Posted inNews

A Man with a Chicago Plan

CHICAGO — On Wednesday evening, nearly 300 people crammed into a small auditorium at Columbia College Chicago to participate in an open forum for the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012. You would think that every big city in the world has a cultural plan, but evidently the last time Chicago carried out this exercise was back in 1986 under Mayor Harold Washington.

Posted inArt

Photographs from the South of Italy

CHICAGO — In his latest series of photographs, recently published by the Center for American Places, Wolke turned his lens on the landscape of southern Italy. Entitled Architecture of Resignation: Photographs from the Mezzogiorno, the series consists of large-format images of places filled with the architectural detritus of millennia — marble columns that are the lone survivors of an ancient city, an abandoned World War II military base, the interior of a Roman grave littered with modern garbage, the remnant of a quarried hill, sculpted by industry until all that’s left is an unearthly, oddly beautiful lump rearing up from a flat landscape.

Posted inArt

What Is Chicago Style?

CHICAGO — Is Chicago an artistic center on the same level as New York, London or LA? Is there an identifiable “Chicago school,” in the same way as the school of Paris or the post-war art movements in Manhattan? Does Chicago produce “famous” artists and artists worthy of greater fame?

Posted inArt

Good Art, Shame About the Written Statement

CHICAGO — There’s often a tug of war going in between what’s in a work of art and what you are told about it. So when I saw the exhibition Turnin’ the Tip at Chicago’s A+D gallery, my first response was to the work that I was looking at it, independent of catalogue essays or wall text: big black and white woodcuts, printed onto canvas banners, some of them as large as 10 feet by 20 feet, produced with a high degree of skill that calls to mind the Mexican tradition of printmaking exemplified by Posada, and the counter-culture graphic style of Robert Crumb.

Posted inArt

Assessing a Small Show of a Feminist Icon

CHICAGO — In a darkened gallery in the Art Institute of Chicago, a grainy video from decades ago begins. Standing with her face pressed up against a white wall, a woman reaches down and scoops up a handful of red, viscous liquid — presumably blood — from an enamel tray, and in a series of arcing gestures she traces a crude outline of a doorway, or a cave entrance, or maybe just the close demarcation of her own small body, around herself onto the wall.

Posted inArt

A Year-Long Obsession With Jars

We’ve all seen them at some point on the social media app of our choice: the “painting-a-day” people, usually talentless self-promoters who are trying to convince themselves they’re doing something conceptual. Not all of them are bad, however. It’s like GIFs: most of them are trivial and silly, pure internet-clutter, but in theory there’s always the possibility that someone can make something good with them. And with UK artist Kirsty Hall’s “365 Jars” project, which I’ve been following throughout 2011, the “one piece a day” idea reaches a whole new level.

Posted inArt

A View from the Easel

CHICAGO — In the last two years I have interviewed more than thirty artists, writers and other creative people for my own blog, Praeterita. The creative process was a part of every discussion, so I thought I would invite these interviewees to submit a photo and a short description of their workspace to an ongoing series called A View from the Easel.

Posted inArt

2012 London Olympics Causes Artist Rents to Skyrocket

You can’t see out of the east-facing window of artist Dragica Carlin’s London studio, because of all the paintings that are stacked against it. But if you could, you’d be looking straight towards the site of the 2012 Olympic Games, in Hackney, east London. Carlin came to London from Croatia nearly twenty years ago, and like hundreds of other artists, she was attracted to Hackney because of its vibrant and edgy street life and its low-rent studios (it has been estimated that there are more studios here per capita than anywhere in the world). But in the months since London won the right to host next year’s Olympics, fending off rivals such as New York City, the lives of artists and other residents have been transformed in sometimes unwelcome ways.