Aaron Cockle here today with Saul Steinberg and Cauleen Smith at SAIC; Kevin Czap at CCS; FBI Art; Writers’ Woes; Douglas Wolk
Along the Lines: Selected Drawings by Saul Steinberg
At The Art Institute of Chicago through October 29, 2017:
Steinberg defined drawing as “a way of reasoning on paper,” and he remained committed to the act of drawing in an era dominated by large-scale painting and sculpture. Throughout his long career, he used drawing to think about the semantics of art, reconfiguring stylistic signs into a new language suited to modern life. He was, as the title of one of his books puts it, the “inspector,” seeing through every false front, every pretense. Sometimes with affection, sometimes with irony, but always with virtuoso mastery, Steinberg peeled back the carefully wrought masks of 20th-century civilization.
While you’re there, you can also check out the Cauleen Smith: Human_3.0 Reading List exhibit:
In this series of 57 drawings—each produced on 8½ × 12- inch graph paper in watercolor over graphite, occasionally elaborated with acrylic—the artist proposes a selection of books that is both personal, conveyed by the frequent inclusion of fingers or a thumb shown holding up a given book, and idiosyncratic. Harriet Tubman, C. L. R. James, and bell hooks find their place alongside Starfish, Sea Urchins, and Their Kin by Nelson Herwig. Together the drawings ask challenging questions: Have you read these books? Will you read these books? What will they mean to you? What do they mean to us now? Which titles might be missing?
An artist whose primary discipline is film, Smith has incorporated various influences and references in her images—science fiction, the black diaspora, and the lyrical potential of landscape. She first garnered national recognition with her feature-length film Drylongso (1998), which she completed during her graduate training at UCLA’s film school. In 2010, Smith moved to Chicago, where her work has grown increasingly site-specific and engaged in social activism. She created the Solar Flare Arkestral Marching Band Project, which has organized flash-mob appearances of a marching band composed of youth groups from the city’s South Side. This and other recent works have explicitly invoked the legacy of pioneering composer and performer Sun Ra, whose music and elaborate self-defining mythology also propelled the broader artistic movement of Afrofuturism.
GOOD NEWS! Kevin Czap is The Center for Cartoon Studies 2017-18 Fellow
In their most common form, government-sanctioned redactions obscure text: names and code names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers, the classified and top-secret—each a tiny black site housing a discrete, unknowable entity. For all of their apparent precision, each redaction expresses a set of underlying assumptions about identity and recognition, about the way we discipline noise into information.
The Dadaists had Cabaret Voltaire; Dorothy Parker, the Algonquin Hotel. Margaret Atwood cut her teeth in Toronto coffeehouses.
Jason Guriel looks at the life and the writer, the lives of writers, and which is better: the individual or the community.
“‘What is the role of the writer to her society?’ was a question Wallace Stevens took up and his answer was: none,” says Souvankham Thammavongsa, a poet whose strange poetic miniatures underscore her belief that she represents a constituency of one. A writer’s real responsibility, she suggests, is “to build a voice and to keep building that voice.” This stands in stark contrast to the civic-minded suggestion that writers apply their bricks and mortar to some cloud-city of togetherness. The latter sounds lovely, the former, merely honest.
I’VE DONE IT!! I’M DRIFTING INTO A WORLD OF LIMITLESS DIMENSIONS!!
Noted comics and culture critic Douglas Wolk has a process blog at All of the Marvels:
A Cosmic Journey – 5-30-2017 – by Cameron Arthur
Suzy and Cecil – 5-30-2017 – by Gabriella Tito
Joanie and Jordie – 5-30-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio