Thursday, September 11, 2008

Antena featured in the Chicago Reader

Best Bets | Antena

In 1996 Miguel Cortez cofounded Polvo, a Pilsen collective whose ventures included print and online magazines and one of the city’s best independent galleries. Polvo closed the gallery in 2007, but Cortez’s new space, Antena, is keeping up the same high standards of diverse and thought-provoking work. October brings a solo show by Patrick Lichty, whose CV includes work with anticorporate pranksters RTMark. Lichty’s Spire Reloaded comprises various electronic depictions of Berwyn’s late, beloved “car-kebab,” from straight-up photos to an online “virtual sculpture” and a ten-minute expansion of the 12-second appearance of the spire in Wayne’s World.

That’s followed in November by Time Elapse, curated by Amelia Winger-Bearskin, who’ll present her own video art as well as that of a selection of artists largely from Austin, Texas. A trained opera singer, Winger-Bearskin takes a meditative approach to everyday experiences, creating mesmerizing work that combines the layered harmonics of mantra-like vocals with blurry, manipulated imagery of landscapes and bodies. A continuation of a project begun last year at Polvo, Time Elapse will also feature work by Joseph Winchester—whose elegant abstractions evoke the history of experimental film, video, and sound art—and Lanneau White, whose lo-fi battledork aesthetic evokes the west coast performance troupe, My Barbarian, and the Dungeon Majesty fantasy serial, but adds depth by addressing issues of race and otherness. Antena is just one facet of the bustling Pilsen art world; Plaines Project, Vega Estates, No Coast, and Golden Age are all worth visiting in the coming months too. Arrow Spire Reloaded opens Fri 10/10, 5 PM, and runs through 11/8. Time Elapse opens Fri 11/21, 6 PM, and runs through 12/20. Sat noon-5 or by appointment, 1765 S. Laflin, —Albert Stabler

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jaime Mendoza opening night - August 29, 2008

article in NEW CITY

Fall Openings: Art Not Necessarily for Sale

Many new and established art galleries function as gallery spaces and homes. Outside the clusters of galleries, these spaces, such as Pilsen’s Antena, Oak Park’s Suburban and Albany Park’s Swimming Pool Project Space make room for art beside the furniture. Profit is not the motive; rather, it’s all about exposure, for artists and viewers, and creative expression. “We have an art world that doesn’t value artists,” notes Michelle Grabner, co-owner of the nine-year-old Suburban gallery. “Dealers and curators are running the shots, artists really don’t have the kind of control and decision making they once had.”

Filling that void, art spaces such as Suburban and Antena allow artists free reign in terms of artistic and curatorial control. Antena, a new space that opened in March, is run out of founder Miguel Cortez’s apartment. “Artists are allowed to repaint the walls, transform the space for a show,” Cortez says, who shifted focus to his new space after running Pilsen’s Polvo gallery for years. Polvo continues to publish a quarterly magazine with artist profiles.

Art openings at both Suburban and Antena provide a gathering spot for the arts community. At Suburban, openings now take place on Sunday afternoons in the yard of Grabner’s house, with bratwurst and beer during the warm months, coffee and sweets during the winter. Antena’s openings, which take place in Cortez’s apartment, are equally informal. And through these events artists gain access to networks and visibility.

“We are neither a commercial nor a non-profit space,” notes Grabner. And the same goes for Antena, which aims to be a forum for artists in need of a middle ground alternative space.

Swimming Pool Project Space, opened July 2008, appearing as a commercial storefront, provides a springboard for emerging contemporary artists from Chicago and abroad. Pool parties—openings that take place around the glossy blue wooden floor that resembles a swimming pool—provide a place for artists and community members to interact. “This where people meet, artists or not, it’s public space where conversation occurs, not a bar but an art space,” says co-owner Liz Nielsen. The next exhibition, “Video as Video: Rewind to Form,” is curated by art critic Alicia Eler and artist Peregrine Honig, and opens September 20. (Marla Seidell)