11/28/2004: "Milwaukee, Chicago, New York City, Albany and Philadelphia"
Serving on a jury in Milwaukee to select artists for cash awards provided the perfect opportunity to review the local scene and talk in Chicago on the way home. Thanksgiving in Philadelphia offered the perfect reason to visit New York City and Albany prior to the family gathering.
Home to the nation’s most thorough contemporary art collection, the Santiago Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum is always an adventure. Although several MAM galleries were closed for a benefit auction, there were plenty of wonderful works available. Of special note are Irene Rice Pereira’s gorgeous painting and Donald Judd’s incredibly “fun” wall sculpture, a series of brightly-colored Plexiglas boxes whose open sides encourage viewer engagement. “Hits of the ‘70s,” consisting of dozens of black and white photographs from MAM’s collection, offered an interesting glimpse into that era’s events/situations. Liam Gillick’s poetic text strung from the ceiling spanned the entire length of the western hallway. Also on view were hundreds of American masterpieces from the Detroit Institute of the Arts, including several stunning Heades.
Fellow Mary Nohl Fellowship jurists Habib Kheradyar, Patty Hickson and I were there to award four emerging artists $5000 and three established artists $15000. After reviewing slides and videos from nearly 160 candidates, we selected six established artists to visit the next day and determined the emerging winners. In between studio visits, we enjoyed the Milwaukee scene: microbrews Riverwest Stein and East Side Dark (my fave), the tavern Nessun Dorma, Michael Lord Gallery, the deli Mondi, the famed record store Lotusland, the innovative Art Bar and the collective Hotcakes gallery, where I modeled wonderful wig-like hats (ask for wiG). Unfortunately, the notorious artist-run General Store was closed when we arrived.
The next day, a few of us drove to Sheboygan to check out the Kohler Arts Center, whose artist-designed porcelain bathrooms are a must see. I then caught the Amtrak to Chicago, checked into an SAIC residence hall and took the Green Line to Oak Park for a dinner party at Tony Tasset and Judy Ledgerwood’s house.
Milwaukee Art Museum- www.mam.org
Institute of Visual Arts- www.uwm.edu/PSOA/inova
Michael Lord Gallery- www.lordgallery.com
John Michael Kohler Arts Center- www.jmkac.org
The next morning, I visited Suburban, an amazing artist-run gallery, operated by Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam in two buildings, adjacent their Oak Park residence. After a leisurely lunch spent catching up with MCA chief curator Elizabeth Smith at a tasty Armenian restaurant, Smart Museum curator Stephanie Smith and I met for coffee at Jacque’s (the Palmer House Hotel) to discuss our upcoming CAA panel, Sustainable Design. After delivering a lecture on women painters and visual pleasure at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, friends and I headed to an old favorite, Billy Goat’s, whose delicious home-brew perfectly washes down its skimpy, card-board-like burgers.
I spent an hour exploring Frank Gehry’s Millennium Park, whose ampitheater clearly riffs on Los Angeles architect Neil Denari’s 1980s’ futuristic forms. Stranger still, its multi-tiered landscape features caged trees. Nonetheless, its most remarkable feature is a winding snake-like bridge that connects Millennium Park to the lake-adjacent park. Before heading off to the MCA, Joey Versoza and I viewed Gaylen Gerber’s giant collaborative painting, Sam Taylor-Wood’s least intense video (both at Donald Young), Karen Reimer’s embroidered paintings (moniquemeloche), Miao Xiaochun’s large-scale photos of a sculpture hidden in Chinese locales (Walsh Gallery) and Rosemarie Fiore’s drawings made using a paint-flinging amusement park scrambler (Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery).
At the MCA, Fiona Tan’s Correction (2004) featured straight forward video footage focused on nearly three-hundred California and Illinois prisoners and their guards. German artist Kai Althorf’s survey, which combined his band Workshop’s music, hundreds of drawings and sprawls, was particularly intriguing. Between Past and Future, also on view at the Smart Museum, consisted of scores of photographs and videos by Chinese artists. Of particular interest was Huong Ngo’s Re-entry: Surviving and Thriving in Hostile Environments, which presented all sorts of Tyvek outfits (some made from Federal Express envelopes) that fit together to configure inflatable pods (shelter). Also on view was a novel exhibition, “Artists and their Kids,” which featured paintings by Suburban Gallery hosts Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam and their two sons. After eating super delicious burgers at a smoky pub, we caught Jorg Immendorf’s amazing forty-year survey at the Arts Club of Chicago. My 2004 Art Institute of Chicago press pass lists Tuesdays as its late night, so when I arrived at 5:15 p.m. and didn’t get to see Anri Sala’s video, I was none too pleased to discover that Thursdays is its new late night.
Donald Young Gallery- www.donaldyoung.com
Walsh Gallery- www.walshgallery.com
Body Builder and Sportsman Gallery- www.bodybuilderandsportsman.com
The Museum of Contemporary Art- www.mcachicago.org
Huong Ngo- www.huongngo.com
New York City-
My New York City trip was especially memorable given visits with newborn Grant Shanabrook and excellent exhibitions like Atsuko Tanaka’s survey of vibrant drawings inspired by her colorful light-bulb sculpture at the Grey Art Gallery, Josef and Anni Albers’ survey at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, John Bock’s video at Anton Kern Gallery, Spencer Finch’s cloud sculpture at Postmasters, Martha Rosler’s newest collages at Gorney Bravin + Lee, Lily van der Stokker’s three-dimensional wall paintings at Feature Inc., Lisa Hoke’s cup installation at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, David Altmejd’s sprawling jewelry/beast displays at Andrea Rosen Gallery and newly exhibited works at MOMA, such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s two abstract paintings painted per his telephone instructions, Liubov Popova’s dynamic pink painting, Joan Jonas’ happening 1973 video, a Futurist gallery and Mark Dion’s rescue archaeology project. Chelsea seemed to offer an orchestrated side-show given Delia Brown’s hyperrealist gal paintings at D’Amelio Terras, Richard Kern’s babe photos at Feature Inc. and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ portraits of porn stars both dressed and nude at Mary Boone Gallery.
The Albers exhibition featured Josef’s efficiently-designed stacking tables, chairs and sideboards and gorgeous glass panels, as well as Anni’s wonderful weavings and jazzy jewelry made from bobbie pins, beaded chain and paper clips. Having recently visited Mexico City’s National Anthropology Museum, I wasn’t sure whether the Guggenheim Museum’s “Aztec Empire” would be worth my time. Fortunately, their incredibly clever installation of objects gave it a totally refreshing, contemporary sensibility. Two other lovely exhibitions were the “Polsky Collection” of Indian art on view at the Asia Society and Museum and “China: Dawn of a Golden Age 200-750 A.D.” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I then headed over to Brooklyn to get unclaimed tickets for a sold-out Pina Bausch performance. When ushers finally refused to hand out more tickets, I drove to the Lower East Side galleries, where I caught up with Michele Maccarone on Canal Street (above the Kunst sign). After viewing Olav Westphalen’s drawings there, I looped the neighborhood, stopping first to see Brendan Cass’ paintings at Canada (55 Chrystie Street), e-flux (53 Ludlow), a Lutz Bacher video at Participant, Inc. (Rivington & Ludlow), the collaborative project Barricade at Rivington Arms (102 Rivington Street) and ending with Seth Price’s wide-ranging multi-media extravaganza at Reena Spaulings Fine Art (371 Grand Street), adjacent the must-taste Doughnut Plant (379 Grand Street).
Grey Art Gallery- www.nyu.edu/greyart
The Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design- www.cooperhewitt.org
Elizabeth Harris Gallery- www.eharrisgallery.com
Postmasters Gallery- www.postmastersart.com
Andrea Rosen Gallery- www.andrearosengallery.com
Gorney Bravin + Lee- www.gblgallery.com
Feature Inc.- www.featureinc.com
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum- www.guggenheim.org
The Metropolitan Museum of Art- www.metmuseum.org
Doughnut Plant- www.doughnutplant.com
Rivington Arms- www.rivingtonarms.com
Museum of Modern Art- www.moma.org
After spending several glorious hours touring MOMA, I headed to Albany to see Patricia Johanson: Art for the Living World, her thirty-five year survey of environmental parks at the College of Saint Rose Art Gallery. Entering Albany after dark, I was so stunned by the glowing Empire Plaza (designed in the 1960s by architect Wallace Harrison and featured in Shirin Neshat’s Soliloquy (1999)) that I parked my car and set out to explore the surrounding landscape and hardscape, on which sits the Egg, the unique flying-saucer-like performance hall, which evidently took twelve years to construct. Soon after Patricia met me at the gallery, we dined at Jack’s, an historic Albany oyster bar, en route to her Buskirk home. I enjoyed the darker of two “Jack’s” microbrews Jack’s offers.
Saint Rose Art Gallery- www.strose.edu
Two days later, I left Buskirk at 7 a.m. to meet Abingdon Art Center curator Amy Lipton at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia around 1 p.m.. ICA exhibitions included Ant Farm’s super-inspiring survey of futuristic architectural innovations, Amy Sillman’s fantastical wall mural and Pepon Osorio’s emotionally-charged installation (his response to the foster care system’s never-ending maze). After shopping at Urban Outfitters next door, we drove to Moore College of Art, where we viewed Janet Bigg’s four newest videos (inspired by training and competition) and chatted with exhibition director Brian Wallace. Even though we were only blocks away from the PMA, we didn’t even drop by, since supposedly nothing new was on view. We then drove to the University of the Arts, which is typically open until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, but found it closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Fabric Workshop was also closed for installation.
Institute of Contemporary Art- www.icaphila.org
Moore College of Art Gallery- www.thegalleriesatmoore.org