Coming Events Events Archive Home
Current Newsletter Newsletter Archive Links
Members Contact Info Members Bios

Page One Page Two Page Three Page Four


Spring 1998, Volume 1, Number 1

The Chicago Art Critics Association is a professional association of Chicago-area art critics, which first met on Valentine's Day, 1998. Art critics work in as much isolation as artists do. The association is an effort to promote the work of criticism, to encourage and spread information, to encourage the work of both younger and established art critics, to facilitate communication, to promote the values of art criticism as a discipline, and to publish this unedited newsletter. We get together to talk to each other, and are arranging events to talk with you. Please check our calender of events.

The CACA Newsletter is the print organ of The Chicago Art Critics Association. Yeah, we all get published, that's what makes us critics rather than just folks grousing in a bar after openings, but we grouse in bars, too. The reviews and articles we write often have to be approved and processed through out-of-town editors who haven't seen the shows, and can sit for months on somebody's desk before they get printed. This newsletter is different--there are no editors, and we'll publish as quickly and as often as we can get around to it. It's critics trying out ideas, letting off steam, writing things that are too topical, local, or bitchy for their regular magazines.


Cindy Sherman (MCA)--The MCA continues mounting old, easy art, to amaze and entertain the tourists. They're pretty pictures, maybe marginally interesting ten years ago, but now relics of the beginning of a sad age of artists trying to position themselves as pop icons. MB

Rebecca Morris (Ten in One Gallery)--This ain't art for beginners. There's something very funny about these things, but damned if I can put my finger on it. Why AREN'T they the bland, decorative pieces they seem to be? It's not just the retro'50s Formica colors. MB

Rebecca Morris (Ten in One Gallery)--Why does viewing this solo show feel more like the coming attraction than the main event? JB

Henry Darger (Chicago Cultural Center)--Institutionalization proves to be the better path to creative success than graduate school.JB

Henry Darger (Chicago Cultural Center)--Not only was he nuts, but the paintings are beautiful. It's too bad, though, that the focus of attention is on his life and on the naked little cherubs, rather than on the book. It's a whole world that we'll never get to visit, just because publishing is too expensive. MB

SAIC 1998 Graduate Exhibition (847 W. Jackson)--Looks to me like most of the Asian students really want to be in architecture school. I liked the Lesbian Helpers, but as a social action. What does this have to do with art? And maybe it is just selective memory, but weren't the girls really a lot prettier back when I was in art school? MB

Ben Stone ('Hello from Illinois,' Gallery 400)--for too long we've seen grad-school sculpture = video and art = social action. Here, simple scuplture comes as a surprise. The weatherman trading cards are pretty kinky, but I bought a set. MB

Hello from Illinois (Gallery 400)--Viewing the recent MFA group show at Gallery 400 recalled an educational report indicting the public-school system called "Why Johnny Can't Read." This stagnant offering of a top program should prompt a new report titled "Why Johnny Can't Make Conceptual Art." JB

Phyllis Bramson (Chicago Cultural Center)--A famous line from the film Sunset Boulevard keeps coming to mind when viewing the over-the-top mixed-media works of this veteran Chicago painter. To paraphrase--In response to William Holden's question--"You used to be big, didn't you?" former silent film star Gloria Swanson replies "I still am. It was the pictures that got small!" JB

Phyllis Bramson (Chicago Cultural Center)--Reaches an appalling level of kitsch. It's as if she were trying to upgrade outsider art so that it would be acceptable to shoppers at Bloomingdale's. JS

Christoph Buchel (TBA Exhibition Space)--At first I was awed by this show, and then, pretty quickly, I wasn't. It's the installation-art equivalent of photorealist painting: an astounding technical feat of reproduction, but then what? AW

A Rant on Words

Along with the exasperating, kicky art term "gallerist" is the now popular "project." Terms like these seem to have been invented by art marketeers for the pupose of soft-peddling art to a broader public--not an entirely sinister motive. But they send insidious reverberations, chiefly by elevating commercial and practical aspects of the "art world" and diminishing the artist and the processes of art-making: dealers are no longer involved with the distasteful business of selling, they are now philanthropists--as involved with the making of art as the actual artists (hence the suffix "-ist"). And art no longer need be frivolous, challenging, and impossible to define, it can now be as midly inconvenient yet rewarding as spring cleaning or converting the basement into a cozy rec-room. With projects organized by gallerists and curators in their project-rooms, who needs art or those fucking artist? --Michael Rooks