Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two Tiepolos

Lauren Viera's puff-piece about
the Richard Gray Collection
in the Chicago Tribune last week,
got me to regret
my earlier positive response.

"There's so much to see — so much good stuff to see — it's almost dizzying."

Really? I beg to differ.

But I do agree that

"Name a famous artist, any famous artist, and he or she probably has work on display at the Art Institute right this very moment."

And that's the problem with how this gallerist has both bought, sold, and collected art.

Consider the two Tiepolo drawings from this exhibit, for example.

In the world of European pen and wash drawing,
Tiepolo's floating madonnas
are the gold standard.

And the one above
shows why.

But here's the other one
from the Gray collection.

It has all of the components of the first,
but they're in a jumble,
instead of a sweet melody.

If both are authentic,
that would be of small concern
to those who collect art
as trophies or capital investments.

And that attitude
would explain the presence
of so many awkward Baroque drawings
in the Gray Collection.

The issue of collector-based
(as vanity shows)
has been raised several times
this year by
Reed Johnson,
Tyler Green
and Christopher Knight .

Like Steven Thompson ,
I've been inclined to defend them.

Because if I enjoy even one piece
in an exhibition,
I am grateful for the opportunity
to have seen it.


it's been my experience
that professional curators
are no more likely to please me
than wealthy collectors have been.

Would the elimination of collector shows
actually increase
the number of beautiful or important
things to see?

Unless proponents of that policy
can confidently answer that question
in the afirmative,
they should think of other ways
to improve exhibition quality.

But I suspect their primary concern
is context --
i.e. the theory-based context of a curator
is preferable to the taste-based
context of a collector.

Or as one curator (Catherine Hess) put it:

""There has to be a real compelling reason to show a group of objects to the public beyond who collected them," ... "There has to be a story to be told."

And I don't really care about curator stories,
or why the things put into an exhibit
were selected,
because that does not change
how they look.

Most of the Gray collection
is worthless as far as I'm concerned.

But some of it has been quite memorable,
and I'm really doubting
that I would ever have had the chance to see them
"Old Gray" had been given
this "vanity show"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Jeff and Anna Salon

The first Jeff and Anna Salon
(coinciding with the
The North Park Art Walk )
took place two weeks ago
in the radically multi-ethnic
Albany Park Neighborhood of Chicago.
(imagine a business district where
an Iraqi coffee shop is next to a Korean grocery
is next to a storefront Orthodox Jewish synagogue
is next to a storefront black pentacostal church)

All of which is next to
the Koh-Varilla Sculpture Studio.
(above are three of their pieces)

Anna is something of a community organizer.

Part of this event,
is a gathering together
of all her artist friends
into one big exhibit.

The other part,
is her getting neighbors
to do the same thing.

Rhea Eunjoo In

One of the participating organizations
was the Chicago Korean-American Art Association.

Rhea Eunjoo In is a Korean student at S.A.I.C.
(Just like Anna was 30 years ago)

Matthew Lawrence Almy

Another local organization
is the Ravenswood Atelier

Mathew Lawrence Almy

What delicious dust!

Joshua Klegerman

Christie Michelle Stewart

(she's listed as one the students,
but I think she already knows more
than many teachers)

Craig Blietz

And then there was the
Chicago Art Salon ,
a group of artists
who share some of the same interests.

Gail Potocki

Vincent Hawkins

And finally,
here's the Jeff and Anna Salon,
comprising the somewhat motley crew
of artists she has chosen as friends
here in Chicago.

Vincent Hawkins
is well known among local sculptors
for his Fire Arts Center
where you, too, can cast your own bronze.

"Cain and Abel"

Michael Ruhack
has sometimes assisted
Jeff and Anna
on their commissions.

Lois and Keith Raub

have proven that artists
actually can live with each other
for more than a few months.

Kerry Brooks

I'm not sure how Anna
met this young artist

Her drawings are incredible,
but you do need
a magnifying glass
to appreciate them.

Harry Sudman

These girls
look good
against the aluminum doors

Elizabeth Ockwell

Recently retired from the S.A.I.C.
where she taught drawing
for many years

Eldon Danhausen

Eldon was the sculpture teacher
at the S.A.I.C.
back when I first met Jeff and Anna.

Unfortunately, he was
not able to attend this event
(except in spirit)

Dennis Paul

Dennis was a Danhausen student, as well.

I prefer to see his work
close up.

David Abed

we get to my favorite,
Andrew Conklin.

His drawing and design are so delicious.

And he is so distant
from the

Beautiful people
in beautiful places.

Why are images of that
so hard to find?

I think I prefer
still-lifes of antique silver
and ceramics.

But if somebody has to paint
a laptop computer,
I'm glad that Andy volunteered.

Helen Oh

Helen is Andrew's wife,
and she specializes in
finely drawn
sea shells.

And finally, finally,
here's the wall
hung with my pieces.

Left to right:

*Birth of Venus

*In the Garden

*Mars and Venus Heaving in the Iron Net
that Limping Vulcan and His Cyclops Set.


(note: a full list of participating artists
is shown here )

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Fall Antiques Fair : 2010

Antiques Fairs
remind us
of the plethora of human productivity.

It's impossible to study it all,
so my mind focuses down
to just one question:

Does it feel big?

And, on this afternoon,
about the only things that did
were the early Chinese ceramic figures.

Though, given that culture's attitude
toward authenticity and enterpreneurism,
I'd be surprised if everything on display
had been accurately dated.

This could be a Han Dynasty dog.
It sure looks strong.

what a charming scene!

this guy seems familiar,
I may have shot him
at an earlier show.

Shirley M. Jackson
1922 - 2007

Here's a Chicago painter
who should have joined my art club.

Shirley M. Jackson

Not quite beautiful enough,
but still feels good.

Gail Sherman Corbett

As it turns out,
I singled out a painting
by this student of St. Gaudens
in the Fall Antiques Fair of 2008.

So, I guess I like her.

Though, I'm definately a sucker
for snowy days in big cities

Francis Chapin

Another one of his
scenes from Saugatuck, Michigan,
where Chicago artists went to play.

He seems a little tipsy
on this bright sunny day.

Walter Krawiec

Here's some details
from a few of his circus studies.

I've seen many good plein air paintings
over the past few years,
but nobody throws in figures and animals
as well as this Chicago painter did.

I suppose you can tell that
he was a professional cartoonist,
but still,
his sharp characterizations
do not defeat
the feeling of the entire space.