I have a fine arts degree in painting but I never felt it connected with me. I was struggling to find my own voice when one of my professors at Howard University noted that I always dressed in a multitude of patterns and textures. One day he looked at my paint splattered combat boots and lace palazzo pants and suggested I use fabric in my work. He advised me to look at the collages of Romare Bearden and incorporate fabric into my paintings. It wasn’t until I was studying for my masters that I made my first quilt, abandoning the canvas all together. — Bisa Butler
In conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago exhibition BISA BUTLER—PORTRAITS, Nancy Chen will lead a conversation focused on the artist’s creative process.
If [Peter Zumthor’s] new design is built, LACMA can no longer be associated with other encyclopedic museums in the United States that shaped their collections in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Chicago Art Institute, and the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. Zumthor’s diminished plan would force it to shed the encyclopedic collections that are the very soul of the museum. It commits the original architectural sin of narcissism, of architecture for the sake of architecture.
This let-the-public-chew-concrete moment is all the more shameful because LACMA has gone ahead with demolition just as COVID-19 has taken over the country, state, county, and city, closing down all but essential activities. The administrations of two other museums under construction in Los Angeles — the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and the LucasMuseum of Narrative Art in Exposition Park — have had the common decency to stop construction, admitting they are non-essential projects, and, hence, not worth risking the health of construction workers. Under the phony pretense that it suddenly cares for the public after having ignored public opinion for over a decade, LACMA claims its intent is to infuse (mostly public) money into the local economy, as though suddenly this deeply selfish boondoggle had an altruistic purpose: job creation. — Joseph Giovannini*
As an imaginary counter to what Giovannini calls LACMA director MichaelGovan’s “fait accompli,” the Citizens’ Brigade to Save LACMA accepted proposals from twenty-eight international architectural firms and collections, choosing six final designs in two categories: “Existing Buildings” and “Ground Up.”
The six designs are by Barkow Leibinger, Berlin, with Lillian Montalvo Landscape Design; Coop Himmelb(l)au, Vienna; Kaya Design, London; Paul Murdoch Architects, Los Angeles; Reiser + Umemoto, New York City; and TheeAe (The Evolved Architectural Eclectic), Hong Kong.
As opposed to the other Pop Art environs of the 1960s and early 1970s, Chicago did not hesitate to get its hands dirty. Variously pugnacious, puerile, scatological, graphic, exotic, comical, and absurd, Chicago Imagist artwork sought a very different version of “popular” from the detached cool of New York (and to a certain extent London and Los Angeles), a notion hip-deep in the street-corner muck of a working class city with crazy dreams and high ideals…
In contrast to their wild subject matter, [the Chicago Imagists] utilized an aesthetic that was often tightly crafted and stunningly beautiful. That tension, between whip-smart expressive sensibility and a pristine finish, became one of the movements hallmarks, and it gave an engine to one of America’s most highly personal enclaves of artistic personalities. — John Corbett*
Suellen Rocca—a pioneer of the Hairy Who school of Chicago Imagists—died last week. She was a longtime curator and educator at Elmhurst College, west of the city.
*John Corbett, “Chicago Imagist Art—Vintage Grit Pop,” in Painthing on the Möve: ChicagoImagists 1966–1973/Albert Oehlen (London: Thomas Dane Gallery; Chicago: Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2011), 7.
As part of the Warhol Lecture Series, Donna De Salvo—curator of the exhibition ANDYWARHOL—FROM A TO B AND BACK AGAIN, organized by the Whitney and now at the Art Institute of Chicago—will talk about the artist’s impact and importance, followed by a reception and dinner on the Near North Side.