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December 2002, 41 posts, 2074 lines


Before you hit the Stray Show, stop by the Chicago Cultural Center for

Thursday, December 12 from 6:30 ^Ö 8 p.m. 5th Flr SW

Artists Michelle Grabner, Dzine and Theaster Gates will discuss how visual artists get the word out about their work, their community and their practice -- including strategies for enhancing a local, national and international profile.

Moderating the presentation will be Patricia Joseph, a publishing and marketing specialist who was named Volunteer of the Year by the Chicgo Arts & Business Council for her work with the performing arts community in marketing and management.

Dzine was born Carlos Rolon in Chicago in 1970. He co-founded the grafitti crew Aerosoul in the 1980s and now exhibits his paintings internationally, in Paris, Tokyo, Puerto Rico and Chicago. He is represented by MoniqueMeloche Gallery.

Dzine^Òs cross-disciplinary collaborations include improv painting with the Juba Collective, designing album cover art and working in his own recording studio. His early work^Òs commercial success led to commissions from MTV, and he also worked in the public art arena, on several community murals.

Michelle Grabner is an artist, writer and educator who exhibits her paintings nationally and internationally. Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, New Art Examiner, Art Issues and Frieze. Grabner is also US correspondent to Art Press and Frieze and regularly contributes essays and reviews to numerous other publications. She is on the faculty of School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Theaster Gates is a ceramicist and a planner, currently working with the Chicago Transit Authority on public art. He has established pottery studios on Chicago^Òs west and south sides, working with Little Black Pearl and other organizations. He has also worked in Cape Town, South Africa and Seattle, Washington.

^Ô^ÑArtist at Work Forums^Ò present information and a forum for discussion to people interested in the visual arts in Chicago,^Ô says Cultural Affairs Commissioner Lois Weisberg. ^ÓCreating a dialogue will benefit everyone ^Ö the City, its artists and its communities.^Ô

For more information, call 312-744-6630 or visit []

Upcoming Artist at Work Forums include ^ÓArt Press -- More Ink?^Ô on Thursday, January 16, 2003.

please forward this message to others who may be interested.

please respond if you would like to be removed from this list.

thank you,

Barbara Koenen Project Manager Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (312) 744-7649


On Mon, 2 Dec 2002, Barbara Koenen wrote:

another stray show?


Here's the link for Stray Show 2002:



I think so. Opening on the 12th.


Your funny Jno.



On Tue, 3 Dec 2002, S Barr wrote:

Here's the link for Stray Show 2002: []

It is Unit B's promo at Collective - who else is in the Stray show? .. and it says.. (more below)

- The Stray Show
- Dates:
- December 13-15, 2002

- Opening Night:
- Thursday, December 12, 2002
- 5:30pm to 8:30pm $30/RSVP to Whitney Moeller 312.443.3630
- Preview Reception benefiting the Society for Contemporary Art

- 8:30 to Midnight-Admission $10
- Opening Night Party at The Stray Show

- Fair Hours:
- Friday, December 13, Noon-8m - Admission $7
- Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15, Noon-6pm

- Location:
- Kingsbury Place
- 1418 North Kingsbury

Kingsbury is where the Chicago Junkers unload their refrigerators? For the few of us who have never heard of the 2002 Stray Show, I'll post their press release next - it says a lot about last year's Stray show which was never said at the time.



And the press release:


(deleting some time and cost stuff)


actually, the Stray Show web site is


Here are a few more links that might be helpful:

- []
- []
- []
- []
- []
- []


Hi Marc, funny, I actually happened upon a sample of the comic Stray Bullets just a couple weeks ago in an Uptown secondhand store. Bought it along with about five other random comic books for a buck. I'm not a comics guy, but what the heck, use em for collages or whatever, you know. Then I read this Stray Bullets. It's actually pretty intense, even horrifying. You ever seen it?

I wish I could have made it to the Sat event. Unfortunately, we had to be at a wedding in South Bend. Even more unfortunately, it was super Catholic--in the basilica at Notre Dame. This couple had been together for *ten* years and here's this priest who's of course never been married up there giving this insulting homily about how as newlyweds you've got to expect there to be rough times, and how the ecstasy of first love isn't gonna be what sustains a marriage, etc. What a joke.

Anyways, how did the event go?



Other Group, sorry about the private mail made public. Guess you all know what I think of Catholicism now!

Dan w.


I just got a copy of the reader today(monday) and read the lead story for section two about James Elkins. I was curious what the general thoughts might be concerning the state of criticism as its recieved here in Chicago from other cities or countries as well as how it is produced within our own ranks. Othergroup being something of an ongoing critical dialogue, I thought I might be opened of eye.


(actually from Ray Hendricks )

Jno-- Would you do me a favor? forward this to the othergroup website.


On Mon, 9 Dec 2002, diego bobby wrote:

It's about newspapers, though. But note the "spineless commentary" (Isaacs' words). Isn't that what FGA is about? And didn't many of the CACA shorts do the same?

Well- maybe not. They _are_ opinions, and certainly not spineless. But do I remember right that Pedro promised to lighten up, because he is staying in Chicago after all? Watch FGA go spineless.

Maybe Elkins doesn't remember the past as a lived experience. Maybe he was in diapers in the 50's which he is covering as a starting point.

I also disagree with Elkins' evaluation that "creating a piece of writing with literary value" is **not** a critical activity. I agree that descriptive essays are boring; and that there seem to be all too many of these written on the back of envelops, ten minutes before typesetting.

Art criticism is about anything except art. Art is just an excuse to write an essay. The most interesting criticism is about ideas far afield from art. Look at Rosenbaum's film pieces: I read them because they are about film culture, not because I am about to go see some 2 star movie. Every now and then he expands into larger social topics, and if that wasn't done with "literary value" I would never bother to read him at all. There is another critic ... in town ... in print ... whose style does not allow me past his first paragraph.

Bulka's one paragraph "descriptions" which used to appear in NewCity were so to the point verbally that it warranted searching through the NewCity bad-hair-day pages just to find them. We think and reason in metaphors, and hold ideas as metaphors, and a striking trope enters your mind to twist your imagination. That is what "literary style" is about.

And, really, visual art doesn't need criticism, it's its own criticism. Elkins' "traditional duty and glory" of the critic -- forming a judgement
-- isn't needed or wanted. I don't want other people's formed judgements, I want to use use my mind and come to my own conclusions.

IMHO /jno


I've never viewed my role as an art critic, the few times I've been allowed to play it, as relieving another viewer of the task of original thought or interpretation of an artist's work. In some sense, I consider what is commonly called art criticism, however you want to define it, as the continuation of a conversation initiated by an artist. I assume, and maybe I'm an ass for assuming anything, that because art is shown publicly the artist is expecting and hoping to elicit a response in someone other than the dudes who come over to drink beer in the studio.

Art does not exist independently in the world and as a form of communication it functions in a system of exchange. Whatever I write and publish that can be considered criticism is my public response to something else shared publicly. In this way, criticism acts as an acknowledgement of artists efforts in non-monetary form. This might be very important to some artists, galleries, exhibition spaces especially if there is work for sale that did not sell or some obstacle is presented to prevent a sale such as an anti-capitalist ideology or the physical logistics of a project.

Additionally, without exegesis and description being published no one HERE will know much about what is going on THERE and vice versa. Word of mouth only goes so far and can do only so much. I can tell my friend over coffee about that show I saw (assuming I haven't gone on the lam or taken an oath of silence)but the review I publish might be read by someone I don't know very far away.

As far as Elkins's claims about the lack of judgement expressed in current criticism, he's in a way contradicting his own statements made at the last CAA conference held in NYC. At that time the paper he presented stated that art writing (criticism and history) revealed more about a writer's own personal preoccupations than an objective account of any particular art or historical moment. As far as I'm concerned, there is never a case of purely impartial art writing, even in the most banal descriptions. Word choice is always a subjective act.

Personally, when I write I attempt to determine what was attempted; why conceptual, material, stylistic, and aesthetic choices were made; did these choices bear out in accomplishing the desired task of communication; and lastly do I find those choices compelling, new, important, seductive, etc. Often, historical tradition and affinity can be damned. I'm more concerned with what art is doing for ME right now, sometimes in a purely phenomenological sort of way. Do I expect anyone to care what I think? Well, yeah someone might and for the reasons I've mentioned above. Will everyone? Hardly.

Do I have a spine? I think so.



After a hard weekend at the Butcher Shop Christmas Ball, and the Stray Show, come on out to Bridge Magazine's Space this Sunday and get your picture taken sitting on Santa's (my dad's) lap. I have created one of the worlds best winter wonderlands, and my dad and stepmother are flying out to play Mr. and Ms. Claus in it. Come drink, snack... and don't forget your Christmas list. It starts at 8 p.m. and goes until 11:00 so no stray show or hang over excuses will be accepted by Santa for your lack of attendance.




WHAT???!! You mean Santa Claus is YOUR dad? I thought he was mine! The implications of this could be disastrous....

Robin D.


Yes I know now that I have ruined all of your childhood memories. Sorry, but it's true Santa is my pop.



Hi all,

First of all, happy holidays!


check out the Stray Show review in I think it makes Chicago look good.



Pedro, this is not a direct response to your artnet piece. Just my general thoughts; not a lot of specifics because I didn't go there taking notes expecting to write reveiws---

First, the easy part: yes, happy holidays to everybody. I hope everybody gets a little break, and a chance to relax.

And now, the hard part: Speaking from the perspective of a viewer, I believe the second Stray Show was, with a few exceptional moments, a failure.

At least 75% of the art work was completely interchangeable in the sense that one could have moved this piece over there and that piece over here without anyone other than the artist and presenters noticing.

Only a handful of the spaces did anything to break out of the generic presentation formula of hanging small and medium sized work by four or six artists, with the odd sculpture or two thrown in. Law Office broke the mold by showing work from a million artists, and deluxe stood out by showing work from one artist. Moniquemeloche, who's probably well enough established and connected to not need the Stray Show, made an interesting gesture by presenting a bunch of paintings not hung, but on the floor, leaning six deep against the walls. Each of these spaces made me stop, look harder at the art work, and think about just what they were trying to do, beyond simply offering work for sale. One could say that these three spaces offered fairly simplistic ways of circumventing the conventional booth formulae, and one would be right. But so what, they and maybe a couple of other spaces were the ones who actually did it, and I thank them for that. Without them, the show would have been _completely_ dead.

I was looking forward to the inclusion of the out-of-town spaces, but they mostly disappointed me, especially on the level of the presentation strategies. As a group they were more conservative than the Chicago spaces. I think they presented some good work here and there, probably some of the best individual works in the show in fact, and work of a more finished and resolved quality in general. But the net effect of their presence was to make the Stray seem even more like a national commercial art fair. Getting national attention is a worthy goal, but the way to do that is for the Stray to focus on being the best show it can be. The second Stray Show proves to me that the inclusion of non-Chicago spaces doesn't necessarily improve or further the event in a substantive way that would attract serious critical attention.

And I only say all this because there are so many indications on the part of the promoters that the Stray is supposed to be something very different. But for every gesture of unconventionality (dj doin a metal set--that was nice) there was at least one very conservative addition to the event (previews for premium ticket holders) that kept it right in line with every other commercial art fair. Consider also that many of the gestures of unconventionality were superficial (again the djs--brought in as entertainment, with little or no effort spent on interweaving the discourse of dj culture into the Stray--done right, it could have been really interesting for both artists and djs) when compared to the concretely substantive "art fair"-type events (that was real money being raised for the SCA at the preview).

Look, I guess my point is that there's a credibility gap looming here, folks. If it's gonna be different, then make it be different. Set some guidelines: eg, one artist per space, or only temporary projects, or do away with the booth format and just have three enormous walls for small work, medium work, and large work. Work from all spaces side by side and mixed up. (Doing that would at once acknowledge and remove the issue of interchangeable art.) Or Tom Blackman could just say, I'm renting a warehouse next year that won't allow temporary walls to be installed, so figure out another way. These are supposed to be the Strays, remember? The ones who improvise, who make do, who work within their means, who see the opportunity where others don't, who don't give a shit about how it's

But maybe they're really just Vedanta wannabes, the Peter Miller wannabes. That would explain the conformity. And that's fine if that's the case, but then don¹t go saying the Stray Show is so different. And if it's gonna shoot for the same end, then it will be judged by the same criterion--sales and artistic merit, neither of which were in great evidence at the Stray.

You can't have it both ways--you can't present a show as the cutting edge of art when it in fact bases itself on a tweaked but instantly familiar template obvious to anyone who's ever been to any other art fair. And you can't expect it to succeed as an art fair when the fact is a good portion of the work is poorly conceived, carelessly executed, and formulaically presented. Again, equally obvious. (Don't get me wrong--those are not necessarily the signposts of bad artists; but they are the signposts of young artists, which is what most of the exhibiting artists are.) If this keeps up, then we're headed towards a worst of both worlds-type situation, and I know nobody wants that. People need to decide what this show is and what it is for, because the contradictory identity is not working.

Look, I would like to see the Stray Show succeed. I don't have any personal stake in it, but I am friendly with a lot of the people who were directly involved, and for their sake would like to see it become something really interesting and singular. And just as a viewer, I would like to see some cool shit, altogether, in a big building once a year. But the apparent lack of self-reflection is somewhat discouraging. I cannot believe that people are really that beholden to the Stray Show that they can't critically examine what it's become, and try to do something about it. The excitement from last year's Stray was just that it happened at all; that's no longer enough to sustain interest--so it would be good to start some discussion, to really get some ideas out there about how to push the Stray to another level.



Hi Dan,

Your observations are so generic. The ususal complains about art, fairs, the market, and what should or souldn't be independent or alternative ...Stray is an Art Fair, people need to eat and make money to survive, that's the way I see it. And just like in any other art show, ... there is a lot of bad art and maybe a few good things to talk about.

You said:

The same can be said about Here and Now, don't you think?

anyway, I think you are a good writer and I enjoy reading your makes me think..It would be nice to see your writing more often in publications...Chicago needs it.

happy holidays, P


Hey Chicago arties, I'm co-organizing this project in New York if any of you are intersted. Take a peek and jump in the revolutionary stew!


Join the Bureau of Autonomous Information and Tourism (BAIT)! New York City, April 2003

Open Call for Entries

Calling on all muckrackers, agitators, pyschogeographers, radical tourguides, archivists, activists, guerilla gardeners, techno experimenters, tricksters, resisters and cooks for BAIT's most liberating campaign to date!

During these troubled times, BAIT knows the stakes are high. With permanent war on the global menu and voices of dissent being subsumed by the tactical trivialities of a sold-out media, BAIT says BASTA! Join the Bureau for Autonomous Information and Tourism in N.Y.C in April 2003 for 48 straight hours, as we embark on our most liberating campaign to date, strategically aligned with the international Next5Minutes festival in Amsterdam!

Both desirous and resistant, BAIT encompasses a wide range of practices, strategies and agitations. With a united collective BAIT takes on the vanished public sphere, biotechnology, the global AIDS crisis, militarization of the homeland, civil liberties, globalization, surveillance, privacy, gentrification, police violence, racism, economic inequality, and class disparities. If this sounds like a full plate, it is!

OPEN CALL FOR ENTRIES: CAMPAIGN 2003 BAIT seeks projects in all media: from performance and screenings, and online installations, spoken word, street interventions, pirate radio, and much more!

BAIT especially seeks projects that fall into the following three categories.

1. Tactical Media Projects: An intervention in daily life BAIT encourages proposals in the form of public interventions, visual demonstrations, short lectures, and reclamations that occupy the public sphere. Projects taking place in the public sphere will be video documented and presented on a large wall of monitors at the BAIT Headquarters for attendees to witness and enjoy.

2. Eye-Opening Walking Tours Take us on a tour! Reveal the hauntings of the city. Design and lead repo-historic wonderings. Meander on a derive. Get lost, go underground, illuminate the skyline. Seeking Radical tour guides, docents, and late night wanderers.

3. Tech Skill Exchange: Workshops & Presentations Calling all technology activists, new media artists, geeks, software programmers, and other digerati who use new technologies for potentially subversive results! Seeking proposals for presentations for skill exchanges in public and non-public settings. The focus is on a non-hierarchical diverse peer-to-peer exchange. This 24 hours concrete technical skill workshop will be broken down into five sections: 1) web-based organizing 2) low cost wireless technology 3) DIY radio communication 4) socially critical web-based art 5) the social context of the Internet – often ignored issues such as racial oppression online, gender and access.

Please send in a brief description of proposal (no more than one page) with a description of the size, duration, technological needs of the proposed project. Documentation of past work, bio and SASE. At this moment there are no subsidies for project or artists, all works must be self–funded. Location and exact date to be announced.

Please direct any questions to bait at All Proposals must be received by February 1st, 2003.

BAIT 130 Washington Ave, Suite #1 Brooklyn, NY 11205 []


These aren't the usual complaints. I'm trying to be people *can* make more money, so people *can* eat more, and so people *can* do more than just survive. Don't make the mistake of taking all negative criticism for sabotage--when you do that you end up losing the relationships that can help you the most. Look, it's as simple as this: for the people who are into the Stray, the way to the good life is to make the Stray as good as it can be. As presented this year, that limit was not even approached. A generic observation maybe, but true nonetheless.

Here and Now had serious problems, to the degree that it too, with a few exceptions, was a failure. But not strictly or only because the show fits the above quotation.

It was more of a case of--too many artists, too many works that had been shown in Chicago already, too many older works. It would have been a much stronger show with 10-15 artists all showing work that hadn't been seen outside the studio. As curated, the show as whole was certainly not 'must see.'

You want to go further and talk specifically about my work in Here and Now? Go ahead. That's what it's up for. Lord knows, I've put my stamps of approval and disapproval on the work of enough people, in print and in person. Giving people in Chicago a chance to see and evaluate my work was the main reason I took part in this show.

And guess what? I think my work in Here and Now is successful. And guess why? Because it wasn't done quickly, and it wasn't a first draft, it luckily wasn't presented in the crowded main gallery, and it wasn't done just by myself. Studio visitors made helpful comments in response to early versions of both pieces, and the work evolved in selective response to more than just my thoughts alone.

If you think it's arrogant for me to say my work is good in public, especially when it's in a show that I myself declare to be a disappointment overall, then I ask you to also consider this: I'm not willing to let any work leave my studio that I do not feel entirely comfortable and confident defending. If it fails, I want it to fail only by provoking a seriously intelligent critique--to at least make someone else have to work hard to build the case against it. So if you or anybody else is gonna bring it on against my work, then bring it on good--make me learn from it. I would welcome that.

In summary, I can agree that many of the criticisms of Here and Now are deserved. But I don't see the point of your rebuttal. You can do better than, 'Give us a break we gotta eat.' If you can't, but also still can't agree with my criticisms, then one cannot help begin to wonder if there's a fear factor at work in your lack of critical reflection when it comes to the Stray.

Well, this is maybe a different thread, but it's something we can agree on totally. In artforum the entire city of chicago has been filtered through the pen of James Yood... for how long? Not that he's that bad (he isn't), but one person presenting the work happening in this city to the whole artforum readership? Not good. Maybe this back to that short-lived thread about the state of criticism from a month ago. We need to see some fresh voices in the national and international magazines representing what's going on around here. dan


(text deleted)


I'm forwarding Pedro's forward to "Other Group (two words) at Topica" to "group (one word) at", without the leading hooks (which deletes the text at and to get things started. Sorry if you get **two** copies -- we will straighten this out soon. Any follow-up will distribute to all the active posters of 2002, Pedro included. /jno

The Ratt Trap

December 29, 2002 By CHUCK KLOSTERMAN

Chuck Klosterman is a senior writer for Spin and the author of ''Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota.'' His last article for the magazine was a profile of Billy Joel. []

NYT (c) 2002


[I guess I needed to send this to topica also?]

Wow Pedro, Santa must really love you - or at least you must have gotten what you wanted for Christmas - a smart, thoughtful, critical assessment of the true meaning of the death of Robin Crosby from Ratt. That's amazing. Thanks for forwarding this article. I mean that. Devil horns all the way. \m/ (with bended knee of course)

But speaking of critical assessments, I can't let this slip away, even though I know better than to try arguing with Pedro.

Pedro, having read your Chicago Social-style puff piece about the Stray Show on (which you directed us to), can you say anything in defense of your total absence of journalistic ethics and integrity? To explain - Where do you get off posing as a reporter when writing a review of an art fair that was organized by the very same gallery that gave you a solo show just 4 months ago? Didn't it occur to you that some people might perceive that as a conflict of interest? Likewise, how can you do a bit of straight reporting on the artists featured at Joymore's booth without bothering to mention what clearly had to have been some curatorial input on your part (don't tell me someone else chose Zachary Lowing's work - which you describe as a "visual extravaganza")? No offense to Zach but Pedro don't you think that a little bit of disclosure or accountability might have been in order? That whole booth sounds like it was curated by you. Couldn't you have even written an explanation like "This is how we do things in Chicago" (because it basically is - as you know only a very tiny handful of writers aren't deeply entrenched in the scene in a variety of ways)?

Other problems: To say that the Stray Show was non-hierarchical just because all of the booths were the same size and cost the same amount is pretty absurd and untrue to the actual structure of the event. There are many ways for things to demonstrate a hierarchy. The amount of legalities in the application form alone made it very obvious that there was a top and a bottom
- essentially a lessor and a lessee. TBA ran the show, they set the rules; artists and gallerists follow them. Maybe the structure is a little more accommodating (and cheaper) than some other Art Fairs but nonetheless, that application had a ton of terms and conditions and I kind of doubt they were all set by the participants using a consensus-based process. Art fairs are many things to many people and I understand the purposes they serve, but if you think a room filled with identical same-sized booths looks like "a formal structure and philosophy suitable for freedom in contemporary art practice", I'd hate to see your vision of imprisonment. The people at TBA all strike me as really nice people, but let's see this event for what it is. It's basically Art Chicago with training wheels.

To stay with the idea about hierarchies a bit longer - you seemed to like the idea that you thought the Stray Show didn't demonstrate one. Your article, however, reinforces the most traditional art world power hierarchies when you write things like:

Do "supercollectors" wear capes to distinguish themselves from regular collectors? Even if the event actually was non-hierarchical, what difference does it make when you endorse this same power structure and support it through the way you write? You care enough about the presence of these people to know who they are and to make a note of which ones showed up. You play by's rules which, based on the other writing on their site, mandate that you name drop like this and note what artworks cost if you are going to write about them. But in this hierarchical world, disclosing your involvement with the organizers of the event, many of the artists and some of the galleries would throw the validity of your role as critic or journalist into serious doubt. If you want to challenge these hierarchies yourself and push for a new kind of art writing, try writing about these things from the acknowledged perspective of being a personal friend of the organizers. I'd be curious to see if they'd still run the article.

When writers are personally involved in the things they write about and conceal this fact, it looks completely silly to anyone who knows better. A person can, however, disclose their personal relationship with the people they write about, share this knowledge with the reader and still do serious insightful writing - it just comes from a different perspective. Why not own up, disclose your involvement, and then write in a way that only someone involved could? You would be able to talk about interesting experiences - things that others may not be privy to - which could then make for illuminating writing. Instead you've written this spineless reportage which looks like it's just trying to - in your words - "make Chicago look good."

Dan Wang wrote some interesting emails criticizing the event itself. I was more interested in taking the article to task - which seems to be what Pedro was hoping for when he announced that he had written it. The article just reads like an exchange of favors - not criticism, not journalism, not an interestingly different new kind of criticism or journalism, and not a very useful or helpful assessment of anything.


P.S. If anyone thinks that being critical of the credibility of most writing featured on is a moot point - well, of course you are right. I mean, there are some good articles on there once in a while (rarely) but it _does_ feature the writing of Donald Kuspit and Mark Kostabi which makes the entire endeavor look pretty hilarious.

jno at wrote:


Anyone who posted in 2002 is on the list at

The site [] has actually been up and running since Dec 4th, catching Topica posts as they came in, HTMLizing them, and adding them to the archive for December. The scripts to operate all this were installed on December 17. On December 25 I added the 30 names of people who posted in 2002. And have been quiet ever since. Except to rebroadcast the Pedro post (allthe text was deleted because all the text was "email quoted")

For your information:

We will switch over the full mailing list before January, 2003, if Keri returns from wherever she went.

Hope that helps. Check [] for more details on what you can do and get away with. A brief monthly reminder will go out on Jan 1.

Hope this helps /jno



PEDRO: Do I get off? What kind of asshole are you.

Gallery? TBA is not a commercial gallery. It is a "space". Just that. They don’t represent me. I didn’t sell any work. They don’t sell work. They are not dealers. They didn’t even promoted my show. I didn’t receive a grant or money to do the show. TBA Exhibition Space is as alternative as it gets. The date for my show was selected a year ago.

Conflict of interest? How?

I always made a point of telling everyone I was writing the ARTICLE. Not a secret to anyone. And as you said, it is an article, not a review. THERE WE GO AGAIN… IT IS AN ARTICLE AND I DID NOT GET PAID FOR IT! And I don’t get paid for anything I do for Artnet. No conflict of interests. No money involved. I do it, believe it or not, because I love writing and I believe Chicago needs it. The art economy here needs it. People outside of Chi need to know that things do happen here all the time. Curators outside of Chi need to be aware that this town is alive, ready….a great place to look for art .


PEDRO: Curated by me? I like post-minimalism and conceptual art. Is that a secret to anyone? I could sue you for this one. Are you drunk or what? FUCK YOU Marc. This seems more like a criticism on Zac’s work than anything else.

Yes, I have exhibited Zack in the past…in the hopes someone in Chicago would like his work. And Melissa Shubeck did… FUCK YOU again.

That’s one of the reasons why I curate shows. To spread the word…Are you really that stupid? I believe in Zac’s work, and yes, I know him socially…just in case I need to make things more clear…I never had dinner with him.

Do you want to play seven degrees of Kevin Bacon?


PEDRO: So what? Why should you care. You don’t give a shit about selling your work. Why do you worry so much about the people that try to make a living from their art. Instead of worrying so much about collectors or sales why don’t you go a get a job in a homeless shelter? Or run for office? Make a difference in society Marc. Stop hiding behind the art and all your "good intentions."

There is space for everything and everyone in the art world. I don’t like figurative art but that doesn’t mean it should disappear from the face of the earth. You are such a…you are like Fidel Castro. Your way or no way at all.


PEDRO: Yes. That’s how things in life are rebel Marc. These things are important. Shelf life, remember. Everything must be documented.

Are you still 16?


PEDRO: What do you mean by spineless? Spineless…FUCK YOU again.

Well, if this is all about skeletons hiding in the closet then…

Spineless is you and your Temporary Services working in Puerto Rico for one of the most important art dealers in Latin America, Michy Marxuach. Spineless is to hide behind your so called "socially conscious" art project just to get a tan. And TS did it twice. Did you know she had a booth at Basel Miami ? Do you know that 90 percent of the artists you showed with in Puerto Rico are represented by her? I guess you forgot to be thoughtful enough when the time came to decide whether to work for an art dealer who sells work to important collectors or having a good time under the sun. Spineless is to hide behind the walls of ignorance. Using Mexican iconography to address the Puerto Rican culture… Did you do any research on that? More than spineless; that is disrespectful. Shame on you. YOU COULD HAVE ASKED ME, remember…I’m PUERTO RICAN…BUT I GUESS, WE LATINOS, ALL LOOK THE SAME.

Are you really so straight in everything you do…Mr. God. How is it that you get to lecture so much? And earn some extra cash. Your friends that teach get you the gigs….am I wrong?


PEDRO: Yeah, Dan Wang also reviewed his own work . Did you miss that one? The Dan Wang case makes a strong point for Chicago. The city needs art writers. Artists are starving for it. They are so desperate for dialogue that they will even review their own work. Oh by the way, didn’t you have Dan in one of your TS shows. Didn’t he write an article on TS for the New Art Examiner?

MARC: P.S. If anyone thinks that being critical of the credibility of most writing featured on is a moot point - well, of course you are right. Imean, there are some good articles on there once in a while (rarely) but it _does_ feature the writing of Donald Kuspit and Mark Kostabi which makes the entire endeavor look pretty hilarious.

PEDRO: Then why bother Brother.

Oh and In case I forget to tell you this to your face before I move back to Puerto Rico in mid January.

Fuck you….not kidding!

Pedro Velez


Ouch ouch ouch. Gosh, sounds like there's a story behind this one.

Naw, never been in a TS show. Wanted to write something about TS for NAE, but then the magazine went no, I didn't do that, either. But I wanted to, and both the magazine and TS were game. That's the *real* trick folks: get everything in order, all parties on board, and then have it play out such that you don't have to do any of the actual work, but everybody still owes you!!! They even feel sorry for you, and apologize, and go out of their way to make things right! Believe me, I'm gonna be milking that one for a while. That's what a real art world player does. Pedro, you're not even halfway there!

(Speaking of nepotism, favoritism, patronage, and the old-fashioned hook-up....can anybody out there get me a teaching job? You see, I've never taught a goddam thing, so landing a part-time gig is gonna have to be a political manuever, pure and simple. Thus, in return for a couple of intro drawing sections, I pledge to funnel students into your classes, conspicuously defer to you, my patron, at all departmental meetings, and 2% of my after-tax paycheck. Ehhh, maybe those aren't all good things, and 2% of a part-time paycheck isn't gonna be squat....well, we can work something out, no problem there, just get me the job first. Trust me, you'll full credit, whether you want it or not.)

Let me clarify my relationship to TS this way: I attended Marc's birthday gathering, but left early. I gave him a string of the hot chiles we grew last summer and had to get out of there before he tried one.



OK, I was wrong about you having a show with TS... sorry?

But you did reviewed your own work Mr.Artworld...and it was very favorable towards your own work. Congratulations !



I think Pedro's hysterical response really kind of speaks for itself. I feel like I could just yell "Stop the Insanity!" and that would be adequate. Or I could sing

Pedro, I think you missed most of my criticisms about why some kind of disclosure IN THE ARTICLE ITSELF about the relationships and interconnections you have with the organizers of the Stray Show could have made for a more ethical (and perhaps more interesting) article. These interpersonal relationships exist; they should matter to international readers who expect vaguely balanced reporting whether you are getting paid or not. is not a fanzine or someone's art project. For better or worse, it is a source of news, reporting, and criticism (even though I think it's a shitty one). I questioned how you could feel ethically responsible while writing a whole article without ever acknowledging your own place within the enterprise that you wrote about. If you can't understand why I called you on that or why a reader might have a problem then I can't help you.

C'Mon - again, nothing against the nice folks at TBA but I bet they would find this statement funny. I'm not going to get into some silly debate over what is more alternative than whatever, but a little perspective please! The people at Q101 and The Zone probably know what you mean by alternative though.

I like looking at art and presenting the work of others and I care about how art and ideas go out into the world. It's interesting to me. It matters to me even if it's not my own work. I'd like to find an agreeable way to make a living from my art. I don't worry about it much but the idea of trying to make a living from your art is certainly a nice one. Eating pancakes is also nice. Walks on the beach are nice as well. But I wasn't talking about that. I was merely disagreeing with your absurd assertion that the Stray Show was a non-hierarchical way of organizing an event.

Yep, me and my Temporary Services went there just to get a tan - twice. Definitely. Believe me, if I just wanted a tan I'd go somewhere a lot less oppressively humid than Puerto Rico (maybe Basel Miami?). So what if Michy sells peoples' art? What does that have to do with anything? I don't really care where she has a booth, what her hobbies are, where her kids go to school, or what kind of toothpaste she uses. She sells art. Osco sells beer. Ann's Bakery sells really good cookies. Our reasons for going were that she also organizes non-commercial public projects and tries to engage a broader audience than contemporary art usually reaches (this is, admittedly, not always successful but it sometimes is). And she invited us to do the projects we wanted to do. She is thoughtful, adventurous, and great to work with. If we had art dealers in Chicago like Michy for the kind of art I make then maybe I'd want gallery representation. You seem to have this insane idea that Temporary Services will only work with people who are identical to ourselves in every way. We work with all kinds of people all over the place. If we can find enough things to agree on, we can work together. Fuck, once we even worked with you!

Believe it or not, some people who sell art want to work with us without having to be our dealers. And just because someone is a dealer doesn't mean we are inherently against them. Lots of people fill that role very thoughtfully, critically, and intelligently and Michy does a lot more than just sell art. And how Michy works with the artists she represents as a dealer has little bearing on how we've worked with her. You won't be seeing our art at her booth at Basel Miami. She works with us with that understanding and has never asked us to be something we are not. Oh and next time you see Zena and Rob be sure to ask them if we ever called our collaboration with them in PR "socially conscious." I'm sure they will give you a very politically correct response.

Sure, play the race card. Ignoring your obnoxious and stupid suggestion of racism (I know you don't look like Jennifer Lopez), this claim essentially makes no sense. A couple images from a Mexican magazine does not add up to what you are claiming and our projects were a totally messy grab bag of cultural references. Last I looked, every culture in the world seems to have masks, which were again, just a small part of our presentations. Our project was even called "Mid-West Side Story" in reference to a very popular musical which is very much about Puerto Rico and its relationship to the US. And it was only vaguely about that - but we did talk to several Puerto Ricans about our projects and the language in our booklets before going - it's just that you weren't one of them. There are a few other Puerto Rican people in Chicago.

Again you missed my point. There is nothing wrong with creating opportunities for your friends. We don't ask our friends to give us lecturing opportunities - I'd like to think they actually want their students to hear about our ideas and that is why they ask us. If they invite us we usually do it whether we get paid anything or not. It's fun. Some of our projects are portable so it's like doing another show for a very intimate crowd. We also talk openly to the students about our relationships with the people who invited us because the teachers are sometimes people we have worked with. Sometimes we talk about the projects we did together or the projects they did with us. I'm not against people creating opportunities for each other. How could I be? I never said that. I criticized you because your article on has a pretend critical detachment that I find irritating because it's so false - you do nothing to tell the reader where you are coming from. If you had made your personal connections to the organizers clear in the article I don't think artnet's editorial staff (assuming they have one) would have printed it. And while I sometimes have my doubts, I think you must understand that this is a shoddy unethical approach to journalism and that is why you are being so angrily defensive. I also think you commonly use your writing as a way of working out petty grudges and plays for power - that has always been evident in FGA but I'm sure I've told you that before in our past arguments.

Round and round, Our love will find a way just give it time. Bon Voyage. Tell Michy I said Hi.

Marc "Fidel" Fischer


On Mon, 30 Dec 2002, Marc Fischer wrote:


Hi Marc;

No, it is by design. RTFM.

The site will not re-distribute or store email-quoted text, so all of it gets removed. Same with "forwarded" segments. We have had plenty examples of people who write two lines, and attach 200 lines of garbage. Learn to clean up yr email.

The following is supposed to go out Jan 1, but here it is: I'll kill crontab so you dont get two copies in three days. HTH /jno

This is the "othergroup" listserv at - Once a month we send out these directions as reminders.

You can send email to "othergroup" at "" and it will be redistributed to everyone on the list.

Clean up your email, and the subject, before replying.

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This is a small point, but saying that I liked how my work turned out on the Other Group list hardly constitutes a 'review.' If you're gonna insist that Marc make the valid distinction between an ARTICLE and a REVIEW, then please, let's extend the effort and recognize the equally valid distinction between a review and remarks made within the confines of a mailing list discussion.

Moreover, it doesn't make much sense to talk about me or anybody 'reviewing' their own work, unless it is a case of outright deception. (Which my comments certainly were not.) To me a 'review' requires some sort of distance--a vague and unspecified form of distance, sure, but distance nonetheless. The appropriate distance will be measured by the writer's comfort level, and the degree to which the writer can insert his or her own content--a degree inversely dependent on how well one knows the subject of the review. So even though I may on an occasion defend, explain, interpret, and judge my own work, it's not going to be anything like a review. Or, to put it another way, if I share my opinions about my work, that is in no way a substitute for a review of my work.

This also means that as I get to know an artist better, there comes a point at which I feel it's good to stop reviewing their work. That doesn't mean I stop writing about them--it just means that we have to find a different way to use writing as a medium. One that's not so dependent on distance, which is probably more intimate and collaborative, and which does not call itself a review.



Some time ago we decided to not talk about art. Right after that huge debate at Standard Gallery, remember? We decided we should talk about music and whatever else we could come up with. That was a good way to be friends. And it is obvious why. I'm way to passionate about art and about Chicago and you love to rattle in monologues about utopia. We can't seem to take criticism very well from each other. And we always want to have the last word...and in the

Why don't we just go back to the music talk. I will talk to anyone about art but you... and you should do the same.

you are always welcome to visit me in PR, I know you love it there... and you could use another tan.

not kidding!

hope to see you before I leave. P


OK, I fail to see what the argument is between Pedro and Marc, the ad hominem sniping aside. And i think anyone who has read the actual "review" would agree (to my first phrase).

First of all, I agree (with Marc), it is a name-dropping puff piece, overburdened by superlatives. That is what makes it look suspect, but that also closes it to any further consideration.

Secondly, it doesn't look to me like Pedro is in Joymore's employ, but rather that he is salaried by Blackman.

This suggestion derives from the style of the piece. There is no need for

We have all seen this type of writing -- the copy of ads, the articles in the travel section of the Tribune, the self-descriptive brochure.. Any of us can instantly slip into the requisite prose to produce something similar - and as the author we can predict that the content will not be rationally judged by the readers, but rather be seen as the expected product of a Public Relations Department, instantly but uncritically dismissible. It is as pleasing as your mom's portrait on the mantle, but meaningless if it is not your mom.

Judge for yourself: I must say I cant make it much past the second paragraph (except to hunt for extravagant phrases). It is way too congratulatory for a show which wasn't all that .. well .. interesting. Direct at []

IMHO /jno


Pedro Well, after the other argument at Suitable we decided we couldn't do that again for at least another 4 months or something. It has been way more than four months so of course this was particularly bad.

There is no question that it is hard for us to discuss seemingly anything relating to the world of art without eventually reaching the point of a nearly violent argument. We seem to have a special talent for being able to make each others blood boil. Both of us could have let this become a very long-running soap opera, and I'm thankful you had the humility to not let it become that. I don't like holding grudges.

It should be plainly obvious to anyone who reads these posts that we are after very different things and have extremely different ideas about how we want to negotiate the art world while still energetically going about our work. That isn't going to change any time soon and I'm sure I am never going to be able to reconcile my differences over your writing. I obviously can't (and won't) turn off my critical thinking switch whenever I bump up against your work or something you've written, but I could have kept my thoughts to myself or been a lot less vitriolic when sharing my criticisms in a public forum.

I expect to be kept aware of all Puerto Rican metal after you move and I would be happy to have a beer before you leave. I am sure both of us will always feel that we completely misunderstand each others work but that we can at least recognize a heavy guitar riff when we hear one. That is, perhaps, more than most people can agree on.


Pedro Velez wrote:


There are different styles for different magazines. That also includes different editors. When I used to write for the Examiner, all my writing would sound like, well, Jan Estep's point of view.

I don't have a problem with sounding like Roger Ebert because as you , and pretty much everyone knows, I'm honest about everything I write. Sometimes I write negative reviews,(most of the time), and other times I like a show and I will write a good review.

The name dropping is just that... some like it , some don't...and that's part of Artnet's style and pretty much imposed by the editor. And that is fine with me. I don't drop names for other magazines. Which, taken from many of your (other group) comments, I don't think you (other group) are aware I write for many other publications.

Not every piece of writing needs to be crititical. And critical doesn't mean negative. And from the begining of the piece, it is obvious I liked the show. Not because of the art... but because for what it means for the future of Chicago and ArtChicago. This is important stuff brother. There are two huge art fairs competing against ArtChicago now. What happens if ArtChicago goes down? Well, a lot... believe it or not.

The art world is bigger than three recent grad students putting up a show in some apartment. We need those grad students as well as the alternative galleries, and the blue chip galleries, and the inmstitutions and everything else. But if ArtChicago goes down...then Chicago will be percieved, to the outside world, as a sinking ship. If that actually happens then... Who will care about Chicago. It is hard enough right now. And yes, money is an important issue here. People need money to produce or promote art.

Anyway, I would love to talk more about the "article" ... but Marc and I decided to give it a rest for our own If anyone else is interested ...they can reach me on my private email.

have a great new year. P


If Pedro and Marc can agree to disagree, then there might be hope for all the festering conflicts across the globe. Rock on brothers. I may just cry.

Happy New Years y'all Scott

At 06:38 AM 12/31/02 -0500, you wrote:


I just wanted to restate that starting tomorrow, one block south of Dogmatic a winter sculpture garden will begin. This, for anyone that missed my previous note will be a winter garden for outdoor sculpture from new years day until spring thaw. All Works involved should be considered gifts to the public. They will be housed on a site that is used primarily as a dog run for the local's pets. The space is midway between Deluxe Projects and Dogmatic in location. This is not a Dogmatic show and their will not be any hot coco drinking/beer swilling opening outside. No cards will be sent out. No invites or gallery listings will be mailed or made. You can consider it a collaboration with the erosive powers of the elements and the public. You can think of it as an appropriation of a quasi-public space. You could even think of it as a really large recontextualization of the artist's studio practice. I tend to think of it as an oppurtunity to put up some work on a large vacant space sandwiched between a couple of warehouses. But I'm a simple minded person. Either way, do what you will with it. Its there for the doing. The only thing I ask is that you don't set anything on fire or hurt anyone. This ain't no burning man. If you want more information email at diegobobby at


On Tue, 31 Dec 2002 Pedro wrote:

Hi Pedro;

I read every one of your articles posted at [] and they are all very readable and have a personal touch which makes them more interesting (especially liked the PR-2 coverage). But the Stray piece doesn't compare to these and doesn't seem to be your normal style.


I certainly notice the framing of "it's important" but I never get any sense of "how" it is important. When you do make some points, they don't follow from each other ...

I think that sequence, and especially the last statement, is what Marc jumped at: First, you don't avoid a hierarchical structure by adopting equality among cubicles. The hierachy is still there: Art Fair Owner, Art Fair, Galleries, Artists, Public.

Second, you "emphasize the multiplicity of roles" by having a hierachy, not by avoiding it. So, what exactly _is_ the experiment?

You writings are full of enthusiasm, acute observations, and broken adverbs, but not logic. If you say it is important, then you need to answer the questions, "To who is it important?" and "How is it important?"

Well, happy new year. /jno


JNO: I read every one of your articles posted at [] and they are all very readable and have a personal touch which makes them more interesting (especially liked the PR-2 coverage). But the Stray piece doesn't compare to these and doesn't seem to be your normal style.

PEDRO: I can’t make a great article all the time. I’m not trying to make up excuses but it seems that people think I was forced to do this article… or that it was retooled… or some other conspiracy theory. Artists usually have 5 to 6 great pieces in them during their lifetime. So, you know. What do you want me to say. I’m burned out, flat broke, in the process of packing all my shit. It’s like sports… you can’t win all the time but at least you try your best.

JNO: I think that sequence, and especially the last statement, is what Marc jumped at: First, you don't avoid a hierarchical structure by adopting equality among cubicles. The hierachy is still there: Art Fair Owner, Art Fair, Galleries, Artists, Public.

PEDRO: Well, duh. Of course. What do you want, chaos. That is a given fact of life.

PEDRO: Anyway. The hierarchy is broken down when you walk inside of the space. (Think of it as a huge like a huge sculpture). Curated booths were the same size as a gallery booth. Everyone paid the same fee. It almost feels like a Biennial.

The viewer had to find out who was a curator, or a gallery, or a magazine or some other weird project. Usually in art fairs, the magazines are tucked away in tiny cubicles…and the curated stuff would be in the hallways or in containers outside of the place where the action is taking place. In Art Fairs the booths are reserved for the galleries, the commercial stuff.

At Stray you could enjoy …let’s say The Kit (a web zine) and then walk to next booth and find Sarah Conaway’s curated show. Then walk more and find Revolution Gallery. So viewers had to be active. It’s a great mix, don’t you think? Commercial galleries, next to not commercial projects. Everyone had a chance. Why is this so difficult to understand. Let’s say you are a curator/artist and you want a booth at Art Chicago. How do you get it? Well, you don’t …because you are not a legit gallery. But at Stray you can get a booth, as long as you pay. And you can do whatever the hell you want.

JNO: Second, you "emphasize the multiplicity of roles" by having a hierachy, not by avoiding it. So, what exactly _is_ the experiment?

PEDRO: What’s the experiment? Read it again. The whole Fair, the structure of it. The risk involved. A Fair that takes a risk by mixing commercial galleries with other stuff that will make no money for the Fair but that will be interesting to a lot of people. Let’s say this is an Art Fair that believes in art and not just in the people that can sell the art.

This Fair wasn’t a big economical bonanza for Blackman. I’m sure he lost a lot of money. Or do you think all these walls and lights and related stuff just comes out from thin air. This is another reason why this Fair is still an experiment.

Anyway, this is the last attempt to justify my article in public. As I said before, anyone is welcome to question me in private.

Happy new year to all, P