This past weekend was our first attempt at Shooting With Artists: Round 2. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, we didn't get to shoot (we made up for it the 20th, images will be available soon). This resulted, however, in us only hitting shows on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Friday we started at Flourish Studios, then made our way to Pilsen, where we ended up in Human Thread, thinking it was still Rooms, promptly made our way to the new location of Rooms, blew through the rest of Pilsen, and headed to 65Grand and Noble and Superior Projects. Sunday we hopped in the car and hit up The Suburban.
Jason was recently featured in Flesh and Bone, a show that Jeriah and I
curated. I really enjoy Brammer's work, especially his moodier,
creepier work, the stuff of HP Lovecraft. This newer work in heading in a
direction of ore specific storytelling, and much more 3D works. It was
nice to see the full context of the new works.
J: I like Jason Brammer in that he's nice and straightforward about what he does. Like, he makes time machines. But a lot of artists today, especially in Chicago, would make a time machine as like an oversized version of Calvin and Hobbes' time machine, but made of double-wall cardboard, pink house insulating foam, Great Stuff Big Gap Filler, and probably some gold spray paint. The work might be good, it might not; I've seen it go both ways. And then we'd drink PBR at the opening, and I'm sure it would be great fun. And the artist's statement would say something about how time machines are introspective investigations on the nature of memory and nostalgia or something like that, and that would be fine. But that's kind of expected, and what I like about Brammer is that his time machines are carefully crafted, made of antique parts and really laborious painting. The things are the things themselves, they're not like some visual manifestations of a theory. They're similar in that way to Jim Pavelec's work, also in Flesh and Bone. Pavelec's zombies are just zombies, awesomely painted, and easy to understand. As in the short story of the same name, "These Zombies Are Not A Metaphor." Brammer's time machines are equally straightforward. Its not that these artists don't have ideas, its just that they communicate their ideas directly to the viewer through careful craftsmanship. It's ironic that artists who work in a skillful, representational style are often called "illustrative" when so many artists with a slack aesthetic are just illustrating something they read in a book of theory. Theory is good but I really admire artists, like Jason Brammer, who just make things that are fun to look at. Someday I hope he'll build one big enough to climb inside, like one of those old school arcade games like Afterburner.
Rooms has moved, out onto Halsted, into a fantastic new space. Their
new space is much larger, and holds much potential. I wasn't able to
spend a great deal of time, or experience a great deal of intimacy, with
their newest work, specifically because while we were there, it was
insanely busy and we were trying to catch up with Marakesh. Photography
is no longer allowed, so you'll have to go and see for yourself, we
don't have any images from the performance. Rooms has been, and remains
as, one of the best destinations in the self-proclaimed Chicago Arts
J: I've always loved Rooms. One thing I really like about them is that while most performance artists seem to try to distance themselves from theater, to sort of legitimize their artistic practice by separating it from the more "entertainment-oriented" forms of performance, Todd and Marrakesh Frugia of Rooms have some background in theater and embrace this connection. The result is that they remain aware of the audience's side of the equation, and avoid the self-indulgence and tedium of so much performance art. This particular piece, "While what waits," is inspired by the plays and writings of Samuel Beckett. Blindfolded performers respond to audio cues provided from MP3 players. It's worth seeing, and if you missed it on Nov. 12th, it's not too late! They'll be performing again this Friday, December 10th, from 7pm to 10pm, as part of the Chicago Arts District's Second Fridays. Check it out!
It was exciting to the the new 65Grand space! There's so much more of
it now! As for the show specifically, it was playful, rough, and
joking. Situated in the center was the goofily smiling sun, globular and
leering on one side, and revealing a suctioning, puckered black hole,
ready to swallow us all. It was weird, I couldn't stop staring at the
J: Congrats on the new space, Bill! It looks great! The show looked good as well from what I saw, but I have to admit, I got to talking with a friend I hadn't seen in a while, and didn't really take the time to really look at the work. It was also really packed! My apologies. We were only here a few minutes before we had to rush over to Noble and Superior projects before they closed.
S: As usual, Noble
and Superior was packed, which made it nearly impossible to see the
work. From what I could see, the show was primary text based. I remember
laughing a lot as I walked around reading the work. I ended up spending
most of the night on the porch, talking with artists.
J: Jason Lazarus had this projector piece, it was a projector projecting images of ideas for impossible works of art. His was the piece I remember best from the show. I like the idea of thinking big, of absurd plans. Some are absurd and impractical but at least theoretically possible, like getting everyone on earth to get off of land and onto boats at the same time, for one minute. Others are literally impossible, like going back in time to film television viewers watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon. Either way, this piece and its absurd suggestions really stuck in my mind.
S: First time to The Suburban as well. Seems like it would be a fun
place to hang out in the summer. I really enjoyed the coffee machine
with soundtrack. It was just patently absurd, especially because the
machine was failing to operate correctly, and was basically pissing all
over the floor.
J: Fun place to hang, for sure. The coffee machine was one of those vending machine kind like you see at a rest stop. I liked the not knowing whether it was even supposed to be working...a question that was at least partially answered by seeing them fix it, or at least stop it from leaking all over the place. I never did see anyone get any coffee from it. The other works were a large, round, black abstract canvas with heavy texture, and a metal sculpture fabricated as a window grate. The metal sculpture kind of seemed like it was making fun of me, alternately daring me to dismiss it as a functional object or to take it seriously as a formal abstract sculpture, and sort of hinting that it was going to laugh at me for getting it wrong either way. The black circular canvas was less treacherous, and just came across as a straightforward black painting, superficially kind of like a Frank Stella black painting, but far more textural. The other thing I really liked was the marks on the tree limb in the Suburban's yard, where it looked like a swing had been hung on chains years ago, which were then removed after they started to wear into the tree's bark and replaced with the present ropes. It's neat looking. Check it out if you make it out to the Suburban for an upcoming show, which you should. It's a neat space.
Tags: 65 Grand, Afterburner, Calvin and Hobbes, Chicago Arts District, Flourish Studios, Human Threads, Jeriah Hildwine, Jim Pavelec, Marrakesh Frugia, michelle grabner, Monday Morning Quarterback, Noble and Superior Projects, pilsen, Rooms Productions, Second Fridays, Stephanie Burke, The Suburban, These Zombies Are Not A Metaphor, time machine, Todd Frugia