Chicago Art Review

Picasso or Prince? You decide! by Steve Ruiz
April 30, 2009, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Chicago

Headed to Art Chicago? Here’s a viewing tip from Art Chicago director Karla Carey:  

“Before you ask – there are no Richard Prince pieces on view at the Merchandise Mart. You won’t find his name anywhere. There are however forty seven Picassos on show… and one of them, just one, IS actually a Richard Prince. Its a little game we play.”

Which piece is the Prince? Carey is keeping mum, but if you think you’ve found it, ask the exhibitor. If you’re right, you win! No word on the award yet.

Thanks to Dan P. for the tip.

Ten Reasons to go to NEXT by Steve Ruiz
April 30, 2009, 1:49 am
Filed under: Chicago, Openings

As promised, a preview. For now I’ve got no names, no high-resolution links, and no John Sparangana – but look out for the more expansive coverage this weekend that should have all three.











Art Fairs Converge on Chicago go run flee the city by Steve Ruiz
April 27, 2009, 6:28 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings

For those of you trapped in Bridgeport and coasting on the anoxic fumes of Versionfest, five days in and already the hum of too much art exposure jangling your nerves, set course for overdose. Hell, if you’re a fan of art at all, prepare for the real shit to hit you. May 1st is judgement day, the perfect storm, when three (or four, or five, or fuck it?) art fairs strike and overlap and panicked dealers wring hands and each booth and each piece slice the finest layer from the eyes of fans and collectors till all mill about hollow socket and wailing, burnt out and blind entirely to art. Its art fair season in Chicago! Lets start the slog with the already-been goings on.

Versionfest is this year’s Bridgeport art festival, featuring dozens of participating artists, some really well aranged programming during the days including skillsharing workshops, film, and music; and of course the ever-popular Art Parade. This Parade, appreciated for its classical form and conservative approach, is a kind of Chicago Marathon for the arts. Expect to see academic dancing, local highschool art choirs, shriners outfut with custom zippery caps by Kat Chow, and of course more! Bring the kids!

Tonight’s event, a film and music show titled Electronique Night, will be held at Sonotheque @ 9:00 PM, and is worth hitting up just to see  J+J+J.

Tomorrow, I’d skip the art entirely and see Lord of the Yum Yum at Kaplan’s Liquors and Lounge (960 W 31st Street) @ 11 PM. The less you know the better!

And don’t miss the Version booth at NEXT, which will feature Mike Rea’s baller sculpture, “Your Lust Will Hold You Up, Float on the Dragons Breath” (hyped on this very blog and very good despite) as well as a number of other artists. I’m very much looking forward to this! Also, check out this picture I found while looking up the artists who will be at that booth. Can you guess who made it? 

More on the Versionfest as I have the opportunity to actually set foot in Bridgeport.



While attempting to pun off of the title of this show, I wrote the word Next so many times that I’m convinced we’re all spelling it wrong. Taking place on the 7th floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, the NEXT art fair will run parralel to Art Chicago as the Artropolis (a word I’ve always been convinced sprang from the mind of a fucking child) venue for emerging artists, experimental artists, and other people who aren’t making very much money at this.

This year looks to be the best yet, with an exhibitor list packed not with the best and brightest of emerging Chicago art, but of all-coast American art and a really solid international collection of exhibitors too. The slight possibility that I may actually see things like the following quakes me toe to ball.

Yoshimasa Tsuchiya, Rabbit 2007

By sheer coincidence I’ll be living inside the Merchandise Mart while this fair is being set up, squatting a lavatory and eating what I can find in the bins, so I may be able to put up some sneak peeks before the official preview on the 30th. Wish me luck.


And then there’s Art Chicago! Bring the golden wallet you bought at this year’s SOFA and fill your up your summer loft with 20th century relics.


That’s all the preview I have for now, but we at Chicago Art Review will all be piping rocks trying to keep a bead on the events these next two weeks in Chicago. Check back soon for more!

Ken Fandell, Professional Landscaper by Steve Ruiz
April 11, 2009, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Chicago

If you’ve been to the MCA lately (ie, last two years) you’ve seen Ken Fandell’s Days and Nights, Dawns and Dusks, North and South, East and West, Mine and Yours (2007), and you probably thought he was pretty clever but did you know he’s a funny guy too? He is! Did you know that?

Here’s some more of his work.

from the Thoughts I Had on a Hike in First and Second Person project, 2001

from the Thoughts I Had on a Hike in First and Second Person project, 2001

from the Thoughts I Had on a Hike in First and Second Person project, 2001

From Me to You and Most of the Space In Between, 2005

From Me to You and Most of the Space In Between, 2005

Much more of Ken Fandell’s work online at Tony Wight Gallery and his own site.

Brian Dettmer @ Packer Schopf Gallery by smoakes
April 9, 2009, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings, Reviews

On the day after the first Thursday of April of 2009 I had the opportunity to take in the amalgamation of reading and scissors that was Brian Dettmer’s exhibition at Packer Schopf Gallery. Dettmer has made an art form of buying the book for its pictures. As a child I was taught picture books were merely the devil’s ploy to proliferate illiteracy. As an adult I have realized the tales were true, which makes it all the more satisfying to enjoy the tiny surprises Detmer’s work has in store.


Brian Dettmer, New Books of Knowledge

Brian Dettmer, New Books of Knowledge

For those of you who rely on silhouettes on street signs to know there may be business people walking, you will not be disappointed. Dettmer provides what might be described as illustration cliff notes of the books he has hollowed-out and sculpted. In a world where far too many people discard their medical /botanical dictionaries, Dettmer is a hero. While your old Stedman’s Medical Illustrations are rotting away in a landfill, works like New Book of Knowledge have rejuvenated the illustrations once dead in the hands of “read-once Johnys.”

Brian Dettmer


Dettmer has created entire worlds by singling out the images within each book he manipulates; Worlds you might find floating around in the Twilight Zone. It would be fair to say this accomplishment takes time. Completed in the last six months, the body of work shows a swift progression from 2 1/2D works like The Theatre to the triumphant book-stack sculpture, World Books.


Brian Dettmer


One may ask, “Why should I like this art, that which feeds on the carcass of literature?” Because you liked the Harry Potter movies, that’s why.

I give it a:


Brian Dettmer’s Adaptations runs April 3rd to May 9th at Packer Schopf Gallery.

Justine Lai Goes Down on History by Steve Ruiz
April 9, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Chicago
Justine Lai Join or Die 2008 Oil on Canvas 18 x 24

Justine Lai Join or Die 2008 Oil on Canvas 18 x 24"


Justine Lai Join or Die 2008 Oil on Canvas 18 x 24"


Justine Lai Join or Die 2008 Oil on Canvas 18 x 24"


Check out the rest of this weird little corpus at Justine Lai’s website.

Mike Rea Goes Blattablattarock by Steve Ruiz
April 8, 2009, 6:25 pm
Filed under: Chicago

Mike Rea, Your lust will carry you, float on the dragon's breath, 2009


Mike Rea is a sculptor and a craftsman!