Thursday, May 7, 2009

Merch Mart Insanity (AKA Art Chicago)

I’ve had a few days to decompress from the Thesis Show/Next/Art Chicago/Gallery Party, and my mind is still spinning. Thesis went swimmingly (in more ways that one). The non-stop onslaught of art all weekend, however, was a bit much. I realize now that that’s the reason I’m none to partial to art fairs. It isn’t the soul sucking quality so often attributed to them by many artists, it is simply that there is to much goddamn stuff to see. It got to the point where I was speed walking past booths is some deranged hope of absorbing art through window shopping. I will say, for my part, I found Next for consistently interesting that Art Chicago. Art Chicago, of course, had the “find that famous artists’ work” game, which, like car bingo, is fun but can get tedious after 2 hours. To tell the shameful truth, the best time I had there was at the Antique Fair. I know, poopoo me if you must, but I got a big thing for old stuff. It’s just made so much better and more beautifully. But that is beside the point. Let’s discuss some work I saw, shall we?

First of is Timothy Hutchings. His small video piece “Player vs. Player” was up at Next. It was friggin’ fantastic, like watching some perverse Robert J. Flaherty film. Check out the piece on his website if you didn’t get to see it at the show. Then there was Coke Wisdom O’Neal, with the "Box Series.” I don’t know how many of you ever read Indian in the Cupboard (or how insulting the artist finds this comparison), but that’s what it was for me in, in the best possible way. Socio-cultural work I actually wanted to look at. Good stuff. Chris Ballantyne had some large paintings up. I’m still not sure about this work. It appealed to me ‘cus it felt apocalyptic. On second look, I’m not quite sure, but I still like it. Quietly brooding, to use some frufy language. Then there was Kate Clark. I fell in love with her as soon as I saw it, as anyone who knows my work would understand. It can be hard to do taxidermy and have it work, but she did. My only problem was that I really wanted to pet them. Marcelo Viquez had a group of drawings I really enjoyed. The reminded me of something, I can’t remember what it what, but the made me sad and smile simultaneously. I also enjoyed the Blunt Collective out of Toronto, Michael T. Rea, Marco Bolognesi and Gregory Scott. Probably the best thing I saw upstairs at Art Chicago was the work of Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz. They work as a team, building, then photographing, snow globes with strange scenes going on within. There was a catalog for the work that I stupidly didn’t by. My friend did, and now I feel like an ass for not having a record of that work of my own. Other hits from upstairs: George Boorujy, Vivek Vilasini, and Yong Ho Ji. At the back corner, I found the work of Jason Hackenwerth. You may remember wandering past it, the giant balloon sculpture. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. In person, it felt kitchy and gimmicky. The photographs of people wearing the structures, however, were much more interesting. With a person inside the balloons put is some weird landscape, it went away from circus clown and toward body snatchers, an important step to take.

Well, that’s my take on it, for what it’ worth. I’ll probably update this again later, with Jeriah’s input, come on back if ya care too.

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