Friday, July 17, 2009

The Part of the Internet Where Jeff Complains about Pants.

Ok. This is an admittedly futile gesture, but what's a blog for if not to occasionally complain about some shoddy product or service we've been subjected to?

My story is as simple as a couple pairs of Haggar casual slacks I purchased new (I know...khakis...LOL...) that ended up frayed and unwearable (at least in a professional setting) within a year. Granted, I buy/wear lots of vintage clothes, so I might have missed the point at which new retail clothes became disposable, but I was still pretty surprised.

In a somewhat uncharacteristic move, I decided to fire off a complaint via Haggar's web site. I sent them this short note:

Hello Haggar,

I'm writing to let you know that I'll be very hesitant to purchase any of your products in the future. Here's why: I purchased two pairs of your flat front casual pants (upc # 01745757043 and 017457571106) new from my local Kohl's. Within six months, both pairs were starting to fray and show significant signs of wear around the bottom hem and pockets. Within a year, they were both unwearable (at least in an office environment). I understand that costs are always an issue in manufacturing and that sometimes cheaper materials are necessary, but understand this, I really need pants that I purchase new to last more than a year. If I can't trust your products to at least do that, I just won't buy them anymore.


Jeff Regensburger

Now the really funny part is this. When I clicked on "submit", I got what appeared to be a msyql error (or somesuch nonsense). I'm not even sure my fist-shaking missive went through. And even if it did, would it matter? I mean what are they going to do? Give me some gift certificates for more Haggar pants?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Modern Wing (The Art of Institute of Chicago)

I was in Chicago over the weekend and had a chance to visit The Art Institute's Modern Wing, a recently opened addition designed by Renzo Piano and built to house the museum's 20th and 21st Century collections.

Getting There (or at least inside).

To start (and from a purely logistical perspective), I'll mention that visitors can enter The Modern Wing from the north side of the Art Institute campus on Monroe street. I point this out because I expect the line might be shorter when you enter from there, and you also gain the advantage of being right in The Modern Wing upon arrival (i.e. you don't have to go find it). The Monroe Street entrance is one of the many little touches (along with a dedicated Modern Wing coffee bar, gift shop, and restrooms) that make a visit to The Modern Wing an event that's easily separate from a visit to the Art Institute proper (though admission happily gets you into both).

The Friendly Confines

The building itself is worthy of the accolades. Obviously, it's quite a departure from the style of the old building (see also the NGA and its East Building), but still integrates nicely into the campus. The foyer/main lobby is tall and light, creating the sense of having arrived someplace important. The fact that you've entered a museum though isn't readily apparent, and I think that has to do with the presumably deliberate decision to not have any large scale work on display in the main hall. There's plenty of room though, and perhaps this decision will be revisited. The galleries themselves provide diffuse, natural light whenever possible, and the navigation between them is fairly clear and simple.

The Collection

The collection was certainly impressive, but seemed geared more toward highlighting a few particular artists rather than providing a comprehensive selection over time. Gehard Richter, Jim Nutt, Phillip Guston, Bruce Nauman, Robert Gober, and Kerry James Marshall all enjoyed rooms of their own, while other artists seemed noticeably absent.

That said, personal highlights certainly included Vija Celmins' "Explosion at Sea", Jeff Wall's "The Flooded Grave" (which is weirdly vertigo inducing in real life!) and
Gehard Richter's "Little Landscape at the Seaside". Richter also gets special consideration for taking a stab at 9/11 while managing to be neither maudlin nor obvious. Balthus, Bonnard, and a Sol Lewitt wall drawing also helped to make this visit a real treat.

A Side Note on Exposition

I'm one of the visitors who appreciates those little expository placards that museums sometimes provide. I find that being able to learn a little background on the work and artist (albeit from one curator's perspective) adds value (ugh!) to the museum experience. The Modern Wing, to their credit, provides a lot of these!

I expect museum professionals and critics probably argue back and forth about whether or not work in a museum ought to be explained. T
he fact is though, we learn in a lot of different ways; by seeing, reading, hearing, and acting. Placards and text engage visitors in the learning process in a way that goes beyond the simple act of looking. I say kudos then to the Modern Wing for offering such clear, cogent, and easily accessible explanations. I read them, enjoyed them, and feel like I came away with a much better understanding of what I was seeing.

Pro Tips

Navigating those big glass doors: It took half of my visit to figure them out! If you approach a door and it has a single, vertical handle that runs from the floor to about waist height, grab it and pull. If you approach a door that has a handle that comes up from the floor and then makes a 90 degree turn toward the hinges, that means push.

Talking on cell-phones: Halls and lobby please, not in the galleries.

The giant, fallen tree sculpture: It doesn't have a rope or marking around it, but apparently you still shouldn't stand too close.

Also, be sure and check out the bathrooms, space-aged and mood lit.

And Finally

If you're a fan of modern and contemporary art, I'd recommend setting aside the better part of a day to take in the whole collection. If you have the time and inclination, look at it as a destination independent of the Art Institute. The autonomy of the building, the collections, and the way it's branded certainly invites it. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"Recent Landscapes" Preview Reception, Ohio Art League Gallery, 7/2/2009

My wife took some photos of the preview reception on Thursday evening. I've posted a few to illustrate the prep, the party, and the end.

I was happy with how the show turned out. I thought the arrangement and number of paintings worked well in the space. Thanks to everyone who showed up on Thursday and/or Gallery Hop.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Recent Landscapes" on view at the Ohio Art League Gallery

An exhibition of my recent paintings will be on view at the Ohio Art League Gallery from July 4 - July 25. This show is part of the Art League's ongoing series of member curated exhibitions.

As this show comes together, my sincere thanks go out to Sophie Knee. In addition to proposing and curating this show, Sophie kept up with the framing, the writing, the hanging, and a myriad of other details that go into putting together an event like this. I quite literally couldn't have done it without her.

I would also like to thank Eliza Jones, Adam Broullitte, the Ohio Art League, friends and staff at Ohio Arts Council and the crew at Hackman Frames for all the help and support they provided along the way. This really was a team effort, so thank you all!

Finally, a special thank you to my wife, who, in spite of the fact that I routinely ignore her advice to "work bigger!", continues to be my greatest supporter!

Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 - 5 pm.

A preview reception will be held on Thursday July 2, 7 - 9 pm. Consider yourself invited!

The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition 2009

The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition is probably the premier visual arts competition in Ohio. I can't think of another venue that brings together as much publicity and prize money than the State Fair. Professionals and amateurs are invited to submit works, with hi-caliber jurors making the final decision regarding what gets shown. While the two works I submitted (above) were not accepted for show, I look forward to enjoying the exhibit and congratulate all the artists who got in. If this year is anything like past years, it will be a wonderful event!

The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition runs from July 29 - August 9.

For more information, follow the Fine Arts Exhibition on their blog,

Supercell Opens in new multi-use art space at Junctionview

Recently Ginnie Baer (of Couchfire Collective fame) invited me to participate in the inaugural exhibition at Matchbox, Junctionview Studios' new multi-use art space. The show, called "Supercell" is a traveling exhibition of storm themed works created by a number of different artists. I submitted the two paintings shown above ("Untitled Landscape" (top), and "American Landscape #4" (bottom)).

"Supercell" is on view through July 12th at Junctionview (889 Williams Avenue in Grandview), after which it moves on to the Shift Space Gallery in Witchita KS.

For more information on "Supercell", the Couchfire Collective, and the Matchbox space, check out this nice article by Melissa Starker from Columbus Alive.