Friday, February 27, 2009

Thank You Sarah McKemie!

Sarah McKemie, who graduated from Columbia College last year, photographed my daughter last summer and yesterday gave me a life-sized print of the picture. I don't know anybody else who could have captured a facet of my daughter's character like Sarah can capture people in her photography. This picture is especially dear to me because in one year my daughter has become a young woman and less of a little girl. I will always cherish this image and Claire will have it to give to her own children.

Thanks Sarah. I wish you the best as you start your career and your life outside of college.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't Burn Ray Bradbury's Books...Eat Them! April 1, 2009

Rosemary and Tom Zimmerman, Italian Pizelle Book, winner for Most Book-like

Non-fiction tends to be slightly more difficult to digest,
but poetry is an impossible degustatory quest.
So here is a word to the wise,
if you are hell-bent on eating prose,
your attendance at an April event is mandatory, I suppose.
Attend the Edible Books Show and Tea
where licorice whip binding is the key
and deli ham pages are turned with glee.
Whether books be eaten by the Ezra Pound
or with a sprinkling of Joyce Carol Oats,
you might just Wanda Gag.
So don't secretly nibble pages in the stacks,
eat your books in public. Get the facts!
Delectable words will jump off the page.
Eating books is all the rage.

Erica Snell, The Very Hungry Caterpiller

Join us at Edible Books Annual Show and Tea.
Make a book of your own and get in free.
If eating books is all you crave,
Pay at the door and try to behave.
If your fingers wander and probe
into the jellied aspic Book of Job
We might have to cook you at Farenheit 451
as Mr. Bradbury would have done.

Edible Books Show and Tea
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
6pm to 8pm
Viewing and Voting: 6-7pm
Devouring Books: 7-8pm
Winner will be announced by 7:15pm

Columbia College Library
624 S. Michigan Avenue, 3rd Floor
Chicago, Il
312.369.6630 for more information.

K.V. and Jan Chindlund, The Velveeta Rabbit, winner for Best in Show

Most likely to be burned
Most likely to be devoured
Most out of this world
Most likely to be make into a Truffaut film
Most Magic

Monday, February 23, 2009

Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons - I Am Not a Photographer

A few weeks ago, in an earlier blogpost, I wrote about Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, the Cuban artist who is currently exhibiting at Columbia College's Glass Curtain Gallery.
Below is a video of a lecture and performance that she did here at Columbia College. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reverence Renewed - DePaul's Museum Presents Early Religious Images from Peru

Unidentified artist, Our Lady of Cayma, Peru, c. 1771-1782, oil on canvas

Having grown up in a religious Catholic household, I was familiar with the religious icons of Western Europe. While the images were beautiful and often frightening, they were very European in style. The exhibition Reverence Renewed at the Depaul University Museum displays religious icons from the 1700s in Peru and South America. The beauty of these images is darker and depict a mysteriousness that is a profound look into the Peruvian temperment of the late Baroque and beginning of the Rococo period. They attempt to copy the style of the European painting of the time, but the emotional content of the work is very uniquely South American. Reverence Renewed is an amazing interpretation of religious painting in a land far away from Rome, at a time when the Roman Catholic church was the dominant political and religious force in the world. This is a fantastic show.

Unidentified workshop St. Michael Archangel Peru, Cuzco, late 17th-early 18th century Oil on canvas

The invasion of the Incan Empire by Spanish forces in the 1530s marked a defining moment in Andean history and art. Visual culture in the newly-established Viceroyalty of Peru (present-day Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and more) was modeled to some degree on the art and architecture of Italy, Spain, and Flanders. Yet South American artworks were products of their colonial environment, indeed often made by indigenous and mestizo (mixed-blooded) artists and informed by their own cultural circumstances and the demands of their local patrons.

Unidentified Workshop, Ship of Patience, Peru, Cozco 18th century, oil on canvas

This exhibition focuses on three distinctive characteristics of painting in the Andean region: the popularity of the Virgin Mary as icon and image; the artists and their stylistic inspirations, particularly in the artistic center of Cuzco; and the emergence of a distinctive representational repertoire drawn from European tradition but elaborated in fresh and unpredictable ways. Works from this fluid environment include historical narratives of Spanish power, secular portraits, extraordinary silverwork, and above all, Catholic imagery-renewed in its Andean environment.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Animals Are Here Today, Colleen Plumb at City Gallery

Colleen Plumb, Birdhat

Photographs from Colleen Plumb’s series, Animals are Outside Today, examine the relationship that people in an urban environment have with the natural world. This series looks at the increasing disconnection that exists between humans and nature while also connecting the viewer with notions of endurance and the reality of loss.

Plumb began this series while looking at replicated models of nature and wondered what these replacements of actual nature can satisfy in people.

“Looking deeper,” says Plumb “I began photographing real animals and how they can be a link for us to a world far from the reality and pace of contemporary life."

Colleen Plumb, Audubon Swam, 2005

Colleen Plumb, Racoon 2004

WHEN: February 12 – April 26, 2009

Opening Reception: Thursday, February 12, 5-7pm

WHERE: Columbia College’s City Gallery at The Historic Water Tower Place

806 N. Michigan Avenue

Gallery Hours: Mon-Sat 10am – 6:30pm, Sun 10am – 5pm

Colleen Plumb, Mouse with Fly, 2005

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Love Matthew Rich

This is work by the Chicago artist Matthew Rich. I didn't know anything about him until I saw Dan Devening's show of Matthew's work at Devening Projects. I'm curating a show in March/April '10 that deals with geometric forms in contemporary art. Take a look at this work. It is so charming and sophisticated.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is the Sky Falling? - Criteria at Leviton A+D Gallery

Jason Middlebrook, APL (American Pipeline): detail, 2003, drawing installation

Emiliano Godoy and Jimena Acosta, the curators of the exhibition Criteria, want us to embrace the system. They want us to reject individualism. What is going on here?

The group exhibition Criteria at Columbia College Chicago's Leviton A+D Gallery is about the urgency of reevaluating how we live in the world. Sustainability can no longer be a clever idea that we wait for our civic leaders to enforce in our communities. Godoy and Acosta are giving the clarion call for us all to stop, rethink and start being aware of our own actions as if our lives depended on it.

“We are part of a natural system and it is important for people to be aware that you cannot live as if you are separate from this system,” says Jimena Acosta. “We have been taught that individualism and competition is good. These things will make us better in the world, but not for the world.”

Aylin Kayser & Cristian Metzner, Ikarus, 2007, wax and stainless steel
(This lamp melted away and after two weeks finally fell onto the floor)

The big question I had for the curators was what do we make of those people who think that global warming is a liberal conspiracy? Why are there people who still think that they can brush the issue of sustainability aside?

Godoy, owner of the design firm GodoyLab in Mexico City, is unshakably certain that we are moving toward an unsustainable world on every level; air quality, temperature, economic health, population growth.

image: Maximo Gonzales, Torres de petroleo, 2006, out-of-circulation bills, 200x300

“The change is so large that it goes beyond the uncertainty of the data,” says Godoy about the ongoing sustainability studies conducted by economists and scientists. “You can argue about parts per billion and global warming. You can look at data from decades ago. You can look at the problems from other generations, but when you see the changes in the large scale and you see the enormous difference between how the world is today and how it was in the 1800s, the difference is so large that the uncertainty of the data doesn’t really matter. Its just such a changing scale that if you have 10% or 20% error in the data, it doesn’t matter. The direction things are going in is so clear. If you get caught up in the argument that the data scientists have recorded even over the last five years is somehow suspiciously skewed, you are missing the point completely.”

Ricochet Studio, Best Before, 2008, Bone china

Godoy goes on to explain that in the 1800s there were only a few million people in the world. Now there are almost seven billion people. To serve this vast number of people, we have had to take from our resources and the clear direction in which we are moving spells disaster. If you just take the fish population, for example. According to scientists who have been measuring fish populations, we have eaten 90% of the tuna and the overall large fish populations. It doesn’t matter if the numbers are 70% or even 50%, it is such an unthinkably vast amount of fish. These numbers cannot be replaced in our lifetimes because the demand continues to grow as the population grows.

Edward Burtynsky, Oxford Tire Pile No. 5, Westley, California, 1999

Scientific facts aside, Godoy and Acosta want to show us that if we do stop caring and the human species can no longer tolerate the biological conditions of global warming, it would be very sad. There have been previous global cataclysms over the millions or billions of years that the earth has been around. Countless species have become extinct. The earth has frozen, broken apart and warmed before.
Craig Zucker, Tap'd NY, 2008, NYC Municipal Water (and plastic bottle)

“The dinosaurs were unable to do anything about their situation,” says Godoy. “Global cataclysms are not that bad in planetary terms. It’s a cyclical process, but it is evident that unlike the dinosaurs, humans can actually intellectually bring order and take preventative measures to fix the problems of saving ourselves and other species. Yes, if we don’t take control of the situation, there will be suffering and we will have wars about water and access, but the real drama is that if we don’t try to change, we won’t be here to reflect and take joy in the world.”

Ariel Rojo, Cerdo ahorrador (Piggy Bank),

Thoughout history there have been people who have told us that the sky is falling, but they never had any hard evidence to back it up. Godoy and Acosta, unfortunately, have done their homework. While the news isn’t great, they believe that the tide can turn.

“We must go beyond thinking of ourselves as one person, one state, one country,” says Acosta. “In all of our actions, we must think of others and how it effects people in Sau Paulo, Paris, Mogadishu, Mexico City…everywhere.”

In the final analysis, Godoy and Acosta might be challenging us, with science on their side, to love our neighbor as ourselves. I think that is a good place to start, but they also say that the corporate world had better start investing in energy…and fast.

Installation shot of Leviton A+D Gallery

Also, view the Ted Talks of Hans Rosling, a doctor and researcher, who has greatly influenced Godoy and Acosta: Debunking Third World Myths with the Best Stats You've Ever Seen.
Plus: I will have a virtual tour of the gallery up in a day or two.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Southern Graphics Conference is Chicago Bound

The Southern Graphics Conference is being hosted by Anchor Graphics at Columbia College Chicago on March 25 - 29. If you like printmaking, buying prints or just want to be around one thousand printmaking artists from around the country, come to this thing. You can buy prints, make prints and see demonstrations. See this video from last year's conference to give you an idea of how absolutely cool this is going to be. Come on Down.
See you there. Elizabeth
Watch this video and click here.
Southern Graphics Conference Video '08.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Maria Magda Campos-Pons is Making Art Right Now

image: Painting Lesson

With her swinging braids, statuesque physique and exotic Cuban accent, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons is the first person seen in a crowded room. Her artwork is a testament to her magnanimous physical presence and character which is why she is the subject of her own art. All of her artwork reflects and explores her own experiences. It is a process of self-discovery. She is both object and subject of her life in art. Campos-Pons has also navigated her art career onto an international stage. She is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art and many other important art collections around the world. She is currently exhibiting at Columbia College's Glass Curtain Gallery.

Born in Cuba, Campos-Pons has known her whole life that her great grandmother was a Chinese woman who came to work the fields of Cuba. This has been the subject of a number of the pieces in this current exhibition. At the turn-of-the-century many Chinese migrated to Cuba to find work. There is a large photograph on the main wall of exhibition space entitled, Painting Lesson, that shows Magda dressed as a Chinese woman in a red dress. All around her are small paintings made in the Chinese style. A few years ago Magda had an exhibition in China. It struck her as strange that many Cubans had migrated to China to work as unskilled labor while China has experienced it's current economic growth.

"We have come full circle," she said. "The Chinese went to Cuba to work the land and now Cubans are going to China. In the United States many Chinese came to assist the African labor force. Now the Chinese have established an economic force in Africa."

Magda was unable to vote in the last election. While she is a permanent resident, she is not a citizen. On election day, Magda went to her studio and made a series of photographs entitled, Prayer for Obama. Even though she was unable to vote for Obama, she made it her mission to get others out to vote. She arranged car service for many senior citizens who would not have gone to the polls.
image: Prayer for Obama

“I was frustrated that I could not vote,” says Campos-Pons. "I couldn't just sit there."

During the election while others were voting, Campos-Pons photographed herself while praying for the election’s outcome. She dressed in simple black and white and carries a bouquet of flowers. The photograph is a series of seven Polaroid prints. In three of the photos she is holding a small clay model of Obama in her palms.

“This was the first time that I made something this directly political,” she said. “Usually, I try to stay away from overtly political subjects, but I felt that this was my way of participating in his election. Obama makes us want to participate.”

It makes sense that Campos-Pons turned this election into something worthy of her artistic attention. The exhibition at Glass Curtain is entitled, Life Has Not Even Begun." When it does begin, I'm sure that she will find a way to show us how to live. Her exhibition will be up until March 6, 2009.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Beth Amphetamine vs. Malice in Chains - A Night of Cleavage and Cleats

I realize that going to see an all-female roller derby is not an art exhibition, but I couldn't not tell you about it. It was so cool. The girls were totally out for blood. The costumes were haute raunch-ay. On Saturday night I went to the UIC Pavillion to see the Windy City Rollers. I have heard about female roller derbies, but never thought I'd see one. I took a gazillion photos so that my readers could get a taste of what this thing was like. I loved the fishnets on Ruth in Asia (pictured above). The names of the skaters are almost better than the competition itself: Megan Formor, Sonya Mouthshut, Ava Sectomy, Eva Dead... I'm trying to come up with my own roller derby name. I thought of a few, but they are way too raunchy. See The Windy City Rollers website. There are many more pictures there. Below are some of mine.