• Cut Me UP Magazine issue 7

    Cut Me UP Magazine issue 7

    'Mercurial Forces', mixed media collage will be featured in Issue 7 of Cut Me Up Magazine. You can purchase your copy in the link below

  • Come see me at Jazz Fest this year

    I've been selected to participate as an art vendor in Contemporary Crafts for the first weekend of Jazz Fest this year, April 23,24,25,26th. I'll be updating this post with more details regarding exact location of my booth. Contemporary Crafts is located between the Jazz Tent and the Gospel Tent near the Mystery Street entrance. Hope to see you out there, come by catch some shade under the tent and buy some art;) Some highlights from the 1st weekend include The Beach Boys, Elvis Costello, Big Freedia, The Who, The Avett Brothers, Foo Fighters, Erykah Badu, Brandi Carlisle and Hurray for the Riff Raff!!

  • Upcoming exhibitions 2018/19

    Jack Fischer Gallery
    April 28 - June 9, 2018
    311 Potrero Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94103

    Opening Reception
    Jack Fischer Gallery
    April 28, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. 311 Potrero Ave. San Francisco, CA, 94103

    4633 Hollywood Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90027
    (323) 666-7667

    July, 2018

    Kolaj Fest New Orleans
    Antenna Gallery
    3718 St Claude Avenue
    New Orleans, LA 70117

    Thu, Jul 12, 2018, 11:00 AM –
    Sun, Jul 15, 2018, 12:00 PM

    Lubeznik Center for the Arts
    101 W 2nd St # 100,
    Michigan City, IN 46360

    January 2019

  • No Rhyme or Reason at Jack Fischer Gallery, April 28th, 2018

    Hey there friends in the San Francisco area, just wanted to let y’all know that my work will be part of a collage show the Jack Fischer Gallery entitled No Rhyme or Reason that opens this Saturday April 28th at 311 Potrero Ave, reception from 4 to 6pm other incredible participating artists include:

    Lou Beach
    Ross Carron
    Kevin B. Chen
    John Hundt
    Terao Katsuhiro
    Catie O'Leary
    Michael Pajon
    Jonathan Parker
    Ward Schumaker
    Maritta Tapanainen
    Leigh Wells
    Vanessa Woods
    Balint Zsako

  • Review for Ex Lbiris

    Hi y'all here's a nice little review that I had forgotten to post from my solo show from Spring 2017


  • Minor Infestation Benefit Print for JPNSI

    Minor Infestation Benefit Print for JPNSI

    I'd like to proudly announces the debut series of limited edition prints made from the original collages of gallery artist Michael Pajón. The first of its kind depicts Minor Infestation which was exhibited in the artist’s solo show earlier this year “Ex Libris”. With an image of home in the background of the work, it is only fitting that proceeds benefit Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (JPNSI). Twenty percent of the proceeds for this, and all forthcoming series of prints, will be donated to a respective charitable organization.

    To purchase Minor Infestation, 2017. Archival Inkjet Print. 40 x 33 inches $500.00 Edition of 10, please email me at michael@michaelpajon.com

    Pajón says of this newfound activist pursuit . . . My process as an artist is largely a solitary one, which can make me unavailable to interact more closely with the city that inspires and supports me. I am often approached by local organizations to donate a piece as a fundraiser item. At times the auction model doesn't do well to support the organization or the artist as the work is typically sold for far below its value. In an effort to better support community development organizations, I am rolling out a series of prints in the next year that allow me to sell the art ourselves and donate proceeds to the partner beneficiary. In this way, we can highlight and better financially support the work of organizations that take on the incredible, difficult task of making New Orleans a better place to live.
    The first beneficiary of this series is Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (JPNSI). I was first introduced to their Community Land Trust model through a teach-in JPNSI provided after a play at the Shadow Box Theater a few years ago. The presentation spoke deeply to me. Since relocating to New Orleans in 2009, I had watched rents and home values skyrocket and displace long-time residents. I believe the work JPNSI has done and continues to do, combatting the pervasiveness of illegal Short Term Rentals, fighting for fair housing and tenants’ rights, is advocacy our community in New Orleans desperately needs.

  • Palimpsest review Gambit weekly, New Orleans

    Palimpsest review Gambit weekly, New Orleans
  • Palimpsest review Daily Serving

    Palimpsest review Daily Serving

    Lovely review of my show from last spring at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery written by collage scholar Jordan Amirkhani from Daily Serving.


  • July 1st Exhibition at Adventureland Works on Paper, Chicago

    July 1st Exhibition at Adventureland Works on Paper, Chicago

    Palimpsest Redux will land in Chicago at Adventureland Works on Paper

    Opening Friday July 1st, 2016

    AdventureLand Gallery is located at
    1513 N Western Ave, Chicago IL 60622

    Our Hours of Operation:

    Tuesday – Saturday from 11AM – 5PM

    Or by Appointment:

    Phone 312-617-5168
    Email: adventurelandgallery@gmail.com

  • Featured interview and cover of Kolaj Magazine #15!

    Featured interview and cover of Kolaj Magazine #15!

    Below is a link to a portion of the interview from Kolaj Magazine #15


  • Palimpsest February 6 – March 28, 2015, reception March 7th

    Palimpsest: New Collages
    Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
    New Orleans, La
    February 6 – March 28, 2015
    opening reception Saturday March 7th

  • artMRKT SAN FRANCISCO May 15th-18th

    Will have new work on display in the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Booth at
    artMRKT SanFrancisco. Check it out if you get a chance.

    Regular Fair Hours:
    Friday, May 16, 2014 - 11:00am to 7:00pm
    Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 11:00am to 7:00pm
    Sunday, May 18, 2012 - Noon to 6:00pm

    Festival Pavilion - Fort Mason Center
    Marina Boulevard, San Francisco, CA

  • Work Aquired by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

    The Ogden Museum of Southern Art recently acquired:

    Men of Reason, Sons of the Holy Ghost
    Mixed Media Collage on Antique Photograph
    14 x 11in


    It will be on display this spring in a group show highlighting the collections works on paper.

  • 2014 Spring Exhibitions

    artMRKT San Francisco May 15th-18th, 2014


    Volta 10, Basel Switzerland June 16th-21, 2014


  • New Work at The Miami Project Dec. 3rd-8th

    I'll have new work on display with Jonathan Ferrara Gallery @
    The Miami Project in the Wynwood District

    An incredible roster of participating galleries, sure to be a lot of high quality offerings. Check the link below for further details.


  • Work aquired by the International Collage Center

    Scavenging Beaks Leave Little to the Lamp Drawn Moths, 2013

    Was aquired by the ICC! Link to the ICC Newsletter below.


  • Fall Exhibition Schedule

    AUGUST 23, 2013
    Firecat Projects, Chicago, IL
    2124 N. Damen Ave.

    Texas Contemporary
    October 10-13, 2013 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas
    Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Booth

    Pulse Miami
    December 5–8, 2013
    The Ice Palace
    1400 North Miami Avenue
    Jonathan Ferrara Gallery Booth

  • O Bury Me Not! Opens May 4th in New Orleans

    Opening May 4th at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery 400a Julia St New Orleans, 70130

    "O bury me not on the lone prairie."
    These words came low and mournfully
    From the pallid lips of the youth who lay
    On his dying bed at the close of day.

    He had wasted and pined 'til o'er his brow
    Death's shades were slowly gathering now
    He thought of home and loved ones nigh,
    As the cowboys gathered to see him die.

    "O bury me not on the lone prairie
    Where coyotes howl and the wind blows free
    In a narrow grave just six by three—
    O bury me not on the lone prairie"

    "It matters not, I've been told,
    Where the body lies when the heart grows cold
    Yet grant, o grant, this wish to me
    O bury me not on the lone prairie."

    "I've always wished to be laid when I died
    In a little churchyard on the green hillside
    By my father's grave, there let me be,
    O bury me not on the lone prairie."

    "I wish to lie where a mother's prayer
    And a sister's tear will mingle there.
    Where friends can come and weep o'er me.
    O bury me not on the lone prairie."

    "For there's another whose tears will shed.
    For the one who lies in a prairie bed.
    It breaks me heart to think of her now,
    She has curled these locks, she has kissed this brow."

    "O bury me not..." And his voice failed there.
    But they took no heed to his dying prayer.
    In a narrow grave, just six by three
    They buried him there on the lone prairie.

    And the cowboys now as they roam the plain,
    For they marked the spot where his bones were lain,
    Fling a handful o' roses o'er his grave
    With a prayer to God his soul to save.

  • Upcoming exhibitions in 2013

    VOLTA NY 2013
    An invitational solo project fair for contemporary art.
    Thur, March 7 –Sun, March 10, 2013
    82MERCER New York, NY 10013
    Jonathan Ferrara Gallery

    April 25th-May 25th

    Exhibition at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery

    Keeping extremely busy, apologies in advance if I am slow to respond to emails

  • Configure/Reconfigure: Transformations of the Body August 11, 2012 - October 13, 2012

    Acadiana Center for the Arts
    Configure/Reconfigure: Transformations of the Body August 11, 2012 - October 13, 2012

    101 W Vermilion St
    Lafayette, LA 70501

  • St Claude ST. CLAUDE GROUP SHOW Curated by Jonathan Ferrara July 25 - Aug 25, 2012

    Curated by Jonathan Ferrara
    July 25 - Aug 25, 2012

    Also an excellent gallery of Gina Phillips work in the back gallery.

  • Video Portrait for AHP

  • Some ink on the show at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery

  • Quite a few nice things written about the work for my show in March

  • Show at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery

    I will have a new body of work on display in the back gallery of Jonathan Ferrara Gallery here in New Orleans. It will coincide with Southern Graphics Council and will open March 14th.

    Mi compadre, Tony Fitzpatrick, will be hanging new Etchings in the middle gallery. Fun will be had by all no doubt.

    Hope to see you there.

  • Scope Miami Nov. 29th-Dec. 4th

    I'll have work on display in the Red Truck Gallery booth.
    Stop by and check it out if you're in Miami for Art Fair madness!
    Hope ya'll had a lovely Thanksgiving.

  • Prospect 2: New Orleans, Opens Saturday October 22nd

    I'll have some new work up in Prospect 2 at the gallery and welcome center at the corner of Esplanade and Canal. Thanks to Dan Cameron!

    Prospect 2 will run through February of next year
    Check out their site to download a map of the exhibitions that are spread throughout the City of New Orleans.


  • I moved! again!

    Hey ya'll...it's a hell of a hot summer and possibly THE worst time to move in New Orleans, but I've survived, and will be setting up the studio again in the next few weeks. You can follow some of my progress as well as minor home improvements to a 120 year old Double Shotgun here paperandblades.tumblr.com

  • A very nice, albeit, short review in the Gambit

  • Hey I'm in the paper!

    click below to see the article


  • I am invited to be part of Dan Cameron's Prospect 1.5

    I was recently invited to participate in Dan Cameron's Prospect 1.5 here in New Orleans.

    It will open November 6th, 2010 and will run through the New Year. Myself and 7 other artists will be on display here:


    This such an appropriate venue for me in so many ways. If some of you find yourselves in my adopted home of New Orleans at some point during the exhibition please come by.

  • Opening August 6th @ Eye Want in Chicago

    Hope you can make the opening of the three man show I will be part of at.

    Come out and see the new work I've been sweating over in N.O.

    Eye Want
    1431 North Milwaukee Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60622

  • Work on Display at Country Club in the bywater

    Hey ya'll! I'll have work on display at Country Club in the Bywater for the month of May. Go get you swim on and have a Pimm's cup or two and then check out some great art.

  • New work in part of Spring show at Tinlark Gallery in L.A.!

    I'll have a couple of new pieces up at Tinlark Gallery in LA starting at the end of April.

    April 24th - May 16th

    6671 Sunset Boulevard, #1516

    Hollywood, CA 90028


  • I'm moving!

    Hey ya'll I'm moving from Chicago to New Orleans as of this Saturday. I'll keep everyone posted on new updates etc. I'll be working on a one man exhibition for Ammo Gallery this upcoming April. Check out www.ammoarts.com

  • Moon Colony Bloodbath, New Mountain Goats Vinyl EP

    I was lucky enough to have this thrown my way recently. I feel most humbled and to be a part of John Darnielle's vast catalog of beautiful music as the Mountain Goats. I created the cover for the newest EP featuring John Vanderslice.
    Hit this link below to see the hot pressing in green vinyl!


  • Saturday March 7th 2009 Nau-Haus Gallery in Houston

    Front Gallery Michael Pajon and Damara Kaminecki
    Back Gallery Elizabeth Fox
    Sat March 7th - 29th 2009
    Reception evening of the 7th


    Nau-Haus Gallery
    223 E. 11th St
    Houston Texas, 77008

  • Looky here it's an interview!

    Go ahead and click on the link...it won't bite you


  • A couple of nice blog reviews

    I've had a couple of blogs say a few nice things about my work over the past week or so. Check them out below...




  • NEXT Fair at Art Chicago 2008 and After Party

    If you find yourself in Chicago during the Art Chicago madness (April 25-28) please pop by the Allegoric booth 1115 at the NEXT Fair in the Merchandise Mart and visit me. New work will be displayed by myself, Matthew Hoffman, and Tony Fitzpatrick.

    There will also be an after part at Tony's studio, Big Cat Press 2124 N. Damen Ave from 6-11pm on Saturday April 26th. We will have beer provided by Three Floyds as well as some light refreshments, cheese, dips, nuts and the such. So if you plan on throwin back a few eat a little something before stopping by. Hope to see you there.


  • Parts and Labor Collective (Relics and Reuse show March 8th)

    I'll have a few new pieces in this one night event at

    Parts and Labor Collective
    3144 W. Carroll -3rd Floor

    Hope you can make it!


  • A kind blurb from the folks at Flavorpill

    Chicago-based artist Michael Pajon brings his mysterious, layered collages to our city-guide covers this week. Suggesting worn documents or medieval illustrations, Pajon's compositions are actually mélanges of found images and scribbled writings. In his cover for CHI 167, a cat contemplates a retro train car, while a woman in NYC 390 gazes at an enormous flower.

  • Allegoric Chicago Showing Nov 16th!

    Country Club Chicago
    1100 N Damen
    Chicago, IL 60622

    Friday, November 16th, 2007
    7-11 PM

    (1 Night Only)
    Allegoric is made up of a distinctive breed of artists, designers, &
    illustrators employing a humorous and sometimes biting whit, juxtaposed
    with deep emotional sentiments. This energetic crew comes to the Chicago
    Country Club with varying backgrounds, whose home base span across the
    country. Half the artists call Chicago home, and will be in attendance for
    this one night event. With over 300 affordable pieces on hand, the viewer
    will be able to have an intimate experience with these accessible works.

    Allegoric, just returning from London, will be on exhibited at the Chicago
    Country Club, 1100 N Damen (Near Damen & Division) on Friday, November
    16th, 2007 from 7-11 for one night only. Many of the artists will be in

    Works on display by: Amy Mayfield, Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Bill McRight,
    Chris Hiltz, Chris Kerr, Chris Silva, Edith Abeyta,Erika Somogyi, Gala
    Bent, Hannah Woodroofe, Jesse Goldstein, Joseph Lappie, Karl Koett, Kelly
    Bowman, Ks Rives, Lee Piechocki, Matthew Feyld, Mel Kadel, Michael
    Genovese, Michael Pajon, Nelson Kahikina, Nick Butcher, Paul Nudd, Sighn,
    Travis Millard, & William Buzzel.

    The work can be viewed online at http://allegoricspace.com/

  • Standard American XI becomes part of DePaul Univeristy Museum Collection

    I am pleased to announce that Standard American XI has become part of the DePaul University Art Museums permanent collection. Thank you very much to the kind donor.
    They currently have an interesting show up about their collection in it's construction faze.
    Check out there site here:


  • Stop by and see me at Art Chicago, the Artist's Project booth 103

    I'll be participating in The Artist's Project which runs concurrently with Art Chicago which will be in the Merchandise Mart this year. I'll be in booth 103 near the front doors of the old Apparel Mart in the lobby of the Sun-Times temporary headquarters. 15 bucks gets you in to all of the fairs. Hope to see you there. Below are the dates and times

    Friday 4/27 11am-7pm
    Saturday 4/28 11am-7pm
    Sunday 4/29 11am-6pm
    Monday 4/30 11am-4pm

  • Drawn to the Edge Adam Baumgold Gallery NYC

    I have a couple of new pieces in this show; check it out if you're in NYC.

    Drawn to the Edge
    runs March 23rd - April 28th
    Adam Baumgold Gallery
    74 East 79th Street
    NY, NY 10021

    Exhibition Preview at: www.adambaumgoldgallery.com

  • Chicago Artist's Project and Art Chicago

    I will have a booth at the Chicago Artist's Project during ART Chicago. Please stop by and visit. See below for details.

    April 27–30, 2007
    350 West Mart Center Lobby

    Tickets: Admission to The Artist Project is free. Purchase of a $15 ticket will admit you to any of the five shows taking place at The Mart Complex, April 27-30, 2007 (excluding benefit and preview events).

    Show Hours
    Preview Party —Thursday, April 26, 7–11 p.m.
    Friday, April 27, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
    Saturday, April 28, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.
    Sunday, April 29, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
    Monday, April 30, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

  • Parts and Labor Collective show March 10th

    Group Show

    Saturday March 10th from 7pm-Midnight
    3144 West Carroll

    Over 15 local/regional artists
    DJ Erick Guzman will be spinning electro/indie/rock
    Mike McGovern's fantastic mixed media paintings
    Michael Pajon's intriguing collage work
    New photog Sarah Perez
    Chicago artist Josh Winegar
    and more!!

  • While All the Tribes of Bird Sang

    In conjunction with the Audubon exhibition, the Museum will present While All the Tribes of Birds Sang, an exhibition of bird-related art and artifacts that provide a broader visual context of our relationships to the avian world. Included in this exhibition are artifacts from our Anthropology and Decorative Arts’ collection, and artwork from the Museum’s permanent collection as well as loans by contemporary Chicago artists. The material ranges from prehistoric bird effigy pipes from Illinois to contemporary, often humorous portrait of bird-headed figures. While all the Tribes of Birds Sang pays homage to our fascination with birds as an emotional and narrative symbol of flight, power, fancy and social commentary.

    Contemporary artist included in the exhibition: Mark Cristani, Terry Evans, George Klauba, Blanca Lopez, Robert Lostutter, Peggy Macnamara, Teresa Mucha-James, Audrey Niffenegger, Michael Pajon, Eleanor Spiess-Ferris, and Ann Wiems.

    Reception: Friday, March 30, 2007, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

  • Group show at Ann Nathan Gallery Opening Night Friday, December 1, 5-8pm

    I will be part of a group show at Ann Nathan Gallery in December, I'll let ya'll know the date as soon as I have it. Cheers!

    opening night is Friday, December 1, 5-8pm

  • South Union Arts opening Oct. 13th 8pm

    I will be in a group show called "My Apocalyptic Playground" curated by Elise Blue at:

    South Union Arts
    1352 S. UNION AVE in Chicago, IL
    (just 2 blocks south of Roosevelt Rd.)

    Fri. Oct 13 - 8PM
    ::My Apocalyptic Playground::
    featuring artists:
    Andrea Jablonski
    Mark Mlodoch
    Jeff Phillips
    Elise Blue
    Burtonwood and Holmes
    Michael Pajon
    Hans Gullickson
    Betsy Yagunic
    Anna Beck
    Says Aaron Smithers: "That Bret Gand band is weird. They categorize themselves as comedy on Myspace, but I didn't find anything funny about it at all." Oh, where to begin... after losing most members including Bret Gand himself in a horrific touring zepellin crash the three remaining members: Garfone, Lightley, and Wrathbone have collected amidst the rubble to meet the insescant audience demands for more, always more! Lately we've been weighing the pro's and con's of changing the name to the BTW Experience to reflect the newly-charted, shining star at the mast of this cosmic clipper charted for a course into divinityspace! Make way boys and girls.
    With the music market saturated with overproduced 3-minute commercials for self-bravado, instant romance and bling, it is nice to have a musical counterpoint to un-numb the audio palate. Dame Satan sounds like four guys with acoustic guitars (and the new "alt-folk" defining banjo) sitting around in your living room. The songs are spare, with touches of slide guitar, banjo and vocal harmonies. At times eerie, at times warm and inviting, the hushed delivery urges you to lean in a little closer. -- The Olympian

  • New City Blurb


    Eye Exam
    Winter Tour

    Michael Workman

    Despite the nasty weather, a lot of people were out Friday night. Hunkered down in the offices behind Bucket Rider Gallery at about seven that evening, I was flanked on all sides by the Bad At Sports team of Duncan Macenzie, Richard Holland and Amanda Browder. We were recording an interview for their podcast (online at http://badatsports.libsyn.com) scheduled to run after the first of the year. If you haven't heard it, stop what you're doing and go listen, these guys are doing excellent stuff. After about an hour of discussion, we packed up the laptop and microphones and departed the West Loop in Browder's truck, destination 65 Grand and the new show of work by Michelle Faust, "Masturspace 2750." Up two sets of narrow stairs in this dingy building is the cleaned-up apartment space at the top, a single room with a kitchen and a few track lights on the ceiling. Simple and sufficient. At first blush, Faust's show looks like two different artists, divided half into graphite drawings and rusted metal wall pieces decorated with tufts of human hair. Her graphite drawings are the stronger of the two, astronauts floating in outer space attached by tethers to their tubelike spacecraft. It's not until you take a closer look that you notice her spacemen aren't just floating there: they're actually indulging every sexual act imaginable: masturbation, fellatio, anal penetration. This impossible sexuality connects the wall hangings through absurd biotechnical statement: sex in a vacuum of human recognition is just mechanical, emotionless fucking.

    Next stop on the West Town Gallery Network tour was 40000 on Winchester, and Brian Andrews' "The Family Hominidae." Recently relocated to San Francisco, this was Andrews' first solo show in the town where he was educated, and his work bears the symptoms of that transition. In the front room are a series of x-ray-like pieces that combine infant skeletons with those of animals, garish images of skeletons with wings or multiple limbs. Across from these are large-scale images of wilting sunflowers, their larger-than-life browned petals drooping with all the weight of senescence and decay. Nicely done, but I've seen it before. Disappointing, given the immense potential of Andrews' earlier work. I expect more of this artist, and wasn't rewarded for that expectation until I saw his photographs restaging scenes from "Bambi" using taxidermy stand-ins for the beloved woodland character. It wasn't until this last series that his questions of "classification, extinction, modernity and ancestors," finally clicked with this context of guileless encounters with unsympathetic, often brutal animal realities. Andrews comes across as a cynic in these works, but his project-room installation begs the question. In it, the disco ball that fills the room with swirling lights also blocks his face in the projected self-portrait.

    Cabin-feverish and itching for more art, my wife Marie and I packed up our one-year old son Tristan the following night and set out to view the "Miniatures and Multiples" show at Around the Coyote Gallery. We were excited about the show since discussing it with Michael Pajon earlier that afternoon at Tony Fitzpatrick's studio sale on Damen Avenue. Pajon works as Fitzpatrick's studio assistant, and his miniature prints show all the talent and imagination of a budding ace. His ghoulish scenes deftly depict the gloom of poverty as horrific, mythologized instances of rape, death and a literal siege of bad omens. Robert Burnier's "Fracture 16, Explosion in Four Parts" is also garishly delightful. In a gridded series of miniature paintings, he presents the possibility of nuclear decimation as stages of "Thermonuclear Explosion," a "Guided Missile Test," an "Iraqi Oil Fire" and the destruction of the "Space Shuttle Challenger." Bleak stuff rendered in hypnotic colors, as if merely the shifting intensity of a twilit sky. Topping off our visit to the ATC Gallery, while browsing the show, our son waddled unnoticed over to Cameron Crawford's tiny balsa wood, glue, stain and paint piece, "Old House." Snatching with his stubby little fingers the delicate wood cube from atop its plinth, we watched in horror as he raised the $500 piece above his head and gleefully hurled it smashing against the floor. It's a sentiment I've longed to express many times before and, while sympathetic, felt that neither Crawford's art, nor our bank account--especially our bank account--was deserving of such savagery. Bad, bad boy.


  • Link to ArtNet review

    Cut and paste the URL or read the article below:


    by Abraham Orden

    Once upon a time, Art Chicago was a high-rolling event, the jewel of the international fair calendar. Well, the invisible hand of the market giveth, and it taketh away. Art Chicago is no longer, strictly speaking, an art world event. In some last-minute scrambling, after what seems to have been a serious monetary shortfall that threatened to scuttle the entire event, Art Chicago organizer Thomas Blackman sold the fair to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. It’s the end of an era.

    During the fair’s brief run at the end of April, the Merchandise Mart paired Art Chicago -- some 100 dealers were on hand -- with its annual Chicago Antiques Fair, taking a page, I suppose, from the business plans of fast-food outlets like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, or Baskin-Robins and Dunkin’ Donuts.

    One ticket bought entry to it all, and traffic was brisk when I passed through, with gallerists and antiques dealers busy chatting up their guests, who seemed to be largely local.

    Chicago’s own Thomas McCormick Gallery was exhibiting vintage Ab Ex, including a notable José de Rivera painting from 1945. Hard-edged and elegant in a simple black frame, it’s one for the ages, priced at $30,000. Prints were also a good bet. Tandem Press of Madison, Wisc., also had plenty of name-brand appeal, including a lush suite of works by rambling man Robert Cottingham. Titled An American Alphabet, these prints depict individual letters culled from gaudy signage across this great nation. They run in an edition of 40 and would set you back $2,075 a character.

    As for the younger set, a number of European galleries displayed that European taste for muddy, naïf painting that looks so good in the hands of really talented artists -- none of whom were represented. And so the good young art was left mostly to the Chicagoans, who made a pretty good showing.

    A place called Track House piqued a lot of interest. Proprietor Kim Mitseff runs a kind of shoestring residency program out on a couple of acres in Colorado, an operation she plans to keep going until Dec. 21, 2012, which, if you didn’t already know, is the day the Mayan calendar runs out. Mitseff had a nice picture on the wall that an artist named Rosy Keyser made out there in Colorado, an old-fashioned looking photograph of some oversaturated mountains, with diamonds improbably printed into the sky. Keyser’s untitled work is yours for $350, in an unlimited edition.

    The Chicago gallery Western Exhibitions also turned out some treasures, literally with the works by Brooklyn artist Mark Wagner, who has made a minor practice of cutting up the almighty dollar and reassembling it into new images. The most successful of these, like Demon Dollar, $1,000, throw a fresh light on the graphical ritualism of the state, but without being smug about it.
    The Nova Art Fair
    Running concurrently with Art Chicago was the second installment of the Nova Art Fair, Apr. 27-30, 2006, installed at the art deco-y City Suites Hotel. Smaller and more friendly, Nova is more suited to the current Chicago mood and market, I think. Visitors to the fair were greeted at the door by a big guy with a booming voice who turned out to be none other than Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick. A great, gregarious man, benevolent and endowed with persistence and talent, Fitzpatrick will tell you that his densely, intensely iconic pictures are allegories of Chicago, but to my mind it is he himself who best symbolizes the City of Big Shoulders.

    Fitzpatrick’s Big Cat Press was exhibiting prints and drawings by local artists who had worked with him over the past 12 years, as well as a few of his own pictures. Tony’s work is well-known and rightly so; the work of his employee Michael Pajon was more of a surprise. Like Fitzpatrick, Pajon works in a folk idiom. His etchings share in the spirit of Kafka -- funny and with a strange, sickly vivacity, as in Captain Turk, which, as the name implies, depicts a nautical turkey in 19th-century garb.

    NOVA was a Brooklyn event as much as Chicago one, since so many of the galleries came from the New York borough. Pierogi, which opened a new space in Liepzig on the same weekend, had its space packed with works on paper. A Dawn Clements doodle of Condi Rice a la Francis Bacon was a steal at $500, if you could stand to live with that mug.

    For fans of dopey Republican visages, the Front Room Gallery, also of Brooklyn, had an impressive photograph of Times Square by Sean Hemmerle. One wouldn’t guess that such a conventional subject could add up to a provocative photograph, but Hemmerle has defied the odds. This work depicts a massive, pensive George Bush head on the Jumbotron electronic billboard, Blade Runner style. Overlooking the empty metropolis, Bush is clearly the head of state, though he doesn’t look like he wants to be there at all.

    Hemmerle’s picture generates mixed unease. On the one hand, it brings home the menace of contemporary power, and on the other it makes clear that this is anything but an authoritarian regime -- the old familiar one-two punch of fear and guilt. The photo is big; it comes in both a "tall" edition of five and a "grande" edition of three, for $1,700 and $5,000, respectively.

    More Brooklyn: Dam, Stuhltrager Gallery’s Loren Munk has revived Museum of Modern Art founding director Alfred Barr’s famous chart of modern art in his new paintings, but in the one on view at the fair he has reversed the equation and produced not a genealogy of Modernism, but of its hammy champion, Clement Greenberg. A great painting for reminding oneself how these crazy ideas get started, the work is priced at $4,800.

    And as far as reflecting on the art world goes, however, nobody beats the art world’s own peddler, Eric Doeringer, who has been a kind of itinerant artist-salesman for several years, bringing a suitcase full of his knock-offs of high-profile works by major contemporary artists. Should Doeringer really be famous, like Sherrie Levine, or is his work kind of stupid? It’s unclear, but that’s the risk of it, and it’s just the right thing. I was inspired to take home a miniature Christopher Wool, and I got a gratis copy of Doeringer’s Matthew Barney fanzine to boot. Here’s a bit of its text:

    Shifting his weight, the man on the stage widened his stance. He let out what seemed to be a deep muffled chant. Slowly and precisely, and to the astonishment of the onlookers, the man began to lower his testes. With exquisite control, a fraction of an inch at a time, the ball sack began to appear, and soon all could make out the sturdy outline of two massive balls.

    "Only one man. . . ," thought Koons.

    And as the balls descended, it became clear that ONE of the spheres was sporting a tiny mask! And no ordinary mask: it was clearly from a tiny replica of a classic Cremaster mask!

    "Barney! Barney!" Koons began to chant, and soon the whole room was booming.

    If Doeringer issues a challenge to stupidity and gross physicality, then that challenge is answered by artist Joe Sola, who gave a performance with two young men who had answered an ad Sola placed around town soliciting people who dislike contemporary art. The lads delivered to Sola, a fairly heavy guy, a powerful wedgy, hanging him from a hook in the wall. The onlookers giggled. This all took place at the booth of Miami’s Lemon Sky, which has recently closed its exhibition space and now focuses exclusively on fairs and artist projects like Sola’s wedgy.

    What about California? The new Bert Green Fine Art from downtown Los Angeles was presenting glossy, high-production photographs of actors from Six Feet Under -- with their heads covered in shreds of photographs of their heads. HBO commissioned the work from photographer David Meanix, but Six Feet fans will recognize it as the art of Claire, from the episode where she has her first art show.

    Bucheon Gallery from San Francisco brought some fine drawings by T. Marvel Hull to Chicago. Hull seems to be onto something valuable with his dystopic collages of what I’m guessing are Old School communists. One smaller work, titled Existential Crisis, is $650.

    The long day wrapped up at Adobe Books Backroom Gallery from San Francisco, taking a rest among paintings by Alison Blickle, who, Backroom curator Eleanor Harwood says, "has recently fallen in love." Hence, the title on the image of the naked pretty girl on a bed, a self-portrait of the artist, is You Know I’m Yours First. What a world.

    Congratulations are due to Harwood, who is opening her own San Francisco exhibition space at the end of summer, to be called the Eleanor Harwood Gallery. She brought out the champagne to celebrate in style when we were joined by Frank Haines, a former San Franciscan who has been in Chicago on a residency at the West Loop space Three Walls. Haines’ stay had culminated the week before with one of his intense, mystical performances.

    I have known and admired Haines’ work for quite some time, but I had never met him, and so I had never realized how deeply sincere he is about his magic. I believe it now; half an hour in Haines’ company and I learned all I need to know about the magic societies of the Bay Area and Chicago, what it means to be a Taurus (Frank’s sign), and what to expect from the full moon.
    Chicago Galleries
    Elsewhere in the West Loop there were considerable art goings on, as one might expect on a fair weekend. Kavi Gupta Gallery had on view a pair of loveable videos by Swedish artist Johanna Billings, whose Magical World, the much-lauded children’s choir performance of the Sydney Barnes song by the same name, is currently playing at P.S.1. Those who want to own the work, however, can see Gupta, who has priced it at $8,700 each, edition of six.

    The gallery also has the artist’s newest work on view, a 15-minute-long vid titled Magic and Loss that shows a group of young adults speechlessly packing up an Amsterdam apartment. The work is quiet and materially satisfying, what with all that junk getting organized before one’s eyes. The characters work like ants, in synchrony and without verbal directions. No one seems to be in charge, so whose apartment is it? Where, after all, is the owner of all this stuff? One begins to consider death without quite realizing it has made its entrance, and the silence of the workers fills with weight -- but never with finality, as all of this is only imagined.

    Billing’s Magical World faced stiff, and no doubt unwitting, competition from local artist D’nell Larson at Bodybuilder & Sportsman. Her video, Close Your Eyes and Think of Me, features her parents in their chintzy basement recording studio doing hits by Mazzy Starr, Joy Division, Nirvana and The Cure. As in Billings’ piece, these tunes were picked by the artist, but Larson’s work uses the grace of realism to its advantage, as Larson’s parents are actually professional wedding singers, and covering recent hits is de rigueur in their real lives. Where Billings had to mold her event from the raw material of a Croat after-school program, Larson simply turned the camera on her folks, made a few requests and started taping. You may bring the Larsons into your home for $2,000, in an edition of five.

    Wendy Cooper Gallery is exhibiting new works by Chicago artist Sabrina Raaf, large, cinematic photographs in which bodies seem to defy gravity, like in Levitated, a mammoth (86 x 28 in.) image in an edition of seven, priced at $3,000. Suggesting something like Stanley Kubrick crossed with Sam Taylor-Wood, Raaf’s panoramic photographs of elegant condominium living are made with the help of a film stunt company -- more evidence, if any is needed, of how photography’s budget has soared in the recent past.

    Fantasy pictures were borne by more humble materials at Bucket Rider Gallery. Painted on what appears to be torn-up driftwood, Sarah Cromarty’s new works depict livid tropical paradises, as if rendered from life by a castaway with whatever material supports were at hand. But the castaway would have to have had a craft shop on the back side of the island, for each of these works is dressed up like a hussy with glitter, cheap embroidery, hanging beads and dyed feathers. Cromanty is an assistant to Jim Shaw, and it is clear that she has picked up the essence of Shaw’s blend of auteur craftsmanship and polyester visions. Her works run from around $2,000 to $3,100, with some collages in the $500 range.

    The weekend ended at the University of Chicago, my home turf, with the Renaissance Society opening of Berlin-based Mai-Thu Perret’s Apocalypse Ballet. Five papier-mâché female figures dressed in new-age outfits and wigs, armed with neon rings, are scattered across the space, frozen in a choreographic tableau. Though they are dressed, these figures aren’t like mannequins; they are clumsily constructed ("sausage-like," the artist called them), hand-made and so declare themselves to be sculpture. The installation includes a giganticized aluminum teapot, opened by a door in its side and decorated on the interior by a few small pattern paintings on wooden panels.

    Perret’s work deserves serious attention, but it doesn’t demand it. Tracing the sources of each element of the piece entails traversing a wide swath of 20th-century Western culture. The overall composition comes from Perret’s fictional writings, where she has developed her imaginings of a contemporary women’s commune in Borgesian style, by writing entries of their journals. The neon rings come from a Busby Berkeley film; the dress of her figures come from the Futurists; and the shape of the teapot from the Bauhaus.

    But we are discouraged from getting too serious about all this archeology. The work is glib, like the artist herself, and its most interesting quality is not what these appropriations add up to, but how they deconstruct our expectations of appropriation itself. As the Perret herself put it, "We probably make too much about knowing where things come from." Indeed, the sentiment rings true as the spirit of our artistic times.

    Perret’s work, then, does not siphon the authority of History by referring to it. It is rather an effort to relieve some of history’s weight, to dissolve its stubborn fixity back into the primordial sludge of the present moment.

    ABRAHAM ORDEN writes on art from Chicago.