January Shows to Attend

Here are four excellent exhibits for you to visit in Chicago before the next semester begins. There are two one-person shows and two two-person shows, in every kind of venue one might imagine.


At the Museum of Contemporary Photography, on the ground floor of Columbia College’s main building, you can see “Michael Wolf: The Transparent City.” Perhaps you recall I pooh-poohed* it when the poster first arrived, dismissing what appeared to be visual trickery; I was wrong. It’s mature and fascinating.




About a mile and a half up Michigan Avenue, in the old Water Tower, Columbia has also mounted around two dozen sparkling prints by Scott Fortino, an acquaintance of mine from Ray Metzker’s Senior Seminar class. Is Scott the only Chicago police officer with major gallery representation? Could be.




Several blocks west, and down on Superior, are Schneider Gallery and Catherine Edelman. At Schneider, see what’s glibly described (by me) as photographs embedded in glass by Pablo Soria; and more serious work by Jorge Martin. At Edelman, one of the exhibits is “It’s Complicated: The American Teenager” by Robin Bowman.




Lastly, about another mile and a half west of there at 1433 West Chicago Avenue, a place I have not visited called Architrouve with a presentation called “Fine Art Rescue Revisited.” The Reader says it’s “Photos by Robert Mapplethorpe and Jock Sturges; the exhibit also addresses art preservation.” Judging by the names of the photographers, there is more than a little flesh in the photographs; that’s OK, don’t worry. I also don’t know what the preservation portion is—yet. Better call before going, to see what their hours are (or watch this space): 312.563.0977. Stop in at Rockstar Hot Dogs, too, a block away at the corner of Ashland. You get a free tattoo with every order, and you can see photographs by Philin Phlash (!).


All of these happen to be free, and it makes for a big day in the big downtown, including luncheon. Plus, you can do it all without an automobile. I can help you with logistics. Galleries aren’t open on Mondays, so the days after finals are best. Do it. Bonus karma for all.


* a real word


Woodstock Opportunity

The Northwest Area Arts Council mounts an annual exhibit called “Women’s Works” in the old courthouse on the town square in Woodstock. The entry fee is a typical 35.00 (OK, it’s on the high side).


OTOH… there is an ancillary, concurrent show with the unfortunate name “Little Women’s Works.” If you are of the appropriate gender and not over 17, you may enter the show for the low, low fee of five dollars.


This is definitely worth your consideration. Talk to me; I’ll facilitate delivery on February 28 and pickup too. Check it out:



Elements & Principles of Design

Here are three different explications of the elements and principles of design for you to peruse.







The Girl Project

Kate Engelbrecht has a terrific idea: to pre-loaded disposable cameras available to as many adolescent (and shorter) females as want them, to collate and display their best (in her opinion) pictures. Editing and sequencing appeals to me too: I do it all the time, and it’s a pleasure, therefore I think her idea is a good idea.


Look at her warren of web sites and act quickly. The project is ongoing, but nothing is forever. Begin with:


Diary of an Exhibition, Part 3

It’s a go. The exhibit of pictures regarding facades will take place at the Barrington Area Library for about seven weeks, from early February to the end of March (into spring break).

A reception is scheduled for the evening of Friday, February 13. Bring yer own cookie.

Will I do a mailing? I dunno. E-mail blasts are effective, but there’s nothing like getting a piece of mail delivered to one’s door. Will there be a related assignment? Prolly, of some sort. Will anything (gasp) sell? Odds are agin’ it; that’s Allstate’s stand.





Digital Submission to the College Board

Every student, parent and teacher involved in Advanced Placement courses may register with AP Central to gain access to their labyrinthine and seemingly endless web site. You could begin at apcentral.collegeboard.com, but also for starters, I think this link will work. Read it and ask/comment.


Diary of an Exhibition, Part 2

Paperwork, a necessary evil. Wait: nothing about it is actually evil, but it is necessary, just as archiving one’s work is essential. (True, Mario Giacomelli would toss his negatives into a bowl on the dining room table, but few of us want our pictures to look like his.) My contacts are mostly all together; work prints and exhibition prints are currently intermingled, but I can locate a specific negative with astonishing alacrity, and I make that claim modestly.



I was asked to provide a resume, a biography and an artist’s statement. I don’t know of anyone who writes an statement before it’s required. Out of habit, even though I know what and  how to write, I looked for self-help websites and found a ton of ’em. Often, an artist’s statement can be painful to read, especially when they run on, take irrelevant detours or, worst of all, tell the viewer how to look at the work. Artists do not always understand their own work, and what they think of it is occasionally more revealing about them than the work itself is. One option for me was to provide a “bio-statement.” Bingo. Concision. Done.


An inventory of 10-20 pieces submitted for consideration (not the final batch, but certainly representative) needed to have dimensions, titles and prices. The dimensions were incomplete since some of the pictures exist only as work prints. Pricing work can be a monstrous head game; more on that at another time. Titles: yeesh. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy titling my pictures, and I have two Gemini-style tendencies. Place and date usually suffice without being too clinical, for one. The other is a predilection for cryptic/goofy names. I used to suppress that, but at some point ceramics guru Bob Wilson goaded me into going that route as well.


                                                                      Bob, by L.D. 


Some of this material got e-mailed to the people who wanted it, and some of it needed to be delivered to the venue, which is local, so I drove it over. Rather than leaving it at the front desk, as directed, I asked for the individual in charge on-site to come out to meet me. This very nice woman explained the entire exhibit program of the venue, took me on a detailed tour of the space, and also walked me through the collection that they own, complete with aesthetic critiques of some favorite pieces. Um, thank you.


The first picture of 2009: an omen for the new year?

They just sort of… fell off. (Now, not surprisingly, they’re cleaner than they’ve been in a while.)

The goal, then, can be not to miss a day of photographing.

(BTW, it’s 2256 x 1504.)

“Get gout or get out.”

It’s one of Mr. Anderson’s automatic utterances.


Gout is a very painful condition caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in joints, typically one’s great toe. The common understanding is that an unusually rich diet can precipitate gout. A sedentary lifestyle goes hand in hand. I know a guy who got gout: I couldn’t have predicted it happening to him, though. It’s likely that anybody with a condition for which even contact with a bed sheet is painful would prefer to remain housebound, hmm?


 Funny, I’ve never heard of a photographer “developing” a case of gout.


Everybody needs to get out more. You think you’re active and you hit all the hot spots, but that M.O. doesn’t necessarily guarantee better results photographically. Maybe an occasional vacation is your occasion for shooting, but that’s perilously close to what Stieglitz scorned when he referred to “Sunday photographers” over 100 years ago. Yours truly has difficulty shooting at baseball games and jazz performances, because his attention is divided. It’s probably human nature to dismiss unsatisfying results because, hey, we were doing other stuff, enjoying other activities simultaneously.


Let’s be honest: the only promising modus operandi is to step out specifically to make pictures. The only companions (who likely) will not sabotage the day are those who either are also shooting, or are extremely empathetic.


The biggest current challenge, however, is the climate. Maybe this is an inappropriate time to bring it up. More on this anon.