Thursday, November 29, 2007

LaSalle collection OK

LaSalle photos to hang on

Bank of America says it will not sell off the 5,000-piece collection, but rather circulate it among local museums

LaSalle Bank's storied collection of fine-art photographs survived a perilous fire at the bank's Chicago headquarters in 2004.

Now it appears it also will survive Bank of America Corp.'s acquisition of LaSalle, which runs counter to the trend of mergers resulting in the liquidation of corporate art collections.

"We are not planning to sell anything from LaSalle. We are not planning to liquidate the photography collection," Rena DeSisto, Bank of America's arts and culture executive, told the Tribune on Wednesday. "We plan to keep it and make use of it in a way that will benefit the Chicago community and museum-goers across the country."

DeSisto said the bank plans to circulate portions of the collection among various museums so that public can see more of the photographs, which span the 165-year history of photography. Many are framed and hanging on the walls in the bank's public areas and offices.

Speculation was rampant that the merger might spell the end of the 5,000-piece collection, fueled in part because collections generally are sold off after mergers, and because corporate art collecting has generally declined in the past decade as activist investors, including hedge funds, have pushed managements to be more bottom-line oriented.

For example, hedge-fund operator Edward Lampert sold off the corporate art collection of Kmart Corp. and has reduced the number of works gracing the walls at Sears Holdings Corp.'s headquarters in Hoffman Estates.

After British Petroleum's acquisition of Amoco Corp., the Chicago-based oil company's art collection was downsized and some pieces were auctioned off, said BP spokesman Scott Dean. Various pieces were recirculated to other BP locations, and some works were sold and the proceeds given to charity.

MB Financial is selling off the art collection of First Oak Brook Bancshares Inc., which was an aggressive collector under the stewardship of Chief Executive Richard Rieser Jr.

And commodities trading firm Refco Inc. liquidated its art and photography collections after a financial scandal forced the Chicago company to seek bankruptcy protection. The same thing happened to Andersen's art holdings when the Chicago-based accounting giant collapsed in the wake of a federal indictment related to the Enron scandal.

So, the latest news about LaSalle's collection was greeted with relief. "That's terrific. I'm glad they understand the value of it," said Catherine Edelman, who owns an eponymous contemporary photography gallery in River North. "It would be a tragedy if this collection got disbursed. It's one of the most public corporate collections in the U.S., let alone Chicago."

Rod Slemmons, director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, agreed.

"The collection is a treasure. There's material in there from the beginning of photography from the 1840s," he said. "There is important documentation of Chicago post-fire, with historic prints. There is also a lot of contemporary work by Chicago and international people."

The worry that the collection was slated for a breakup wasn't limited to the art photography world. Requests for tours of the collection from bank employees as well as others have picked up in the past several months, a LaSalle source said.

A Bank of America spokesman said the concern was premature.

"Bank of America has one of the largest, most significant art collections in the world," said spokesman Scott Silvestri. "We believe our collection is an asset that should be shared with our customers in the communities we serve. The LaSalle collection is now part of the company's corporate art program and will continue to be used for the public benefit."

Curator, staff to stay for now

Carol Ehlers, the curator of the LaSalle photography collection, and her staff continue to be employees, although DeSisto declined to comment on whether that would continue in the future.

About 2,500 of LaSalle's 7,900 employees are expected to lose their jobs during the next two years, Bank of America said in September. More than 30 of LaSalle's executives, including its chief executive, have been hired by PrivateBank, a Lake Forest-based bank that this week raised $200 million in new capital for expansion purposes. Before the merger, LaSalle was the Chicago area's second-largest financial institution.

Photography collectors will be disappointed they won't have a chance to bid on a piece of LaSalle's legacy. "There would be a lot of excitement about the LaSalle collection going up for auction," said Paul Berlanga of the Stephen Daiter Gallery in River North. "These are my friends, and I would hate to see them out of work, but galleries thrive on this. Death and divorce brings these things back on the market."

The LaSalle collection could be worth between $5 million and $10 million, experts estimated, but it could fetch a lot more than that. Last year, a platinum print by influential American photographer Edward Steichen sold for more than $3 million at a Sotheby's auction.

What is now known as the LaSalle Bank collection was started in 1967 by Exchange National Bank President Samuel Sax. Sax hired photography expert Beaumont Newhall to build the collection. Exchange was taken over by Dutch-owned LaSalle National Bank in 1989, and the collection was passed on.

Under LaSalle parent ABN Amro, the collection continued to expand, with a special emphasis on contemporary photographers and Dutch photography. In addition to being a buyer, the bank sponsored the photography field in other ways, including funding exhibitions and co-publishing a book on Dutch photographer Rineke Dykstra with the Art Institute of Chicago.

Bank of America agreed in April to buy LaSalle for $21 billion.

The collection contains the work of more than 300 photographers, including heavyweights such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Its fate hung in the balance three years ago when a fire broke out in the LaSalle building. Six days passed before curator Ehlers was allowed a close-up look at the damage, but she was relieved to see that all but 50 photographs survived the fire.

Vaults protected works

Many of the most valuable pieces were stored in the bank's two temperature-controlled vaults -- one for black-and-white work and the other for color.

If Bank of America hadn't decided to retain the collection, it's unlikely it would have stayed intact. Five thousand pieces is too much for an individual collector to store, gallery owners say, and museums unlikely would be interested in acquiring someone else's vision.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


inCUBATE has been a friend, collaborator, and inspiration to, the residency i am involved with, check out this f***ing genius idea:

Nov. 30

Sunday Soup Grant Deadline

InCUBATE is very excited to be giving away our first Soup Grant with money collected from our Sunday Soup program. Our first grant is $218 and applications will be accepted until Nov. 30.

Soup grants provide funding for small to medium sized projects. The grants are completely unrestrisricted and will be awarded at the discretion of the jury of Sunday Soup Subscribers. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. At the end of each month, grant applications and proposals are collected and distributed via e-mail to the Sunday Soup subscribers. Each subscriber then casts one vote as to which project they would like to fund.

The application with the most support will be awarded the Sunday Soup Grant the first week of the following month. (i.e. applications collect in November will be awarded the first week in December.) The amount of the grants are equal to the entire Soup Fund for that particular month.

We will begin building up the Dec. Soup Grant this Sunday from 1 PM - 4 PM at InCUBATE with guest chef Jen Breckner.

For more information:

Monday, November 26, 2007

fake photos alter real memories

Fake Photos Alter Real Memories

By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer

In 2003, Los Angeles Times photographer Brian Walski caused an uproar when it was discovered that his picture of a British soldier yelling at fleeing residents in Iraq, published prominently by many U.S. newspapers, had been altered.

Walski had combined two snapshots taken moments apart of the British soldier urging residents to take cover as Iraqi forces opened fire. This digital alteration is one of several in recent years to cast doubt on the old saying that the camera doesn't lie.

Some researchers are worried that digitally altered photos could alter our perceptions and memories of public events.

To test what effect doctored photos might have, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Padua in Italy showed 299 people aged 19 to 84 either an actual photo or an altered photo of two historical events, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and the 2003 anti-war protest in Rome.

The original Tiananmen Square image was altered to show a crowd watching at the sidelines as a lone man stands in front of a row of tanks. The Rome anti-war protest photograph was altered to show riot police and a menacing, masked protester among the crowd of demonstrators.

When answering questions about the events, the participants had differing recollections of what happened. Those who viewed the altered images of the Rome protest recalled the demonstration as violent and negative and recollected more physical confrontation and property damage than actually occurred.

Participants who viewed the doctored photos also said they were less inclined to take part in future protests, according to the study, detailed in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology.

"It’s potentially a form of human engineering that could be applied to us against our knowledge and against our wishes, and we ought to be vigilant about it," said UC Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who designed the study. "With the addition of a few little upsetting and arousing elements in the Rome protest photo, people remembered this peaceful protest as being more violent than it was, and as a society we have to figure how we can regulate this."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

details for nirvana project

wanted to share a couple details. first, the pic below is of an experiment of sorts. d3 asked me to do something a bit interactive for the opening, so i decided to hook up a nirvana mix to nice, over-the-ear headphones and provide a journal for people to write their how-i-got-introduced-to-nirvana stories...with instructions on the first page. i also asked, if they had a snapshot, to leave their email or phone with follow-up info. a fair number of people took the plunge into headphone land and i would get really excited as i spied them from across the room. i thought the x-eyes on front were a fun nod to the ubiquitous nirvana x'd out eyes smiley face. i can't wait until i get the journal back in january. maybe these pages would be great in a book someday???

second, the next detail shot is a close-up of the text (which i struggled with for awhile). actually, trying to figure out the image to white space to frame ratio was excruciating. and, i wanted a pen that could do handwriting letter size but a bit more significant than a ballpoint pen (and more archival). i used a calligraphy pen with safe-ink, only using the skinny end of the brush tip. it allows for the letters to be a bit more expressive as you scrawl across. images i studied as inspiration when deciding on the text: jim goldberg's rich and poor series, chris verene's galesburg, new catalogue's images with printed text and more white space. i decided to opt for less white space, small writing that references journal handwriting, and to allow the viewer to step back and enjoy the image as dominate to the text if they like. the handwriting moves, conceptually, half a step back.

also, kudos to nathan from blackpoint editions where the project was printed. he suggested i handwrite the text on scrap paper, put it under the final print, and put those layers on a lightbox. i could center my text beforehand and follow it as closely or loosely as i wanted, but i knew where i had to begin and end and that was immensely helpful.

anyone have friends overseas that could participate in this project?

one eye carl

This picture was taken on the last day of 6th grade. Carl, on the left, introduced me to Nirvana. He lived in the rough area of town, lost one eye to cancer as a kid, got me into Hendrix, had sex first at 13, and played me classic rock over the phone.

thanks andy resek for submitting

i am still taking entries!!! talk to me nirvana fans

Friday, November 23, 2007

if you go down in the streets, you better open your eyes


I-tunes 'visualizer-mode' screenshots that correspond to the word 'baby' when sung on Led Zeppelin's 'IV' (not including baby when it's in a chorus)

here are 4 of the 24:

i think i may try mounting these on pdf and then using a glaze called 'pour-on' to give them a thick clear coat finish - any other ideas?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


i shot a wedding the night before going to LA. this little girl asked me to dance. my heart almost exploded!

ps: this was the LA theme song!


below are install shots. top to bottom:

Michael Vicks abandoned public apology note in my own handwriting" 42x70" 2007
5 images from Nirvana series, all 2007
Untitled installation from Recordings series, 2007

i also debuted the "The last rose of summer on my nightstand" book (which sold, along with a few Nirvana pieces!).

i also added a nirvana journal, a blank journal with instructions to record your story on how you were introduced to the band nirvana. participants could slip on over-the-ear headphones and write their stories. text may be in a book later...

d3 projects was great, their director anais wade and owner richard lovett were perfect, not to mention their dutiful intern lucia. totally sincere people with honest enthusiasm and good energy. the opening was great with waves of people coming in for 4 hours straight. i was most excited secretly watching the younger viewers (18-30) look at the nirvana series. i also loved the presence of the michael vicks piece from far away...people really hung with the piece more than i thought they might. recordings was fun to install over 3 days and people had great questions/reactions to it...i think that was the hardest piece to engage in during the broo-haha of an opening with bodies moving around.

thanks to my host tim nordwind i got a pass into the members only Magic Castle magic club for one evening, and enjoyed a marionette show the afternoon before the opening. wish i could make that some kind of tradition no matter where i was. also, drinks were mostly had at the culver city it bar 'the mandrake'.

one day was a disaster trying to go to 2 museums on a wednesday and finding out they were closed. luckily, the mustang rental car made the trips fun. also, the money i spent on a gps device was the best money i ever spent, especially for a trip to LA doing some traveling alone. i did find a jim dine book put out from steidl i want to look up again, having one moment of inspiration for a day was all i ask at a minimum!

also, thanks lindsey and andrew for coming out, as well as aron gent, megan mcdowell and andrew rafacz. xo's.

like an old lady, i like palm trees.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

in LA

in LA nov 11 - nov 18 for a solo show! for more info

Thursday, November 08, 2007

my cousin in IRAQ!!!

as you can see, alex is all heart and passing out food to the iraqi children. go alex!

Friday, November 02, 2007

go see cody, then clara

clara at coma:

an overdue 12x12 show at the MCA for cody hudson.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

a new 'living with a portrait'

here is a new living with a portrait i made at st. xavier university, where i teach once a week.

titled, "First week of school, St. Xavier University (Britney Spears) " 2007

someone wrote 'hot' on her forehead, which we would see when looking at an actual print!

leave for LA in 10 days, $900 framing bill in hand! awaiting crate/labor/shipping bill...


i want this picture

Col. Paul W. Tibbets, standing, pilot of the B-29 Enola Gay which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, describes the flight during a news conference at Strategic Air Force headquarters on Guam, Aug. 7, 1945, one day after the atomic bombing. Tibbets died Thursday, Nov.1, 2007, at his Columbus, Ohio, home. He was 92. From left are: Brig. Gen. Thomas F. Farrell, Rear Adm. William R. Purnell, Gen. Carl Spaatz, Tibbets, and Maj. Gen. Curtis E. LeMay. (AP Photo/Max Desfor)