Kimler Strikes Back | Letters | Chicago Reader

Kimler Strikes Back 

Although David McCracken's pettiness does not in itself warrant a response [Letters, February 5; Culture Club, January 22], he does inadvertently touch upon several issues that I should once again reiterate.

It is self-evident that I have done well as an artist. I support myself entirely with my work without resorting to other means such as teaching. This is no small thing. In Jeff Huebner's article [June 26], I went to some lengths to acknowledge this. Further, what local critics say or don't say about me is of little concern to me at this point.

What does concern me, and should concern many, is the control exerted by certain individuals in the university system in collusion with certain collectors, galleries, and locally based publications as to what is deemed "cutting edge" in Chicago. The problem is not the quality or quantity of artists but rather the incompetence and corruption inherent in the support structure.

For instance, why is it that the Whitney Museum of American Art has been taken back to the same artists' studios time and again when curating the Biennial? Yet few of these artists are ever included in the Whitney Biennial. Obviously, local politics do not travel all that well.

One would assume that the Museum of Contemporary Art and/or the Art Institute would be consulted as to which Chicago artists are looked at by the Whitney curators. But this, as a rule, is not the case. Last year, for instance, the Whitney curators were chauffeured around Chicago by staff from the art department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Destinations were arranged by Irene Tsatsos, aka Mrs. Mitchell Kane. Anyone familiar with the Chicago art world understands exactly what it is I am implying. Hopefully the new regime at the MCA will rectify this situation.

More specifically, my concerns as an abstract painter are how personal individualized visions/aesthetics are marginalized by university-sanctioned color-field/pattern-painting mediocrities packaged in the exotic rhetoric of last season's Art Forum buttressed up with trendy philosophies of several aging French imports.

Perhaps it is unfortunate, given who I am or who people think I am, that I have been the one compelled to speak out about what many in the Chicago art world know to be true, as personal attacks upon me seem to take precedence over any serious discussion of the very real issues I have set forth. That the basic thrust of my essentially simple argument escapes Mr. McCracken is not in itself surprising when considering that he is the same mental giant who apparently has no problem going on record describing my work as "kind of interesting," "sort of accomplished," and "very large."

Wesley Kimler

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