Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Two Chicago Events This Weekend

It's been a great Autumn so far: Hanging out with my main man Arch, watching football, mourning the Red Sox and still hating the Yankees. I've also been making new work!

I have two events coming up this weekend, come by if you're able:

1."The Harold Arts Residency Exhibition" will be opening this Friday at Heaven Gallery (1550 N Milwaukee Ave - 7pm to 11pm)

I spent a week this past July at The Harold Arts Residency in Ohio and created the piece, "Out Of This World." I will be exhibiting both the poster as well as the video.

2."West Carroll Open Studios," this coming Sunday (3200 W. Carroll Ave - 12pm to 7pm)

As a part of Chicago Artist's Month, I will be opening my studio to the public along with the other artists who have studios at 3200 W. Carroll Ave. It should be a fun day to see a ton of work in progress, artists will include me, Andrew Ayer, Jared Dreyer, Annie Heckman, Arielle Marq, Anton Mackey, Harold Mendez, Mike Olson, Jennifer Scott and many many more.

I'm in studio 8 on the 2nd floor.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

R.I.P. Sweet Captain Lou

Growing up in the 1980's, the World Wrestling Federation was a big part of my life. Sleeping over at my friend Tommy's house to watch Wrestlemania 1, going to the County Center in White Plains to watch matches, buying every wrestling doll that there was, etc etc.

Captain Lou Albano had a special place in my heart: not only was he a central character in the 1980's wrestling scene and a hilarious personality, but he also lived in Mount Kisco NY (as did I). I remember seeing him a number of times at the Mt. Kisco movie theater and being awed by his presence. Here he is in Cyndi Lauper's video, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!" . . . classic Captain Lou (as Cyndi's dad).

Rest In Peace Captain.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Buy Great Photographs And Support A Great Cause!

During my senior year at Marlboro College, I used to volunteer a few nights a week at The Insight Photography Project. Insight was started by my former photography teacher, John Willis. John and I have remained friends over the years and each year I donate a print to the Insight Benefit Auction:

This year's auction is especially impressive!
If anyone out there wants to buy me an early holiday present, I'll take this print by Danny Lyon:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vagina Panther and Golden City Riot

I'm a lucky dude to know so many people who make really great music. I first met John and June a few years back through our mutual friend Brian. Brian and John are old friends from Ohio and have been playing together for years. Anyhow, over some beers they started telling us about their new band called "Vagina Panther." Seriously, have you ever heard of a better band name???

John and I met up again at Brian's wedding in Arkansas and picked up right where we left off. He gave me a copy of their new album (amazing!) and invited me to direct a video for them. After watching how incredible the video above is, color me too intimidated.

The second band that I have had playing lately in my house is my friend Eric's band, Golden City Riot. Eric is one of my best friends (going back to first grade) and on my recent trip to Seattle, we spent many an inebriated moment working on a band icon for a set of stickers that he is producing.

Golden City Riot plays out a lot in Seattle, catch them if you know what's good for you. If these two bands ever played a joint gig, I think my head might explode from the pleasure of it all!!!!!!

False Proof at Kirkland Arts Center

Well, Autumn is upon us and it's been off to a hectic start. Two weeks ago I was out in Seattle for the opening of the exhibition "False Proof" at the Kirkland Arts Center. The show was curated by Cable Griffith and was one of the best shows I have seen in awhile. My favorite piece in the show by far was Eugene Parnell's life-sized taxidermed Big Foot. Eugene's Big Foot is the first thing that you see when you walk in the gallery. He is standing on a pile of leaves, digging through a hiker's backpack and eating a powdered donut (observe the white powder on his lips).

The entire show is amazing and I recommend checking it out before it comes down in early October.

Here is a writeup from The Stranger:

Not knowing has two sides: Not knowing is the greatest, not knowing is the worst. In the slight but refreshing group show False Proof at Kirkland Arts Center, not knowing—remaining in a state of possibility, running a continual loop of faith and disbelief—is mostly just great. Nola Avienne paints tiny alchemical symbols drawn from medieval sources using her own blood. She's committed to the mysteries. They stand for themselves, which is why you can't understand them. Eugene Parnell's life(?)-size, big-eyed Taxidermied Bigfoot gobbling the powdered doughnut of a hiker whose clothes and backpack lie at the creature's feet in the gallery is labeled as made of the following materials: "taxidermied bigfoot." Drew Christie's elaborate "historic" display of "evidence" about the Elliott Bay Sea Beast—a toothy Loch Ness Monster—collected and compiled by one Albrecht "Aesop" Ribbentrop is sometimes too cute but mostly irrepressibly endearing in its refusal to try to be convincing. You can hear the sound of the beast (it roars and gargles at the same time), see drawings and photographs of it, even look at instruments made in its honor by sailors just moments before they were eaten by it. Hanging in the middle of the room is the beast's skeleton: a happily false thing made out of barely disguised wood, glue, and newspaper. "I shall be vindicated," Ribbentrop's writings declare. Done.

A trophy twirling around on its head, defying gravity, would be more intriguing were it not happening in video—a medium in which disbelief is a given. That work is by Zack Bent. Jana Brevick's devices for problem solving are not served well here; you need to know that Brevick creates jewelry to fully understand these devices as talismans rather than too-sweet mini-sculptures. (My favorite, because it so clearly doubles as a necklace, is her Optimizer, a choker with a black box machine for a pendant. What's going on in there, who knows?)

In a video and diagram based on the Brady Bunch episode "Out of This World," in which Greg fools Peter and Bobby with a fake UFO (until the authorities are called and Greg is exposed), Chicago artist Jonathan Gitelson debunks the realness of the fake UFO by attempting to restage the hoax himself according to Bobby's on-show instructions. Fail. Gitelson's illustrated how-to diagram leaves intact the secret of how to. It hardly matters whether there is life on other planets when there is the magic of TV, which is not diminished in the slightest by not being magic at all.

Samantha Scherer's photorealistic velvety black watercolor and gouache paintings are on thick paper that curls up at the edges like it's entrapping its only subjects, little white faces peering out from the bottom of the paper's black universe as if they were almost entirely cropped out, à la "reality" video stills or photographs. (Blair Witch style.) Scherer's employing the clichés of horror-vérité but making them work again, much like in an older series where she appropriated the parade of corpses on Law & Order and made them feel individual again in her tiny drawings. Something in her handcrafted and yet utterly mediated approach demonstrates a recognizable struggle: Familiarity and unfamiliarity can be indistinguishable. Which is the worst.
-Jen Graves

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Friday, May 22, 2009

A Lot Of Good Art Going On . . .

The other day Archie and I headed to the West Loop to check out some of the new shows. I'd been out of town on opening weekend and was really excited when I read the there was a Mel Bochner show at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. I've only recently become more familiar with Mel's work and he has become one of my all time favorites (right up there with Tom Friedman). The show looked great and it was nice to catch up with Kat and Charlotte and Rhona.

Next it was off to Kavi Gupta Gallery to see the new show by Clare Rojas who is another one of my all time favorite artists. If I had the money, I would of bought everything in the show!

This Wednesday I'm flying to NY to see two openings tha I am really excited about: Brian Ulrich's show on Thursday night at Julie Saul Gallery and Will Lamson's new exhibition at Pierogi on Friday night in Brooklyn.

All of these shows come highly recommended, go check them out!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Guest Blog Entry: By Shawnee Barton

Mondelli's Lounge and the condofication of Chicago

I haven’t always been “anti-condo”. We adored living in the old building on 14th and Michigan, which was once the first private hospital in Chicago, even though it sometimes felt like living in a museum. The condo board protected the original marble floors and 16' tall windows to annoying excess. Moving furniture in and out required a permit, a lecture on conservation, and hefty fee. We’d often have to maneuver, with arms full of groceries, around groups of architectural tourists to get into the building. But doing these things felt right. It was the price we paid for the privilege of living in a bit of history.

Unfortunately though, less than six months after we moved to 14th and Michigan, the earth-shaking rumble of pile drivers started waking us up every morning. In 2005, the city of Chicago limited the number of allowed condo conversions in existing buildings, so developers started leveling entire blocks of the South Loop. Glorious, old buildings on all sides of us were being destroyed, and it felt like a personal attack. When you live in a city, your neighborhood is as much a part of your home as the furniture inside your four walls.

Sadly, it turns out that Chicago has a long history of destroying its architectural history. In 1972, Richard Nickel, an architectural photographer, died while hurrying to photograph historic Chicago buildings before they were demolished. He was in Louis Sullivan's Stock Exchange building when the ceiling came crashing down on him and his camera. An article published in the New York Times a few years ago called Chicago a “battleground” in the “preservation-versus-development debate,” and unfortunately the stalled economy isn’t slowing the destruction down. This past year, the eleven downtown blocks of Michigan Avenue were placed on The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2008 List of Most Endangered Historic Places.

This is all very sad, but I can honestly, and perhaps embarrassingly, say that it didn’t hit home to me until one afternoon when I needed a drink. I headed straight for Mondelli’s, my favorite bar, only to find a crane swinging a wrecking ball into the building. I cried right there on the corner of Oak and State. It truly broke my heart.

Mondelli’s was rumored to be the smallest bar in Chicago, but what it lacked in size it made up for in character. Old Chicago gangster photos lined the walls and busboys shuttled hot and delicious pastas in from the old-school Italian restaurant next door. The raspy-voiced bartenders ditched the typical mini-skirt and boob-revealing uniform and wore sweatpants, 80’s mom jeans, or whatever they felt like wearing. They made a killer drink called the “espresso martini,” and playing the widest variety of good music you could imagine.

Because it was such a small bar, you would eventually end up talking with the folks around you. My favorite regular parked his Harley on the sidewalk right next to the front door and always wore a black leather vest that read “National Hair Piece Designing Champion” across the back, and he wasn’t some poser hipster. He actually was a Harley-riding National Hair Piece Designing Champion.

I’m not quite sure how such colorful individuals managed to find this place in a neighborhood filled with uppity boutiques and trendy night-clubs. It was our own little misfit island, and that’s why I adored it. This place was my Cheers, so it seemed only fitting that it was the last place I visited when our family left Chicago for a new life in California. My husband waited in the loaded-down Honda while I placed a small commemorative plaque and a bouquet of flowers along the fence around the construction site.

The guys on the demolition crew were surprisingly open to my memorial. Several of them asked me about the bar and even told me about their favorite watering holes. I had previously found perverse pleasure in vilifying the workers, but after ten minutes of talking with them, I realized that they were just doing their job. The foreman promised me that my plaque would hang on the fence for the rest of the day, and I got a little sense of comfort knowing that those men knew that the building they demolished was special and that the land they cleared for condos was loved.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This was posted by Shawnee Barton, an artist who keeps a blog on other people’s blogs. If you have a little nook of cyberspace and are open to welcoming a guest poster, please email her at She will be grateful. To see where she is headed next, check out

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Today I checked out the book "Treblinka" from the Harold Washington Library here in Chicago. I first read the book when I was twelve and in Hebrew School in order to prepare for my Bar Mitzvah. Back then it was an assignment just like any other; however, lately I've had a renewed interest since I'm travelling to Poland for an exhibition in a week and am planning on visiting the camp (it is actually a memorial, the camp itself no longer is standing). I wanted to re-read Treblinka so that when I stand on the actual site, I will have some kind of a connection with the history of the place. The more I read, the more I think that it will impossible to register the connection between the memorial and the history.

Although my ancestors on my father's side were Eastern European Jews, they had long been living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan by the start of the war. My mom's side of the family was a different story. My grandmother grew up in Czechoslovakia on a farm with her grandparents. She was not Jewish but her grandparents owned a farm that the Nazis wanted and they ended killing them to take their land. My grandmother saw her grandparents die and after escaping, she immigrated alone to NY in 1938 at 18 years of age.

My grandparents had different ways of dealing with the war, my mother's mom never talked about it and never had any desire to return to the continent. My father's mom reacted by boycotting German goods until the end of her life (apparently very upset when my parents bought a Volkswagon Beetle in the late 1960's).

As for me, I didn't meet anyone from Germany until I was 22. I was living in Guatemala at the time and shared a house with my dear friend Ute. For me, the war was something of the distant past. I found that I really connected with the Germans that I met and their uniquely dry sense of humor. That being said, I remember the first time that Ute and I talked about the war and to my surprise, the war was still very much alive for her. She still carried a degree of guilt, This was really eye opening and made me feel even more affection for her.

Two years later I travelled to Germany to visit her and have been back since to exhibit my work in Munich. Although I felt removed from the war (my father wasn't even a twinkle in his mother's eye), I was acutely aware of the history of the place. My gallery is on Ludwigstrasse which is the street where Hitler held his early rallies, it was pretty intense to stand on the same spot where the Third Reich was born and I felt it pretty deeply.

And so next Sunday I depart for Poland and to the site of the Treblinka Death Camp. One of the amazing things about Treblinka is that it was one of the few camps to rise up in revolt. It sounds insane to say that I'm looking forward to the experience but it is something that I've always wanted to do and I'm sure that it will be profound. I've found that my relationship with the Holocaust has greatly changed since I've become a father, it has become even that much more unfathomable.

Below you can find a documentary about the events leading up to Treblinka, it is long but interesting. I'm sure I'll post again on this theme after my return.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Sweet Spot

I'm excited to say that I've started to make real progress on my newest project, "The Sweet Spot." Essentially, I've been mapping the train platform at my local station to find the spots where I have the greatest probability of standing where the train door will open (thus getting a seat). I'm starting to propose exhibitions of the piece so keep your fingers crossed and keep your eyes out for further updates.


Procrastinating this evening, I came across this video for the song "Face of Jesus in My Soup" by Avi Paul Weinstein. I felt it to be especially relevant considering today is Easter . . . despite the fact that I'm Jewish. Anyhow, the video consists of found footage from the local library of international driving instructions. Enough dicking around Gitelson, get back to work!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Chaucer, Cellini and 365 Star Style Secrets

As I am prone to do at least once a year, on Wednesday morning I locked my keys inside of my car. The one silver lining was that I happened to do this directly across the street from an auto garage. While I was waiting for them to unlock my door, I sat down in their waiting area in order to flip through their magazine selection. I must have been in an extremely intellectual part of town because the reading selection ranged from In-Style, Time and Hispanic Magazine to Chaucer and Cellini. Fortunately for me, they were able to open my car door before I had a chance to reach the conclusion of The Canterbury Tales

Thursday, April 09, 2009

This Dude Got A Guggenheim?????????

Of course he did! I'm so happy that three of my good friends were all awarded Guggenheim Fellowships yesterday: Brian Ulrich, Anna Shteynshleyger and James Nakagawa. All three are great photographers and great people . . . Midwest Represent!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Guest Curator #7: Shawnee Barton

This was posted by Shawnee Barton, an artist who keeps a blog on other people’s blogs. If you have a little nook of cyberspace and are open to welcoming a guest poster, or if you're a video whiz and want to help her with her crashing trucks/fireworks project, please email her at She will be grateful. To see where she is posting next, check out

"Once upon a time, I wanted to make a video where a semi-truck carrying firecrackers crashed head on into another truck and a large scale fireworks display erupted with symphony orchestra music and all.

I never could figure out how to make that video, but while I was looking for footage of trucks crashing, I came across these old drivers training videos that are super gruesome. They have names like "Wheels of Agony" and "Mechanized Death." I liked them so much, I ordered the whole set from the Ohio Department of Safety . Anytime I want to impress someone, I pop these bad boys in the dvd player and show them off like they're like a big-horned hunting trophy or a limited edition Princess Diana plate."

Saturday, April 04, 2009



I lived in Boston from 1998-2000 and during my first summer there, I shared a house with some amazing artists and musicians (ten of them to be exact). It was a bit of a freak-out house: people camping in the back yard, fridge filled with nothing but Hamms Beer, recording studio in the basement, you get the idea. Anyhow, two of my friends from the house were Colin Langenus and Tom Hohmann. Colin and Tom were in an amazing band named BullRoarer and shared a bunk bed in the room next to mine. After BullRoarer came to an end, Tom and Colin began the band USAISAMONSTER which consists of Colin on guitar and Tom on drums. I've always been amazed and inspired by my friends from those days who still continue to constantly record and to tour all of these years later despite their lack of finances and commercial success.

So the years passed and I moved to Chicago. In 2003/2004, I found out that USAISAMONSTER was coming to town to play a common room at the University of Chicago. I headed down with my friend Nate and caught up with Tom and Colin after a number of lost years. It was so great to see them and to see that after all this time, they were still creating music at a million miles an hour . . . truly inspiring.

Ok, I'll cut to the chase. My friend Jonah emailed me the other day because it seems that USAISAMONSTER has a video up on the Pitchfork website. I could not be happier for these guys, the video is amazing (looks like the work of Tom), the song is amazing and hopefully it brings them some well deserved attention. So . . . check these guys out if you see them coming through your town, it will be well worth your while!

Here is some vintage BullRoarer to take you home, it's incredible what you can dig up on youtube!!!

Monday, March 30, 2009


A quick break from youtube to share with you this video that has me completely awed and inspired at the moment. The other day I was at home on the couch with Archie asleep on my lap when I started surfing On-Demand to see if there were any rock videos worth watching nowadays. I grew up glued to MTV (I used to record hours upon hours of it on our family VCR) and have been disappointed that in recent years it has become harder and harder to find worthwhile videos on the "music" channels. Often times the only way to view videos is to watch them on youtube which inevitably means that you'll be watching them in crappy quality. Anyhow, I came upon this video by Blitzen Trapper and was completely floored. This is the kind of video that I would want if I were in a band . . . Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You Tube Guest Curator #6: Ben Arnow

Ben is a friend of mine, we've been friends since kindergarten and for the majority of this time he has been a huge Police fan. It's not surprising to me then that he is into this smash hit by Sonseed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You Tube Guest Curator #5: Geoffrey Hammond

Although I have only lived in Chicago since 2001, I am an avid Chicago Bears fan. Despite growing up in NY, my interest in the Bears was first piqued in 1985 with the release of The Super Bowl Shuffle. How could you not love a team that featured a 382 pound defensive lineman named "The Fridge" who found a guest spot as the world's fattest running back. Anyhow, I had a copy of the song on vinyl and used to camp out in front of MTV hoping to catch repeat glimpses of the video.

This morning Geoffrey sent me this video that was made by the Southern Food Brokerage . . . some of those guys have impressive flow!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

You Tube Guest Curator #4: Chase Browder

Today's segment is from my friend Chase who is a great photographer and an even greater Texan. Chase writes: "This is a Segment from Texas Country Reporter, a TV show exploring Texas since the 70s. This clip is about a restaurant that serves chicken fried bacon. CFB is an appetizer at this restaurant where you order steaks by the pound not the ounce. My favorite part is when the owner talks about tasting CFB for the first time and says 'that's pretty good, just needs a little cream gravy,'"

*Viewer be warned, I think I had three coronaries in the course of watching this video.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

You Tube Guest Curator #3: Michael Pajon

This gem was sent to me by my friend Michael Pajon and is both hilariously funny and incredibly awkward. My wife Robin is a music teacher and twice a year she arranges voice and piano recitals for her students. When I showed her this clip earlier today, she said, "What's wrong with that lady? She's going way too fast for him and she doesn't even try to help him out!" Poor John Daker.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You Tube Guest Curator #2: Christine Grykien

This gem is from my friend Christine in Northern California. She writes: "You may have seen this one before since it was one of those things that spreads round like wildfire due to its universal hilarity, but I believe it deserves a place in any good youtube review. And if you haven't seen it before, just remember: Living Rooms, Bedrooms, Dinettes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You Tube Guest Curator #1: Brian Ulrich

Brian writes: "For the past year I've been working on a new project called 'Dark Stores, Ghostboxes and Dead Malls'. It's an extension of my earlier work examining consumer and retail culture since 2001. While researching I've come across many whom are nostalgic for certain brands and stores that have gone by the wayside. This training video removed from context of a 1980's Caldor store epitomizes a methodology for weakly attempting to indoctrinate new employees to store ideologies. The Corporate meets the Comedic with production right out of Beta-Cam videos that reveal a gut wrenching look into late 20th Century workplace."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Curated You Tube

I was talking to my friend Cable the other day about a brilliant curatorial program that he is starting up at Seattle's Kirkland Arts Center called "Bru Tube." He is inviting different people to curate a ten minute block of selected youtube videos and I thought this would be a fun feature to add onto my blog. Over the next few months, I will be inviting people from all kinds of backgrounds to select a video for me to feature (after all, I've been so bad about posting I figure this will be the kick in the pants I need). So I'll go first:

The Who were my first live concert experience, I saw them at Giant's Stadium in the summer of 1989 with my friend Anthony Cupaiuolo. We were obsessed with the Who all throughout middle school and used to watch "Tommy" every day after school in his parent's living room (I've probably seen it 6000 times). Recently I was talking to my friend Robert who runs the darkrooms at Columbia College and he told me that I had to check out this clip from 1967 on The Smothers Brothers Show (Robert is a huge Who fan as well). This is the performance where Pete Townshend destroyed his hearing as a result of the explosion in Keith Moon's drum set. I love how Pete plays it super cool at the beginning of the clip and how he loses his cool by the clips end (who can blame him, the dude just lost half of his hearing!) Enjoy, more to follow.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For The Birds

The other day while walking to the train station, I came upon a piece of toast in a tree,

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Coolest Thing EVER!!!!!!!!

Stop animation graffiti?!@#$%^???!!???@#?
Write 1000 times on the blackboard children, "I will never complain about making labor intensive artwork again, I will never complain about making labor intensive artwork again. . . "
To see more work by BLU, visit their website HERE

Friday, January 23, 2009

Old School

My friend Nils emailed the other day to see if I had a photograph that he could potentially use for the cover of his friend John Foti's soon to be released album. He was especially interested in some old pictures that I made the year before moving to Chicago for grad school. These photographs are from 2000 and were made at the local community college in White Plains, NY (I rented darkroom space to try and learn color printing before starting my MFA). I hadn't looked at these pictures in years, a fun walk down memory lane (click to enlarge):

Friday, January 16, 2009

Check Please

Here in Chicago, we have a show on PBS called "Check Please" which is a favorite here in the Gitelson household. Each week, three people share their favorite restaurant in Chicago and a round table discussion ensues. This is footage of Barack Obama on the program in 2001. To see a longer clip, click here. One more reason to love our next President.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

It's the Art Market, Stupid!

Despite the slumbering economy and post-holiday decompression, I will have a bunch of my work at Photo LA next weekend (January 9-11). If you find yourself at the fair, swing by booth #B3 (DNJ Gallery) and check out my work. Here is the info:

Barker Hangar
3021 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Friday, January 02, 2009

The De-Evolution of the Guitar

I started playing the guitar when I was twelve years old and took lessons until I was 18. Despite this six years of education, I never learned how to read sheet music. Instead, I learned how to read tablature which is the lazy man's version of notation. Each week I would meet with my teacher Steve and he would write out a new Zeppelin song for me to practice (some weeks it was ACDC, some weeks it was YES). Steve wanted me to learn how to read but I was lazy and stubborn and he eventually gave up (after all, Hendrix didn't know how to read music, right?)

On New Year's Eve, Robin and Archie and I headed out to our friends Mike and Lindsey's apartment for a Guitar Hero party. On the drive over, I got to thinking about the realationship between sheet music, tab and guitar hero dots. There has to be a graduate thesis in there somewhere, don't you think?