Around The Coyote Select by William Dolan

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Recently, I checked out Around The Coyote Select, an attempt to upgrade the long-languishing Around The Coyote art festival in Chicago. It’s a new “premium” show in their annual series of art fairs. I got there in enough time to take Paul Klein‘s (art consultant, critic, former dealer and crusader of Chicago art) tour of his favorites.

I thought Paul did a good job. It was more of a pep talk about art, making art and mostly about getting out there and making your own career. That includes letting people know who you are. One point he stressed a couple of times was to ALWAYS have images of your work with you. Of the people there (15 or so), maybe three of us had something as he took a poll. Also, getting a dealer isn’t the end-all. It can take a long time and the fit has to be right. Much of what he said can be found in Caroll Michels’ book, “How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist.” Respect yourself. Don’t let others guide you in the wrong direction. Get out there and meet people. One CAN make a career out of making art. Etc. Etc.

He also gave some insight into his interests in art and cautioned that what he likes isn’t for everyone. He likes things that break the picture plane — 2D work that plays with the third dimension, if you will. His favorite was this artist that did fairly innocuous abstract landscapes painted across several small canvases. The paintings were hung in a jumbled, broken-up manner. I thought they had a certain amount of impact, but not much for contemplation or thought.

He doesn’t believe that drawing is a necessary skill and may even get in the way of creating a body of work (takes a lot of time). There are plenty of places where images can be appropriated as a basis for work. One example was this artist that basically painted over photos — sort of using the photo as an underpainting. I thought that this was corrupt and the artist that did this was lazy, relying on the skills of the original photographer to make his work interesting. He’s a fraud in my mind. Paul asked a few of us which of his works was our favorites. I picked out the Chrysler that he liked. Klein noted that the title was “1984 Oldsmobile Toronado” and was I sure of the make of car. I said that it was definitely a Dodge Diplomat or Chrysler LeBaron. His response was, “Huh.”

Another artist that did small portraits of people in front of abstract backgrounds caught his attention and was probably my favorite as he cropped the people much like I crop the objects in my work. He mentioned a few dealers in town that would be interested in showing his work, including Linda Warren. I think Paul is going to make an introduction.

After getting a glimpse of what Klein’s aesthetics are, I no longer feel disappointed that he doesn’t seem to find my work interesting. I do respect his boosterism for artists, art and Chicago Artists in particular, though.

I thought that the most of the work was very good to excellent (this was “ATC Select,” after all). The stink of ATC comes in the presentation. Being relegated to hallways is very lame. A lot of the artists did seem very unsure of what they were doing and where to go. I think ATC kind of perpetuates this. Throw in the suburban art guild people and the student-level artists and you have something very bush-league. This show was ATC without the latter, but it was still ATC.