Monday, June 11, 2007

A CONSORTIUM! (The Acceptable Kind)

You’ve probably heard there is going to be a rally at the Picasso sculpture in downtown Chicago today at 530P. It is all about an ordinance that will change the way public art is commissioned in Chicago. The new ordinance, among other things places the burden on the Alderman’s office of the particular ward where a proposed artwork will go. The Alderman will hold public meetings, not the Department of Cultural Affairs. What is so wrong with this? It seems pretty logical for it to be relegated to the specific community where the work will go. At any rate, "the revised ordinance, scheduled for a final vote by the City Council on Wednesday, would do away with the grassroots citizen panels that currently play the key role in deciding public art commissions. If the change is approved by a majority of the aldermen, the process of awarding commissions will be decided by the Public Art Program staff outside of the purview of the Open Meetings Act." According to Kevin Nance's Sun-Times piece.

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." Strangely Bad at Sports wasn't on the list. [It was a mistaken omission, see the comments]

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."


Another JC said...

Bad At Sports IS on the list --- I'd say check the site, but Is uspect you are already posting comments on it under a pseudonym.

Even if it were part of an attempt to have some clout ---is that bad when he is RIGHT? --- Oh yeah, I forgot, Klein forgot to first correctly bow to your masters, the SAIC and so on Clique.

The Artist Extraordinaire said...

Bad at Sports was on the list. But I noticed, and so noted, that it wasn't in Paul Klein's email today.

Cliques, that is the condition of the art scene in this city, isn't it? Everyone has a clique, or a camp, or a tribe or whatever.

greeneyesight [at] hotmail [dot] com said...

"No one ever does anything purely out of the goodness of their heart."

how sad

Paul Klein said...

Bad at Sports should have been on the list. I was shuffling the names so the same people weren’t always emphasized by virtue of being at the beginning of the alphabet and I inadvertently left BAS off. When I realized my error I reinserted them.

Anonymous said...

Much ado about nothing.

Paul pathetic attempt to be a "player" basically wasted a lot of people's time and has now put the 11 no voting alderman on bad paper with the administration.

This was an effort doomed to failure and as captian of the Titanic, Klein brought a lot of peope down with him.

If Paul's interest in how public money was spent on art, he should share with us how he spent $2,000,000 in public money on his cronies selecting art at the very public McCormick Place and got a $200K commission to boot, with no public oversight.

jc said...

Oh come on. This has been gone over and over and over on Bad At Sports. Talk about conspiracy paranoids. You make Kimler sound downright calm. Bend over any farther backwards to kiss ass and you be a pretzel.