Paul Klein, who ran a gallery, and then tried to start an art museum, and now mainly blogs about Chicago art (yes, Artletter is blogging) , has started a “consortium” against this ordinance, including “Lumpen, the Chicago Artists Coalition, Sharkforum, Around the Coyote, ArtLetter, Bridge Art Fair, Navy Pier Walk, Punk Planet, and Art Advisory, LTD,” among its ranks in this “Rally for Artists Rights."
The problem is that the ordinance really has little effect on art and the community here. It is strictly in regards to public art commissions. How many artists’ sole income in Chicago is based on public art commissions from the City? Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of public art. In being public, it is necessarily populist and only successful when everyone loves it. Anish Kappoor’s giant bean? Not great art, but very cool. The same can be said of the way everyone cools off in the Jaume Plensa fountain in summer, both in Millennium Park.
If you look at the track record of Klein’s (and others in the group) aesthetic tastes, it would be a safe bet that had they been around when the Picasso was being erected, they would have protested that, if nothing for the fact that it was a European artist, and not a Chicagoan. The same with the DuBuffet, and how about the Chagall in the Exelon Plaza, and Calder in front of the Post Office? God forbid Chicagoans ever get to see art made by anyone living outside the city limits.
The real question is what are Klein’s motivations? What is he hoping to gain? No one ever does anything purely out of the goodness of their heart. So what does this offer him? It seems from Artletter to The Chicago Art Museum to this, Klein has an ambition of securing a place in the City’s cultural and societal elite. There is nothing wrong with that. It just seems a little seedy to wrap oneself in a banner of pure selflessness and rah rah rah for local artists.
I believe that most are involved in the rally for good reasons, and do care. I’m sure Klein cares too. But the whole thing is too ridiculous, and seems too many are on the bandwagon for publicity.
If people really wanted to rally against ills in Chicago, they could attack abysmal public transportation, the endless nepotism and cronyism, the state of public schools, or Stroger County Hospital and on.
Here are some fun facts about the rally:
From the Artletter Email:
The whole thing should be meaningful, significant, powerful and not much longer than 30 to 45 minutes.
People are making signs. Be creative and upbeat. Face painting is okay.
And from the Sun-Times article:
Gregory Knight, the department's deputy commissioner and head of the public art program, isn't convinced. The Monday rally, he said, is being organized "by people I don't have the greatest respect for." He specifically called Klein "shrill."