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Abraham Ritchie

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This interview was originally published way back on ArtSlant Chicago, in May, 2008, on the occasion of Mario Ybarra Jr.'s exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. The LA-based artist is known for his installations drawing from pop and street culture, including a recent solo show examining the mythos of Scarface at LA's Honor Fraser Gallery. Right now his work can be found on a billboard in Mobile, AL, part of Los Angeles Nomadic Division's Manifest Destiny Project. Mario Ybarra, Jr. is a LA-based visual and performance arti... [more]
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Chicago Street Art in the Gallery   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Mental 312, Nick Adam, Oscar Arriola, Artillery, You Are Beautiful, Juan Angel Chavez, CLS, Senor Codo, CRO, Cyro, Chris Diers, Emen, Tom Fennell IV, Safety First, Don't Fret, Bruce Golden, Goons, The Grocer, Cody Hudson, It's Yours Take It, poor Kid, 80 Legs, Melt, Klepto Salem, Saro, Bonus Saves, Sighn, Chris Silva, Solve, Tiptoe, The Viking at Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) May 13th, 2011 - June 4th, 2011
Posted 2/19/14
This review was originally published in May 2011 on ArtSlant Chicago. Follow what these artists are doing currently: Photographer Chris Diers, the Grocer, You Are Beautiful, Hebru Brantley, Chris Silva, Brooks Golden, and Ray Noland. The closest you will get to spray-paint graffiti in the Chicago Urban Art Society’s “Chicago Street Art Show” is the TRK piece across the street, ironically visible from the gallery’s windows. This was a conscious decision and posits street art (or i... [more]
This book review of Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon's landmark The History of American Graffiti originally appeared on ArtSlant Chicago in May 2011. If there’s one thing that graffiti books know how to do, it’s the pictures. Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon’s recently released The History of American Graffiti (Harper Design, 2010) follows this rule without fail, producing an attractive book that can just as easily be thumbed through as read. These photographs are particularly... [more]
Inspired by Rachel Kaplan's review of the current street art exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, for this week's Throwback article we look back to 2010, when Abraham Ritchie penned the following words on another influential exhibition of graffiti and street art in Chicago. How much has changed since then? Time keeps passing along and street art continues to battle for wider acceptance in the art community and society in general. The City of Chicago is one of the most aggressive eradicators... [more]
This interview originally appeared on ArtSlant Chicago here. Chicago, July 2010 -- Ray Noland is perhaps better known here in Chicago as CRO, the street name of this artist whose work can be seen all over Chicago, indoors and out. Noland gained attention with his grassroots campaign "GoTellMama" for Barack Obama's 2008 election. Politics has remained a major source of inspiration for Noland especially considering that shortly after Obama's victory in 2008, then-Governor Rod Blagojevich (now impeach... [more]
Abraham Ritchie was a Senior Editor for ArtSlant from 2007-2012. He currently works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. I had been working for Georgia Fee for over two years before I actually met her in person, so I knew Georgia on a professional level much more than a personal one. This fact seems appropos to mention since it indicates values that were key to Georgia, and key to her work and vision for ArtSlant. Even if Georgia never met you in person, she wanted to create a possibili... [more]
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Now That's Fresh   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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David Leggett at Western Exhibitions January 27th, 2012 - March 10th, 2012
Posted 2/20/12
With two significant shows concurrently on view in Chicago at Hyde Park Art Center in addition to Western Exhibitions, it has been rewarding to watch the increasing interest in David Leggett's work over the last couple years. Undoubtedly the artist merits the attention and more; his unique style fuses his own idiosyncratic way of making art with distinct historical influences from Jean-Michel Basquiat to the Leipzig School to the Chicago Imagists, and pop culture figures like Rick Ross and the porn... [more]
Chicago, Jan. 2012 – David Leggett's work is raw, offensive, smart, funny, considered and glorious. Able to address both Lil Wayne and the major German painters of the 1980s, Leggett levels hypocritical art world pretensions and engages popular culture, all while paying respect to the heavyweights of art history and innovating an artistic approach that is uniquely his own.  Challenging prevailing tastes and outdated notions of media hierarchy, Leggett makes frequent use of craft supplies in his art us... [more]
3. Chicago Reader poll declares vandal Weed Wolf “Best established artist,” “Best tagger” Simultaneously showing the problems with audience-generated polls and the irrelevance of them in determining artistic quality, the Chicago Reader named WEED WOLF, the prolific tagger of Chicago’s bathrooms, as “Best established artist” (beating out much worthier contenders like Jason Lazarus and William J. O’Brien) and “Best tagger” of 2011.  Regrettably, WEED WOLF is neither. I get what he's do... [more]
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Top Ten of 2011   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Posted 12/26/11
2011 was a solid year for art in Chicago, with quality art appearing in all areas of the city consistently throughout the year.  The galleries in the 119 North Peoria Street building, threewalls, Western Exhibitions and Golden Age, were consistently strong all year and deserve a special nod, as they will get below.  Steps away from Peoria Street, 65GRAND had excellent exhibitions particularly in painting and, unexpectedly, the monochrome.  Though we had to bid goodbye as some of our favorite ga... [more]
Have video works playing and powered on Honestly, I can’t think of anything more disrespectful to an artist than not playing their video work that is on exhibition.  It’s like forgetting to hang a painting entirely, only worse because a blank video screen indicates a presence, and an experience, that is denied.  I don’t have a lot of sympathy for this mistake either, I’ve done my time as a gallery attendant for many years and the first thing you (should) do is start playing a video piece, before unl... [more]
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Less Risky   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Scott Reeder at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) November 1st, 2011 - January 24th, 2012
Posted 11/21/11
With Scott Reeder’s new show up on the walls and the exhibition space turned over to a show on Gordon Matta-Clark, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) long-running UBS 12x12 program is officially over.  There have been a number of opinions aired about the end of the 12x12 program, most of them approving of ending the program and approving of the replacement program series, “Chicago Works.” But with the end of the UBS 12x12 hasn’t something been lost that was important?  First a quick recap on the UBS 12x12 program: begun in 2001 by then-dir... [more]
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New Histories of the World   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Mara Baker, Sara Black, Laura Davis, Mike Schuh at William H. Cooper Manufacturing October 8th, 2011 - October 29th, 2011
Posted 10/17/11
“Please note: This is a raw space, with puddles on the ground and broken glass in certain areas off the main paths. Visitors should wear appropriate shoes and be aware they enter at their own risk,” advises the website for “Two Histories of the World.” Sure enough, this proves to be prudent advice for the exhibition, housed as it is within a functioning salvage warehouse.  Occupying about two full city blocks, the William H. Cooper Manufacturing building was once an active industrial plant, but w... [more]
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Sign Language   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Bruce Nauman at Donald Young Gallery September 16th, 2011 - October 16th, 2011
Posted 10/3/11
Bruce Nauman’s installation at Donald Young Gallery centers around simple gestures: fingers on both hands are flexed and touched together in different combinations.   A video projected on a screen shows the artist’s hands doing this, while speakers embedded in the walls around the screen emit voices describing the gestures being enacted, “Right hand, thumb and first finger, left hand thumb.” And so on.  To most viewers, the permutations of fingers being curled and uncurled appears at first meaningless... [more]
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The Chicago Question   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Group Exhibition at DePaul Art Museum September 16th, 2011 - March 4th, 2012
Posted 9/19/11
Ah, the Chicago Question.  If there is one thing that will send a conversation, panel discussion or interview into a death spiral it’s the unanswerable question of Why is Chicago the Second City? Artist and critic Erik Wenzel recently alluded to it in his farewell to the city.  But Louise Lincoln, the Director of the DePaul Art Museum and curator of “Re: Chicago” tackled this prickly question head-on for the inaugural exhibition in their new building, proving why they needed a new building for their... [more]
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Staggered Start   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Posted 9/12/11
It was a staggered start to Chicago’s fall art season this year, with galleries split between opening September 9th and September 16th, or ducking the trend all together and opening even earlier.  With some exhibitions yet to open and some already open, here is a selection to help plan one’s travels in Chicago. Bruce Nauman, “Combinations Described (Chicago)” at Donald Young Gallery. September 16 – October 14. Reception September 16 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.  Bruce Nauman is the reason I became interested in art at all... [more]
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The New Flatness   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Steven Husby at Julius Cæsar September 4th, 2011 - September 24th, 2011
Posted 9/5/11
Preempting the glut of fall openings by a week, Julius Cæsar started the new season off with a solo exhibition from Steven Husby.  Long known for his work as a rigorous geometric painter with a fastidious eye to the most minute detail, Husby’s new exhibition, “Rubicon,” does indeed show him crossing into new territory with the display of his photography. For the past several years Husby has been taking photographs regularly in addition to his painting practice, but this is the first time they... [more]
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Our Origins   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Jason Lazarus, Aspen Mays, Alison Ruttan at Museum of Contemporary Photography July 29th, 2011 - October 16th, 2011
Posted 8/22/11
If there was one thing that “Our Origins” lacked, it certainly wasn’t ambition.  Confronting the big human questions within the curatorial statement, like “Where do we come from?” among others, Curatorial Assistant Allison Grant was not afraid to take on the most difficult questions.  The resulting exhibition was far-flung, with “Our Origins” coming to mean both human origins and the cosmic origins of the Earth.  The exhibition proved to be at its best when focusing on human origins and it is t... [more]
For the past four years I've read everything that Erik Wenzel has written.  It came with the territory as his editor, but I was reading his work on his blog Art or Idiocy? long before I sought him out to write for ArtSlant: Chicago.  As an artist himself, Erik's writing can make you look at artwork differently, or consider it in a new way. He always had opinions that were well backed up, even if you didn't agree with them.  In an era where writing on art is becoming more "art writing," more and... [more]
Chicago, Aug. 2011 - Just before his traveling survey opened to the public at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, Mark Bradford and I had a conversation in the midst of his work in the galleries. I don't think it's possible to have an unproductive conversation with Bradford; he's very expressive and clearly enjoys talking about his work and his ideas. Bradford has gained much acclaim for his work that balances formalist aesthetics with social relevance, arraying singed endpapers used in beauty parl... [more]
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The Not Paintings   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Philip von Zweck at 65GRAND July 15th, 2011 - August 13th, 2011
Posted 8/1/11
In his exhibition at 65GRAND, Philip von Zweck proves he is an artist that cannot be pinned down easily. Von Zweck's output could variously be described as social practice and conceptual art.  Von Zweck is also a frequent curator, as well as a gallerist maintaining VONZWECK in his home from 2005-2008 for a total of twenty-eight solo exhibitions.  But throughout all his other projects von Zweck has maintained a painting studio practice, something that there was a glimpse of in 2009 at his solo exh... [more]
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Read the Fine Print   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Rebecca Blakley, Elijah Burgher, Simon Evans, Rachel Foster, Nicholas Frank, Cat Glennon, Joe Hardesty, Adriane Herman, Meg Hitchcock, David Leggett, Andy Moore, JOHN PAROT, Deb Sokolow, Kirsten Stoltmann, Mark Wagner, Angie Waller at Western Exhibitions July 9th, 2011 - August 13th, 2011
Posted 7/11/11
If you’ve been in a museum and seen someone sigh and move off quickly from a text-heavy or narrative-based artwork, then you probably understand the self-deprecating humor behind Western Exhibitions’ current group show, “People don’t like to read art.” Showing sixteen artists that incorporate text into their work, many of the artists seem to purposely resist the quick look common to museum visits or gallery hopping, forcing the viewer to spend some time with the work.  Some of the works require in... [more]
On April 3rd, 2011, acclaimed international artist Ai Weiwei was arrested at Beijing airport and held for two months before being charged with a crime.  Protests and petitions for the artist’s release quickly began, with the Guggenheim initiating a petition for Ai’s release that ultimately gathered over 140,000 signatures.  While some called for his release, Dan Keegan, the Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, stirred controversy in an article by Mary Louise Schumacher published on June 6th in the... [more]
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Celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Greg Stimac at Andrew Rafacz Gallery May 21st, 2011 - July 2nd, 2011
Posted 6/27/11
Loud explosions last night reminded me that the Fourth of July is just around the corner, and that once again my neighborhood would most likely be enveloped in a cloud of sulfur from the illegal (and amazing) local firework displays.  The phenomena of the Fourth of July is at the heart of Greg Stimac’s current exhibition “Empire” at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, which closes in advance of the celebrations, on July 2.  For years Stimac has been investigating easy-to-overlook aspects of American life tha... [more]
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School's Out for Summer   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Aristotle Georgiades at Chicago Cultural Center April 9th, 2011 - July 3rd, 2011
Posted 6/13/11
Seeing a line of uncomfortable and robed grads standing outside a Chicago school reminded me that depending on where you are enrolled, May and June bring the end of the school year and a slew of graduations.  This coincidence provides a good context for Aristotle Georgiades’ exhibition “Repurposed: Sculpture by Aristotle Georgiades.”  Both the process of learning and the system of education are assessed in Georgiades’ best works.  The centerpiece of the exhibition is arguably Scheme (2009, seen... [more]
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Chicago Street Art   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Mental 312, Nick Adam, Oscar Arriola, Artillery, You Are Beautiful, Juan Angel Chavez, CLS, Senor Codo, CRO, Cyro, Chris Diers, Emen, Tom Fennell IV, Safety First, Don't Fret, Bruce Golden, Goons, The Grocer, Cody Hudson, It's Yours Take It, poor Kid, 80 Legs, Melt, Klepto Salem, Saro, Bonus Saves, Sighn, Chris Silva, Solve, Tiptoe, The Viking at Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) May 13th, 2011 - June 4th, 2011
Posted 5/30/11
The closest you will get to spray-paint graffiti in the Chicago Urban Art Society’s “Chicago Street Art Show” is the TRK piece across the street, ironically visible from the gallery’s windows.  This was a conscious decision and posits street art (or is it Street Art now?) as something that is by now separate from, though related to, its forebear in spray-paint graffiti. Of course the fundamental aspect of street art is, logically, its life on the street.  Greeting you when you walk in the door is... [more]
If there’s one thing that graffiti books know how to do, it’s the pictures.  Roger Gastman and Caleb Neelon’s recently released The History of American Graffiti (Harper Design, 2010) follows this rule without fail, producing an attractive book that can just as easily be thumbed through as read.  These photographs are particularly valuable since they are all that is left; as the authors note, the original art has long since been destroyed.  Beginning with train-riding hobos and the monikers they left to... [more]
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What is the Form of Color?   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Matthew Metzger at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) May 7th, 2011 - May 29th, 2011
Posted 5/23/11
Matthew Metzger’s paintings in “Nocturne” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, mark the beginning of his highly ambitious, perhaps quixotic, project.  Metzger aims at nothing less than answering the question, posed by the artist himself during his gallery talk on May 10th, “What is the form of color?” Metzger also identified three traits of color during his discussion: “Expansion and contraction within a limit,” malleability and affect on the senses, and resistance to language.  It would s... [more]
Chicago, May 2011 - During the preview for the Art Chicago fair, ArtSlant Editor Abraham Ritchie was able to sit down with Shepard Fairey who was showing his newest work at the fair as well as DJing music sets later in the evening. Ritchie caught up with Fairey about LA MOCA's new street art exhibition “Art in the Streets,” the arrest of artist REVOK, what happens when street art gets off of the street and into the gallery, and Fairey’s relation to his iconic OBAMA HOPE poster of President Obama as... [more]
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MDW 2011   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
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Posted 4/25/11
This weekend was the inaugural run for the newborn MDW Fair, an extension of the ongoing Version Fest, now in its 11th year. This week on ArtSlant, Steve Ruiz has the details on the genesis of the fair itself and its lineage, so I am going to put that information to one side to concentrate on the galleries, collectives and artwork that were all present at MDW. Named after the airport letters of nearby Midway Airport, the MDW Fair, pronounced “midway,”  indicates the divergent paths that an art fai... [more]