michael O'Conner Drawings
at Temporary Services

Well, truth be told I know Marc Fischer, who put this show together. And I have seen Michael O'Conner's drawings for years because of Marc. O'Conner's drawings are great, to put it straight. So I should love this show right? Well ... yes and no. I wholly support Marc's going forward to show these drawings. O'Conner is currently incarcerated, and not really looking for exhibitions, nor in the artworld per se. He sends the drawings to Marc for safe keeping. The drawings generally are 8 1/2 x 11 done in ball-point pen. Usually historical or somehow exotic in subject matter, lots of carnage and turmoil. What draws you into the works is not the subject matter, which though quite unusual in these times is not exceptional, nor the technique, which is at a level of someone who has learned well the "proper" way to render.

It's the compositions and the materials. The act of attempting the sort of grand historical narrative painting on notebook-sized paper, in finely detailed ball-point pen is such an anomaly you can't help but be attracted to the strangeness of the combination. And the compositions themselves utilize a strange blob-like organic growth across the surface. With forms radically close to, and radically far from the picture plane. No linear constructions or rationally staggered groupings. The characters are clumped and stacked and folded on, over, around, and through each other in an extravagantly baroque manner that is quite active, ingenious, and confusing. The particularity of the compositions overcomes any shortcomings or generic qualities in the rendering of the forms. They really need to be seen to believed.

That said the show left me a little disappointed. Maybe it is because I am familiar with the drawings in a different manner -- hundreds together in binders. But I felt the display distracted from the effect of the drawings. The display was tasteful -- two even rows of works nicely presented under glass, lots of space between groupings. Given artwork this baroque I doubt O'Conner's choice would have been the same. I suspect he would have erred on the side of less rational hanging format, and too much work, rather than too little. This is work where the more drawings you have, the better the individual pieces look. I wanted some of the mess and the energy and the visceral qualities of the work to come through in the show, and for me the presentation was just a little too clean, a little too orderly.

-- anthony elms

Bulka's short-term memory

I don't like doing it , but I've got to come down on some friends:

Anna Kunz made beautiful little paintings before she went off to grad school at Northwestern; the commercially successful show at Thomas McCormick is pretty but empty. The paintings are Rebecca Morris (from Ten in One c. 1995), and the installation is Jessica Stockholder (Yale and world-wide c. 1990) What'd they do to you in Evanston, girl?

I was really prepared to rave about Brian Kapernekas at Peter Miller. His spring debut of boiled and inverted toys and big multi-media drawings was almost elegant. This new show is pretty and fun and diverse and labor-intensive, but the Oldenberg and William Wiley bits tend to over-power the Kapernekas quirkiness that I have faith is still there. Peter, maybe you're pushing the boy a little too hard. I'm looking forward to another show in a year or so, when the artist has had a chance to breathe.

What a time for my vestigial art-history memory to resurrect itself.

Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
Puerta a la eternidad
Dia de muertos [the Day of the Dead]

Sept. 22 - Nov. 16, 2000

When was the last time you went to an opening and saw something that made you cry, not because it sucked, but because you were moved. I for one can say it's been a long time since I saw something in a gallery, museum or otherwise functioning art space that caused me to feel much of anything beyond shared sentiment.

The Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum which has a consistent record of astute and significant exhibitions annually hosts The Day of the Dead exhibit. In this case the show is more than an exhibit -- it is a cultural event.

The Day of the Dead is an annual cultural celebration as well as an opportunity to see the works of artists and artisans of Mexico and Mexican decent. Although the works on view are specifically made in honor of those who have passed they are collectively specific to this yearly Mexican tradition, rendering these sincere works inseparable from the tradition.

These works are part of a meaningful and sustaining cultural tradition for both the artists and community. Let's see that happen at the MCA.

Shona Macdonald
Fassbender Gallery Project Room

Sept. 8 - Oct. 14, 2000

Shona Macdonald's new works at Fassbender are restful meditations on place and property. Macdonald collaged thin strips of security envelope innards, arranging them in patterns resembling waves or waters near shores. Macdonald's new works include two series of works on paper. Counties and islands make up these intricate, fluttery drawings of rearranged geography.

Both the envelope innards and drawings of counties and islands function through the methodology of collecting. In each case the works represent the compiling of things, whether visual or locating. The space Macdonald creates in the envelop innard works are open yet they continue to operate as a security screen. Conversely the counties and islands are a shut down and crowded plane. Macdonald reorders the geography of Scotland in an obsessive omniscience. Hoarding them - she pushes places into impossible positions and locations.

-- Julia Marsh


WEST LOOP GATE - There is just so much wrong with this place, starting with the name. It is just a clumsy phrase to remember or to have plopping out of your mouth. And it makes no sense. Is it a tribute to Chicago's past as a midieval walled city? Maybe it is symbolic -- a gate as barrier to the poor folk a little farther west. What was the problem with "Randolph and Fulton Markets?" At least that way, you knew what streets to head for.

I don't understand why developers and condo-buyers (and their art-world collaborators) have to invade one of the last functioning neighborhood in the city when there are many equally accessible areas that would benefit from development. Once the warehouses, light industry, and food distributors are forced into the suburbs, we'll have an economy based on commuters and tourists and selling each other useless crap in quaint boutiques and character-less mega stores.

It is awkward to get there on public transportation and hard to park if you drive.

The collective energy is great, though, and the new spaces are big and clean. Since Peter Miller moved in this fall, River North has become almost as irrelevant as those re-sale art stores on Michigan Avenue.

Hans Hemmereti
at Vedanta

This is what I like about art - BIG THINGS! Things so big it is hard to reckon with them. If you can't make it good, make it big - not that Hans Hemmert's big yellow latex inflations (at Vedanta) are bad. They are everything a painting or table-top sculpture isn't. These huge things are burgeoning with potential. They are fun and down-right funny. And did I mention sexy? I know you're not supposed to touch the art, but I do. In fact, the gummy feel of the latex sent my spine shivering and I discovered in myself a desire to chew on 'em, to teethe on these great yellow giants.

In this endangered space, I thought about my own spaces and the encroachment of swelling yellow latex into them. I imagined the tragic suffocating of my own domestic artifacts, similar to the way the settee is imperiled in V-2's smaller room. That one is ultimately saved by a levee of brooms and pillows. I imagined light from my windows being suffocated, diffusing through the yellow skin. I imagined the latex monsters suffocating me.

Can you imagine being suffocated by art? What about the explosion, the deafening flinch of the big yellow balloons popping, assaulting the quiet white contemplation of the gallery, or violating the peace of home? The enormous constructed balloons monopolizing the space of V2 are not inflated to the threshold of bursting, but the potential is inherent in the material. Imagine that single violent spasm of sound. The room is playfully tense with that potential.

Big. Yellow. Latex. Chewy. Fun. Good.

-- Leah Finch

at Gallery 312

When I heard the title of the show, I was hopeful. Had Gallery 312 decided to actually investigate the subject of work? Nuh uh. With such an historically loaded subject, the exhibition decided to focus on the most constrained and artificial interpretation: Art work. Ack! Mike O'Shea's "Artworld" is so annoyingly self referential and a-historical that the only relief I felt was that it was perfectly situated to be kicked across the room. Like a lego land for promo materials, I thought it another example of the perpetual adolescence of contemporary art.

Shane Hasset's video reductively observes that work is Sysiphisian. Fortunately, this visionary is there with his all knowing camera to bring such epiphanies to our attention.

I did sympathize with Mindy Rose Schwartz's exploration of her personal exhaustion but it does make one laugh when exhaustion is the most radical gesture in an exhibition. And finally, I love Temporary Services, but serving drinks and food during such a blatantly regressive production doesn't gel well with their considerate style.

-- Nato Thompson

From a timid correspondent
who demanded anonymity

Dzine's show at the dreadful Eastwick gallery...it was like a VH1 opening. There were even people on rollerblades. Work was over hung and way to facile.

Ed (Paschke) made a good batch this time. (at Maya Polsky)..

coming soon, back by popular demand... new! from kimler.... "april galleons and broken chairs." that's actually the title... october 20, thomas mc cormick

Eduardo Kac

Sure, who couldn't love a green, glowing bunny? It's a great image, but what is it for? Doing something silly, just because you can, is great fun and the essence of pure research, but is that enough to make it art?

Martin Kippenberger at Ren

This is exactly the kind of facile, in-joke kind of thing that makes self-confident people ridicule art, and others fear it. I can imagine the Fraiser boys tittering over the "setting (that) typifies Kippenberger's wit."

-- bulka

Some new writers,
a little different tone

Are we getting a little too happy? Sometimes it happens. Maybe more vinegar in the future. Anonymity? Maybe not a great idea . . . we'll see how it goes.

Want to play with us? Let us know

Gravy's looking for writers. too. TenbyTen, U-Turn ezine, New Art Examiner - lots of people are approachable.

Our Reccommendations
picks and pans

Bulka bought the hype -
shows I plan to see opening night:

Ron Richter at
The Angry Milkman Gallery
1006 N. Wolcott 3rd Floor
Friday, September 29 7-11pm
(773) 486-1948

As Breardicus Enormous, Ron is a great and wierd musician. And he paints.

".. of intrinsic Nature, transformando lo ordinario"
at the Stable in Humbolt Park
3015 W Division 312 742 1501
opening on Friday, September 29, 5-9p
Visual art, installations, performance, band
40 well known Chicago artists and Jno Cook

Heavy Petting/ group show
Opening Fri. Sept. 29, 8-12pm
2701 W. Augusta 773-278-3375
Grand opening of new gallery space showcasing emerging, illuminating art product in beautiful Humboldt Park. Heavy Petting includes Maire Kennedy, Jennifer Lapham, Patricia Ryan, Melissa Schubeck, Tema Stauffer, Ralph Syverson, Randall Veilleux.


I've been promised that it's not as bad as the Coyote. Similar, but different.

pedro pedro pedro pedro pedro pedro pedro pedro

Intonations / Curated by John Brunnetti

Hey man! You don't have to scream to get yor point across. This show could have had benefited with some editing. Specially of Robert Bridges and Brian Willey -- none of wich have anything to do visuall rythm and everything with decorative emptyness. All you needed was Shona Mcdonald's "waving envelope innards," any of Scott Short's drawings and Jay Lefor's sound piece. Next time hold your horses and jump out of that modernist mind set.

Mason, Dietz, Grenko

Very bad and underdeveloped conceptualism from Nathan Mason and Ron Grenko.

Mason's contrived homage to Gonzalez-Torres is so obvious that I'm sure will make Felix turn in his grave. Denise Dietz steals the show with three paintings in a simple installation - the one of a very enlogated neck hits the mark between funny and smart, freaky and seductive.


What's up with Latin art and nostalgia? Gina Mendez-Firvida plays with all the cliches, among them, lots of bread and the usual weathered down family photos.

Angela Altenhofen's fixation with braille and stuffed animals is a hit and miss. The un-stuffed animal sculptures and the braille chart is good but the big litter box / performative installation is too obvious.


Stan Douglas Le Detroit. Gimme a break ! This is an average horror movie not a political statement.

SMALL PRINT: Assembled and distributed as a service to you, by a collection of artist/critic/curators including: Michael Bulka, Cindy Loehr, Pedro Velez, Julia Marsh, Nato Thompson, Leah Finch, and Anthony Elms.

URL of this page: http://spaces.org/archive/fga/fga3.htm