Coyote Chases Artistic Director Away

Planning for the 1995 Around the Coyote arts festival took a surprise turn last week with the sudden resignation of new artistic director Raymond Benkoczy. Several people connected to the event suggested that Benkoczy may have alienated some members of the ATC board of directors. “Raymond was doing a lot of things, but I’m not sure that he was reaching out to the artists, which was supposed to be his main function,” says board president Gavriel Mairone.

Benkoczy realized he didn’t have the full support of the ATC board at a board meeting last week. “Apparently, the artistic direction of this year’s event was inconsistent with whatever the goals of the current board were,” he says. Several sources present at the meeting, where a newly reconstituted 12-person ATC board discussed the organization’s bylaws and the structure of the 1995 festival, say the group was moving to limit Benkoczy’s artistic control to the weekend festival, while trying to retain control of the year-round organization it hopes will grow out of the event. Also several out-of-town artists Benkoczy wished to place on an advisory board were dropped from that list. They included ballet dan-cer Susan Jaffe and author/photographer Christopher Makos from New York and Canadian dancer Rex Harrington. Mairone said one reason Benkoczy’s candidates were rejected was their lack of close ties to the Wicker Park and Bucktown arts community.

Around the Coyote founder Jim Happy-Delpech will assume Benkoczy’s duties for the 1995 event. The curators already chosen for the upcoming festival, many of whom participated in previous Around the Coyotes, will remain in place.

Outsider Art Moves In

Chicago is getting a new exhibition space for outsider art. If renovations go according to plan, by midsummer the Lincoln Park home and studio of artist Roger Brown will become a gallery, reference library, office, and meeting space for Intuit, a not-for-profit organization established in 1991 to promote awareness of outsider art. A founding member of Intuit, Brown was first exposed to outsider art while attending the School of the Art Institute in the late 1960s; he subsequently acquired a significant collection, which will be on display at the new center.

In the catalog that accompanied the 1992 Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition “Parallel Visions: Modern Artists and Outsider Art,” Milwaukee Art Museum director Russell Bowman wrote: “Chicago artists have demonstrated a continuing interest in outsider art. Their awareness and appreciation of the work of untrained artists, eccentrics, isolates, compulsive visionaries and psychotics must be understood as a part of a larger tradition in Chicago of exploring non-mainstream sources.”

Art 1995 Chicago Steps Up

For the first time in five years, Tom Blackman is going home to Navy Pier. The former executive director of the Lakeside Group, which produced John Wilson’s Chicago International Art Exposition, parted ways with Wilson after disagreements about how Art Expo was being managed and subsequently launched his own competing fair. With Art Expo gone from the scene, Blackman’s Art 1995 Chicago is poised to reap the benefits of Navy Pier’s scenic location.

The Metro-politan Pier and Exposition Author-ity has promised that at least 113,000 square feet of the new Navy Pier exhibit halls will be completed by the time Art 1995 Chicago opens its six-day run on May 11 with a benefit for the Museum of Contemporary Art. Blackman had hoped for 135,000 square feet of space. The fair’s layout will include amenities such as dining facilities and booths for 165 dealers, up from 135 last year. Much of the increase can be attributed to a 25 percent increase in foreign dealers.

Blackman predicts that curiosity about the new Navy Pier space will increase attendance 25 percent from last year’s total of 20,000 visitors. The general admission fee–$10, $7 for students and seniors–remains the same as last year, when the fair was held under a tent behind North Pier.

CSO Lays Tracks

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra has quietly teamed up with the Walt Disney Company to record the sound track for what is expected to be a sequel to the classic Disney animated film Fantasia. On three different occasions over the past 18 months, the CSO and conductor James Levine have recorded portions of the sound track at the Medinah Temple. Their most recent recording session was last week. The film is several years away from completion, and a CSO musician familiar with the project said at least four more recording sessions are planned.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/J.B. Spector.