This past weekend there were intimate places in the city where amazing art conversations were being had–all of which you will see in more detail when the Sixty Inches From Center: Chicago Arts Archive and Collective Project is launched in October. The first of those places was at the Hyde Park Art Center Open Crit with Kerry James Marshall and Dawoud Bey. Now, much of what KJM said were things that fester in the back of my mind regularly, but how clearly and effectively he articulated the function of art made these ideas come crashing to the forefront of my thoughts. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the Open Crit on Friday, Sept. 10.
“The truth is the artwork that matters to me, and that matters to the Hyde Park Art Center, is work that’s in conversation with other artwork. With other painters. With the history of painting. That’s what really matters. If its just to satisfy you, if it satisfies your friends, the people in your family, then by all means keep doing it and be happy. But if there’s another level that you want to take the work to, then I think you’ve got to take all of that into consideration.” – Kerry James Marshall
“I don’t think you can emphasize the necessity of specificity too much. You only have a vague idea and you’re responding to what you perceive to be a kind of set of ideologies imposed by the media from outside. Because you only have a vague idea of what you want to do about it you get two or three things and you stick them together, and that’s about as far as you go. The critical thing is to be clear about your thinking…because if you stay in the realm of vague generalizations you will never make works that are really effective. You’ve got to be very specific about everything. When I make work I am not interested in having people free-associate with the work I make. That is not why I make it. I don’t put it up there for you to think what you want to think. I choose the language I choose because I need to speak clearly about something. And if you write, you choose your vocabulary and language clearly because you want to communicate. Visual representation is the same thing. Every kind of image you chose has the capacity to carry information. Some things carry it better than others. That’s what your job as an artist is.” – Kerry James Marshall
After that I went to the Nick Cave Drive-by, which will be up and have hours through Sept 17th. It was the place where couture fashionistas and art world hipsters met to be visually stimulated by the color, shine, music and brilliance of Cave’s Soundsuits and celebrate the feature in September’s issue of Vogue magazine. Saturday morning I met with one of the SIFC advisors, Faheem Majeed, and got to see the Sapphire & Crystals Postcard Show at the South Side Community Art Center. Later, I refreshed my memory on the history of the portrait through the exhibition Forget Me Not and a talk by Dr. Amy Mooney. The exhibition included photography, painting and sculpture from early American history and George Washington, to recent history and Barack Obama–with less political, more personal, unknown and commercial portraits included. Then I ventured west to the home and studio of Sabina Ott, an educator, artist and a recently elected board member for the College Arts Association.
Sunday, I spent hours exploring the corners of Theaster Gates’ brainchild, the Dorchester Project. As Dara Epison prepared for an event to be held there with Gates, Mark Bradford and others from the MCA Chicago, she was kind enough to take me through the spaces. I greatly appreciated the opportunity to leisurely and comfortably comb through the thousands of art books and records, thousands of art slides (formerly the University of Chicago’s collection), printing press font pieces, and amazing woodwork that went from floor to ceiling and filled the air with a natural aroma that can’t be found in many places in Chicago.
Want to take the journey with me through pictures? See below…
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