Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kehinde Wiley's Empire of Vulnerability- by Joel Kuennen- ArtSlant

“Kehinde Wiley is everywhere right now,” said Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum, as the small press tour began. This was not an exaggeration by any means; Wiley garnered recent attention when his paintings appeared as backdrops in Fox's Empire, a highly stylized melodrama from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong that collages black stereotypes while positioning black bodies into a King Lear-like drama, and for his fashion week photoshoot with New York Magazine. Wiley has been an art star since the mid 2000s when his masterful paintings of black men posing in the tradition of classical portrait painting first began making the rounds, yet he is certainly having a moment right now with the opening today of the largest survey to date on the 37-year-old artist at the Brooklyn Museum. New works include masterful stained-glass portraits from Prague and appropriated from Christian chapels, bronze busts crafted in China, and a selection from his series An Economy of Grace.
Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977), The Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte, 2014, Oil on linen, 83½ x 63 in. (212 x 160 cm). © Kehinde Wiley. (Photo: Robert Wedemeyer, courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California)
As many critics have noted over the years, Wiley is well-packaged. A young black artist from a disadvantaged background, raised on the mean streets of LA by a single mother, etc.—Wiley fits the narrative. His practice of “street casting”—where he asks people he sees on the street to select poses to inhabit from the art historical canon—as well as his brilliantly-direct practice of inserting black bodies in poses of power and affluence is often derided as too easy. It is easy, but it should not be disregarded. New York Times Critic Martha Schwendener is not a fan, and has onmultiple occasions dismissed the premise behind Wiley’s paintings while refusing to go into the intricacies of black male identity that his work takes on. In one of her shadiest rebukes, Schwendener uses Wiley’s premise itself to discount his project:
From the outside, the problem might seem merely that Wiley's genre is stale. He's coming late to the game of figurative art; what he's doing isn't particularly new or interesting, except that he's depicting African-Americans and Africans instead of white Europeans.
Schwendener goes on to point out that Wiley isn’t the first to insert black bodies into the Western art historical canon—Barkley Hendricks was doing this back in the 70s to much more controversial effect. But who really cares about firsts other than historians? The contestation of black identity within a visual culture of white supremacy—it takes a lot of visual repetition to inscribe the black body with violence and danger—must be an ongoing project.
Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977), Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps, 2005, Oil on canvas, 108 x 108 in. (274.3 x 274.3 cm). Collection of Suzi and Andrew B. Cohen. © Kehinde Wiley. (Photo: Sarah DiSantis, Brooklyn Museum)
The criticism of Wiley as "too packaged" betrays a lack of nuanced understanding behind the project itself—for it has an agenda far beyond the art world. His brand drifts between confrontational and consumable and his prior use of only black male bodies as his subjects (An Economy of Grace, focuses on the black female body for the first time in his practice) reveals the artist’s intention of remaking the brand of the black man in Western society. Wiley’s work is consumable and it needs to be if it wants to be successful at more than finding its way into museum collections and TV-mansions.

Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977). Saint Remi, 2014, Stained glass, 96 x 43 1/2 in. (243.8 x 110.5 cm).
Courtesy of Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris. © Kehinde Wiley
 The concept and practice of branding is practically synonymous with self-identity in a culture that primacies the visual the way ours does. Brands can elevate; they can evoke power, affluence, and class, but they can also denigrate. A particularly detached marketing executive might say that “the black man needs some rebranding.” Wiley’s project is just this: an extensive rebranding project that hinges on the deep, racial assumptions within American culture. A representative study Wiley painted in 2006 is on view in The New Republic: a careful painting of a young black man on a white background. Underneath his image is a set of large, white-washed numbers that indicate the painting is of a mugshot. Wiley says he found the mugshot crumpled up on the sidewalk one day and the young man’s image struck him: his softness, his vulnerability. This point of view is where Wiley diverges from popular culture.
Kehinde Wiley, Mugshot Study, 2006, Oil on Canvas, 36 x 24 in. Sender Collection. Image courtesy of the author 
Herman Gray, Chair of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz, puts it succinctly in his essay "Black Masculinity and Visual Culture": “Self representations of black masculinity in the United States are historically structured by and against dominant (and dominating) discourses of masculinity and race, specifically (whiteness).” This posturing counter to the visual hegemony of whiteness led to the seemingly mutually beneficial “thug/gangsta” trope where whiteness can accept the black body as outsider and criminal and the black subject can enact resistance and participate in self representation.
Empire engages with these tropes melodramatically, portraying a black hero who rose to the top through breaking the law and sometimes murdering his closest friends, or as it is characterized on the show: “hustling.” The fine line here is between a portrayal of very real life experiences for many oppressed and marginalized people and the reification of damaging stereotypes, a line that is echoed in feminist debates on self-representation of the female nude. The brilliance of Wiley, for this writer, is that he is able to redirect the discussion towards vulnerability and stage that vulnerability as power.
Wiley’s New Republic is an empire of vulnerability as strength.
(Image at top: Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977). Shantavia Beale II, 2012. Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 in. (152.4 x 121.9 cm). Collection of Ana and Lenny Gravier, courtesy Sean Kelly, New York. © Kehinde Wiley. Photo: Jason Wyche)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Kulturbrücke/Culture Bridge International Art Encounters From Germany & USA

"Art is Business" Curator PIOTR WOLODKOWICZ
Kulturbrücke/Culture Bridge
Exhibition: Feb. 21 - March 21, 2015
International Art Encounters from Germany & USA
at the DANK Haus, 4740 N. Western
The DANK Haus presents KULTURBRUECKE, a cultural bridge of musicians, painters, dancers, and sculptors from both Germany and the United States.
Curated by Piotr Wolodkowicz and Marianna Buchwald, the International Arts Group Chicago with more than 50 artists from 5 different continents features a broad range of works with an intention to deepen cross-cultural ties.
Opening Reception and performances by Ursula Gallenkamp and Kao Ra Zen at 8 pm Saturday, February 21, 2015 6pm – 10 pm
Opening Reception Refreshments Provided by: Chicago Brauhaus, Cafe’ Selmarie, Jewel Osco in Andersonville

Reposted for IAG by Alpha Bruton

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bronzeville Artists Lofts Driehaus 2015 LISC CNDA

"Art is Business" - Alan Emerson Hicks Emerson Studio and curator for the Phantom Gallery Chicago, and Lavon N. Pettis project manager of (Global Resources ID) attend the awards ceremony on Tuesday Feb 17, 2015. 
Ravi Ricker, AIA, LEED Assoc.,Wrap architecture sponsored our attendance at this years awards.


Alan Emerson Hicks, Renee Baker (Phantom Gallery member), Raymond Anthony Thomas, Bruce Gage,  Raven Bedenfield, Sean Owens (dj), Frances and Andre Guichard are featured in this video, presented during the Driehaus 2015 CNDA Awards. The building won third place in the competition.  Below is an article and image I reposted from Chicago Curbed.  The Phantom Gallery is proud to be part of this project, and being able to contribute to the Bronzeville Arts District.


Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence in Community Design (3rd Place): Wrap Architecture for Bronzeville Artists Lofts
an old, dilapidated Borden's dairy was so far gone it contained a substance the architect's jokingly referred to as "urban mulch." A smart rehab turned the broken-down building into an expo space with 16 life-work lofts.

Ravi Ricker, AIA, LEED Assoc.
Wrap architecture
2511 W. Moffat  #104
Chicago, IL 60647
773-862-9329 phone
773-862-9328 fax

“FREE AT FIRST: The Audacious Journey of the AACM” 1/19/15-9/6/15

"Art is Business" Curator/Musician Douglas Ewart Presents- 

"Free at First: The Audacious Journey of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians" runs through Sept. 6 at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place. Museum admission is $5-$10 and free on Sundays. In addition, "AACM In Conversation" will feature Kelan Phil Cohran and Muhal Richard Abrams with George Lewis, author of "A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music," 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the museum; admission is was free. For schedule of evens, Phone 773-947-0600 or visit

Chicago Tribune:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fear No Art as a Chicago Arts Person

"Art is Business" Project Manager Lavon Pettis has been extend an invitation to attend The Dinner Party, by Elysabeth founder of Fear No Art as a Chicago Arts person to be a special guest. February 16 at City Winery.

Chef Tellez of Tippling Hall Makes Lamb Meatballs

"The Dinner Party"

Join us Monday night! BUY TIX HERE. Chef Guillermo Tellez of Tippling Hall cooks for Gospel singer and Destiny’s Child Superstar, Michelle Williams, host of “The Doctors” and Rachel Ray Contributor, Dr. Ian Smith, Hollywood Director of “ Muffin Top: A Love Story”, Cathryn Michon, host Elysabeth Alfano AND YOU! Jazz great Frank Catalano opens it up! BUY TIX HERE or watch us streaming live on Monday night at 7:30 CST!

Elysabeth Alfano, host of Fear No ART and now The Dinner Party, is branching out with a new show and new format.  The Dinner Party is a monthly show broadcast live on Sun Times-Splash Section website in front of a live audience.  Alfano invites 3 national or Chicago celebs (mostly artists, but also entrepreneurs and inventors) and a well-known chef to join her for dinner.  Over food, drinks, twitter and a few impromptu performances, the conversations flow! And 2015 is the Year of Trotter on The Dinner Party, ensuring that every Dinner Party has one of Chicago’s best chefs.

Buy tickets! to be a part of the audience for the filming of the 90 minute show AND enjoy a large sampling of the chef’s creations, plus Lagunitas Beer, Roth Cheese, Nellcote Bread, Lifeway Frozen Kefir Dessert and Chicago Cupcake!  Can’t make the show?  Invite your friends over, watch The Dinner Party on The Sun Times- Splash Section website and have a dinner party of your own, while tweeting in your questions or comments during the show.  If your tweet is picked to be incorporated into the show, you will win great prizes like theater and dance tickets, CDs, book T-shirts and more!

When and Where: February 16 at City Winery.  Buy Tix here.
Arrival Time (for ticket holders): 
Dinner Party Doors: 6:30 pm. Show starts at 7 pm.
Broadcast time (for non-ticket holders):  
watch and tweet in; streaming live at 7:30 pm.
To watch previous Dinner Parties, click here. 
Plus, mark your calendars for the future Dinner Parties February 16 and April 6.
Watch us on the big screen on TiVo.
For more information email: