Month: December 2020

Most Read Articles of 2020

Each year, our most read articles list hints to the ideas, cultural work, and practices that have loomed large in the collective consciousness of our readers and communities. This year’s list is no different, with the most read articles focusing on ways to uplift the cultural and community organizing that continues to happen, especially within and for Black and Indigenous communities and artists. This list suggests things that many of us already know: exactly how intertwined we are—in our demands and the depth of our fight—and how important it is that we record our stories, successes, perspectives, and the relentless injustices we face in all parts of our lives. Brought to you by writers Andrea Carlson (with Teshika Silver), Black Faculty at SAIC, Tempestt Hazel (with Ireashia Bennett and Kiki Lechuga-Dupont), The Blackivists, and Kirin Wachter Grene, along with the Teens Reimagining Art, Community, and Environment (TRACE) and Alt_ artists and interns Catherine Arroyo, Preleah Campbell, Danelise Comas, Paris Dority, and Darius Hazen, here are our 10 most-read articles in no particular order: * * * …

Imagen de portada: CeaseDays lleva un gorro negro, una chaqueta negra con una sudadera con capucha negra debajo y jeans negros. Tiene las manos metidas en los bolsillos del jean. Está frente de un mural de graffiti con el color del base negro y letras de color morado y amarillo.

El Nido Suroeste: Una entrevista con CeaseDays

Brighton Park, Back of the Yards (o el Barrio de las Empacadoras), y McKinley Park son vecindarios en el lado Suroeste de Chicago que están agrupados con tanta frecuencia que la prensa les ha dado una reputación y narrativa similar. No siempre es buena. Hoy estos vecindarios todavía enfrentan la violencia, la pobreza, y más recientemente, la gentrificación. Con llamar la atención a las mentes creativas que enriquecen a estas comunidades, me gustaría desafiar la idea que la violencia es la única cosa que tienen que ofrecer. En esta serie, “El Nido Suroeste,” espero celebrar y reconocer a estos artistas y compartir con ustedes sus perspectivos sobre los barrios donde trabajan o viven. Esta entrevista cubre el lapso de un año. La parte 1 de esta entrevista se completó en octubre de 2019, cuando me reuní con el artista CeaseDays (Cesar Diaz) en Simone’s, uno de los muchos lugares donde trabaja y toca como DJ. CeaseDays, puede ser un nombre familiar si fuiste a UIC, cuando era estudiante, dirigió el programa de radio, “Thumpin’ Thursday.” …

Featured Image: CeaseDays is wearing a black beanie, a black windbreaker with a black hoodie underneath, and black jeans. He has his hands tucked in his jean pockets. He is standing in front of a graffiti mural with a black background and purple and yellow letters.

The Southwest Nest: An Interview with CeaseDays

Brighton Park, Back of the Yards, and McKinley Park are neighborhoods on the Southwest Side of Chicago that are bundled together so often that they are given a similar reputation and narrative by the media. It isn’t always a good one. Today these neighborhoods still face violence, poverty, and more recently, gentrification. I would like to challenge the idea that violence is the only thing these neighborhoods have to offer by shining a light on the creative minds that enrich them. In this series, “The Southwest Nest,” I hope to celebrate and recognize these artists and share with you their perspectives of the neighborhoods they either work in or call home. This interview covers the span of a year. For Part 1 of this interview, which took place in October of 2019, I met up with artist CeaseDays (Cesar Diaz) at Simone’s, one of the many places where he performs and DJs. CeaseDays may sound like a familiar name if you went to UIC. As a student he ran the radio show, “Thumpin’ Thursdays.” You …

Image: A photo showing the front of the zine issue with an image by artist Ireashia M. Bennett on the cover. The booklet sits slightly open on top of a jet black background. Photo courtesy of Candor Arts.

Sixty + Candor Arts: Something to look forward to

Sixty Inches From Center and Candor Arts have teamed up to bring you a new zine subscription to get you through the winter! Something to look forward to is a subscription of six thematic printed issues compiling essays, interviews, and articles Sixty has published over the years, selected by our editors. Each of the six issues is printed in 300 total copies, sold at sliding scale cost tiers (60 copies available at each varying price point). One subscription includes all six issues, mailed to you sequentially over the course of the Chicago Winter (January—April). Orders can be placed from anywhere in the US, unfortunately this item is not available for international shipping. Every subscription purchased is in direct and equally-shared support for the work of Sixty Inches From Center and Candor Arts. We would like to extend a huge thank you to our friends at Candor Arts, who are covering the cost of print production and distribution for this project as an in-kind donation to Sixty. Candor Arts designs, publishes, and produces books mostly by …

Mine: Poems by Carrie Kaufman

Body (January 2020)To carry meTo lift and transfer Use your core not your armsI always say.Take the weight of my body As if it was yours‘Cause I cannot hold it, Help carry it please. I was told that it’s helpfulTo visualize that you are pregnant with me.Hold me close to your middle But move us as one How exhausting are these exchanges of weight.I’m holding what’s held in your body as wellWhen we touch,When you help,It’s a transfer. A lesson (November 2020)I need to be more than a lessonYou learned. More than Magical sex A window to see possibility thruA reminder to be thoughtful  Visibly deviant Emotionally convenientI am not what you thought:Easy to leave behindToo hard to take care ofI do not haveThe most resilient heart. You mistook me for a fantasy butInhaling in syncWe were as real As the candlelight warming the room Which one of us did you soothe When you said i was strong? What did you get out of holding me? Somatics (September 2020)My body floats in a limboI hover awkwardly above ground in my dreams Never knowing “comfortable” in waking lifeI …

The Flying Trapeze: Strongman Tulga

Circus has been making a comeback across the country for the past few decades. Chicago has seen the rise of circus schools, companies, and shows all across the city. Performers train and present their work to audiences while amateurs can learn new circus skills for health and self-expression. Any given month, you can see at least two homegrown shows, not including shows by smaller companies and the occasional visiting circus. The Flying Trapeze is a column that will bring you the best and brightest of Chicago’s vibrant circus scene. “Tulga, you are a remarkable show of what a human can do.” These were just a few things the judges of Australia’s Got Talent told Strongman Tulga in 2019. He had just spun a telephone pole with two people sitting in swings attached at either end. Before that, he swung a different telephone pole that was on fire on both ends. The pole is 16 feet and weighs 100 pounds, not including the weight of other people. In other acts, he’s juggled 12 lb. bowling balls or tires …

Bisa Butler’s Portraits: Representation in and for 2020

Each December, the New York Times (and likely other media outlets) publish “The Year in Pictures.” For reasons both good and bad, images of Black Americans should predominate in 2020. Some pictures will be tragic, like images of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Jacob Blake, while others will be proud, showing Black Lives Matter protests, Kamala Harris, and Stacey Abrams’ Get Out the Vote efforts. Representations of Black people also predominate at the Art Institute of Chicago in the exhibition Bisa Butler: Portraits. Especially timely today, Butler exclusively presents the Black figure, using personal and historic images as the basis for her portrait quilts.     About her focus on Black people and their narratives, she says: “I never want my artwork to show my people in a bad light. We are people who’ve come a long way. We do struggle still. There’s still a lot of social ills that are affecting my people, so I want to address that, but I also don’t want this paternalistic view, like ‘oh poor them.’ I’m not interested in that. …

Review: Julien Creuzet’s cloud cloudy glory doodles at Document

Walking into Julien Creuzet’s exhibition from the onset of winter in Chicago is a transportive experience. The weather in the city has recently shifted into freezing temperatures, knocking the humidity out of the air, leaving us with dry wind, and sharp sun. As a Louisiana native who moved to Chicago in March, I’m unused to the cold, and the radiators have been running nonstop in my house. Despite the bowls of water and Eau de Fleur D’oranger balancing on the radiators, my hands are drier than the concrete stairs leading up to Document gallery, where Creuzet’s show cloudy cloudy glory doodles on the leaves pages, memory slowly the story redness sadness bloody redness on the skin awaits. When first walking into Creuzet’s show, we are taken to a place of bright colors and ocean on all sides. On the wall immediately across from the entrance is a large-scale installation piece made with brightly colored threads and neon plastic; lurid wax wrapped around wire; segments of braided rope and tattered pieces of clothing. Limes are scattered …

Review: Exhibitionisms Virtual Viewing Room A, First Impressions

In a sunny corner at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, I catch streams of light in the virtual viewing room that reflect off the disco balls in Bradley Wester’s work. A small video of his piece Two Princes reveals velvet ropes and disco balls embedded in a soft shag of grey fur and a bronze sculpture from his collection, Gold Satyr. A body chain connects the phallus of the satyr to the ropes of Two Princes. As these objects glisten in the corner, their light reflects upon and off of others in the room. These lights provoke reflection on the history and representation of queer desire in the realm of contemporary art. The history of the two works and how they reflect Wester’s and his partner’s relationship with the art world is key to this object story (related reading by Wester here). In Exhibitionisms, object stories play out, performing the narratives that tie artists to one another and their artist communities. Exhibitionisms lies at the intersection of Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Space & Time, and online at exhibitionisms.club, …

Leave a Message After The Beep: Sixty Anniversary Voicemails

It may go without saying, but all of us at Sixty are fans of the overlaps between digital and analog. It’s reflected in the archiving work we do and also the ways we all move between daydreaming about the future, standing in the present, and holding close the nostalgia of our pasts. With those ideas in mind, Sixty quietly celebrated 10 years of publishing and archiving by setting up a phone line and asking people to do something that few people do anymore—leave a voice message. We reached out to past and present Sixty artists, editors, writers, and collaborators and asked them to share birthday wishes or memories from their times working with Sixty. We then teamed up with On the Real Film and artist Kiki Lechuga-Dupont to animate those voice messages. This first one is from artist, curator, and one of Sixty’s earliest writers, Jenny Lam. She tells a story of the birthday bash Sixty and Autotelic threw on a very classically cold Chicago night in 2013 after we gave her full autonomy to …

Chicago Archives Dive: Zine Festivals with Oscar Arriola

Oscar Arriola, a collector, curator, and photographer based in Chicago, talks about the power of preservation while also delving into the history of Chicago zine festivals. In particular, he talks about his role as an organizer of ZINEMercado, an annual outdoor festival devoted to zines and other DIY publications that takes place at Comfort Station in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood. This video was created in collaboration with Art Design Chicago and Chicago Collections Consortium, and was produced by Ryan Edmund Thiel. __Featured Image: A compilation of images of posters and promotional images from ZINEmercado. Images courtesy of Oscar Arriola.

Kajahl Huntress In Oasis (Astride A Crocodile), 2020 oil on canvas 66 x 84 in. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Fantasy of a Fantasy – A Review of Kajahl: “Royal Specter” at Monique Meloche

Monique Meloche’s exhibition Royal Specter, featuring work by the artist Kajahl, is in every aspect a museum-quality exhibition. I am not merely referencing the historically traditional and representational style of Kajahl’s paintings (that is to say, portraying a ‘likeness’ of the subject—and whose likeness is it? More on that later). I am also not just referencing the artist’s unbelievably skilled use of oil paint on canvas—materials that are, again, traditional. As Kajahl’s paint renders abundant silk folds, fine furs, and ornate gold, both the medium and style which together demonstrate a high level of skill, are historically deemed as having high value. However, when I say “museum quality,” it is not because of the undeniable attention to detail and quality of the work itself. Instead, it is because, upon gazing on the works, my mind ultimately and immediately places them within an art historical context. With each piece referencing so many elements of historical portraiture, Kajahl’s works are itching to disrupt the canon, demanding to reimagine the (absent) place of the Black figure in the …

Featured image: A view of the Dr. Margaret S. Burroughs gallery, which will benefit from Raise It Up! (December 5 & 6), a fundraiser driven by the Chicago Printers Guild in support of the South Side Community Art Center. Photo by Jacob Hand for the national trust for historic preservation.

December Art Picks

If you’ve followed us for a while, you know that our Art Picks offer a wide scope of events that are relevant to our audiences because we and the artists, cultural workers, curators, spaces, and projects we support live full lives that know no boundaries. We maintain expansive practices and work toward justice for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and disability communities in Chicago and the Midwest.  If this is your first time coming across this list, welcome. We’re glad you’re here and we hope this list sparks discovery, curiosity, and a demand for justice if you weren’t openly demanding that already. Created in collaboration with The Visualist and adapted for social-distancing due to COVID-19, this list offers online exhibitions, streaming events, a list of online collections from Black and LGBTQIA+ archives, and other ways to spend time in the virtual space. Also, in support of our friends, our communities, ourselves, and abolition/liberation efforts, we’re prioritizing events that uplift and fight for Black Lives and celebrate Black Queer Lives because the fight for Black Lives is the fight for Black artists, our …

for you. yes, you. – a response to “for you” by Ayanah Moor

you for this is just blacknessyou for this is just blacknessyou for this is just blackness G.L. – I don’t know that I can write his name here for fear of legal reprisal – haunts billboards from Chicago to Michigan (at least), his chin, the chiseled basin of his brickhead split open by bleached, saliva-polished teeth: sue the bastard who did this to you, we’ll make a buck, you’ll make a buck. On the CTA platform, I close my eyes, inhale and find my center in all the noise of rush hour while wind tunnels and pours dank air through the crowd. I do this for five minutes. I open my eyes. G.L.’s stupid face is waiting for me. I brought this up to my dad once, how unnerved I was by G.L.’s persistence, and he told me that a friend of his once called the number on the billboard, and that the office was not in Chicago but somewhere in Arizona. G.L.’s interstate visibility bothers me. Not because of him (though I harbor some …