Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Month in the Mid-West

Art work at Art Chicago. All photos courtesy the author.

Whohooo! This funny video work by an artist at Art Chicago (I should have been taking the label pics but did not, I apologize to this artist) is an unintentional bracket to the month I've just had.

Lambert Field after tornado strike.

A tornado hit Lambert Field just after I took off for the weekend, luckily they re-opened the next day so I was able to fly in Monday morning. This may be the only upside to an under-utilized airport.

Mats Stjernstedt in bamboo back yard.

Friend and colleague Mats Stjernstedt, former director of Index Gallery, Stockholm, current director of Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (I've even been there, twice!) and member of Laumeier's International Advisory Council, visited STL. He gave a gallery talk on Jessica Stockholder's show, conducted studio visits and participated on my panel at Art Chicago concerning new sculptural practices and changes for dedicated sculpture parks. Peter Tao, of Tao + Lee Architects, knows the owner of this bamboo backyard in U City.

What a haunting, lovely yard. Downside: you couldn't have kids, the bamboo shoots were like spikes jutting from the ground.

Theaster Gates in his home / studio / performance space.

One of the smartest artists / cultural workers is Chicago-based Theaster Gates. A group of us (me, Kevin Miyazaki, Mats Stjernstedt and NY-based critic and pal Lilly Wei) went to Theaster's studio at the invitation of Kavi Gupta. Theaster has purchased several houses on the south side of Chicago with the intention of creating a vibrant cultural space in this neglected neighborhood.

Theaster is planning a collaborative project for next year's Documenta that involves a group of his south-side neighbors traveling to Kassel to convert a building there. Stay tuned.

Sculpture panel at Art Chicago, May 1.

I organized a panel on changing sculptural practices at dedicated sculpture parks and other arts organizations. Left to right: Dr. Matthias Wascheck, former director, Pulitzer Foundation, St. Louis; artist / activist Theaster Gates; me, talking about Beverly Pepper's commissioned work Cromlech Glen at Laumeier; Dennis Kois, director, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum; missing, Mats Stjernstedt, director, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo. We talked about new artistic practices, like Theaster's, and how they are being manifested in spaces like Laumeier, deCordova and elsewhere.

Philip Guston at Art Institute of Chicago.

And a break to run through the Art Institute of Chicago's permanent collection show. Guston, someone whose work makes me sad and happy at the same time.

Mark di Suvero at center in white hat, deinstalling work at Laumeier.

Mark di Suvero has been a presence at Laumeier since it opened in 1976. He recently won the Presidential Medal of Honor, and is having a show of his work on Governor's Island (I gave the Board Chair, his wife and a St. Louis collector a tour of Laumeier last fall). Here Mark is, overseeing the complicated deinstallation of a work, in-between two cranes and lots of strong, and strong-willed, guys. Fun to watch--from a distance.

Ursula von Rydinsgvard at Laumeier.

Laumeier continues working on a collections assessment which includes refurbishing and reinstalling Ursula von Rydingsvard's Untitled work. She chose this great location near the Estate House (see the stakes in the ground?) This gives us the opportunity to clear out this area near a small non-functioning pond, pour a set of stairs for easier public access and to animate her work by sending visitors through it. Ursula is a great artist and fabulous person who deserves all the attention she is getting these days.

Next generation: Tea Makipaa

These are the five foundations poured for Germany-based Finnish artist Tea Makipaa's work. The six-part piece, called Not Without My Dog, has been commissioned for our show Dog Days of Summer. The piece is designed from a dog's perspective and is part of our investigation into an "archaeology of place." Over 20% of Laumeier's audience comes with their dog--thus, we are focusing on our long relationship with them and how it has changed since the mid-19th century. June 25 - October 2. Tea will be at the opening to speak, she'll give us some great insight into her process.

Art work at Art Chicago (apologies to the artist).

My favorite piece at Art Chicago, not just because I'm working on a show about dogs and not just because of the quirky juxtaposition of the fluffy poodle and a doomsday message (May 21st has come and gone and we're all still here).

I am finally tired of the unstable Missouri landscape. I spent a weekend in May at a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Wisconsin--tornado sirens went off there too.

Enough already--let us enjoy our poodles!