Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Western Exhibitions is thrilled to present the third and final iteration of "The Power of Selection", a densely-packed group show organized by gallery artist Ryan Travis Christian, in our Gallery 2, with an opening reception on Friday, November 19 from 5 to 8pm. The show runs through the month of December. After December 23, the gallery is open by appointment. Regular gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm.

Are you taking Ryan Travis Christian for granted? Do you know what he does for you, yes, you? In addition to making highly charged and acutely rendered drawings, Mr. Christian voraciously sees shows in galleries high and low and scours the internet in search of hot new art. He often presents his findings on his Facebook page as an "artist of the day", publishes interviews with up-and-coming artists on Beautiful/Decay and Fecal Face websites and for you lucky Chicagoans, brings all this hot new art to Western Exhibitions in his three part show "The Power of Selection".

In part one (Jan-Feb 2010), Ryan presented four west coast artists and one Chicago artist in Western Exhibitions main gallery space. Part two this summer, he showed 3 New York artists and one from Oregon in our gallery 2, and for this show, November 19 to December 31, he is cramming Gallery 2 with a salon-style extravaganza featuring artists from across the nation.

Artists included:

Derek Albeck
Mark Arctander
Timothy Bergstrom
Marissa Bero Gerlofs
Samantha Bittman
Michelle Blade
Jaq Chartier
Ryan Travis Christian
Richard Colman
Allison Cortson
Chris Duncan
Julian Duron
Ted Gahl
Andres Guerrero
Joseph Hart
Valerie Hegarty
Maya Hayuk
Matt Irie
Jason Jagel
Kelly Lynn Jones
Michael Krueger
Denise Kupferschmidt
Jose Lerma
Matt Lock
Alex Lukas
Bill McRight
Frankie Martin
Eddie Martinez
Jeremy Mora
Kristine Moran
Erin Morrison
Sarah Mosk
Jeanette Mundt
Aaron Noble
Marcie Oakes
Maggie Otero
Matthew Palladino
Hilary Pecis
Cleon Peterson
Richard Colman
Joe Roberts
Brion Nuda Rosch
Kate Ruggeri
Ryan Schaffer
Jovi Schnell
Andrew Schoultz
Allison Schulnik
Eric Shaw
Sumi Ink Club
Ann Toebbe
Kristen VanDeventer
Ned Vena
Ben Venom
Eric Yahnker
Chuck Webster
Ryan Wallace

Exhibition organizer Ryan Travis Christian is a Chicago based artist who has had solo shows at Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco Ebersmoore in Chicago, and his solo show debut at Western Exhibitions is forthcoming for Fall 2011. He's been included in group show at Baer Ridgway in San Francisco, Space 1026 in Philadelphia and Synchronicty in Los Angeles and has curated exhibitions at many of these same venues. This spring New City named Christian as one of Chicago's "Breakout Artists" for 2010.

Reception 11/19 5-8

Tuesday, October 26, 2010



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

go to work

new drawing

and many more to come in the very very near future

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


so rad. just wait till summer when i rock the NUTZ at the MCA! word

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


named one of New City's "Breakout Artists of 2010"
click here


Newcity’s Breakout Artists are on view in booth 12-165 at Art Chicago, floor 12 of the Merchandise Mart, April 29-May 3.


Ben Stone, Caleb Lyons and Myself will be "performing" @ CLUB NUTZ @ NEXT on Saturday, May 1st 5-7pm.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jose Lerma interview


Tell us a bit about yourself Jose?

I was born in Spain, grew up in Puerto Rico  in the hospital grounds where my parents worked.  Moved to New Orleans for college and then Law School at UW-Madison.   At 27 I took a class with TL Solien  (who was an amazing teacher, and a mentor)  freaked out completely, dropped out of law school during my last year and decided to study art.  

How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it? What are some of the driving inspirations behind your work. What has influenced you in big ways?

I make paintings and works about painting. I try my best to collapse the personal with the art historical and to fit both within a single frame.  This is something many artists do, but I just wanted to make it central to my practice.  Although the works and paintings change dramatically in terms of material, the common thread is some story I heard my mom say, for instance, or some ugly piece of furniture in their living room  or some dorky thing I did in my youth.  Then I try to fuse this with some historical event, person or artistic style.  This sounds cheesy, but  I always say that all art is about other art and about your parents.   

As far as artistic influences I like late Picasso, Morandi, Sean Landers, Piero della Francesca,William Anastassi, Phillip Guston,Carl ostendarp, James Hyde,  Bruce Nauman, George Condo, Paul Thek, R. Crumb. 

The towel pieces really intrigues me. You do some work on shirts and other non traditional painting surfaces as of late too, if I'm not mistaken. Could you talk a little bit about what prompted this experiment? 

I think the whole thing is  self generating. I was making paintings by removing the paint from an object by applying a solvent or paint stripper. Then I would paint an open flat form of that object, similar to the way a bear rug suggest the open shape the animal. This idea of removing the “skin” of an object, of seeing objects as painting minus sculpture, was reversed by using  towels, which wrap around skin and for a moment suggest the object.   So from there I began making the Carlos II portraits which were made with office carpets and were an attempt at enlarging the feel of the towel portraits.      

In my own practice, I am very interested in finding balances between figuration and abstraction. This is something you have been investigating for awhile now with your portrait-esque works. How do approach this balance?   

It’s simple really. I make something that looks like a portrait but has no likeness.    They are small and done very fast, but they are also goopy and thick…a portrait of paint.   Then I spend weeks enlarging every aspect of it, and make it maybe 9 feet tall. So it becomes about scale too, a big painting that feels very small.   The carpet thing was about walking on  a sketch…of a disfigured Spanish king, but It was about being in it. 

The way you use your materials is really engaging to me. I see lots of mixed media work and something about how you combine them really stands out to me. What is your process like? How do you approach a blank surface? Do you have an exact idea of what you want or is it more responsive? How do you determine that a piece is finished?  

I finish a show when I run out of time, just like when I took test as a kid.  I am not an organized person.   As far as the individual pieces I often paint and compose on a very large un-stretched canvas without stepping back and mostly considering the surface.  I like surfaces that look great from a foot away.   Then I step back and crop the best parts and run with what they suggest.  Often a very large canvas yields a small painting.  Other times things are set up ahead of time like doing a painting with only whatever is around, some dirt, cardboard or the paint dissolved from objects, usually cabinets or magazines. 

I like that there seems to be no hierarchy of medium in your work. The drawings and paintings seems to be one in the same and equally substantial. Do you agree with this. How do you view your drawing and painting relations? 
I never see them as separate practices.  My paintings often start with a very busy layer of drawings.  Most of those come straight from idea notebooks that I still keep for sculpture and installation work…so nothing is thrown away.   If I can’t afford to execute an idea, I can at least include it in a painting so it can exist.  For me there is an arc and if you start getting too skilled its always good to introduce another thing or medium so its interesting.

You bide your time between New York, Puerto Rico and Chicago, to you, what are the pros and cons of the respective places?   

Puerto Rico has very interesting scene and I have seen it grow  in the past 10 years.  The scene there  produced the duo Allora and Calzadilla, the painter Enoc Perez and the brilliant Jesus Bubu Negron.   Sadly,  I don’t spend too much time there anymore, but when I lived there in 01-03  the art scene was really exciting and intense and  many international curators were stopping by the island.  It was a little crazy I think they were trying to find in PR what they saw in Mexico city in the early 90s.  Most of the work was post studio then.   I think there are more painters now.  I also think the curatorial infatuation with PR only lasted about 2 year then they moved on which sucks for some of the younger artists there.

Most people I know in NY are artist…that also makes it a bit boring.   I like Chicago, especially how affordable it is, a lot but I am mostly teaching here and have little time to make work.  I find that artists in Chicago wear many hats (often curating, running apartment galleries or starting small publications) and spread themselves a bit  thin.   I don’t see that as much in NY.

Being faculty at one of the largest art institutions in the US (SAIC) what are your thoughts/experiences with art and academia?  

I feel very lucky to be working with  colleagues whose work I admire.   SAIC’s atmosphere is quite relaxed and conducive to experimentation.   I have very bright  and ambitious students and that really makes teaching fun.    I like to teach by brainstorming with the students, though sometimes my suggestions are simply moronic.   But I try my best to come up with a series of possibilities, and then let the student decide if any of them are worth pursuing.  Those were the teachers I enjoyed as a student.   I find the back and forth helpful to my practice as well.  Making art is pretty solitary and teaching gets you out of  your solipsism and neurosis. 

What's in store for you in the 2010? Any exciting projects or anything coming up? 

I have two solo shows coming up this year.  One is in Madrid at Galeria Marta Cervera in September and the other one is a small show at  Andrea Rosen In NY.   Im teaching at Ox-Bow in the summer.   That should be fun.  Also I may be  curating an exhibition in New York for SAIC painting grads.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

!!!!!!!COMING SOON!!!!!!







images are examples only

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tyson Reeder Interview

rtc-You are a man of many projects, first off, tell us about the general store and what kinds of things are happening in Milwaukee?

tyson - General Store was a storefront gallery run by myself, my brother Scott and sister-in-law Elysia. We opened it in '05 and we've been doing shows under that name since, although the actual space is no longer. The front was customized to look like a funky paper-mache cave, with rock furniture and stalactites, and the back was a white cube gallery space. The idea was to lure shoppers in off the street, (consisting of mostly Milwaukee crustypunks with modest crust wardrobe budgets) with the more inviting dimly-lit cave, where you could buy cheap non-essentials like hand-made thongs, ceramic snacks or designer doorstops. Eventually you would check out the art in back, although we realized quickly when given the option, people prefer darkness to light. This idea grew later into Dark Fair, the art fair with no lights. It had it's moments! We showed Laura Owens, Pentti Monkonenn, Cory Arcangel, Nick Lowe and had a monthly teen dance party called " Get Wacky " hosted by Milwaukee rapper Juiceboxxx. Then it became an pet store. Now it's a head shop called Dank's Glass.

rtc - I've heard lots about these strange performances and versions of artfairs that you and your brother are involved in. I love this idea, art fairs always seem so stuffy and redundant. Could you talk about some of them? Why do you guys put these on? Are there any coming up?

tyson - Anyone who has spent some time in the artworld is aware of it's conservatism and looking for ways to reimagine the unexamined rituals we find ourselves mindlessly repeating. Art fairs seemed interesting to us because they are relatively young and unformed. And everyone was doing them for a minute in the mid-00's, motivated by some Burning Man-like hunger for interconnectedness, except instead of ravers with mushrooms it was bald germans with Blackberries.  
Milwaukee is not on the contemporary art world map, so in '06 we thought it would be kind of absurd/interesting to try to do an art fair here. We teamed up with local curators John Riepenhoff and Nicholas Frank under the name Milwaukee International, and hosted it at an old Polish beer hall with a bowling alley in the basement called the Polish Falcon.  It was insane. 30 galleries from all over the world made the trip, including Gavin Brown's Enterprise and White Columns of NYC, Galeria Comercial for Puerto Rico, Willy Wonka Inc. from Norway and Hiromi Yoshii gallery from Tokyo. Chicago's Roots and Culture were selling giant pretzels. Verne and the Originals, a local polka band, provided the ambiance. Matthew Higgs ended up writing about it at length in Artforum, saying it reminded him more of a music festival in 80's Manchester than an art fair.
Since then we have done three more fairs, one in Milwaukee and two versions of our Dark Fair, at the Swiss Institute in NYC in '08 and as part of Art Cologne in '09. Dark Fair is basically an art fair with the lights turned off and the walls painted black. Participating galleries had to use candles or battery-powered devices to light their "booths", which were designed like restaurant booths with tables and benches. It attracted some great gallerists, including Marianne Boesky, Maureen Paley, and Zach Feuer. In NYC, DJ/artist/club owner Spencer Sweeney sold penis-shaped candles while painting a self-portrait in the dark. There was a pinball arcade from Ara Peterson, a " wordless chorus " conducted with light sticks by Brian Belott and Larissa Valez, and sculptures by Christian Holstad, Mungo Thompson and Justin Sampson. Only one person's hair caught on fire.

This year at Frieze Art Fair in London we tried out our newest art fair intervention, Club Nutz,"the world's smallest comedy club". We were asked to recreate the 10x10' nightclub we run sporadically here in Milwaukee, which features a tiny stage, fake brick wall, DJ booth, bar, bouncer and velvet rope. In London, Spencer Sweeney hosted from the DJ booth, greeting confused art fair crawlers with " welcome to Club Nutz! Tell a joke and get a free beer!" Aspiring Benny Hill-type comedians came out of nowhere to test out their zingers on an art crowd. There was lots of fog, sweat and questionable dance moves. 

There's a real joy in throwing yourself into something you don't know how to do. Whether it's " let's do an international art fair! " or " let's open a comedy club! ",  I'm always happy to step out of the introspection and calculation that goes with painting alone in the studio. It's also nice to see that spirit infect other people. Stand-up comedy is maybe the most direct way to throw oneself into the unknown. People who have never done it before may get huge laughs, although it might be for something other than their jokes. It might be the silence in between jokes or any number of technical failures. 

rtc - Aside from exhibitions, you do music and video and whatnot as well, right?

tyson - Scott and I have hundreds of hours of unreleased and some would argue unlistenable tracks. You might have seen us perform under the names Night School, Sir Willy or Piano Boys. We plan on releasing a boxed set covering 1990 - 2010 around Christmas time. We also have performed several short avant-garde pieces at Daniel Reich Gallery including "Egg Fugue", a rite of spring featuring a hooded 'eggxecutioner' and "Sonata in 2-D" involving a black abstract painting with dancing geometric shapes. Currently we are working on a podcast for Vicious Pop records that will give the world a taste of the new Milwaukee genre people are calling "Comedy Trance". Imagine hours of improvised spoken word with canned laughter over minimal trance beats. Sound good?

rtc - Now on to your solo endeavors. Your paintings were really weird to me when I first saw them. They have an outsider, or dare I say high school student feel to them? But at the same time, they felt really fresh and thougthful. What are your ideas concerning your execution? How did you reach this conclusion?

tyson - I started out showing in Daniel Reich's tiny efficiency apartment in Chelsea in 2002. It was a moment when a lot of young artists were turning away from slick, monumental-scaled artwork that seemed made for the airplane hanger sized galleries that seemed to be popping up everywhere, towards a self-consciously human scale, hand-made aesthetic. I became interested in a kind of experimental, alchemic approach to materials that were themselves very cheap and familiar. Ballpoint pens, fabric dye, nail polish all had real-life applications and I liked how that fed into or sometimes clashed with the content of whatever I was depicting. There is a freedom to working with mixed-media, as opposed to oil paint on canvas, that maybe parallels some of my curatorial projects. It's about temporarily suspending the burden of art history, with it's myriad ways of contextualizing every type of painting move,  to let accident and invention come into the process. My patterns and marks eventually became useful in quickly defining some sort of emotionally heightened, frenzied depiction of Milwaukee, maybe like how the Impressionists dab replaced naturalism as a more immediate way to get at some sort of truth about Arles or wherever.

rtc - It's evident that you don't just use a brush, what other kinds of tools are you drawn to? What is your studio/studio practice like?

tyson - I love brushes, but I am also drawn to anything that makes an unusual mysterious mark and gets me out of the preciousness that comes with handling a horse-haired stick for too long.  I use my hands a lot, my YMCA card, bleach pens, manicure rhinestones, plastic knives and forks, stencils, flannel and corduroy. I did an entire drawing with my nose once. 

rtc - How do you generate your ideas for content? They appear simple and very straightforward, is it that easy? Or is there more than meets the eye?

tyson - I make hundreds of abstract compositions on index cards that help me arrive at weird effects quickly.  Sometimes the cards have words on the back like " raccoon " or instructions like " add blue and white dots " that I have to integrate into the abstractions whether I like it or not. This helps me get away from pointless hesitation and bad ideas that I think are genius.

rtc - It's the future, and you are a prestigious art critic. How would define the "movement" or era that is happening right now?

tyson - Post-Good

rtc - Invent something now, what is it?

tyson - A 12" black licorice record that you can eat.

rtc - Anything exciting coming up for you in the near future?

tyson - This spring Club Nutz at NEXT Fair 2010 during Art Chicago, April 30-May 3. Come tell a joke!

rtc - Do you have any advice for young aspiring artists?

tyson - Blog less. Paint outside. Try food sculpture.

f word

mad delays, been working the west coast for the past two weeks. tyson reeder interview up on wed!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010