The Proximity Magazine release party, held in the Family Room gallery space of art and design collective Post Family’s new-ish digs, was nothing short of a cozy love-fest on the bitterest of winter eves. The seven member strong Post Family (comprised of Alex Fuller, Rod Hunting, Chad Kouri, Sam Rosen, David Sieren, Davey Sommers and Scott Thomas) has completely transformed the swath of second floor warehouse space they occupy on Hubbard street. Guests were greeted by the gallery space upfront (formerly the Lisa Boyle Gallery) and a series of interlocking and staggered studio spaces in back (formerly Western Exhibitions) that house drafting tables, a dark room for burning screens and a good old fashioned behemoth of a letter press with drawers and drawers of accompanying wood and tin type set.
The group's excellent blog, long on many peoples radar as a source for au current and cutting edge art and design dialogue, accentuates the double entrendre of the “post” in Post Family, as they frequently place items of interest and inspiration on view there. Their web presence is tempered by a hand-crafted, slow media approach to other work being made in the studio, including limited edition posters, collages, apparel and recently, up-cycled knit sweater lap-top cozies. All items are for sale online in their Family store, or during open studio hours.
As host to the winter release of Proximity Magazine’s third issue, they featured work by several of the artists in the publication as well as obligingly providing an open house atmosphere in which to explore the rest of their space.
Matt Siber’s large, framed color photographs depicted decapitated ad marquees that loom largely over highways and stores without the poles or scaffolding that once shored them up. Jenni Rope’s whimsical screening of stop action animation featured the comings and goings of watercolor on cut paper and found rocks. Sonnenzimmer was also displaying excellent graphic posters, including a beauty rolled out for the Taqwacore show I covered earlier this December. Also on display were Sighn’s wood cut text pieces. Click “view credits” on his site for a quaint little vid on the how and why of his project, or follow up on him below, as he has an overwhelming installation of work in the "No End In Sight" exhibition up now in the Sullivan galleries.
Proximity Magazine itself is a tri-annual publication that seeks to report on Chicago art and artists, as well as other national and international contemporary art practices in the hopes of exposing Chicago endeavors to the rest of the globe, as well as bringing the art world to the big windy.
2008 was a good year for Chicago’s art presses overall, as nostalgia for the now legendary New Art Examiner yielded critical examination of it via an interview with none other then former editor Derek Guthrie himself, and the Chicago Artist Coalition also begin publishing a biannual art publication entitled Prompt. Like Prompt, Proximity also focuses on social and political intersections with the arts, but besides the rote exhibition reviews and monthly columns, their pointedly leftist bent saturates the entire publication—which is not necessarily a negative, but not necessarily accounted for either.
Proximity does do a nice job of conducting interesting interviews, documenting art spaces across the land by writing up concise profiles, and, in a unique and most excellent fashion, providing two-dimensional studio visits via snapshots of artist’s workspaces. They also include a space directory tucked in the back of each issue, an effort duplicated by the existent PHONEBOOK. The stunning color reproductions of a handful of artist's work every issue is something to look forward to, but all that color printing must have caught up with them, as issue three has gone up in price from ten dollars to the now twelve dollars per copy, making a subscription for interested parties a worthwhile economy buy.
--Thea Liberty Nichols
(top image: installation view of Post Family at Family Room)