Year: 2011

Sixty on Sixty: An Interview with Andrea Sparr-Jaswa

In the wake of her 30th birthday, I joined Andrea Sparr-Jaswa in her beautifully decorated Logan Square apartment. Andrea is a long time resident of the neighborhood and a contributing writer to the Chicago Arts Archive.   Amidst bites of fudge cake, we chatted about Andrea’s academic background, and her opinions on art, Chicago, and orbital sanders. Sixty on Sixty is a new series in which SIFCers interview one another, allowing readers to get to know the fine folks who bring you the latest from Chicago’s art scene. Tell me a bit about your educational background.  How did you get involved with art history and writing for the arts? I went to college for a while, changing my majors and trying to figure out what I wanted to do.  Art history was always the class that I wouldn’t miss, even if it was at 8 AM.  I always liked writing the papers, and I always enjoyed doing the work.  It always seemed so fascinating to me. For a while I pushed against it, because I …

The Moving Image | An Interview with Amir George

It takes a certain amount of courage and vision to push the aesthetic limits of film in a way that is intriguing and unpredictable, but filmmaker Amir George‘s work does this regularly. His shorts have been screened in various different places across the city–for the crowds at the Art Institute, as well as smaller spaces like the Society For Arts in Wicker Park. If you caught some of the screenings at the Chicago International Music and Movies Festival this year, you may have seen some of his work. In his first year participating in the festival he broke records. Three of his works were included, which until this year that was unheard of.  Amir’s video for the song Get It Off My Chest by Chicago’s own Drunken Monkeee puts a new spin on the 2008 film Bronson. The video for She Wants a Man by Supertoy is a visually alluring with its inventive use of costume and editing, and the occasional familiar Chicago landscape. In one of my personal favorites, Meshes of Fear Land, he …

BIFORA | Carlo LoCascio Exhibition at Blanc Gallery

“Living isn’t space or time; living is only many moments, the sum of which is also but a moment.” – Carlo LoCascio   When you step inside of Blanc Gallery you quickly realize just that–it’s a blanc gallery. As you probably know or deduced, Blanc means ‘white’ in French and describes the gallery from floor to ceiling. It is the glowing definition of a white cube. This just might be to the benefit of their most recent exhibition, Bifora: Portrait of a Moment with the work of Italian-born, now Chicago-based artist, Carlo LoCascio. The blank canvas that the space provides mimics what happens on LoCascio’s canvases–guiding the viewer’s eye to a specific place within a given space. The loose laying of charcoal, paint and fabric, which in some cases almost swallows the more tightly rendered subject studies, work together to keep your eye moving until it is given a moment to rest on a carefully-crafted face, hand or object. LoCascio’s work does exactly what he sets out for it to do. It asks that as you …

People Don’t Like to Read Art || [and they’re missing out]

Honestly, people don’t like to read in general. Art, specifically? From Jenny Holzer’s aphorisms projected throughout New York City to Kay Rosen’s recent Go Do Good installations in Chicago’s Loop, text-based art tends to grab viewers’ attention due to its relatively brazen nature. Contemporary art that is purely image-based is often met with objections of “I don’t get it,” or “Well, maybe the artist statement will explain this.” For those in search of a quick answer, text can provide that instant gratification. The written word, however, doesn’t always make things simpler, as Western Exhibitions’ latest show illustrates. With pieces that extend beyond the short phrases pervasive in contemporary art—guests are invited to peruse full-length novels, among other items—People Don’t Like to Read Art stretches the function of the gallery space and explores ways in which one can establish a more intimate connection with art. After attending the exhibition’s opening reception on July 9, I spoke with gallery director Scott Speh about the show and asked the artists for further insight into their works. People Don’t Like to …

Why Joseph Beuys? A Short Follow Up With Adrian Moens

Two weeks ago artist Adrian Moens and I spoke about his exhibition at the Comfort Station located. For fun I presented him with a short survey of six questions called, “The Six Inch Survey.” Below is a brief follow up to the answers he came up with. You can find the original Q and A session here. Why Joseph Beuys? Joseph was a healer and he believed in people. To him, I think, art was medicine. It is incredibly admirable. What does love smell like? Love smells different depending on the person. Love for my father smells like sulfur from a match and then cigarette smoke in the back seat of his old rusted out Mazda. But I’m eight years old, so its just a memory of a smell–it lingers though. Why naked over nude? Naked abandons rules, scoffs at the tired, wagging finger. Wild and unadulterated, naked fills me with a solitude and self-awareness, more profound than the surface of my flesh and a deep sense of ownership of my being. Nude feels heavy-handed …

100 Canvases, 1 Curator | A Few Words With Stuart Hall

Due to their love for The Silver Room’s Sound System Block Party and as a gesture of gratitude for the blood, sweat and tears that go into it, one hundred artists from across the city and the nation each donated a 12in. x 12in. original piece for the fundraising event. I took a trip to The Silver Room and witnessed the moments of planning and brainstorming for the 100 Canvases For A Better World Exhibition just before the show started to go up. Much like a composer who has the challenge of bringing different instruments together in a way that makes sense, Stuart Hall, the exhibition’s curator, had to take one hundred canvases by one hundred vastly different artists and bring them together in a way that spoke to the space, the theme of ‘A Better World’ and a potential buyer of the work. I bet you didn’t know that another term for curator is problem-solver.  During the installation process, I got the chance to ask Stuart several questions about his involvement in the events …

The Silver Room That’s Gold: An Interview with Eric Williams, Pt. 2

This is the second part of an interview with The Silver Room owner Eric Williams, just in time for the 9th Annual Sound System Block Party. Did you catch part one? If not, check out ‘The Silver Room That’s Gold: An Interview with Eric Williams, Pt. 1’. Tempestt Hazel: What I think is so great about The Silver Room is that it allows for such diverse programming to happen in it. Having readings, exhibitions, music, clothing, etc. around those themes seems natural. Eric Williams: It is. And it’s not all me. A lot of times it comes from other people who understand that the space is available for a different kind of voice to be spoken. If they get what the space is they approach me [with an idea] and I say, “Yea, let’s do it.” That way, I’m not always depending on myself to come up with what’s next. TH: Roughly how many shows have you had here? EW: Maybe 20? Hebru Brantley, Krista Franklin and Tyrue ‘Slang’ Jones [have each] had a show …

File Types: An Interview with Chaz Evans and Lorelei Stewart

File Type is a show currently on view at Gallery 400, which attempts to move beyond the general realm of “digital art” into a more nuanced exploration of the many iterations of commonly used files types such as .jpg, .pdf and .tiff. I had a chance to meet up with the curators of the show, Chaz Evans and Lorelei Stewart, at Gallery 400. We discussed the relevance of approaching new media with more specificity and I was able to uncover some of the ideas the artists were working with and the not-so-visible expressions of file type within their work. Jennifer Nalbantyan: First, can you both tell me a little bit of your background with Gallery 400 and how long you’ve been curating? Chaz Evans: This will be the first show that I’ve been able to participate in in a curatorial capacity at Gallery 400. I got my MA in Art History and I’m currently in the MFA program [at UIC] for New Media Art –I have one year left. I also work for Gallery 400. …

The Silver Room That’s Gold: An Interview with Eric Williams, Pt. 1

Maintaining a successful art space is no easy task. Those of us who are regulars within the Chicago arts circuit have seen a fair share of galleries, alternative spaces and performance venues come and go. When you find one that stands the test of time it most likely means they’re onto something. After thirteen years of providing a platform and outlet for many up-and-coming or local superstar artists, musicians and artisans–and even the general public through Grown Folks Stories–it’s safe to say that Eric Williams, the owner of The Silver Room, has struck gold (or silver).  He has done this through embracing versatility and flexibility, therefore allowing his business and even his own career path to transform and grow when necessary. In light of the 9th Annual Sound System Block Party happening this Saturday, July 16th, I sat down with Eric to get the full story of how he went from stock broker turned successful street peddler, to the owner of a place that has given new meaning to the term multi-functional. (Note: This is …

Creation and Co-Existence: Artist Talk of Lindsay Obermeyer

The following was taken from the artist talk of Chicago artist Lindsay Obermeyer at the opening reception of Creation and Co-Existence: The Respectful Interdependence of All That Is at the Mary-Frances and Bill Veeck Gallery at the Catholic Theological Union.  Along with the work of Lindsay Obermeyer, the work of master textile artist Akemi Nakano Cohn is on view at the Catholic Theological Union through September 14, 2011. “It’s really an honor to be back here. Akemi and I first met, I don’t know if you remember, at the Textile Arts Center which used to exist on the north side of the city over on Diversey between Sheffield and Halsted. I’ve seen her work and tracked her work for years and have never had the pleasure and honor of showing with her. So, this is particularly wonderful. But, also added meaning to that for me is the fact that the last time I exhibited here was when I came to install the show three days before my mom passed away. And the work that is actually …

Teenage Blockbuster

On Friday June 18th, Marwen, a non-profit youth art center in River North, held its opening exhibition for the Marwen Lab program. A three-year-old program, it is offered to Marwen students who wish to work on a single art project over the course of three 8-week terms. Open to Marwen’s most advanced high schoolers, students must apply and be accepted into the program. Speaking with each of the students, I was reminded of the unique power of high school art: it expresses what it’s like to be a teenager. Though the pieces in the show were inspired by a wide variety of themes, certain students honed in on the high school experience. The charged, powerful emotions of adolescence were the focus of Afiya Hudgins’ works. Meanwhile, Henry Novak was inspired by the anxiety related to making that first big move from home to college. Overall, the pieces were breathtaking and sophisticated. The Marwen Lab instructors were amazed, as well, “I’ve never been so proud and so impressed by a student exhibition.  And they were clearly …

Clown Soldier the Human Cannonball

Human Cannonball is whimsical, complex and endearingly hokey. Printmaker and street artist, “Clown Soldier” crosses traditional boundaries of formal and street community art, pushing forward the notion of what is “accepted” or coined “good art” and how those standards are set and practiced by artists, curators, art historians, enthusiasts, collectors, and all the other art players. During the interview, Clown Soldier mentions that a large inspiration for the work created comes from the ideology and execution of autonomous art practice–not from intentionally following standard styles or trends. Referencing two major art historical movements, Dada and Surrealism, it is an interesting way to draw inspiration from standard busting artists that have been “canonized” in our art tradition to create a fusion all his own. Working and living in New York, this is the first time this artist has shown a body of work in Chicago. Nicolette Caldwell: Where are you from? Clown Soldier: Originally? Or in my previous life? I really don’t know. NC: How did you get involved with making art for the street? Did …

One State Together In The Arts | James Goggin, Director of Design at MCA Chicago

  “James is one of the most recognized and distinctive graphic designers of his generation.” – Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director, Museum of Contemporary Art At the end of May, Sixty Inches From Center attended the One State Together In The Arts Conference in Bloomington, Illinois. (See the photos taken at the event here) Every two years state-wide artists, educators, arts advocates, arts organizers and arts organizations come together in a different city to exchange ideas, share experiences and get to know the people doing great things in the arts throughout Illinois.   Around the theme Creative Breakthrough, presenters in the fields of design, music, poetry, theater and more offered their insights on what it has taken for them to take their ideas to new heights, push further and apply what they’ve learned to how they will move forward. To do our part in spreading the wealth of information found at the conference, Sixty Inches From Center requested permission to post the videos from One State Together In The Arts on our site.  The following text and videos are …

Artist Adrian Moens at The Comfort Station

“Adrian Moens’ multimedia exhibit and installation transmit/transmute integrates sound, sculpture, video, writing and painting. The underlying, and often paired, themes of rhythm and resonance, loss and removal, and empathy and revulsion are addressed through carefully considered minutiae of discreet words, imagery objects and sounds.” (This is an excerpt taken from a full press release provided by The Comfort Station.) transmit/transmute will run from this weekend until July 22. Adrian spent Sunday afternoon at the space for an opportunity to talk with more people who stopped in to check out the show. Below is a short, fun, less formal interview done with the artist. This is the first of many interviews to come called, The Six Inch Surveys. It is our way of getting to know more artists and creative people in a short period of time. 1. When are you at your most creative? When I’m alone 2. What is your drink of choice? Hot coffee. Never, ever iced. Ever. 3. What is your favorite smell? The people I love. 4. If you could collaborate …

Pawn Works Presents, Clown Soldier

It has been a week since Gabriel Specter’s show ended and Nick and Seth of Pawn Works already have prepared another entirely new show featuring a print maker and street artist who goes by the alias of “Clown Soldier.” The show is called Human Cannonball and the opening took place this past Friday, June 24th. The artist was available for an interview so be sure to keep posted next week to learn more about the artist and Pawn Works. Below you will find a short slide show with images from the installation along with featured music by local Chicago band Kmang-Kmang. Clown Soldier ‘Human Cannonball’ from Nicolette Caldwell on Vimeo. For more information about Pawn Works go to www.pawnworkschicago.com If you want to see more work by the artist the show runs for the next two weeks. You may also check out the artist’s website at www.clownsoldier.com To learn more about the music featured in the slide show go to www.kmang-kmang.com Pawn Works is located at 1050 North Damen Avenue.  

The Art of Cultural Fusion: A Conversation with Gitte Bog

The art world is a small world. As we move through it, it tends to shrink more and more. This was made clear when I found myself in conversation with Danish artist Gitte Bog. She was in town for two days completing two ongoing projects with parts that started in Chicago more than a year ago. Curious about her request for a sign that read, “I am looking for participants for two art projects relating to Chicago”, and her request for permission to sit at a table in the lobby of the Chicago Cultural Center, I asked her about her projects. While she described the one which was done for last year’s Vers10n Fest at the Zhou B Art Center, I realized that I had participated in it. My wrapper with its shot-in-the-dark translation of a Danish word into English was floating in the sea of colorful wrappers that she had collected over the years. Centered around language, taste and things lost in translation, the candies project is a perfect illustration of what is at …

What’s Your Art?: Hyde Park Art Center, Fire Arts Center, & Little Black Pearl

Sixty Inches from Center is collaborating with WBEZ as part of their Off Air Series to showcase unique art centers within Chicago. Join us on Saturday, June 4th from 1-5 pm at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington Street, for “What’s Your Art”. Throughout the afternoon, visitors will have an opportunity to interact with representatives from Chicago Art Department, Chicago Photography Center, Chicago Urban Art Society, Fire Arts Center, Hyde Park Art Center, Lillstreet Art Center, Little Black Pearl, Rumble Arts Center, South Side Community Art Center, and Spudnik Press Cooperative. Each Center will demonstrate the creative activities that enrich their community. “What’s Your Art” is free to the public and is an opportunity for Chicago residents to experience art as a part of daily life. Visit each Center’s Collective Project page to find out more about classes and events that will be held in the months before the “What’s Your Art” event. Between now and June 4th visit any of the ten Art Centers and pick up a “What’s Your Art?” validation card, …