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October 2002, 21 posts, 746 lines


I want a donkey ride...16th most creative city! wow...we deserve it, we really are #16...just look at the Rennaissance's benefit party motif..."swimming pools and mermaids"....sounds more like Melissa Shubeck's

oh by the way...Did anyone at Curt's party took my brown corduroy coat by mistake? If anyone sees it... please let me know...I'm ready to kick some ass.

Oh and I have to get it off my chest. UIC started off really good with Fischer's "trash" show. I was sort of cutting edge, difficult new art from Chicago...etc. But what's up with Shane Huffman's show. How is that cutting edge or even interesting? It looks like glorified undergraduate work....derived from Matthew Ritchie but without the nice colors. And didn't he just graduated from UIC? What am I missing? Who selected it and why? Please, I need answers...I mean...if these series are a response to the MCA's 12x12...then UIC needs to raise the bar.

anyway...I have faith in the up coming line up and I am very excited to see what happens. And how it will compare to the HERE AND NOW show at the Cultural Center.

greetings from Puerto Rico, the hottest city on earth.



Wow, 16th most creative city in the nation. I wonder when we get our plaque and a donkey to ride around town showing the other happy recipients our august accomplishment? I hope I'm not at work the day of the parade.


don't worry pedro i'm certain there will be a special place for all of us on that ass. (unless i'm at work of course)



If you actually read the inivtation to "At the Edge" you would know that the selection committee was Derek Fansler, Steve Reinke, Julie Rodrigues, James Rondeau and myself.

For the At the Edge series there is no stipulation that graduates of UIC cannot participate. The only restriction is no current students from any institution. And if you looked closely you'd see that 2 of the 6 artists are very recent grads from SAIC, so your implication of bias is completely unfounded.

The series is not a response to 12x12 but a response to conservative apartment shows taking place in Chicago. If you have no commericial necessity, why be conservative. We initiated At the Edge to encourage artists to be less conservative. And in another way I think the series can be thought of as a complement or alternative to 12x12 and Here and Now. In my view it doesn't have be a counter or an oppositional move against those shows, as much as YOU might enjoy competition or fomenting it.

Also, if the bar is too low for you, maybe you need to make a proposal for next year's version. Or encourage the artists you think have high bars to apply and improve the show.

I understand your disinterest in Shane's show. I chalk it up to a matter of taste. You might want to know that inumberable people who saw the show thought it good, even great. And in fact, others who missed it have told me the word on the street was it was a show not to be missed.

Additionally, Shane's work has nothing to do with Matthew Ritchie's, but maybe you can explain why you think its "derived from it."

Best wishes,


(Director of UIC's Gallery 400, which presents At the Edge, for those of you who don't know)


WOW girl, you need thicker skin...So what if his work sucks...and did you actually read my message? I said I'm "really excited to see the rest of the shows". I didn't say anything against the UIC series....only that this show sucks...and that is the word on the street...not the other way around. And what the hell does apartment shows and being commercial or not have anything to do with anything?????

So...I know there is a panel...but I'm sure not everyone in the panel was in favor of Sahne's work...just wondering who pushed it. And my question about Shane being a UIC graduate student...was just that, a simple question....just wanted some facts.

and Matthew Ritchie? Well, maybe someone in the "Organization " will be smart enough to figure that one out.



Why is Shane's work less "conservative" than anything else? What makes it "at the edge" or even "innovative"? Because it's not painting? How does it "extend (his) working practice and/or push the boundaries of art experimentation"?

(Quotes are from Gallery 400's promotional flier)

The premise of this series is to "unveil works that are difficult to show in commercial spaces" -- does this mean all installation, all the time? I believe commercial spaces do show installations, just maybe not in Chicago. And hasn't installation art become an academic style that academic spaces are to eager to show to prove their progressive chops? Huffman's installation looks like every other poetic, pretentious, overly precious installation ever made. Pretty, maybe, innovative...uh, sure. (Of course, my criticisms will probably be dismissed as mere "taste" as Pedro's were. And the word I heard on the street was "ho-hum" -- pretty, but...)

And the next UIC show:

Hasn't this stuff been done to death? Interventions with the white cube, how edgy.

Maybe all y'all could weigh in whether or not "innovation" is even possible in art production. And if UIC's program does truly encourage "the most innovative aspects of Chicago art community's current dynamism." This is dynamic? High academic installation art?

Of course, I could be wrong.

And Lorelei, I think Pedro was baiting you.

Also Lorelei, why attack no-budget artist-run apartment shows? Can't they just sometimes suck? Why NOT attack (or be oppostional) to the the institutions? It's easy to pick on the powerless.


Why is Shane's work less "conservative" than anything else?............

I wonder as well if he actually less conservative.... maybe it's just (refreshingly) different... sensitive, cute......(bla bla bla). I'm hearing many comparasons to Beck. Maybe it's just his cool belt buckles. I can't say that I love his work but I have to give him credit for giving me something new(ish) to look at for the time being. His work at HereandNow is stronger.....


P.S. The girls love him.


Or maybe you're not capable of explaining your opinions that you like to fling around so much.



I'm not attacking anyone, powerful or not. In fact I said the series was a response to apartment shows. It seems to me that there are not many DIVERSE opportunities for artists so why not try to make them happen. That was my reasoning for the series. Attacking and being oppositional seem to be the crippling elements of this silly "scene".

Guess our streets are different. My comments about Pedro taste are based on the fact that he always slings his opinion around but never substantiates it. It only amounts to taste.

And, yes, I knew he was baiting me but isn't my responsibility as the face of the Gallery to respond to these ideas and criticisms. Shane's not on this list and I am; so I'll respond.


PS. As for the analysis of innovative, its an important and difficult question. I'll be able to answer that on another day. This has too be short. Bye for now.


sspeh wrote:

Why is Shane's work less "conservative" than anything else? What makes it "at the edge" or even "innovative"? Because it's not painting? How does it "extend (his) working practice and/or push the boundaries of art experimentation"?

First let me say Shane's a friend. I like his work, didn't think the gallery 400 piece was the most resolved I've seen, but none of us can claim constant consistency in our work.

But that is irrelevant, for to paraphrase marc antony: I have not come to praise Shane. (Of course, neither have I come to bury him, so maybe this isn't a good paraphrasing.) Maybe I should paraphrase Marc Anthony. Seems fitting, Pedro in Puerto Rico and all:

- ...
- tell me baby Shane cuz I need to know
- I need to know
- I need to know
- tell me baby Shane cuz I need to know

My every thought is of this being innovative it's getting harder not to be conservative Shane I'm exactly where I want to be the only thing's I need experimental art here with me

- Cuz I need to know
- I need to know
- tell me baby Shane cuz I need to know
- I need innovative
- I need experimental
- tell me baby Shane cuz I need to know... [till fade out.]

Secondly, let me say I have probably just earned another "snotty asshole" label from Pedro. If not, I will soon.

But this is a dumb line of criticism. Is it conservative or not? Innovative or not? Cutting edge?

Pedro's show is hardly experimental and cutting edge. Marc Fischer's (also a friend I will not be praising, burying, or singing about today) piece at gallery 400 I didn't think was cutting edge or innovative.

Who cares? The real question is--is it any good and why? Is it bad and why? Throwing 'round these meaningless and always subjective terms gets nowhere and doesn't lead to any level of critical engagement. In fact it serves as an alternative to having to create a critical space of reflection.

So is tossing out referents to other forms/artists/works without explaining how and why. I don't see more than a superficial relation between Shane and M. Ritche. certainly no more of a connection than the way, oh ... let's say than Pedro's show resembles an on-campus undergraduate copy center on a slow night. If there is a connection good/bad it's gotta be flushed out.

Even the worst art, if you choose to say anything about it, deserves a critical engagement. If you aren't prepared to make an argument, don't bring it up. Criticize something you actually want to criticize.

If, Pedro, you want to complain about the level of artistic advancement, or not, of this fine town. (still looking for your ride on an ass? I'll be here for you later...) throwing vague bon mots certainly isn't making much of a case for anything better.

[and an aside... Pedro, criticizing a fundraiser? How low can you go? Fundraisers are for covering an organization's expenses, not for being critically engaging exhibits. What would you rather the theme be? Cute girls?]

I like mean, ruthless criticism, I have a very soft spot for people like Gary Indiana and Benjamin Buchloh who have no problem dismissing whole artists, movements, galleries, museums, and at times countries, with the motion of a hand; but they also always back up their comments with substance and reasoning. Unlike people like Robert Hughes and Hilton Kramer that just dismiss. there is a difference between being critical and being cranky.

-Shane's work isn't bad because it isn't innovative.
-It's not bad because it isn't experimental.
-It also isn't good because it is innovative.
-It isn't good because it is experimental.

These terms mean nothing. They are just adjectives, not states of being, methods of creating meaning, or active spaces for engagement.

As to the question: How was his (Shane's--or Marc's for that matter...) practice expanded? You'd have to ask him. How the hell should any of us on the outside know? It was larger than any piece he's done. The first solo show he's done. maybe that's how?

timothycross wrote:

His work at HereandNow is stronger.....

Certainly it is more complete in its setup and the level of interaction between parts. Does not have the awkward empty expanses.

P.S. The girls love him.

That they do.



Ay, ay,

I wasn't attacking any fundraising event. I was making an observation. A stupid and funny (ha-ha) kind of observation.

And Loreli...have you ever read any of my criticism?...aside from your so hated FGA... Let me give you a clue where to find it: Modern Painters, Artnet, Ten by Ten (printed and on line), New Art Examiner, Sculpture Magazine. Read those and then let's talk about "taste and me being short on criticism". Give me a break. and me opposing what? Oh ...well, I do have an opinion, that's not being defensive, offensive or a hater...just a damn opinion...mine, yes my opinion. Just like Saltz or Smith or Hickey or anyone else who has anything to say. Many times...most of the times I have good opinions, positive views on people's work but you seem to always remember the bad ones. And...the other group is a casual friends talking in a bar, why do I need to be so deep here?

And if want to say that Shane's work me, the Pedro Velez born in Puerto Rico but lives in Chicago. The guy with curly hair. The Velez that has had a couple of heartbreaks. A basically happy guy who likes ice cream late at night. The same guy that likes to dance and that likes to headbang to Slayer. Well, yes that Pedro Velez with an opinion. To me and only me, Pedro Velez....Shane's work sucks like hell! It is bad poetry! and a bad MATTHEW RITHCHIE...if you have a problem with that... too bad. But that's my opinion. If you want to praise Huffman's work, then do it. Write up a review or and essay or have someone write a song about it or have someone do it. Write it in stone , please do. That would be great because it would will provide a better view of his work. It will be great for will make his work stronger....more meaningful.

This is not about opposing, it is about dialogue, so don't try to shut me down. The more the better for all.


Pedro and others

Having not seen the show that has generated such heated debate, and therefore having no opinion about it whatsoever, I nevertheless feel compelled to let all of you know that I find the dialogue (and other comments) interesting and entertaining. I agree with Pedro that there isn't a lot of innovation these days; most everything sort of looks or feels the same. That's boring. But as Lorelei wrote, that's a reason to have more rather than less shows.

I totally disagree (with Pedro but totally agree with Anthony) that originality or innovation per se is not really an important issue. To repeat my sorry mantra about consequential art, I think emotional honesty is unique to the individual and therefore leads to work with resonance. This honesty is absolutely necessary although not necessarily sufficient. If pressed, I admit in advance that I cannot be any more specific about these terms. I am not a critic.

My recent local favorites are the Julio Rondo painting and the Heather Mekkelson slab at the Pond, and the Aaron Curry show at 1R, which was pregnant and reductive at the same time.

I hope this is enough fodder for someone (probably Marc F) to accuse me of being a sentimental, tasteless idiot. I'm tired of people ragging on Pedro. It's boring. We should thank him for being so provocative.

Al Ravitz


Pedro, do you also like cats and long walks on the beach? Do you like antique shopping and cozy dinners for two with just one candle and the right bottle of wine? Because if you do, I think I'm the man for you. Just forget about Lorelie. We can run away and be happy together. I know it may sound crazy. But in this mixed up topsy turvy city where nothing seems to make sense, two people can finally meet for the first time after knowing one another for years. Your plea of sensitivity just grabbed my heart and ran away with it. I knew you as a rogue before. A fiesty latino with a heart of gold and a kind word for the underdog is the way I've always thought of you. Now you overwhelm me with this complexity of character I never before saw.I just want to take you away with me and relieve you of the bitter rancor heaped scornfully in your general direction. Al and I both agree that you should be viewed as a savior. What with your provacitive swagger and that winning smile you could never hope to be other than a great man on whose shoulders others stand. I can understand if you say no. But I am not ashamed of these feelings that you have let loose inside me. If nothing else I just want to say thank you. Thank you for knowing the difference between a chicken and a duck. Thank you for meeting us half way between the two and pointing out that difference, in what to you must seem a savagely mediocre tongue. So that the pedants and philistines alike understand the chicken via the complete negation of the duck.Thank you Pedro, I will always think of you as my pirate treasure.



See... I knew my Rodney King-like plea would bring out the best in everyone. I just knew it. Thank you, Diego Bobby, for confirming my faith that in the end, love means never having to say you're sorry.


diegobobby wrote:

Thank you Pedro, I will always think of you as my pirate treasure.

Well after that heart puring who wouldn't? I wonder if pedro's answering machine is full of date requests yet?

His message also brings out a side of this list I'm not sure keri envisioned--the other group as a personals/match-making venture.

let's all ponder the couplings



Quoting anthony elms :

His message also brings out a side of this list I'm not sure keri envisioned--the other group as a personals/match-making venture.

OOH - a personals/match-making service!!! Sign me up, I'm desperate.

I'm 31, a mediocre artist, spotty writer and so-so curator. Originally from Ohio, bald, kinda chubby. Like Pedro, I like ice cream, Slayer, dancing and arguing. Unlike Pedro, I don't like children or the "truth." Call me, I'm alive. You can call me, call me anytime. Seeking SF.


Thanks for such sweet words Diego. But I don't need a date.

Just wanted to make clear. I wasn't trying to get a date. I just felt that Loreli needed some info about myself...she seems to value opinions depending on who those come from. Hopefully I made a good case for myself...and hopefully I'm worthy of Loreli's God like validation. Even if I'm not Okwui Enwezor or have an Art history degree or write for Art Forum or October.


Please note:

The Artist at Work Forum "Portrait of the Artist in Chicago"=20 is this THURSDAY, October 10.

The subject line of my previous email was in error.

Thank you,

Barbara Koenen Project Manager Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs


I'm in Puerto Rico right now as is Pedro. I ran into him yesterday. Does anyone else find it downright pathological that here we are, surrounded by the sexiest women in the tightest possible clothing, drinking rum and cokes (and unfortunately far too much Bacardi Silver but only because it was free), eating delicious food, sweating like fucking pigs in intense heat and humidity that could teach the worst days of last summer in Chicago a lesson, and what does Pedro worry about, as he is surrounded by all these sexy sweaty women? He worries about Chicago. Pedro you go much too far out of your way to complain and bait people. The only reason for this I can think of is that you are trying to distract yourself because you are surrounded by all of these hot women and you miss your girlfriend. Get into some AC and chill!

Marc "Anthony" Fischer


Ay, Ay, Ay...back from PR...and guess what I find...Here and Now.

Everyone should read Alan Artner's review in the Tribune. Really good.

Alan asks:"Are 4 curator heads better than 1?" . Well, in this case NOT!. I don't know where they were looking for artists but it doesn't seem like Chicago. Maybe Oklahoma, Texas or Ohio but not Chicago. With the exeption of John Neff's photograph (Judas Kiss) and Criss Vassel's floor sculpture the rest of the show is simply ridiculous and sad... yes, very sad. The saddest part is that most of the work has been seen many times before. I also wonder how is Bertucci Here and Now...maybe now but since when? And Leslie Baum, how are those paintings influential in the Chicago scene? What about the Cowboy figurines...what's the hell is up with those? Oh God , I think my ulcer is ready to explode.

Too bad Kristen Stoltman was represented with old work....just like Salavon...too bad...what a waste.

I liked (believe it or not) Criss Patch's floating cut out and his paintings too.

I think the curators of Here and Now were too lazy. I hear the show will have a catalog. May God save us all if that catalog gets out of the city. Better save that money...and do more reasearch. Working hard never killed anyone.

Oh by the way...There is a good show at Dupreau Gallery. Noah Sheldon. Photos and sound, really good.


There is also a killer show at Joymore. Seriously. KILLER!

And the latest Gallery 400 show wasn't half-bad.

I can't formulate a decent opinion on Here and Now until I see it again, but I will agree with Velez -- those cowboy paintings, ugh!

Glad to have you back Pedro. Keep stirring up the chum.