1. The Essential New Art Examiner (Northern Illinois University Press, 2011)
For many, myself included, the name of this art criticism newspaper-turned-magazine (1973-2002) has floated around like a ghost trapped in some dusty library annex until this anthology materialized. Edited by Terri Griffith, Kathryn Born, and Janet Koplos, and released in November, the book is prompting discussion (and some drama) about Chicago criticism, past and present, the good ol’ days of print publishing, and talking art criticism over pitchers of beer.
Michelle Harris' installation in the sculpture court at MDW Fair. 2011.
2. MDW Fair and expo Chicago
Spectacle, art, and money are undeniably intertwined, and that’s why it’s easy to love and hate art fairs, and also why they fascinate me. MDW presented itself as an alternative model to the tradition, focusing on Chicago’s art community more than sales, but not denying the for-profit nature of the beast. The Geolofts were the perfect setting to show tons of work in all media: spacious, industrial, and a little remote. MDW’s success in 2011 will be followed by another new fair, expo Chicago, opening in September 2012 that promises of becoming a major force in the future of Chicago art fairs.
Andrew Bird and Ian Schneller's Sonic Event, MCA Chicago, December 21, 2011. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
3. Andrew Bird and Ian Schneller’s Sonic Arboretum at the Museum of Contemporary Art
I probably won’t see this performed because it is sold out through the 31st, but here’s a video. I’m in my hometown right now, packing up the violin I played as a teenager for a rusty reprisal of Pachelbel's Canon and other sound experiments in 2012.
4. Crossovers in Art / Design / Architecture / Sound
This is nothing new, of course, but 2011 saw multimedia exhibitions that cross cultural institutions and strong gallery and museum shows about design, architecture and sound. The Soviet Arts Experience, an in-depth look at art made in the Soviet Union featured graphic design, film, and music in venues citywide. The multiple venues, exhibitions and performances captured the aesthetic and cultural history of the U.S.S.R better than any one exhibition could achieve.
Exhibitions on architect Bertrand Goldberg also happened in multiple locations, educating Chicagoans on the architect’s utopian ideals and innovative designs, as well as the piece of architectural history that is currently under a threat of demolition, the Prentice Women’s Hospital.
As usual, the MCA had a solid lineup of performance, dance and sound events. (See number three.)
Typography as art, writing as art or in art, and archiving as art were particularly visible in Chicago this year, though in very different shows, including “Write Now: Artists and Letterforms” at the Chicago Cultural Center, “People Don’t like to Read Art” at Western Exhibitions, and “Archival Impulse” at Gallery 400.
5. Marilyn’s panties
J. Seward Johnson Jr.’s Forever Marilyn has been given more words than any other piece of art in Chicago this year, so I refuse to ignore those long legs. Big, obnoxious, and poorly crafted, the monstrous Marilyn is so cliché she’s actually ripe for multiple subtopics of critical discourse (the male gaze, post-Pop art, the definition of “public” art, etc.).
-Mia DiMeo, ArtSlant Staff Writer