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Whitewall’s regular columnist, art adviser Andrea Hazen, typically shares with us the notable shows she’s seen on her many travels in and outside of New York’s art world. For our fall issue (out next week), we decided to switch it up and ask Hazen about a recent project, where she curated a small collection of art at OneEleven, a new luxury rental building in Chicago developed by the Related Group.
If you find yourself in the windy city this week for EXPO Chicago (it opens today), be sure to check out the mesmerizing video by Diana Thater, the centerpiece of the building’s lobby. Here’s our interview with Hazen about the project.
VISIONS: OneEleven in Chicago
A conversation with Andrea Hazen, portrait by Steve Benisty
WHITEWALL: The focal point of the curated OneEleven lobby has to be the gorgeous Diana Thater video piece. Can you tell us a bit more about it?
ANDREA HAZEN: It’s a nine-panel video screen. The imagery is a flower bouquet that slowly moves, with no sound, and the sky in the background slowly changes. If you look closely, you can see the camera, because she shot it through a mirror. You can sometimes see the petals fluttering. It’s really beautiful.
WW: Can you tell me about how you came to work on this project at OneEleven?
AH: I was brought on board by the interior designer Kara Mann, who was working with the Related Group, the developers of OneEleven. I’ve worked with her a lot over the years. After being hired, I walked Expo Chicago last year with Ann Thompson of Related to get an overview of what the Related team would never go for and artwork that piqued their interest that we pursued. We did a tour of the fair and we discovered a Diana Thater video piece. It was an immediate responsethat,“This is interesting, this is beautiful, and, wow, this would really be pushing things. Let’s pursue this!”
WW: Pushing things? By having a video work in the lobby?
AH: Yes, having a video work. That’s kind of far-out for a rental building lobby.
WW: What other spaces on the property have artworks?
AH: The lobby, the elevator vestibules, and the amenities area upstairs. I placed Tauba Auerbach works by the elevator and then a young artist named Thrush Holmes, who shows with Mike Weiss, for the amenities area.
WW: How did the location of Chicago affect what you wanted to do at OneEleven?
AH: You know, I’m from the Midwest, and Chicago is such an amazing city. I lived there for 12 years. It’s a city that’s so rich in the history of architecture, art, music, and I feel like there’s a chance to do something in a space to reference the interest in the city in all those things. It’s a chance to not just put something decorative in the lobby, but to place something really interesting and engaging. The Diana Thater faces a wall of windows, so the public can see it from Wacker Drive. What has been done with Millennium Park and Anish Kapoor and Jaume Plensa has set a huge precedent; people are loving it. When you give people really good art, even if they’ve never seen it before, if you give it to them, they love it. So that was my point, and it was really important to me as a chance to do something really good, interesting, and engaging in Chicago, the city I have such an affinity for.
WW: Right, even though it’s a video, it’s very slow moving, so at first glance it looks like just a still life, a bouquet of flowers. That’s a reference everyone gets.
AH: Yeah, it’s still-life. It’s a traditional subject matter, and it’s also a welcoming thing. So it appeals to such a broad section of people. But because it’s video art, I thought it was interesting for some of the demographic of people moving into this building, who will be young professionals, who were very much raised with technology. It’s not like a moving advertisement. There’s nothing scary or gross or obnoxious or confrontational in it.
WW: Tell us about how you found the work by Thrush Holmes.
AH: That was by chance. I showed the team at Related a lot of work, and we were getting close on some things, and there were some conservative options that were formally beautiful, really good quality artists, but there was something missing in terms of it striking you in the heart. It was March and I went to the ADAA Art Show, the Armory show, and on a Saturday I did a sweep of Chelsea just to see what else I might discover. I walked into Mike Weiss Gallery and saw the work of Thrush Holmes and I went, “That’s it,” because it also incorporates new media. He’s a young Canadian painter, and he works on canvases, but incorporates neon. I thought it was a nice tie into what’s happening downstairs.
This article will be published in Whitewall‘s fall 2014 Fashion Issue, out next week.