Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Neon Heart Eyes

Thank you thank you thank you. To the guests for attending Friday’s opening reception of LEXICON and to the artists for being in the show. You helped make it a great success! After all, this exhibition is all about the art and audience participation, so it’d be nothing without you!

Photo by Sergio Gomez.

I can say with confidence that LEXICON is the best exhibit I’ve curated so far. Which is saying a lot since I’ve always been proud of each of my projects (and still am proud of them—otherwise, I wouldn’t be referencing I CAN DO THAT years later!). You should always continue to improve and grow and surpass the high bar you’ve previously set for yourself. Together we’ll clear the stratosphere.

It makes me so happy that everyone more than embraced the concept of the show. Visitors told me how wonderful it was because normally they’d be too shy to voice their thoughts about art, but the anonymity of the Post-its (like my Dreams of a City postcards) allowed them to do so. Artists told me how wonderful it was because they could now see what people actually thought of their art, and sometimes it was exactly what they had in mind, sometimes it was completely out there, and other times it made them think about their art in a new way, giving them fresh insight into their own work; one artist told me they might even change their artist statement.

People also praised the diversity of the artwork and artists. You can see for yourself how this applies to more apparent elements like race/ethnicity and gender (as an artist who’s a young woman of color, I always try to ensure that artists who don’t usually get the shine they deserve, well, do) and in the art itself, but people also referred to age and experience. (You know the piece I’ve been using for all promo materials? In the artist announcement, on the Facebook event’s header, on the postcard, etc. LEXICON was artist Arturo Mazon’s first show ever.)

Photo by Sergio Gomez.

The most common descriptor for the show was “fun.” I also got “brilliant” and “compelling” often and had viewers tell me that “everyone is raving” about the interactive theme. People thanked me for inspiring them, thanked me for my passion.

Friends kept remarking on the amazing turnout, saying that the parking lot was filled and they had to park blocks away, and that pretty much everyone wandering around on other floors was asking where my event was (sorry, other floors).

Unexpected and hilarious happenings included participating artist Allen Vandever writing “D-” on a Post-it for his own piece to see if he could skew the results. It worked; his painting got some of the most notes and they were extremely positive (strategy: get people to feel sorry for you).

Photo by Sergio Gomez.

I accomplished my mission. Visitors were actually looking at the art, thinking about it, actively engaging with it. (If you attend enough art openings, you’ll know that this is practically unheard of.)

Scott P. Wheeler, husband of participating artist Emily Thornton Calvo, worded it perfectly on the show’s Facebook page:

“Awesome event. Fantastic works, excellent variety. Wonderful training and exercise in the world of art appreciation. This event helped visitors hone their art appreciation skills. Visitors had the unusual opportunity to explore their own interests and gain a better understanding of the kind of art they enjoy and why. It is not easy to assemble a show like this. Congratulations, Jenny Lam!”

You get it.

Some other comments I’m partial to:
“Jenny is a petite powerhouse!” –Renee LaVerne Rose, guest
“Jenny Lam [is a] creative and fearless curator.” –Peggy Shearn, participating artist
“[Jenny’s a] talented badass.” –Cristy Corso, participating artist
“Both [your dad] and I think that some of the artwork are as good as those at Art Basel, if not better.” –my mom in an email (the only opinion that matters, really)

My parents are the best. Photo by Sergio Gomez.

In addition to all the artists and guests, thanks to:
  • Sergio Gomez, who invited me to guest curate a show at the Zhou B Art Center in the first place. (And for doing things like literally putting my name on the wall.)
  • Michael Zhou for the opportunity as well.
  • Those working behind-the-scenes at Zhou B like Carl Virgo and Ronnie. Carl installed almost all the pieces—there are nearly 60, mind you—all within a few hours. (Normally, I’m the one who installs most of the art at the shows I curate. And let it be known: Hanging artwork is the one part of the curatorial process that I despise. Imagine my elation when I found out that one man does pretty much all the hanging for the center’s second floor space.)
  • My dear friend and mentor Robin Rios—whose studio is on the fourth floor of the building—for her support and impeccable timing and for referring to me as the Riker to her Picard.

Photo by Sergio Gomez.

All of the artwork can be viewed here. Most are available for purchase. If you have any questions about any piece, feel free to ask me!

Some photos from the reception are here, courtesy of Sergio Gomez.

If you took photos, email them to me! And/or share them on social media and tag them with #LEXICONchicago. Videos too!

Some of you have been asking me about what will happen with the Post-Its: On the last day of the exhibition’s run, I’ll record (whether via photos or typing everything up verbatim) what they all say, give them to the artists, and share the writings online! (I’m thinking of revealing the artists’ original statements as well!)

The exhibition is on view until July 9. Keep checking back to see how it evolves, and stay tuned for news of additional programming like artist talks and demos!

Saturday, June 18, 2016



First time I get a vinyl. Fancy.

LEXICON opened tonight and I am filled with love. ([Slightly] more coherent posts to come.)

Friday, June 17, 2016


LEXICON got an entire feature article Chicagoist! (Fun fact: I was interviewed at a brewery, where I shouted over the din of a surprise birthday party in between swigs of malty beer.) Thank you, Carrie McGath!

Katsy Johnson, Hot Dog Au Naturel, archival pigment print.

It’s a gorgeous, perfect summer day in Chicago. Come interact with great art! The exhibition opens tonight on the second floor of the Zhou B Art Center from 7-10pm!

(Teaser photo of the show in the previous post!)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Home Stretch

The show looks so good, you guys.


LEXICON opens tomorrow and I can’t wait for you to see it!

Also, I’ve added all of yesterday’s press coverage to the Press page!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Blank Canvas

Potential. The previous show in this 7,000 sq. ft. exhibition space has come down and it’s time for mine to go up! (Well, first I need to decide where almost 60 pieces are gonna’ go.) Come interact with art by over 40 artists on Friday!


Monday, June 13, 2016


LEXICON opens this Friday! Here’s artwork sneak peek #9!

Andrew Ek, Vacuuming, oil on canvas.

People keep asking me if I’m including my own art in the show. I’ve finally decided, and the answer is yes! These old sketches of mine from 8(!) years ago—as well as these Scribble Sunday doodles—will be in the interactive exhibition. (People have also been asking me how everything’s going. This is how I’ve been dealing.)

Lastly, as we reel from the mass shooting at LGBTQ nightclub Pulse in Orlando, here’s how you can help the victims and their families and community.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Standing Tall

LEXICON opens next Friday, June 17! Here’s artwork sneak peek #8!

Angie Redmond, Fresh off the Boat with My Big Ass Afro.

And in case you missed the previous post, I have a new post on Time Out Chicago: 10 art gallery shows to see this month, including—of course—a certain interactive exhibition.

Friday, June 3, 2016


LEXICON’s one of Time Out Chicago’s top 10 gallery exhibitions to see this month [because I wrote the post, muahaha]. The interactive art show opens in two weeks!

Happy National Donut Day (the Stan’s Donuts and Coffee staff cracked up when they noticed my Inigo Montoya / Simpsons mashup t-shirt) and have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2016


LEXICON’s been featured on Amplified Art Network! Thank you, Sergio Gomez!

Here’s artwork sneak peek #7!

Olivia Shih, Value Building Blocks, wood and Masonite.

And in personal art news: Ming-Na Wen herself retweeted and reposted my Mulan / Game of Thrones mashup doodle. I cannot I can’t I just (And the reason why the true Mother of Dragons was on my mind in the first place was because I commended BD Wong for going off on racists at his Twitter and he favorited my tweet. The past week has been filled with a lot of screaming, basically.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Modern Life

LEXICON’s been featured on my alma mater’s alumni page! Thank you so much! Always proud to be a Columbia University graduate.

Here’s artwork sneak peek #6!

Zachary J. Williams, Crazy for God, oil paint.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


LEXICON opens 1 month from today! Here’s artwork sneak peek #5:

Alix Anne Shaw, TRYST / TRUST / TRISTE, animated neon poem.

I’ve made slight changes to the show’s official page as well as the Facebook event. Check ‘em out, and if you’re on FB, invite yourself and your friends!

And an art-related throwback to my 5th Grade yearbook / my 10-year-old self’s favorite things:

Janet Jackson, emo lyrics from Janet Jackson, Seinfeld, Disney, dogs, drawing, writing, pizza, food in general. Sounds about right. (Also a year later I’d have an answer to “favorite movie”: the 1999 version of The Mummy.) Also props to my mom for being able to make me wear a dress for the school picture every year; it was embarrassing then but makes for glorious photos now—peep those poofy sleeves.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, everyone! To kick it off, here’s LEXICON artwork sneak peek #4:

Aisha Yousaf, Love & Oil, pen and ink.

More to get this glorious month started: A thought I had on naming, from the previous post.

Fellow AAPIs, tell your story!

And one of my favorite projects I came across this past year that’s always worth revisiting: “Chinatown Pretty,” a celebration of the street style of [adorable!] seniors living in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

(Also, I have a new post on Time Out Chicago today: 9 art gallery exhibitions to see in May.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

In Bloom

LEXICON artwork sneak peek #3!

Sheila Arora, Pick Me, acrylic on canvas.

The exhibition opens in June, but you can also see Sheila’s acrylic paintings at a pop-up solo show tonight in the Loop!

And since it’s gonna’ be May / Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month next week:

I loved Fresh off the Boat showing how the Huangs chose their American names on last night’s episode. My parents, immigrants from Hong Kong, also chose their own English names. There’s something so powerful about that—being young, coming from nothing, literally making a name for yourself. My dad, a kid living in Shek Kip Mei public housing estate, named himself after Alexander the Great. How badass is that?

Monday, April 18, 2016


LEXICON artwork sneak peek #2!

Zoe Beaudry, Deathless Gods, Remember Me II.

And as a follow-up to this post: My Centennial Project prize package—including Find Your Park gear and an annual pass to all U.S. national parks in 2016—arrived! (A couple months ago, I was selected as a First Prize Winner for the National Park Service and National Park Foundation’s Centennial Project, all thanks to you who voted for a drawing I made when I was 15. Heart eyes.)

There's totally a code under my thumb.

Happy spring, everyone!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Release the Kraken

As I said last week, a record number of artists applied to LEXICON. Thank you, again, for sharing so much art with me. Today, I am thrilled to announce the selected artists! Hailing from all over Chicago, the country, and the world, they include:

Adrienne Glover, Adrienne Powers, Agnieszka Ligendza, Aisha Yousaf, Alba Margarita, Alix Anne Shaw, Allen Vandever, Amanda Mudrovich, Andrew Ek, Angie Redmond, Annette Hur, Arturo Mazon, Brianna Baurichter, Céline Browning, Christine Nicklos, Cristy Corso, David del Bosque, Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair, Emily Calvo, George Lindmark, Jamie Gold, Jessica Smit, Judi Tussey, Julia Mellen, Karen Hirsch, Katsy Johnson, Kelli Anthony, Kristin Ingram, Laura Lein-Svencner, Lisa Goesling, Mairin Hartt, Michael Coakes, Olivia Shih, Peggy Shearn, Peyton Michelle Rack, Rachel Dennis, Rita Grendze, Russ Revock, Sandra Bridges, Scott Fincher, Shane Small, Sheila Arora, Stuart Hall, Su Yin Zhou, Zachary J. Williams, Zoe Beaudry, and you. Congratulations!
Now, let the LEXICON artwork sneak peeks begin! Here’s your first look at the show:

Arturo Mazon, Oct on My Head, mixed media.

Much more to come!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Windows and Mirrors

Thank you to all who applied to LEXICON! I’ve received applications from over 70(!) artists! That’s the most I’ve ever gotten for a show. (So know that if you aren’t selected, it’s nothing personal. I mean, it never is, but still. And if you are selected, it’s something to brag about.) I’m excited to go through all of these submissions! And get excited for the artist announcement—and the beginning of artwork sneak peeks—next week.

I don't always take selfies, but when I do,
I prefer to face a stainless steel and resin sculpture
at the VIP Private View of Art Basel Hong Kong.

In case you missed the previous post, I’m back from my annual Hong Kong trip that’s really an excuse for me to do cool stuff all over my parents’ birthplace and get fed and hang out with my dad’s side of the family and get fed for Art Basel, and you can view my photos all over social media.

Happy April!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bel Canto

I’m back from Hong Kong (photos on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and 500px), and I bring a cold (quarantining myself), the most intense tan on the top of my forehead and the part in my hair (that’s what I get for using my hands as a visor?), and a reminder that artist applications for my next show, LEXICON, are due on Monday!

One of my favorite spots in Hong Kong:
The Tang Dynasty-style Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery.

And I love getting these kinds of emails. Thank you. (The “exhibition near the Damen stop” is I CAN DO THAT, and “this one” is, of course, LEXICON.)

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