Year: 2011

The Chicago Street Art Show: Artists Goons & Don’t Fret

During the week of installation for The Chicago Street Art Show at The Chicago Urban Art Society I had the opportunity to speak with several participating artists including Don’t Fret and Goons. The closing reception for the show will take place this Friday, June 3rd.  If you are unable to make it to the reception, keep posted for future coverage including a video reflection consisting of interviews and footage from the show. Additionally featured this week is an interview with Joseph J. Depre, curator of The Chicago Street Art Show. Chicago Street Artist: Don’t Fret Nicolette Caldwell: What is your history with street art? Don’t Fret: I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. I first got involved with graffiti in seventh grade. All the kids in my seventh grade class chose tag names from South Park characters and I was Pip. NC: That is really clever. So it started from when you were younger? DF: Yeah, I grew up in the city and I remember graffiti from a very young age. …

The Artist’s Responsibility

Let me ask you this: What is an artist’s responsibility? Should they take the ideas that shape contemporary society and translate them into a visual language? Are they the ones who bear the weight of our cultural legacy? Is their purpose to leave the world in a more beautiful state than it was in when they entered it? Are they meant to teach us about our world, about ourselves and about each other? Or are they only responsible for the manifestation of their own ideas, whether they speak to a greater social context or a more individual one? Could it be a combination of several of these things? Whether it is intentional or not, we often impose a series of expectations on artists and the art that we see and how it should function in the world. We then make decisions on whether or not the work lives up to those expectations. Taking this into consideration I decided to ask several artists to share their thoughts on what expectations they have set for themselves by …

Jettison Quarterly Revisions Art and Culture

Jettison Quarterly is an online publication that features art and culture in Chicago. Like Sixty, Jettison documents and features interesting stories that are not always covered by other more ‘mainstream’ publications. In addition to that, Jettison bring to the table full-length features—because it is okay to actually spend time reading about Chicago’s rich cultural scene and not just soaking up small tidbits. We’ve been following Jettison since its inception and finally had the opportunity to put them under their own disco ball; they always display one at most of their events. PR Assistant, Meredith Weber, and Co-Founder, Emanuel Aguilar, both took a moment to talk about the publication. Nicolette Caldwell: How long have you been a part of Jettison and what is your role? Meredith Weber: I have been the PR Assistant since Fall 2010. We joke at Jettison that I want to be referred to as the FACE, but I do take promotion of Jettison very seriously. I believe whole-heartedly in the project and people behind it. Emanuel Aguilar: I was one of the …

Hyde Park Public Art (5 of 5)

In a recent phone conversation, Olivia Gude of the Chicago Public Art Group (CPAG) expressed her opinion that when a site-specific piece of art needs repair, Americans take on an “either/or” mentality. The piece will either be restored or destroyed. In older areas of the world, a third alternative has been commonplace for centuries: adding something new to an older structure. Take the Basilica of St. Peter as an example. Begun by Michelangelo in the Renaissance, it was expanded and tweaked by other great architects as styles changed over time.  Recently, I have to admit I fell into the binary thinking that Gude has described. When reading the text next to The Spirit of Hyde Park mural at 57th Street and Lake Park Boulevard, I became confused.  “Restored and reinterpreted by CPAG,” it read. What did reinterpreted mean in the context of public art? Weren’t murals simply painted over or touched up over time? Taking in the wall, a mix of styles was evident. Bold, abstract patterns mingled with realistic depictions of students and protestors …

Concrete = Canvas: Project Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is not Chicago and Chicago is not Buenos Aires. Yet these two cities are connected in a strange way by a set of bleeding heARTS. Callie Humphrey and I met during an installation of a show about street art and graffiti art back in September of 2010. Realizing that we both had similar interests, we decided to keep our elbows within reach. Last week via Skype, Callie indulged me with amazement by detailing the progress of her public art project Concrete = Canvas, which is set to launch in coming weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The C=C Kickstarter campaign ends this week and funds from the campaign will be used to supplement expenses for the first C=C project, “Project Buenos Aires: From Concret to Canvas.”  Meet Callie Humphrey, the genius creative mind behind Concrete = Canvas, “Transforming concrete jungles into vibrant urban canvas, one building, one city, at a time.” Callie, how is Buenos Aires? You have been down there for a few months now for the launch of your project Concrete = …

A Look at Woman Made Gallery's 14th International Open

For nearly twenty years, Woman Made Gallery has ceaselessly promoted and supported the artwork of women in Chicago. A not-for-profit organization sustained largely by volunteerism, the gallery has nonetheless managed to host regular educational programs, workshops, and exhibitions in its airy, two-story space, and last week it welcomed the public to its 14th International Open.   The opening reception, which took place on Friday, March 4th, was a resounding success. Crowds of art enthusiasts braved wind and freezing rain to admire the works of 37 artists from the U.S. and abroad. Many of the artists were present during the opening, and guests were encouraged to approach them with questions about their work. Chicago based artist Joanna Moscoco —decked out in a strange ensemble made from second-hand Mary Kay bags—drew a particularly impressive flock of gawkers. Moscoco’s face was almost entirely obscured by her creation, and her arms were completely encased in fabric. According to Moscoco, her piece, Mary Kay Protection Device, makes a cynical jab at the way in which humans often transform objects into …

All for Art: An Interview with Robin Rios, PART II

Balancing the integrity of an artist with the acumen of a businessperson, distinguishing between Pilsen and Bridgeport, and telling misguided young artists that their work is mediocre at best… no topic is off limits for the owner of 4Art Inc. Gallery. What follows is the second part of my conversation with Robin Rios in anticipation of her gallery opening on Friday, March 18, from 7-10pm. Read PART I here. Jenny Lam: As an artist and a gallery owner, you’re able to see both ends of a spectrum. How do you strike a balance between being a businessperson and an artist? Robin Rios: It’s hard. It’s hard not just because of the business aspect of it. It’s hard because I feel like a lot of artists just aren’t as excited as I am about what we do, creating art. Sometimes artists are way too hard on themselves. They’re not enjoying art anymore; in fact, they’re tortured by it. Art is an emotional thing, and I think when people meet me, their first instinct is that I’m …

"Frontispiece // The Uncanny Imagination": An Interview with Becket Flannery and Grant Ray, PART II

After wandering through Pilsen, Becket Flannery and I returned to ACRE Projects, where Grant Ray had finished hanging his work for The Uncanny Imagination. As Becket installed his collages for Frontispiece, Grant explained to me his interest in using the photographic medium as a means of documentation, of using scientific processes to present seemingly mundane information and consequently create a social, cultural dialogue. The following conversation proceeds from that explanation and is the second part of my interview with the two artists as they prepared for their exhibition opening. Read PART I here. Jenny Lam: How and when did you first become interested in this kind of documentation? Grant Ray: About a year after my undergraduate studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York, I was really influenced by Gregory Crewdson and Jeff Wall. I came from a street photography background in which I took photographs of things as they existed, and I got not bored with it, but interested in how I could use photography to tell a story that didn’t necessarily …

"Frontispiece // The Uncanny Imagination": An Interview with Becket Flannery and Grant Ray, PART I

Frontispiece and The Uncanny Imagination are projects by Becket Flannery and Grant Ray, respectively, that constitute a two-person exhibition at ACRE Projects. Part of ACRE’s year-long series of shows by 2010 summer residents, their work finds common ground not only through the photographic medium, but also through their exploration of the narrative and the dynamic between images and narratives, often social in derivation. As the artists began installing their exhibition on March 8, I spent the afternoon with them discussing, among other topics, political theorists, hoaxes, New York nostalgia, and late-night woodshop dance parties. Frontispiece and The Uncanny Imagination opened on Sunday, March 13, and will be on view through Monday, March 14, from 12-4pm. Becket Flannery: Thank you so much. Basically, I just took a week off from work and flew out here yesterday. Jenny Lam: What do you do for work? BF: I work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, which is a wonderful organization in Philadelphia outside of UPenn. It’s actually a really incredible organization. They’ve been around for forty, fifty odd …