Saturday, December 31, 2011

MCA and Iain Baxter&

new year's eve was Museum of Contemporary Art day in Chicago for mindy and i.  the skies were clear and the air was cold.  

Andrew Bird and Ian Schneller's Sonic Arboretum

we walked into composer andrew bird and artist ian schneller's sonic arboretum at the MCA today, greeted by phonograph horns rising like trees from the landscape.  then softly the sound came into focus, overcoming the ambient crowd noise.  soft violins and tonal rhythms bouncing through the hallways.  spinning double horns created a sound moving like cars passing.  i sat and listened to the sounds from a corner, drawing the installation in my sketchbook.  mindy walked through the forest investigating the shapes and recording portions of the music on her phone.  the installation gave a wonderfully warm feeling in the cold chicago winter.  from the color of the sculpture to the depth of the layered sounds.

after being welcomed by bird and schneller, we walked through a forgettable the language of less (then & now) minimalist show.  then moved on to look at memorandums of the work of gordon matta-clark's chicago exhibit from the 70's where he sawed through the interior of an abandoned building.  this was an interesting and intimate look at this exhibit through its letters, pictures, and accounts.

pieces from the Chicago Works by Scott Reeder

on the 3rd floor we saw the first solo museum exhibit by Scott Reeder.  He did 2 large paintings with stenciled rhythms of cooked and raw spaghetti.  there was a video showing the completion of the raw spaghetti painting on the floor of the MCA.  the simple techniques created deeply layered textures with a only 2 layers of paint.  His word-play lists of things from "new kinds of music" to "LOL alternatives"  were cheeky and fun.  his paintings contained the same kind of humor, only in pastel tones.  his work was quite fun to go through and mindy and i found ourselves laughing at much of the word-play he used throughout the exhibition.

the 4th floor held the gem of the MCA for this round of exhibits.  a retrospective of iain baxter& (the ampersand is part of his name. it indicates that there is always an 'and' in living).  this work was amazing from beginning to end.  mindy and i both found ourselves running around the spaces like children.  laughing at the satirical way he poked fun at art and culture.  using wordplay to make many of his points.  for one group of work from the seventies, he created a corporation entitled N.E. Thing Co. HA! that's just funny.  he 'bagged' the world as christo 'packaged' the world.  he bagged landscapes and water and boats.  one of my favorite pieces was 'dan flavin deflated' featuring a black vinyl tube hanging from a florescent light fixture.  hilarious.  also 'bagged rothko' where he made 3 layers of off set colors and put it in a giant vinyl bag.  HA. 'slip cover for judd' HA!  his polariods featuring a mirror reflecting everything behind the camera were a genius way to look at 'looking'.  his 'beauty spots' series placing a polariod landscape featuring a round mirror on a nude figure where a mole could be.  the dated, described, and corporate sealed photocopied photographs of landscapes and other artist's work that he sent to different galleries.  these works were just amazing in their clear and simple commentary on living and expectation.  and i must say that i hate photography, but this work i could interact with.  i could relate to.  typically photography is stand-offish and forceful, either for the artist or the audience.  but baxter& felt relatable.  my favorite piece in the show was a collection of reclaimed televisions, stands, and pedestals.  baxter& painted landscapes in acrylic over the tv screens, using the fuzz of the tv to make the image alive.  how incredibly simple and provocative at the same time.  Everything he worked in he was making satirical comments on culture, mass media, and simple daily life.  the work is amazingly relatable and truely a joy to experience.  i'm moving him near the top of my list of favorite creative people.  mindy and i couldn't resist buying a retrospective book in the MCA store.  i read the interview with him.  He studied buddhism, marshall mcluhan, and john dewey intently.  no wonder we loved his work so much.

clockwise top L to R: zero emissions, beauty spots, television works

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