Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Greatest Hits

Photo by Jessica Pierotti.

Ah, 2014 cometh. There’s already much to look forward to:

  • I’ve just been invited to be the guest juror for Water Street Studios’ spring show, opening April 11. Thanks, Steven Lockwood!

  • I’ve also received a VIP invite to the second edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, happening in May. (Here’s my recap of the inaugural fair.) And right after Hong Kong, I’ll be in New York City for my 5-year college reunion (holy shit).


  • Artists: The CTA is seeking art for Blue Line stations. Apply! Submissions are due January 6.

  • Illinois residents: The Art Institute of Chicago will be free every weekday from January 6 through February 12! Warm up this winter with art.

Photos from my last two adventures of 2013:

  • My highlights from Art Basel Miami Beach and the rest of Miami Art Week (including parallel fairs, concurrent exhibitions, and public art throughout Miami) on Facebook and Flickr.

And now for the year in review. Here are your top 10 most read posts of 2013:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


From laughing with friends during egregiously inappropriate moments to selling four artists’ works* to emerging, past one in the morning, onto the craziest roof after climbing up three ladders through the craziest attic with a bunch of crazy people (I love you all), Saturday night was amazing. Thank you, everyone.

*(James T. Green’s Post-Black animated GIF, Robin Rios’ Quiet aluminum print, several pieces from English Prevo’s Agora series, and Jessie Winslow’s Untitled mixed media photo collage.)

Party photos forthcoming.

English Prevo.

An excerpt from (and an addendum to) last month’s “King of Kowloon” post got published in Rad Brown Dads, which is pretty rad itself.

Event to attend: New Yorkers, go to this celebration hosted by my friends Stephanie Lindquist, Courteney Ervin, and Glendalys Medina. Learn about different ways to expand your creativity.

Events to find me at: I’ve just received VIP invitations to PULSE and UNTITLED, both of which I loved last year (you can find out why in one of the most read posts of 2012). I’ll be there, as well as the Art Basel Miami Beach VIP Vernissage and everything else I scored free passes to (that’s the way to do it).

Americans, enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend! Everyone else, stuff your faces anyway!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Sixty Inches From Center and Autotelic’s birthday bash—with an exhibition curated by yours truly—is tonight! I just finished installing the art last night, and, you guys, the show looks so. good. So good. Can’t wait for you all to see it!

A teaser.

Chicago, come party with us. There will be cake. And cocktails. And tamales. And performances. And games. And raffle prizes. And tarot readings. And cake.

And tamales.

After the jump, peep a few installation shots I’ve taken over the past week:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Gut Punch of a Buff

It looks like demolition of 5 Pointz really is happening; the graffiti mecca has been whitewashed.

Photo by Ian Kwok, 2007. When I used to look like a spy, apparently.

Sigh. This was one of my favorite spots in New York. Here are some photos I took in 2007. (You can also watch the Flickr slideshow below.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Uptown Pearls

Curating a show, in a space like this, within one month (slash two weeks since I just finalized the list of artists and the opening’s on the 23rd)? Challenge accepted.

Photo by Heather Fritz.

(In case you didn’t see the update in the previous post, the building used to house a bank, and, according to Uptown-er and excellent local history source Jeffrey Littleton, it was originally a vaudeville theater. What a place for an art exhibition.)

[And an update for this post: Take a look at the first art installed. Jason Hawk is the man.]

And for the ultimate “Throwback Thursday”: Wrote this when I was 5.

Monday, October 21, 2013

King of Kowloon

First, two things:

I’ve been invited to guest curate a show for Sixty Inches From Center’s birthday party at Autotelic {Studios} on November 23. Thanks to Tempestt Hazel for the opportunity! [10/31 edit: Now at Flats Studio / a massive old bank building. Like, theres a vault and everything. Heres a photo of the space. And, according to Tempestt, I have unlimited power over it. Get excited / be afraid.]

It’s 4Art Gallery’s 10th anniversary. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Robin Rios, the gallery’s owner and my dear friend and mentor. (This post—one of this blog’s first!—includes a photo from Somnambulist, the wall-less exhibition I curated with her back in the day.) Show Robin some love! Check out the two exhibitions she’s curated this month at the Zhou B Art Center: Centerline on the buildings main and second floors and Shattered Mirror in 4Art on the fourth floor.

Now, on to what prompted me to post today:

Mei Ho House before renovation, 2009.
(Photo via ARTINFO Hong Kong.)

My heart spun when I saw today’s news from ARTINFO Hong Kong, with the headline “Defunct Housing Block for Homeless Now a Museum” and the above photo. This is where my dad was born and raised, where he spent his entire childhood. This is Shek Kip Mei.

(If you haven’t looked through the photo albums from my most recent Hong Kong trip: My dad and his brothers grew up in the Shek Kip Mei public housing projects, a resettlement estate that was essentially a slum. Multiple families were crammed into concrete units 120 sq. ft. in size. The only window in each unit looked out onto a narrow outdoor corridor, which ran along the exterior of a 7-story-tall H-shaped building. Bathrooms were communal; tenants bathed with small pails. Kitchens were nonexistent; tenants cooked in the corridors.)

As a little boy, my dad saw it all here. Teens snorting coke in the stairwells. People jumping to their deaths from the balconies. Gang members disemboweling each other in the courtyards below. The cops—who were white and British—rolling in (that’s when you knew shit got real). Gang members teaching each other Confucius’ Analects. People waking early to hawk wares on the streets. Kids crowding into the one unit that had a TV. My dad, three years old, watching a neighbor play the erhu and trying to emulate him with a pair of chopsticks. On those hot and humid summer nights, residents brought their cots outside and slept on the corridors. No one locked their doors (“Whats there to steal?”), and everyone looked out for each other. “Life was tough and people were poor,” my dad once said to me, “But happy.”

My dad as a 15-year-old BAMF / Boy Scout.

I don’t know how I feel about this “revitalization project” just yet. I do know, however, that visiting this place will be a top priority when I go on my annual Hong Kong trip in May.

For Art Basel.

Can Aubrey Canada Dry Graham Drake surrender “Started from the Bottom” to my family ‘cause like…

Thursday, October 10, 2013

On the Streets

Lower East Side. (Photo via Banksy's site.)

Probably my favorite piece from Banksy’s Better Out Than In residency so far. [Sunday edit: New favorite.] New Yorkers, you can find this on Ludlow between Stanton and Rivington in the LES (a.k.a. one of the neighborhoods that tried my terrible sense of direction when I ran around Manhattan with my then-untitled mapping project / numbered streets are my friends / speaking of which…)

This January, I’ll be collaborating with the Chicago Children’s Museum and doing a series of visiting artist workshops related to Dreams of a City. I always love seeing kids’ responses. Thanks to CCM for contacting me!

But before that:

  • Tonight: As previously announced, I’ve been invited to be a committee member and special guest at Meet Your Maker: Connecting Chicago Creatives, an official Chicago Artists Month event, happening at the Fulton Street Collective (where I curated Exquisite Corpse!). Come. Network.

  • Next Saturday: My incredibly inspirational friend Sophia Nahli Allison, who photographed the opening night of I CAN DO THAT (and whose texts to me during Breaking Bad I’ll miss almost as much as the show itself (raise your hand if you, too, weren’t sure whether to give a standing ovation or ugly-cry because it’s over (I did both))), will be on the panel for “Manual of Violence.” It will also be the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago, which continues the following day.

In the previous post, I previewed Expo Chicago and interviewed its director. My photos from the fair, the Chicago debut of Fountain, the inaugural EDITION Chicago, and other Expo Art Week events can be viewed on Flickr and Facebook. 

I’ll leave you with some notable quotes.

“Five hundred?”
“You want how many stamps?”
“That’s a lot of stamps…”
(Or any other variation of the above.)
—Any given postal worker, to me, every other week.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

EXPO CHICAGO 2013 // An Interview with Tony Karman

Expo Chicago 2012 Vernissage.
(Image courtesy of Carol Fox and Associates Public Relations.)

Art lovers, clear your schedules. This week, Expo Chicago, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, is back for its second year. Art from 125 premier galleries will grace Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, transformed once again by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects into an engaging interior environment. Also returning to Expo are EXPOSURE, a platform for emerging galleries; IN/SITU, a showcase of large-scale installations and performative works; the culmination of  /Dialogues, a roster of discussion panels featuring leaders in the art field; and a VIP Program.

New this year are Expo Video, a section for cutting-edge film and new media, and Expo Art Week, an ambitious, city-wide celebration of Chicago’s rich cultural landscape. Highlights of Expo Art Week include museum exhibitions and gallery openings; public art projects; music, theater, and dance performances; special dining experiences, and more. Shuttles will be available to take visitors from Navy Pier to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the River North and West Loop gallery districts.

As if that weren’t enough to sate your art and culture appetites, there will also be two new satellite fairs: the inaugural EDITION Chicago at Chicago Artists Coalition in the West Loop; and the Chicago debut of the alternative-minded Fountain Art Fair at Mana Contemporary in Pilsen.

What sophomore slump?

I sat down and chatted with Expo’s President and Director, Tony Karman, for a preview. (He also shared his opinion on the rise of the mega-fair, gave [actually good] career advice to young artists and arts professionals, and talked about his favorite things to do in his [rare] spare time, which may or may not involve having a beer at the Hideout.) Continue reading below.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sun in Leo

How much you impress people is inversely proportional to your time spent on this planet. (Last day being 25 = Deleting my age from my bio everywhere.)

I met with a Dreams of a City assistant a couple days ago and she showed me this gorgeous mural she helped design. Still in progress, much of it is being created by local teens hired by Green Star Movement through After School Matters. Very inspiring.

Underpass at Hiawatha and Kinzua, Edgebrook.

And more art for Chicagoans to be excited about: In September 2014, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (which is free every Tuesday!) will be the U.S. venue for the world tour of the David Bowie is exhibition. (That gives me about 13 months to fix my broken Aladdin Sane bottle cap necklace.)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

“You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one”

This is what a blank Dreams of a City postcard looks like.
(And yes this is my Facebook profile picture.) Photo courtesy of Fotio.

DNAinfo interviewed me about Dreams of a City. (Twice.) Thanks to Kelly Bauer for the article and Jackie Kostek for the video(It’s fitting that I was wearing a LotR shirt considering how Hobbit-like in stature I look in the latter link.)

And, on a completely unrelated note (or is it), I have TV On The Radio’s new song on repeat. “I see tons of people looking lost and lethal and I think we’re all the same.” Also loving Chance The Rappers new videoEverybodys somebodys everything. For you, Chicago.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Make it rain on [art shows]


·         Have been selected to receive a 2013 Individual Artists Program grant from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for Dreams of a City!

·         Guested on a podcast last week. (Started off talking about my latest projects. Ended up going on tangents about things like Justice League, the demise of Cary Elwes’ face, how great a Ken Burns-style mockumentary for World War Z would be, etc. Naturally.) It’s up today—have a listen. Many thanks to Sawyer Heppes!

·         Have been asked to co-host a networking event for artists and arts administrators called Meet Your Maker, happening October 10 during Chicago Artists Month. Save the date!

·         Am in yet another the artblog news post. Thanks again!

What have you been reading this month? Scroll down, look for the [new!] popular posts gadget on the right, and dig in to the archives. (For the most read posts of 2012, check out this entry.)

When you’re ready, Jay-Z and Marina Abramović will walk you out of this post.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Everybody get up, it’s time to sLam now

Happy summer solstice! (To the southern hemisphere folks: Happy winter solstice, although I’ll still wish you a happy summer solstice as well because summer.) I’m back, un-jetlagged, and bear happy news (happy!):

Artists on the Lam has been named the “Best Local Visual Arts Blog” in the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago issue! It’s so crazy / such a great honor especially when I consider how established the runner-up is. (While this blog has posts like this and this.) Thank you so, so much to everyone who voted! You can view the issue online and / or pick up a copy at newsstands.

On Saturday I conducted portfolio reviews at Sixty Inches From Center and WBEZ’s “Get Archived!” event. I had so much fun meeting artists and seeing their work. I also had fun doing things like this. (I wish everyone could’ve witnessed, firsthand, just how much SIFC co-founder Tempestt Hazel giggled while she took and uploaded that photo.) (A photo that, I’d say, sums me up pretty well.)

And that little trip I got back from…

Inside a Man Mo temple.

Ah, Hong Kong. My soulcity. From partying in a parking garage on the industrial outskirts of town to kickin’ it with a cousin in the infamously seedy Chungking Mansions, I micro-blogged about my adventures in the Fragrant Harbour on Facebook and Twitter. I also took plenty of photos, and you can check them out in the following albums:

The inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong:

Everything else (including the local art scene):

More about my trip to come. For now… here. Click on the cap below. Do it.

Oh hey.

Yep, that’s me at the first Art Basel Hong Kong Conversations panel. I ask my question / introduce myself at around 1 hr. 24 min. into the video.

Heads up:

Chicagoans: Next month, the Chicago Public Library will welcome the city’s first free Maker Space.” That means public access to 3D printers, laser cutters, and more.

East Coasters: The glorious giant inflatable rubber duck I saw in Hong Kong will be gracing Pittsburgh next. Also, go see this new mural by ICY and SOT, young street artists I interviewed several months ago:

ICY and SOT at Welling Court in Queens. (Photo by Lois Stavsky.)

            The revolution will not be televised.

Now, go out and enjoy summer! (Or winter and backwards-flushing toilets and unicorns.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

O’Hare, so hot right now

I’m flying out to Hong Kong in less than an hour!

While I spend the next myriad hours in transit, you can:

In the Un-valley by Jackie Furtado.
(Image courtesy of The Prospective Series.)

·         See some art: I was asked to write a piece for the latest catalog of The Prospective Series, a new organization that cultivates the relationship between emerging artists and young collectors. Chicagoans, pick up a copy at their pop-up art show tomorrow! (I went to their first—and most recent—show and it was great. It was also in a speakeasy. So. Cool.) If, like me, you can’t make it or aren’t in Chicago, you can view the catalog online here.

·         Get free art supplies: Chicago artists and arts educators, visit the Chicago Center for Green Technology tomorrow and Saturday for materials from ZeroLandfill.

·         Get annoyed: Specifically, at Mashable’s ludicrous “If You Use the Web, You Are a Curator” article. I have, as you can imagine, strong feelings about this. (And this isn’t the first time I’ve railed against the co-opting of the word “curator.”As you can see from the more recent Facebook thread, I’ve answered some questions for a piece Sixty Inches From Center will publish sometime. When that happens, I’ll make an accompanying discussion post here. (Let’s hear it for discussion posts!)

·         Be amused: A 1,100-year-old paint pigment, believed to be the oldest of its kind, has been found in a 10th century artist’s studio in China and will go on display. This is exciting news, of course, but mostly I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to the comment section of the linked Telegraph article. Trolling in the deep.

Thanks so much to the artblog for the shout out!

And don’t forget: For daily updates (including photos!), follow along on Twitter (where I passed the 500 follower mark last week—welcome, new followers, and thank you, everyone!) and Facebook. See you soon!

Monday, May 6, 2013

“Will you be electric sheep / Electric ladies, will you sleep”

I’m delighted to say that I’ve been invited to conduct portfolio reviews at Sixty Inches From Center and WBEZ’s “Get Archived!” event (a great opportunity for artists to take ownership of their place in [their] citys cultural history), happening at art centers and community bureaus in the Chicago neighborhoods of Bronzeville, Englewood, Rogers Park, and Little Village. Artists, come and show me your work! (Also, according to those links, I’m “established,” awww yeah. And awww shucks.)

For the past week, I’ve been featured on the front page of Gapers Block. (I snickered that a photo of me surrounded by glowing phallic objects was, at one point, next to an article with “nuts” in its title. Because sometimes I have the sense of humor of an 11-year-old boy.) In case you missed the previous post, I got interviewed about Dreams of a City. And about how weird my life is.

If you’re on Facebook and / or Twitter, make sure you follow Artists on the Lam there! Observations from the past week included a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it art moment (the screen cap above) in Janelle Monáe’s latest music video (although the entire video is an art moment let’s be real)News / interestingness included portraits derived from DNA in hair and gum found in public placesYou’ll also be privy to things like this.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

O Pioneers

Gapers Block interviewed me about Dreams of a City. Check it. A million thanks to Caitlin Bergh!

From 108th St. & Broadway. New York City, May 2009.

Happy May, everyone. Here. Have some Beyoncé Art History. (Also relevant: this.)

2 weeks ‘til Hong Kong!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Between TMNT and paisley paramecia

So the Chicago Reader’s annual Best of Chicago poll is now open. (No idea why they’re doing a Best of 2013 survey in April. Maybe these past few months have just been that awesome?) Vote for Artists on the Lam in the “Best Local Visual Arts Blog” category! (It’s under “Arts & Culture” / section 4.) I’ll love you even more than I already do.

My 10-year-old self wants you to vote. Or to RISE.

If you need some refreshers / convincing / reading material to procrastinate with:

I’ll close with my favorite search keyword that, somehow, led someone to this blog today: “biggie smalls walking threw [sic] brooklyn.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

East Middle West // An Interview with ICY and SOT

Tabriz, Iran, 2012. (Image courtesy of ICY and SOT.)

When they’re not crashing at a Brooklyn warehouse among a collective of creatives they’re tearing across America in a van and trailer with a punk band (why don’t more visual artists do this?). Street art duo ICY and SOT, two young brothers from Iran, have been taking the underground art world by storm. In an onslaught of paint and paste and that old time punk rock and roll, these stencil artists have been touring the country with New York-via-Tehran band The Yellow Dogs, spreading art at every stop.

I met the brothers several months ago when they visited Chicago for the first time, and I corresponded with them when they hit the road again for their “East Middle West” tour. As a preview of their upcoming show at Co-Prosperity Sphere, below is our conversation about art, politics, their skate culture roots, life on the road, and more.

ICY and SOT’s exhibition at Co-Prosperity Sphere opens this Friday, March 22.

Istanbul, Turkey, 2012. (Image courtesy of ICY and SOT.)

Jenny Lam: How did the two of you first become interested in street art?

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