Meg Onli and Claudine Ise’s list of the ten best–or at least most interesting–events in Chicago art in 2010.
1. Best city-wide, sustained, multi-platform discussion of a single topic in contemporary art: Studio Chicago, a yearlong collaborative project focusing on the artist’s studio. Taking the form of exhibitions, talks, publications, tours, and research, Studio Chicago explored what it means to be a working artist by examining their sites of creative production. A joint venture of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, Gallery 400 at UIC, Hyde Park Art Center, Museum of Contemporary Art, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and threewalls, Studio Chicago was an ambitious and immensely engaging way to re-think the artist’s studio over a lengthy period of time-it was a project that truly had legs.
2. Best box set of an under-appreciated artist: The Complete Mythology, Chicago-based record label Numero Group‘s collection of Syl Johnson’s tracks from before his time at Hi-Records. The box set includes 81 songs, a book, four cds, and six LPs. Numero Group has outdone themself yet again with this thoroughly researched set that pushes the boundary of what liner notes should be.
3. Best/Worst art controversy: Art Loop Open. Modeling itself after Grand Rapids’ Art Prize, Chicago’s first annual Art Loop Open contest promised a $10,000 prize to the winning art submission, which was voted on by the public. Although the intentions of sponsoring organization the Chicago Loop Alliance were good, the results weren’t: late in the game, contest officials jumped to conclusions and disqualified an artist for alleged misconduct in a move that was criticized by many, including Bad at Sports. Although the artist was reinstated a few days later, the damage was done, and the contest’s credibility was shot. Here’s hoping next year’s Art Loop Open gets its act together and its rules straightened out.
4. Best new development: The Propeller Fund, which embodies the spirit of generosity and boot-strappin’ determination that has long characterized Chicago’s art community. The Propeller Grant is a startup grant geared exclusively towards smaller-scale, non-institutional organizations and projects. Organizations with nonprofit status aren’t eligible — this grant, whose awards are at the $2,000 and $6,000 level, is aimed at the “small, self-organized operations” that are a invaluable component of Chicago’s vibrant art scene.
5. Best exhibition by a Chicago staple: Roger Brown: Calif. USA at the Hyde Park Art Center. This exhibition featured work created and objects collected by Brown while living in La Conchita, CA. Co-curated by Nicholas Lowe and the Roger Brown Study Collection curator, Lisa Stone, the exhibition displays work previously unseen with the objects that inspired them.
6. Best critical review of an internationally acclaimed artist: Jason Foumberg’s review of Rebecca Warren’s exhibition at The Renaissance Society, published in the alternative weekly newspaper New City. Chicago folk are a tough, take no b.s. kind of people. When you exhibit here, don’t expect to automatically get plaudits just because everyone in New York loves you. In his review, not only did Foumberg argue that the emperor has no clothes – he also provided a concise gloss on the history of excremental forms in recent contemporary art in the process.
7. Best thing to happen to Bad at Sports this year: the Don’t Piss on Me and Tell Me It’s Raining exhibition at Apex Art, New York. Honorable Mention: Bad at Sports’ residency/chatfest/consciousness-raising group discussions that were part of the Summer Studio projects, held at the School of the Art Institute’s Sullivan Galleries.
8. Hands down the best event in Chicago (sports) this year: The Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. We may not have won in game six at home but, we took the cup right from underneath Philly with a beautiful shot by Patrick Kane in overtime (3-4). Take that Philly!
9. Best book to commemorate an exhibition space: Can I Come Over To Your House? Celebrating the 10th anniversary of their space, The Suburban, Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam have created an anthology that collects every artist they have ever exhibited over the past ten years at their home/contemporary art space.
10. Best re-interpretation of a creepy holiday tradition: Sit on a Polar Bear’s Lap, a project by Chicago artist Diego Leclery. Turns out a ginormous polar bear makes for a way better symbol of cuddly holiday cheer than some yucky guy in a fake beard.
Happy holidays to all of our art21 blog readers!!