The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg

Murakami signageThe title of my post, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, might be confusing at first. A little Dada prank, you might assume. When you consider the fact that octopi can regenerate lost limbs, then the self-eating octopus becomes a potent metaphor.Dean at Murakami show

She is the creator who grows strong branches only to prune herself back and start over. I can relate to the octopus, as I have reinvented myself and my art style many times. I had no idea Takashi Murakami had done the same thing until he chose to title his MCA exhibit after the resilient cephalopod.

Murakami big signI was very familiar with Murakami’s kawaii-inspired pop art, but I had no idea he explored several other art styles before developing his current brand. The exhibit takes the viewer through these styles in chronological order. There is no apparent connection between one style and the next. Once the octopus has cast off an arm, he seems to disavow any ownership of it.

It is important to start at the beginning of Murakami’s oeuvre, because each successive room is more impressive than the last. By the time I reached the final rooms, I was saying to myself, “I can’t believe this!” It was literally the most impressive art show I have ever seen.Tentacles in the MCA

Do yourself a favor and see this exhibit before it closes on September 24. It has my highest recommendation ever!


Dean in front of AIDS showI strongly recommend the show, ArtAIDSAmerica, which The Advocate is calling “Uncomfortable, wistfully beautiful, and vitally important.” The exhibit features a wide variety of artistic reactions to the AIDS epidemic, including journalistic documentation of the early days of our awareness, elegiac tributes to lost friends and lovers, and even abstract pieces containing coded references to the disease. You will recognize some of the big-name artists, such as Keith Haring; others are more obscure.

Through these different points of view, a story emerges. In particular, it is part of our story as gay men, one that is easily forgotten in the days when modern medicine has made HIV a manageable disease and more difficult to contract. Even so, one cannot help but feel outrage when one is reminded of the ignorance and hatred with which our elected officials condemned so many people to die.AIDS show window

There were several panels from the AIDS quilt on display. These pieces really got to me, probably because my mother is a quilter. Although she has never made an AIDS-related quilt, she has created numerous memorial quilts for families who lost loved ones. These pieces always include swatches of fabric from clothes worn by the deceased. They create something tangible for the families to hold onto. I think the AIDS quilt panels are a lot like that, only they take the extra step of making these people’s lives and deaths visible for everyone.

That’s what this exhibit does too. ArtAIDSAmerica runs through Sunday, April 2 at Alphawood Gallery, which is located at 2401 N Halsted.

Art Business 101

Thanks to everyone who has read my Art Business 101 posts over the last 3 months! I hope you have found the content useful and inspiring. If you haven’t checked out this series yet, or if you missed a few posts, now is the perfect time to get on board.

Here you will find links to each of the AB101 posts in the best reading order. Please take some time to learn from my experience!

Coming Soon: Art Business 101
preview of AB101 posts, and the importance of leaving a legacy

Art Business 101: My Story
“who is he to tell me what to do?”

Art Business 101: Economics of Art
if you are an artist, you are an investor; now what does that mean?

Art Business 101: Success in the Market
finding your niche, and taking on the role of a market scientist

Art Business 101: All About Price
you’ve made a piece of art, but how do you come up with a fair price?

Art Business 101: Building Your Brand
in the age of social media, what exactly does your brand encompass?

Art Business 101: Writing Your Bio
how to write the story of your career, even when you don’t have much to say

Art Business 101: Creating Events
pros & cons of galleries, art festivals, DIY shows and more

Art Business 101: Event Planning
everything you need to know (and do) to pull off an art show

Art Business 101: Fundraising
why pay for all your event costs when you can raise the funds?

Art Business 101: Promoting Your Show
you’ve booked your art show, but how do you spread the word?

Art Business 101: Social Media
hands-down top app for artists, and how to optimize it

Art Business 101: Taking Responsibility
you created it; now what do you do with the good, the bad, and the ugly?

ArtBusiness101: Your Art
there is a difference between a sellout and an artist who sells