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Fall 1998, Volume 1, Number 2, page 4

The following letter by Claire Wolf Krantz is a continuation of a dialogue between her and Michael Bulka, provoked by Wolf Krantz's reviews of "Reality Bites" and Paul Krainak, which appeared in the Spring issue of the CACA newsletter.

You and I have very different points of view and styles of writing. I was under the impression that CACA-both the organization and the publication-were about incorporating everyone's point of view, not just yours. Moreover, I understood from the meeting that the criteria for editing work had to do with spelling and grammar, not taste.

I simply don't look at the world in a bombastic way, and my questions are not your questions. I don't ask curators to organize my shows-I look at and evaluate their shows. It's certainly valid for someone to demand that the Dept. of Cultural Affairs put on May shows showcasing Chicago artists if they want to, but I am looking at what Ed Maldonado did, not what the Cultural Center scheduled for this month. Your issues are your issues. If I wanted to write a journalistic article, I would do it on a topic that interests me. I'm seldom interested in writing journalistic fact-finding or mud-slinging-I do something else.

What I happen to be interested in is how different artists (and people in general) look around them; think about and understand what they see; what their hidden and manifest assumptions are; and how these issues show up in their work and in their choices. What you call description is what, for me, is a close look at the mechanics of how a person actually makes something happen.

To answer a few of your questions: What did Ed Maldonado do? I addressed that in the first 3 sentences of my piece. I just didn't shout it. Words like "handsome, aesthetic," and the like? What the show looks like, not what the wall labels say, which mostly bore me. Antonyms for my choices of words, applicable to other shows, would be scruffy, confused, indifferent design, illogical conceptually flaccid or murky. The phrase "taut conceptual elegance" is used in math, as well as aesthetics, to approvingly describe a way of thiking, a logic, that undergirds a problem. I sometimes attack the conceptual premeses for a show, or think that there is a chasm between premise and act, but in these shows I thought the ideas were interesting and the works, whether my ideas are stylish or not, were made/organized in ways that delight my eye as well as my mind. I embed evaluations within descriptions-I don't feel that I need sentences that holler "I like," or "I don't like."

As I pointed out before, I have big-time problems with ill thought-out, personalized and unsubstantiated attacks on artists or their work, which is what one-liners turn out to be. Even a positive one-liner is useless, in my opinion. If you want to write that way, go ahead, but is this journal only a reflection of your point of view, interests, and writing style?--Claire Wolf Krantz

Painting and Writing in Chicago

To make a good painting is not an easy task. It requires vision, skill, passion, an ability to remain in control and relinquish control. To write articulately about painting is not an easy task. It requires the ability to read-between-the-lines, to feel passion, to give oneself up to the medium, to become part of the work, yet remain detached. To practice both in Chicago can be even more difficult. When was the last time you saw a good painting show in the project rooms at the MCA? Yet, that there continues to be so many opportunities to attempt both in this city attest to the doggedness and exceptional vitality and exchange of its painting community, whose high-caliber and rich idiosyncrasies continues to distinguish itself.

Chicago painters do not make it easy to view their works. Pushing all the formal and conceptual buttons of Modernism, Postmodernism, Imagism, Retro-Hommage to all of the former, you name it they do it, or undo it. These artists continually remind the viewer that the wrestling with the problems of the painted surface continues to be an addiction that we refuse to, or perhaps, are unable to relinquish. This fall gallery season presents one of the best opportunities in recent years to cut one's teeth on some of the city's most provoking painting. View Steve Heyman's abstractions at Klein Artworks and Wesley Kimler's at Fassbender. Then travel out to the Gahlberg Gallery at the College of DuPage and see the group show of Brian Sikes, Dan Devening, and Amy Yoes. Come back to town and see Ann Wiens' intimate works at Byron Roche, and then end the day at the Julia Fish installation at Ten In One (ask to see a Rebecca Morris painting in the back room.) When your done, sit down and don't stop writing. Then give me a call. I think we will have plenty to talk about.--John Brunetti

Conversing on Art, Mold, and The Nature of Art

As individuals, it is important to have conversations. As a culture, we have to have stories. Art criticism serves some purpose in aiding these. Art? Making it is some form of therapy. Art schools, galleries, openings, the "artworld" are about socializing and bonding. Buying art or membership in a museum is a cultural identification signifier. The actual object is that moldy stuff in the back of the refrigerator

The first requirements of a successful artist are family money and a big ego.

OK. But Velveeta doesn't mold, camembert does. Money buys you time in the studio and ego buys you people's attention. You still got to have cheese-you can either make it or you contract it out. So you need a recipe: you come up with your own, or you copy somebody else's and you wait for it to get moldy. How's your mold gonna get noticed? Back to ego, the social glue. Still, your mold has to be as good as your ego, cause there are a lot of other egos around to inspect it.