Thursday, December 17, 2009


Sorry for the lack of posting recently. I've got a fab new website in the works as well as an amazing exhibition schedule I'm lining up to kick off 2009. In the meantime, I thought I'd give you a little peak as to what's available at the gallery as well as our new design space in Dean Johnson Gallery. That's right, all of your contemporary art and contemporary design needs and wants at one address. Here's just a smidgen:

Morgen Bosler's amazing ceramic urns (above). Should I ever get married, and should said wife happen to pass before me, her final resting place will be in one of Morgen's urns. And I'm already picking one out for my four year old dog even though she will live forever! The urns start around $275.

Ted Ross will soon complete his MFA in Furniture Design at Herron School of Art. He's good. Really good. Above is his Dogleg Bench. It's hand made with birch and acrylic, fabulous, and yours for $1100. Below is the latest piece from his Prosthesis series. Ummm, yeah. And only $750.

There is also an amazing array of lamps by Ben Langebartels made from pages of phone books, vases by the unstoppable Lauren Zoll, 3 installations by Nick Allman that will knock your socks off, as well as new drawings from Danielle Riede. And I haven't even mentioned Jeff Geesa's rockin' show in the gallery yet! I'll post more pics and info as I photograph new items.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jeff Geesa gets 4 out 5 stars in Nuvo

In case you missed it, Jeff Geesa's show at christopher west presents is reviewed in the current Nuvo.

Also in this weeks Nuvo, an article about the new gallery scene in Indy featuring yours truly, Jason Myers of Artbox, and Casey Roberts of mt.comfort (a space for champions).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Comings and goings...

I was very sad to learn this week that one of the most insightful art, architecture and design blogs is going away. Richard Lacayo's Looking Around on will be no more. Richard will thankfully continue to write for Time Magazine.

But it's not all doom and gloom. For anyone slightly interested in the art market, Lindsay Pollock is a must read.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Coming soon to a city near you...

christopher west presents Lee Walton & the Ever-Changing Blues Band national tour. Details to be announced soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Omer Fast at the IMA

Omer Fast, The Casting, 2007. Four channel video installation; 14 minutes.
Carmen & Mark Holeman Contemporary Fund, Henry F. and Katherine DeBoest Memorial Fund.
Installation view from 2008 Whitney Biennial, via James Wagner

I'm not sure if it's been on display at the IMA before or not (I'm pretty sure this is the first time), but after stumbling across The Casting, a four channel video installation by Omer Fast today, it instantly became one of my favorite pieces in the contemporary collection.

Not all of Fast's work has completely resonated with me but this piece is flawless in it's execution. Fast has intertwined two stories by the same person he interviewed in Texas as he was about to go out on his second tour of duty in Iraq. The subject tells of a brief romantic encounter he had with a psychotic young red head in Germany and how he accidentally shot an Iraqi civilian on his first tour. Certainly an overt commentary on America's participation in the war at the time this was created (2007), but Fast has made this piece highly personal. A war that is taking place thousands of miles away, with drone airplanes and laser guided missiles, is made all the more real and tangible by seemlessly coupling it with a story we can all relate.

I missed this piece at the Whitney last year, I'm glad I'll be able to make multiple trips to spend some q.t. with it now that it's in our backyard. Thanks IMA.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mystery solved

For those that read my last post, you know that I wondered what in the world Culture Grrl was doing in Indianapolis last week. Turns out she was speaking Max Anderson, director of the IMA about the Fairbanks Art and Nature Park. You can watch the interview here. Turns out there really was no scandal. Darn.

And should anyone want to hear me talk about art and Craig Doty's current show, check out Charles Fox's new blog, Outposts From the Material World. He's got like 47 times more readers than Culture Grrl, so you've probably already seen it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CultureGrrl slip of the tongue?!?!

Certainly art blog readers around the world are familiar with CultureGrrl (aka Lee Rosenbaum). Lee is best known for her investigative reporting - from sketchy museum deaccessions to unethical practices, Lee is certainly one of the top in her field.

That why I was completely surprised to find out, via her own blog none the less, that CULTUREGRRL WAS IN INDIANAPOLIS LAST NIGHT! You can read the article here and scroll down about half way and see where she openly admits to spending the night in an undisclosed Indianapolis hotel room.

Now I want a few questions answered darn it!

- How was this trip funded? Were you influenced by someone purchasing ad space (which starts at a hefty $20/week) on your blog?
- Did a wealthy collector or famous artist curate your travels?
- Did you dine in one of our wonderful downtown restaurants or bistros OR DID YOU GO TO A CHAIN RESTAURANT BY THE MALL???

The public really wants to know (and PLEASE don't send out another press release that no additional information is available at this time). Geesh.

(disclaimer: for those readers who don't follow art world news/gossip on a daily basis like I do, this is satire. With all of the media attention on the New Museum, I thought I'd try and stir up some contraversy for Indy!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Women: New Work by Craig Doty

christopher west presents
is pleased to announce Women: New Work by Craig Doty. Opening reception will take place on Thursday, November 5th from 5 pm until 8 pm. The exhibition will run through November 28.

Excerpt from an essay by Marc LeBlanc:

Craig Doty has always held an interest in the powerless subject. This has typically taken the form of youths in group self-destruction, in situations of pure vanity, glory, and depravity. Resisting the overwrought casual aesthetic of any late-night party photographer, and the ease of such documentation, Doty's images use their contrivances to develop something more potent. Never moralizing, never sympathizing, they have the presence of an aestheticizing influence that evades being responsible or negligent, as ethically resigned as any one night stand, fist fight, or hearty three-day bender.
Two young men forcing another to eat a goldfish, or restraining a fat friend and pouring milk all over him, these are simple dramas that initially defined Doty's work. The images of drunken boys that have been "chiefed" draw from the same vein; their unconscious shit-faced faces vandalized with absurdly homophobic messages like "I Heart Cock" and "Nothing But Dude" make a travesty of young masculinity. Of course, Doty wouldn't let himself escape his approach. In one of his better known works, drunk coming down a wooden backyard staircase, Doty himself has slipped and fallen forward, smashing his 40 oz. and his face in the process. Where moments earlier he may have been holding court, we now stop to look at what a failure he has become, a reflexivity that acknowledges that no one escapes the fatalism of our world.
Made both magic and terrible, Doty's new photographs of women push for a greater discomfort. The tactics of humor have dissolved; the optimism of comedy is squelched. The grimace and sadistic chuckle that was present is absent, the aesthetic is now far more cynical. Caught between rough historical references to Balthus or Fragonard and the amateur soft-porn advertising that we commonly associated with brands like American Apparel, it would be easy to say these images are harsh parodies of the common sexism we find in mass media and art history, but that's simply not true. Locating this banal critique is a futile task, and rather than make a work so easily legible, Doty opts for something less explicable. The subjects, the women presented are without any power, without any right, without any value, so much so that they are better referred to as objects. Flattening the drama, each photo is isolated, its subject made prone and made tragic. (…)
While the exhibition’s smart-assed and antagonistic title might suggest otherwise, the images themselves defy being determined by gender. Each is aesthetic, prior to being political, and they demand this initial interpretation. What would otherwise be recognized as a subject is shown as an object. With each image pointing out that no one escapes life seeing them as an object, claims of discrimination are deadened. Being distinguished as an object rejects affiliation with any group, it is sexless, race-less, and hopeless in its dearth of humanity. Works like “Untitled 22” and “ Untitled 25” are epitomic of that. In the first, a woman wearing only a thong lies on the ground, the right leg slightly lifted, she's positioned facing away from us so that we know her only by form of her thighs and the black fabric that hides her crotch. While Doty's technical aptitude is ever present, the set looks slapdash, a painter roller still wet leans against the wall, and a plant gives the illusion of an ambiance. This is not portraiture, these are not models, any thematic pretenses for the purpose of dignity are unneeded when we address the subject whose fate is to be an object. Instead of the socially constructed victim, the marginalized or mistreated subject, what is presented is the subject so tragic it has no subjectivity to assert, determined to exist depersonalized, determined to be the waste they must become.

-Marc LeBlanc

Craig Doty received his MFA from Yale University in 2006. He earned his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Concentration in Photography in 2003. His exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (solo), the Sydney Center for Photography in Sydney, Australia and Baumgartner Gallery, New York and many others. This is his first exhibition with the gallery. Images available upon request.

About christopher west presents

christopher west presents is a contemporary art gallery focusing on emerging regional and national artists. The intimate gallery space focuses primarily on solo exhibitions and artists’ projects. The gallery program is directed by Christopher West who has more than ten years experience in curating and selling contemporary art both in Indianapolis and in California. The gallery is located in the heart of the Massachusetts Avenue Arts District and is open to the public Wednesday 11 – 5, Thursday 11 – 7, Friday 11 – 5 and Saturday Noon – 4 or by appointment.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Where the Dirty Hipsters Are

Our friends at Bad at Sports brought this tidbit to our attention. Happy day after Halloween.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And in other news...

Congrats to Will Cotton. I am so happy to hear that one of the nicest personalities in the art world will be participating in this years Performa. My mouth is watering already.

Will Cotton, INSATIABLE, 2008, polystyrene, acrylic polymer, pigment, gypsum

Today's great link

In response to numerous 'Top Lists' (collectors, influential, etc.) the folks over at HyperAllergic have compiled "The Top 20 Most Powerless in the Art World".
16 - Jesus Christ, because he's just too old to show at the New Museum.
Check out the entire list here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Backlash against the conceptual

Damien Hirst with White Roses and Butterflies, 2008, The Wallace Collection. Photograph: Katie Collins/PA

I don't care whether or not Damian Hirst can paint. His dozens of studio assistants churning out spin painting after medicine cabinet after taxidermied animal doesn't bother me at all. I like the concepts, I like the aesthetics (ok the millionth dot painting was silly) but I don't care if the final product came via his hand or his direction. If you keep up with all the contemporary art news you might think I am the only one that feels this way.

Hirst's most recent exhibition, which just opened at the Wallace Collection in London, is comprised only of paintings in which the artist got rid of all assistants and created everything with his own hand. By all accounts the paintings are awful. I have not seen the show in person but the fact that BBC has a page on their website dedicated to linking all of the bad reviews is a pretty strong indication. My guess is the show is not as bad as all the naysayers are putting in print. Hirst has for years been the critics favorite person to hate, but I think it's a pretty strong assumption that painting is not his forte.

Enter Denis Dutton. This weekend his article Has Conceptual Art Jumped the Shark Tank? was published in the New York Times. Basically he is equating contemporary conceptual art to the cartoons in the New Yorker. He asserts that Hirst's inability to paint will cause future art historians to consider him irrelevant and that those who have purchased his work (along with his contemporary Jeff Koons) must be baffoons (my words).

What I don't understand is why the public (or at least the critics) need to draw this imaginary line in the sand where on one side is everything beautiful and created by an artist and is labeled 'art' and on the other side is everything else that we label 'junk'. In my lifetime art has been about blurring boundaries, mixing the aesthetic with the conceptual, and the functional with the beautiful. Do I care if my favorite photographer can't draw? No. Do I think any less of my favorite sculptor if they can't do an interesting piece with the medium of video? No. And would it bother me at all if my favorite conceptual artist can't paint? I bet you can guess the answer.

Damien Hirst, Pharmacy, 1992, installation view at Cohen Gallery, NY.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The pendulum continues to swing

Two recent stories have got me thinking about the state of contemporary art in this time we live in. The first is the recent announcement of the winner of the ArtPrize contest - the competition in Grand Rapids in which the winner of the $250,000 top prize was determined by public vote. The second is about the Biennial of the America's to be held in Denver next summer. Though (I hope) well intentioned, this contemporary art biennial is shaping up to be about everything but contemporary art.

It's caused me to wonder if this is actually a shift in the way the contemporary art world will run or just a pendulum that continues to swing in one direction during these times of American Idol. My guess and hope is that it is the latter and that as the novelty of new technologies like text-voting fades the focus will return to the art itself.

As an aside, I didn't hate the piece that won ArtPrize and was surprised to find out it was the only traditional painting in the top ten. I also imagine there were some very interesting conversations about art around dinner tables all across Grand Rapids, and that's not a bad thing.

Constellations at the MCA

A few weeks ago I mentioned how great I thought the exhibition Constellations: Paintings from the MCA Collection was. If you've seen it, or have a desire to see it, or just like painting, check out the discussion at Bad at Sports. And go to Chicago to see the show before it ends next weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Drunk emails

This came to my inbox last night via my website. I guess we should all just give up...

How bad is you attempt at contemporary art.
a 300 sq.ft space.... You actually think you will make a difference??? I have been in the art scene in Indianapolis for over 15 years.. you nor IMOCA will ever put Indiana on the Comtemp. Map...The IMOCA is bad enough.. The half ass Homoerotic approach to what they thought in the beginning was contemporary art. The IMA can't even get their shit together. they have 4 brand new galleries they have never used yet.... Indiana is full of Pompous individuals, whom really get off on being in publications ( metromix ) That's the Art for you, the art of being Noticed..... It's not really about the art now is it?????

And he left his actual email address which I easily looked up on facebook (but I won't publicize that). Just wanted to let people like Primary Colours, Bootleg Exhibitions, the fine people at On the Cusp, and all the other artists trying to make it in town to go ahead and give up. This one guy couldn't make it for 15 years so the rest of us should just call it curtains!

On a side note, I have been amazed by the quality and quantity of Ed Winkleman's posts on his blog for years. Now that I have a small space to call my own I am even more impressed with how he continues to do it day after day, month after month, year after year. What's the secret Ed???

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Traces: New Installations and Objects by Danielle Felice Riede

christopher west presents is pleased to announce a new installation by Colorado born, Indianapolis based artist Danielle Riede. Opening reception for the artist will take place on Thursday, October 1 from 5 pm until 8 pm. The exhibition will run through October 31.

Riede's enigmatic constructions of found and made pieces of paint, resin, and detritus are here exhibited as both miniature sculpture and a site specific installation. While paint (and color) is a primary intellectual and physical material for Riede, a deeper connection can be found in the idea of a collective body of objects, the traces of other artists’ explorations. Danielle Riede received her MFA in Painting from Virginia Commonwelath University and also studied under Daniel Buren at the Kunstakademie Duesseldorf. She is currently a professor at the Herron School of art and Design. She has exhibited internationally in Mexico City, Athens, Cologne, Paris and many others. This is her first exhibition at the gallery.

christopher west presents
646 Massachusetts Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Wednesday 11 to 5
Thursday 11 to 7
Friday 11 to 5
Saturday Noon to 4

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dallas makes me jealous... again.

Perot Museum of Nature & Science

Plans were released this weekend for the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science designed by Pritzker Prize Laureate Thom Mayne's firm Morphosis. Groundbreaking scheduled for this fall. I bring this up only to remind us all of what's possible even in these economic times. Congrats Dallas on once again solidifying yourself as a major art and design hub in the United States. Great museums, lackluster museums that are improving by leaps and bounds, amazing collectors and an ever increasing roster of impressive architecture.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Museums and local artists

Leon Golub, Reclining Youth, 1959. Collection Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
Gift of the Susan and Lewis Manilow Collection of Chicago Artists.

A friend and I traveled to Chicago this past weekend to see Olafur Eliason's show at the MCA before it closed and take in some openings in the West Loop. Olafur was, well amazingly Olafur, but what struck me most was the exhibition of paintings from the collection on the top floor of the MCA.

Paul Klein, whose Art Letter is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the Chicago art scene, took note too. Klein counted 18 Chicago artists (I'm taking his word for it, I didn't personally count) hanging along side paintings from an international roster of past and present painting superstars. It was certainly a refreshing change from all the 'cookie cutter' (as Klein calls them) exhibitions across the country that often present the same roster of artists. Klein goes on to say "Watch Grynsztejn (MCA Director) uniquely size up the landscape and set the MCA on a course that will attract an international following - all stemming from an understanding of how a museum can tap into the local pulse and tweak the dialog to a new and different level."

The exhibition runs through Ocotober 18th. If you happen to be in the Chicagoland area, I give it the big thumbs up.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mona Lisa

Just a couple quick links today:

- I was very excited to find out via Richard Lacayo that a new documentary about the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 will be released next year. Watch the trailer here.

- Also, this talk at the IMA tomorrow at 4:00 regarding Indiana and expanding our global connections looks interesting.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Status quo

The IBJ is reporting that arts funding will be maintained in 2010 at $1 million, down from $1.5 million from last year but the same as this year.

A paltry sum to say the least. I'll leave it at that for now.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Anne Chu

Anne Chu, Court Lady, 1997; oil, casein on wood, unpainted plywood

Forgive the bad iPhone photo but I had no idea this Anne Chu was at the IMA until yesterday. It's in the Asian galleries, not contemporary. Thought some of you might want to know.

*** UPDATE: I just found out this piece has been installed in the Asian collection for 4 years. Apparently I need to spend some time exploring things not on the 3rd floor.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Is there a trend here?

Yesterday over at On the Cusp, Scott reported about an artist who guerrilla-style installed a piece at the IMA and apparently has done so at 12 other institutions across the country. Well, yesterday's Seattle Times reports a similar story only this time the artist installed his papier-mache sculptures outside at the Gas Works Sculpture Gardens and states that it has been "gifted to the citizens of Seattle in the spirit of awakening."

I mentioned in the comments section of Scott's post that I was somewhat torn on how I felt about this. I have always been in favor of the guerrilla exhibit. I feel if no one is going to give you a break than you need to make the break yourself. I often take inspiration from Maurizio Cattelan who once stole the contents of a neighboring gallery the night before the opening of his own exhibition and claimed it as his own. The key is - and here's the trick - you've got to know how to pull it off. Both the stunt at the IMA and in the Seattle sculpture park are pretty tired and played out. In both cases I figure no harm, no foul. But the reason we love contemporary art is the creativity and ingenuity when the art is at it's best. I'd quite frankly would like to see a little more of that around town.

Disclaimer: I am not condoning any guerilla exhibitions at the IMA or any other fine institution in town or any other sort of vandalism. As I said above, that idea is tired. But may our fine city be your canvas.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The IMA's most imporatant acquisition

When the Indianapolis Museum of Art is mentioned in the same breath as it's museum peers across the country or around the globe, the topic of conversation is most likely about the physical size of the collection or the current state of the endowment. With a few exceptions (Josefowitz collection, etc), rarely is there mention of an iconic work. We have no La Grande Jatte, no Demoiselles, no Michael Jackson and Bubbles. Other than the ubiquitous Robert Indiana Love sculpture does anything else immediately come to mind? Certainly we all have favorites but are there masterpieces?

Miller House, Columbus, IN designed by Eero Saarinen. Photo via IMA website.

Everything changed when the IMA acquired The Miller Home in Columbus. Let this be our Guernica. Even during the reduced pricing caused by a recession it is becoming increasingly more difficult for any institution to acquire a significant work, painting or otherwise, that is why this priceless gem is even more special. The only downfall is with the obvious limitations of architecture, it's 45 minutes away from the museum and surrounded by neighbors who I am sure hate all the gawkers (myself included) that try and sneak peaks at the famed home. The challenge for the IMA will be making this home accessible while respecting the wishes of neighbors. The best part of the IMA is having 10 extra minutes and dropping in to visit Sandback or Cezanne. Sadly that won't be possible with 'our' Saarinen, but the ultimate success of this acquisition will ultimately depend on how well the IMA handles this balancing act.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Move on deadbeats

Here's my life this month. Love it!

The photos are mine. Some suck. Some rock. More to come.

The big entrance:

Marc Horowitz installation right, Emily Kennerk piece on the left:

Fred Muram video on the monitor left, Lee Walton right:

Beth Howe foreground, Jonn Herschend background:

Jamie Pawlus:

Jonn Herschend:

Lee Walton asked the entire building to be outside together from 7:30 to 7:35. This is what we saw:

The party continued to 11. You guys are amazing!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Opening night

Installation shots and more info from the opening to come, but check out this run-down from our friends over at The conversation is fictitious but captures the evening pretty well...

Thanks Chuck.

You can read it here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

e-xhibit 1 has gone international

Super excited to announce that the amazing Beth Howe from Vancouver has agreed to participate in e-xhibit 1. Rock on groovy art stars.

Friday, May 29, 2009

e-xhibit 1

Emily Kennerk, MLS ID#900256, Courtesy of the artist.

cwp (a space above the space for champions) is proud to announce it's inaugural exhibition. Organized in eight days and with a budget of $14.27, e-xhibit 1 is a group exhibition of exciting young artists from across the country that will open on Friday, June 5th from 6 to 9 pm. Artists were challenged to create a work of art that could be emailed and printed on a standard 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper. No other restrictions were imposed. Artists included to date:
  • Jonn Herschend (San Francisco)
  • Marc Horowitz (Los Angeles)
  • Beth Howe (Vancouver)
  • Emily Kennerk (Las Vegas)
  • Fred Muram (Seattle)
  • Jamie Pawlus (Indianapolis)
  • Lee Walton (Greensboro, North Carolina)
The exhibition will take place in Christopher West's living room, located on the second floor at 1651 English Ave. cwp is directly above Mt. Comfort (a space for champions). cwp and Mt. Comfort (a space for champions) are located in the soon-to-be fashionable Irish Hill Gallery District and probably the two coolest art spaces in Indianapolis. Check it.

cwp is the brainchild of Christopher West, former curator at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition to operating a gallery out of his living, Christopher West serves as a contemporary art consultant and is looking forward to having his vintage Bajaj scooter restored and ready to ride.

For more information please email