“Has Anyone Answered ‘Kimler’s Complaint’ Yet?” by William Dolan


Eleven years ago, I read the Chicago Reader article “Kimler’s Complaint.” At the time, I only had a vague notion of how the Chicago art scene worked. I knew there was a lot of conceptual work out there and I frequently read New Art Examiner, with all of its pseudo-sociology. I was also aware of the trend toward mimicking outsider art, which seemed to grow in popularity in the 90s. However, I still thought the Imagists and abstract artists that ruled the day in the 80s still held sway and the reason why the art scene in Chicago was lame was that it never fully recovered from the art market crash.

I had no idea what really happened behind the scene. I was busy puttering around in the minor art league in this city, showing in storefront galleries, bars, and Around the Coyote hoping that someday I would be called up to the Majors. I had become ignorant of what really made the Chicago art scene run. Not ever having any real connection to it, it’s no surprise that I didn’t fully grasp what Wesley Kimler was saying.

In recent years, I’ve become more in tune with what is going on in Chicago. I’ve also noticed that “Kimler’s Complaint” is referenced every now and then so I decided to re-read this article. Now that I have a better understanding of the Chicago art scene I can more fully appreciate Wesley Kimler. He blasts the takeover of the Chicago art scene by academia. He names names and calls people out. After reading it, I realize that nothing really has changed in Chicago since then and doesn’t look like it will any time soon. The institutions will still crank out artists that will dabble in conceptual nonsense for a few years, then go on to teach or sell real estate. There will always be more of them.

It’s now obvious that “Kimler’s Complaint” was never answered. Maybe it’s time to escalate this matter.

Read the Chicago Reader article: