As Sixty Inches From Center continues to grow and explore all facets of visual art in Chicago, we asked some of our contributors to reflect back on this past year and discuss the most memorable encounters of 2010.
Author: Meggie Hankel
My Best Of 2010 choice is something I didn’t discover until late in the year: the live art- making event known as Atomic Sketch. What exactly is Atomic Sketch? Once a month, local artists gather at the evilOlive in Wicker Park and produce series of original work throughout the night. This work is tacked on a display board and then sold at extremely affordable prices (on average, $5-15 per piece). Onlookers can grab a drink at the bar and socialize with fellow art lovers or with the artists themselves. Though a panel of artists is typically selected for each event, anyone is welcome to bring their own supplies and drop in and create work, space permitting. Atomic Sketch does not collect commission, and all proceeds go directly to the artists.
More interactive and more down to earth (and not to mention more boozy) than a gallery opening, Atomic Sketch is a highly enjoyable way of checking out the work of local Chicago artists. This Best Of 2010 pick comes highly recommended for 2011!
Want to check it out yourself? Find out about future events at the Atomic Sketch website.
Author: Zachary Johnson
My first time at Pilsen’s art walk started out as something of a disappointment. At some galleries the art was surprising, deep, and well executed, but at others it left a lot to be desired. Nearing the last gallery on Halstead, I was still undecided about the walk. However, it was the final gallery that won me over. 50/50: The Blurring of Art and Craft was a pop up gallery that ran through the month of October. Open only on the weekends, it featured various crafts by local artists for its first week, and then for the next three weeks changed the exhibit to include artworks by those same artists. When I visited the gallery, the art was up for display. Still, it was easy to see that many of the artists had incorporated materials and influences from the craft world. Some of them, like artists Amy Allison and Laura Berger, also created a higher number of smaller pieces sold at low prices, a technique more familiar in the craft scene than a gallery setting. In the statement of purpose found on 50/50’s website, the three curators express their desire to show the DIY craft movement’s influence on what they call the burgeoning “low brow” art scene.
The idea behind the gallery struck me as on the pulse of the art and craft worlds. The next month I returned to the art walk, anxious to see what the next exhibit from 50/50 would contain. Unfortunately, it was that night that I realized that what I had perceived as a permanent space was only a pop-up.
Meeting of Styles 2010
Author: Nicolette Caldwell
Of the hundreds of art events that happened in Chicago during 2010 it is impossible to choose a single ‘best’. If one event does deserve to be included in such a line up, [hands down] it should be Meeting of Styles (MOS). It began in Germany during the late 1990s. Now it is an annual event that travels internationally. MOS came to Chicago for the first time in 2003 and occurred every proceeding year including this past October of 2010. It is a big deal to the community, participating artists and writers as well as those who come to experience the event. Not to mention, public art has a long history of support and recognition in Chicago.
All artists who participate are assigned a portion of the large wall spaces that are reserved and granted legal permission by the city to paint. It is an honor for artists to be a part of MOS since all artists have to be officially invited by the coordinators of MOS. You might think that sounds a little exclusive but rest assured this event is far from exclusive. So many artists participated at this past Chicago MOS that hardly any of the reserved wall space was left vacant.
Anyone may attend and you cannot beat free. The amount of international recognition is incredible and each year more cities are added and more artists participate. If you did not get the chance to attend Meeting of Styles last year mark it in your books for 2011.
Keep posted in the coming weeks for an extended review of MOS highlighting an interview with one of the coordinators.
Art Loop Open
Author: Miles Johnson
The most memorable art experience for me in 2010 had to be Art Loop Open. During this event, the public voted via text messaging for their favorite art pieces stationed in venues throughout the loop. Critics can say what they will about the dangers of letting any old Joe vote freely in an art competition, I had a blast. Looking at paintings and installations is fun, but so is judging them. Besides, attendees of the event did not leave it completely uneducated. Much of the time the artist responsible for the piece on display was nearby, and perfectly willing to discuss it. Art Loop Open was frenzied, enlightening, and most importantly, something new. Here’s hoping it becomes a yearly tradition!
Nick Cave’s Soundsuit Shop Drive-By
Author: Tempestt Hazel
One thing can be said about 2010: it brought many surprises. Last summer I was riding my bike past the 31st Street Beach and south towards Hyde Park when I turn a corner and—BAM! There I was at the edge of a Chicago Tribune photo shoot, complete with SAIC professor, Chicago artist and fashion guru Nick Cave and one of his unmistakable Soundsuits posed just behind him. Embarrassed by the screech of my bike tires, but in too much shock and awe to look away, I stood there frozen. I then found the words to ask if I could stay for the shoot. For nearly an hour I sat there mesmerized by this serendipitous experience. The shoot ended with a personal invitation from Cave to attend his Soundsuit Shop Drive By event, which opened on September 10, 2010.
While everyone was navigating the gallery circuit during the big art season opening night, I found myself checking out the incredible marketing strategy of Nick Cave’s Soundsuit Shop, celebrating his feature in Vogue Magazine and enjoying the projected explosions of color on the façade of the pop-up space on the near south side. Only he could bring together a crowd made up of art school students, art aficionados and couture-clad fashionistas. What can I say? I’m a sucker for color, art, dance, fashion and anything Nick Cave. See more photos from the event, including a photo from the Chicago Tribune photo shoot, HERE.