Creativity takes many forms, as I learned strolling through the Exhibit Hall of Navy Pier recently, viewing the goods on display at EXPO Chicago.
One piece I thought would look nice in my living room, adjacent to my collection of Miami Beach Art Deco posters, was the monoprint Blah, Blah, Blah by Mel Bochner. It’s basically the word “Blah” repeated 42 times. Yeah, I think I’ve been on that conference call.
I inquired with the gallery repping Bochner how much Blah would set me back. The answer: $120,000. Yipes.
Moving on, I found a black angular sculpture called Raptor by Pedro S. de Movellán. The carbon fiber, polished aluminum and stainless steel piece actually moves, via air currents. It was available for the relative bargain rate of $40,000. Shoot, I could have nabbed three of them for the price of one Blah.
The real bargain on the floor was Dear Sweet Love, by Michael Scoggins. At $12,000, it was a steal. The graphite, colored pencil on paper work was a giant piece of notebook paper with a disturbing, heavily redacted love letter. I think.
Confused as all get-out, I climbed the stairs to get to the really strange stuff. I was not disappointed. The overall space was called Bling Bling and organized by 6018 North, a local green, non-profit group promoting arts, culture and community.
The room-sized exhibit Champagne Garden had as a centerpiece SAIC grad Steve Adkins’ work Indifference Curve. The title refers to the practice commodities brokers use to assure they remain profitable through market swings.
The Adkins work questions social indifference that accompanies the focus on acquiring stuff. It was a participatory piece of art, as well. Visitors actually sat in a wooden chair, which was lifted several feet off the ground by an elaborate pulley system. Then, living the high life, so to speak, the person in the chair had a glass of champagne provided, with the glass rising on its own pulley lift. Looking down from above, the champagne-quaffing airlifted guest could view even more ostentatiousness—paver stones emblazoned with the Louis Vuitton monogram.
Louis XIV should have had it so good.
Moving one room over, the Bling Bling exhibit space offered even more weirdness—an exhibit featuring various strikes, marches and other civil actions, all using the medium of lotto ticket scratch-off material. As if that wasn’t enough, a certified therapist was available to just listen. Alice Berry was the therapist and she had more than a passing background in art herself. Berry is an artist and clothing designer (who created the striking outfit she wore), but at this exhibit, she was just listening.
“You used to call up a friend and tell them what’s going on,” said curator Tricia Vaneck. That was, of course, before the scourge of the smartphone, and the death of conversation: texting.
The Bling Bling exhibit offered up Ms. Berry as the ultimate luxury—someone who was willing, able, and happy to just listen. I thought about telling her my thoughts, but feared she might only hear, “blah, blah blah…“