Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh Well.

Wendy Cooper announced via a press release what has been known for a few weeks, the gallery is closing its doors. There is no known reason, the main speculation is that Cooper is just tired of the beast, and travel between her Wisconsin home and Chicago. No one has cited ailing sales. Dear readers, you can consider this your cue to assert wild acquizations in the comments section. At any rate, Cooper is not bowing out of art totally, but rather switching focus. Still, it is sad that this is happening, the gallery put on a lot good shows, and was a welcome addition to the West Loop. Here's the press release with the details:
    “Darling project,” Group show of gallery artists and fresh talent

    December 1, 2006 – February 8, 2007
    Reception: December 1, 6-9pm

    Friday and Saturday, 12 – 6 and by appointment

    For the final show at its 119 N. Peoria St. location, the Wendy Cooper Gallery will exhibit new work by gallery artists with the addition of four new artists. Moving from a stationary location, Wendy Cooper will shift her operations nationally and internationally as a private dealer, curator, and advisor. The new business name and title of this show, “Darling project,” refers to a partnership that is handled with passion and energy. It is the title of a love letter for each future project and exhibition.

    The gallery will host a reception on December 1st from 6-9pm to celebrate the achievements of the gallery’s artists and the future of “Darling project,”.

    The exhibition will feature work by : Noelle Allen, Drew Beattie, Zoë Charlton, Xylor Jane, Martin McMurray, Amy Park, Sabrina Raaf, Thorina Rose, Rita Rubas, Eduardo Santiere, J. Shimon & J. Lindemann, Jered Sprecher, TL Solien, and Ann Toebbe.

    This is an opportunity to view choice works from the gallery program on SALE. Don’t miss it.
Um, personally would have left out that last line for sure. But at least its not as bad as Paul Klein plugging his new high end sound systems and flat screen TVs business as reported in the Reader's "The Business." we didn't get that email, so we must have fallen off the Artletter list. Or maybe he knows that our offices here at Art or Idiocy? have already been outfitted with state of the art stuff by Carl Hammer Gallery.

Friday, November 24, 2006


This Saturday (11/25) 40000 is implementing the second installment of its interim project called “betwixt.” It is “created to enhance the gallery-going experience and to explore beyond the boundaries of the sometimes staid contemporary visual art scene.” 40000BETWIXT this time around is Philip von Zweck’s Vomitorium With Agitprop. It is about purging and expelling various notions of our overconsumption, the show is in time with the massive purging of the House and the Senate. But also the gorging on foodstuffs followed by “Black Friday” sales beginning earlier than ever this year. “Half of the artists contribute 'traditional' artworks – paintings, drawings and sculpture – while the other half supply hand-made inducers and receptacles that might be found in a contemporary version of a Vomitorium.” (Quoting the press release)

So what is a vomitorium anyway? We were familiar with the story that in Ancient Rome, at huge feasts, there were niches off the main banquet halls where guests could go to throw up when they’d had their fill, sort of like an outhouse. But scholars on the subject say those didn’t exist, but there is evidence from frescoes that people just turned away from the table and threw up. Possibly into bowls held by servents. von Zweck has said he thought it refered to the ancient theaters, and that the exits on either side were the vomitoriums. Again, let us look to the ever-wise Wikipedia for all our answers:
    A popular misconception is that the Romans made use of a room called a vomitorium for the express purpose of vomiting between meals to make room for more food. Only a very small minority of the highest classes indulged in the practice of deliberately vomiting. A vomitorium is actually an entirely unrelated architectural feature – a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre, through which the crowds could "spew out" at the end of a show.
Godammit Philip von Zweck being right all the time.

Visiting the in-depth feature on Roman Cuisine is highly recommended. Wikitorium

So if you feel like binging and purging, head over to 40000 on 11/25/6
Gallery Hours 11A – 6P
Party *ahem* event 7P – 12MIDNIGHT
>>VISIT 40000

Von Zweck is also runs an art space of his own. The current show of Guggenheim Fellow Tony Tasset is causing people to stand up and take notice.

Participating artist Paul Nudd, has this to say:
    Happy Spanksgiving everyone... I have a butt-load of new drawings up at a one-day-only show this saturday ... also includes a new group of collages dedicated to soon-to-be former speaker of the house j. dennis hastert (plus bio-terror, dirty turkey bombs, terry schiavo, force feeding, tubed meats, mad cow, obesity, bovine growth hormone, turkey the bird and Turkey the nation, greed, gluttony, corruption, partial births, stem cell research, etc.)

    oh yeah, dropping off work I saw a bourbon fountain and a functional beer bong made out of meat so that will be worth it alone.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Our Apologies

Sorry for the absence lately. More is on the way. But check out the comments section on the post below. There are some interesting things going back and forth.

Regards, regrets

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Judging from the sales we’ve seen going down at apartment gallery openings to checklists full of red in established galleries, it could be said that even Chicago is feeling the art boom at least somewhat. Part of that boom is the practice of doing open studios at graduate programs. So if you are a gallerist, collector, curator of otherwise, get over to the School of the Art Institute Friday evening to tour the spaces.

5 - 6P
280 S Columbus

6 - 8P
MacLean Center, 112 S Michigan
FLRS 10-12, 15-17

8 - 9P
Sharp Bldg, 37 S Wabash
FLRS 12&13


Speaking of the art boom and Chicago, is it not sad to see all these magazines waxing ad naseum about the insane buying frenzy the art world, mainly Chelsea, is in? More discouraging is being in Chicago, a city not doing bad, but not so rocked by pre-opening sellouts. “When is our time, dammit!” holler legions of disgruntled Chicagoans. But, as mentioned above, maybe things are shifting a little. A little more than three years ago I prematurely wrote a “signs of spring” article. The progress has been slow, but Chicago seems to be doing OK, despite draw backs like a lack of a physical, regularly released art periodical.

Bad At Sports has stepped in to guide yet another depressing, aggravating and discouraging panel on this subject. (Part of their Basecamp project at Threewalls) Whenever this issue comes up, it’s best to go the other way. Because this topic is the most sure fire way in order to stunt any growth enthusiasm of confidence building in the art scene here. “Second city syndrome” is a bitch, and one is almost guaranteed to be dragged down into a bog of hopelessness. But it is a topic you can’t ignore. I think the panelists are good, but sitting around and trying to figure out where Chicago fits in the art world is counterproductive. There are so many other interesting topics to focus on. Discussing art locally and beyond can be good, but to focus so head on seems like it will go nowhere. What will this discussion yield? What sort of answers will we get? What sort of questions are being asked? It may be worth stopping by, but it is something Art or Idiocy? is reluctant to engage in. Hopefully this stance is misplaced, and the panel will yield a hearty discussion.

Here is probably the best thing about second city syndrome ever said. It was directed towards how LA got to be what it is, but it is pretty much the final word on the subject:

What LA artists [gallerists and curators] did brilliantly was cultivate local collectors and not worry about the East Coast. In so many other cities, artists and collectors fail to connect because they're both too focused on New York as the only "real" art market.

Lisa Hunter, The Intrepid Art Collector

Take that to heart, dear Chicago.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

In the Galleries

Here are some shows we’ve checked out that are worth you going around and checking out too, if you haven’t already. There is a range of stuff, so you are bound to find something that you like.

Jason Robert Bell @ Thomas Robertello
This gallery should be getting a lot more attention. John Delk: Suspension of Disbelief was one of the best offerings of the fall season openers. And this show is good too. It is 100% into its singular vision: the life and times of Kala, a female sasquatch.

Jason Robert Bell
Jason Robert Bell
Dusk • 2006 • oil, acrylic, ink, spray enamel, glue, on canvas • 48 x 42

The work is over the top in its use of vibrant colors, brushy paint application and stark materiality. From the huge life size statue of her, gigantic oven-knob nipples and all, in the gallery’s front window, you get a sure idea of Bell’s utter dedication to an equal mixture of sci-fi narrative and base humor. At the opening Bell enthused over a favorite writer, Philip José Farmer. A man of cult status, whose fans publish a regular zine about his pulpy writings and organize a yearly pilgrimage to his home in Peoria, IL.

The paintings certainly dabble in the 80s bad boy neo expressionist look. And like the blatant intensity of 80s panting, these works are partially winking and smiling, partially seriously into garish color, nudity and large-scale brushwork.

Kelly Breslin @ Skestos Gabriele
The show looks very good. The work fits in with the generic popular aesthetics of now: Careful material selection, careful consideration of process and a mixture of minimalist and post minimalist concerns with pop, pop culture and an affinity for things that are stereotypical (like the ocean and tropical paradise) but also ugly and are loved for being the opposite of good (neon clashing colors) So this show is good, but it is also a little bit blah, and a little bit annoying. But since it causes hemming and hawing on the part of the considerate viewer, there is something to it. A few pieces really stick out for combining all the things I was just talking about, but resulting in a product that isn’t just a summation of that, but something more.

Kelly Breslin • Anywhere • 2006 • Oak panel, tape, Krink ink, tempera • 32 x 35 x 48 inches

The best piece is Anywhere. A triangular painting-object that is tucked away in a hidden gallery. The little alcove feels more like a niche in a museum than a gallery. And with the single piece, hung high with a spot light on it, and opposite a solitary bench, the sense is almost religious. Anywhere is a tight object, each bit of material seems tediously decided and brought into the piece. From the dull light-sucking texture of the blackened oak to the placement of the neon stripes, everything has been thought through by a human mind, but comes off machine like. the oak support bows at the points and it hovers on the wall. And then you realize it “totally looks like Dark Side of the Moon” and the religiousity is almost ruined. Except stoners who listen Pink Floyd over and over, looking at the cover of the album, think as much about that image as the viewer does of this piece. Is this an acceptable place for abstraction to go? Is that what it takes to make it OK in this day and age? Sure it doesn’t really look like the cover of Dark Side of the Moon, but it is has enough elements to it that more than a few people looking at it make that connection. That is something Breslin has to be aware of. I’m not sure if it is a good idea for abstraction to be so poppy, so gaudy. But then again, Dark Side of the Moon is a great album, and this piece brings together the everyday of wood and tape with the everyday of pop culture and convincingly works it into “high” art.