Good advice

14 Jan

Ron Terada, Stay Away From Lonely Places, 2005. On view through Jan. 15 in Ron Terada: Being There at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

I’m still coming up with the plans for my next move after Chicago, which I leave tomorrow. But visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago cheered me up immensely, as did getting just enough work to cover the cost of my extended stay here.

Through Sunday, the MCA’s fourth floor is all Canada all the time, between Terada’s intriguing show and IAIN BAXTER&: Works 1958-2011. I enjoyed Terada’s signs, such as the one above, and was moved by his Jack paintings, as dry as they appear at first glance. From the release:

The Jack paintings are Terada’s most recent and emotional work, centered on the dramatic and tragic life of Canadian-born artist, Jack Goldstein (1945-2003). Jack is a series of black canvases with white lettering, reproducing text from Goldstein’s memoir, Jack Goldstein and the CalArts Mafia. A prominent postconceptual artist, Goldstein committed suicide in 2003, leaving his memoir to tell the tale of his early success as an artist, his relationships in the art world, and his eventual downward spiral to drug addiction and poverty.

The only time I’d seen any of BAXTER&’s work was at the Seattle Art Museum’s unforgettable Target Pracice: Painting Under Attack, 1949-78, which was curated by Michael Darling, who’s now the MCA’s chief curator. (My rave review here; video of the show here, here and here.) BAXTER&, who like me has worked under various identities — including IT Works and N.E. Thing Company — and at times collaboratively, had several works in that show and it was great to see those again in the context of his career. I love his irreverent sense of humor about the art world:

IT, Bagged Rothko, 1965. Inflated vinyl and cotton duck.

… and his way of engaging the landscape was just what I needed to see and think about as I prepare to cross into the West.

N.E. Thing Co., 1/4 Mile Landscape (detail), 1968

The above picture is one of a series of photos documenting a piece in which N.E. Thing Co. (a collaborative entity with Baxter’s then-wife, Ingrid) claimed a chunk of landscape as its own artwork. After you drove past the above sign giving notice you were about to “pass by an N.E. Thing Co. Landscape,” you would have passed a sign saying “Start viewing” before passing another sign a quarter-mile later saying — you guessed it — “Stop viewing.” I wish I’d been there, but the documentation, which also includes a map indicating the exact location of the intervention, is a hoot in its own right. If I’d seen this show in 2011, it surely would have displaced one of the exhibitions on this list.

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