The Zhou B Experience by Sky Carter

Guest Blogger, Sky Carter is a Sydney based fibre artist who has spent most of her life experimenting, exploring and dabbling with various creative mediums. Sky says; “I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and I spent a lot of time trying different things, I was a bit lost and I always seem to be searching for the next evolution point”. She recently found her passion in free-form weaving which she now pursues full-time at her studio in the May Street Artist Studios, a thriving artist community. Read on for more about Sky and her ‘Irreversible 10 year anniversary’ exhibition experience.

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Sky Carter in her Sydney Studio
IMG_3413Sky Carter Sydney Studio/ Australia

I arrive.
Pilsen, you are magical and a bit scary, but by Chicago standards of scary that’s laughable (so please feel free to laugh). My Airbnb hosts are seriously awesome characters (people). I am staying with Sid and Nancy, I’m sure it’s them….. Yes I mean the REAL Sid and Nancy. They are alive and well in Pilsen (Elvis may be here too). I am surrounded by fabulous art, thrifted treasures and a smoochy cat… Perfect.

8252.webImage courtesy Natasha Kertes.
Jay Pritzker Pavilion, also known as Pritzker Pavilion or Pritzker Music Pavilion, is a bandshell in Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. It is located on the south side of Randolph Street and east of the Chicago.

I push through the jet lag and it viciously pushes back. It takes forrrrrreeever to leave me and it’s still not gone. All the sleeping pills, melatonin and ‘don’t sleep yet’ discipline amounts to nothing. Like most things it’s time and patience and going-with-the-flow that saves the erratic day(s).
In anticipation of the jet lag I have arrived several days before the art troupe heading from Miami hit the Zhou B Art Center for the ‘bumping in’ of the ’10 years of Irreversible’ Exhibition. I am settles in my Chicago digs when I am summonsed by Noor (our fearless leader) to the depths of Chicago’s western suburbs for a Hilton dinner date.

8546.webI meet Noor (wonderful) her husband (wonderful Alejandro Mendoza) and three other exhibiting artists (wonderful Ender, wonderful Edwin and super adorable wonderful Elba). I think I am the only non Venezuelan in the room (oh, wait, Alejandro is Cuban). As we dine their warmth washes over me and I have the full realization that I have made the right decision to fly halfway across the globe and am with a special group of people.

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Image courtesy Natasha Kertes. The Zhou B Art Center was founded in 2004 by the internationally acclaimed Zhou Brothers. Located in Bridgeport, the Zhou B Art Center’s mission is to promote and facilitate a cultural dialogue by organizing contemporary art exhibitions and programs of international scope. As a Center created by artists, for artists, the vision of the Center is to facilitate the exchange of contemporary art between Chicago and the international art community and promote the convergence of Eastern and Western art forms in the United States.

The next day we all roll up to Bridgeport’s Zhou B Art Centre. We take in the impressive black hulk of a building and check out the massive second floor space that the exhibition will be held on (so much sexy polished concrete). We meet and greet other artists as they arrive for the group exhibition and a tall cranky man is assigned to assist me with hanging my work. His name is Carl, he is cool and taciturn which I later find out is just him hung over (later that night Carl, totally smashed, will hold court with stories of hanging Picasso’s and several ‘hanging’ horror stories). It’s mostly a smooth install… I only have to make some minor adjustments and voila! The work is up and all that hard slog of the last couple of months is hanging before me in its intended space. It was a totally magical moment….. NOT! While it could have been magical, the reality was I was completely over looking at this 10 meter piece (33 feet). A work that I had grappled with in my tiny Sydney studio both physically and emotionally. It felt like I was dealing with a naughty child or bad boyfriend that you loved deeply but needed some space from. My work was in a safe place, it was ‘in situ’ and I could have the luxury of turning my back on it for a while. See ya!

ender40.webInstallation View Ender Martos  Fibre Optic Vision. Image courtesy Natasha Kertes

Because mine was one of the first works to be in place I had a whole bunch of time to help out others.  Enter Ender Martos and his Fibre Optic Vision. ‘I’ll help you’ I volunteered sweetly (LOL, so naive).  So for a couple of blurry days I became Enders personal assistant as we worked towards a 3 meter squared (about 33 square feet) masterpiece that is mathematically intelligent, geometrically intriguing and delightfully playful. Ender is awesome. I realise he is a personification of a Manga character, he is very sweet and funny and although he’s a Venezuelan based in Texas I can’t help thinking he has stepped off the streets of Harijuku with his uber cool look (Ender totally endears himself by telling an anecdote from his school days where he loved his technical drawing class so much he did his friends homework JUST FOR FUN). I watch as Ender climbs up and down ladders or crawls across the floor while I dispense the optic material and guide him to the next pillar position. We only make a few mistakes (eeeekk!) and have to undo some of the work some of the time (eeeekk!). Before I know it I am fully invested in seeing his work come to fruition and it’s just me and Ender (and five ladders) so we go hard and get that work done baby! Ender has traveled from Texas (where he resides) which is 19 hours behind the wheel. He is a classic example of the lengths an artist will go to make a vision happen. The expense, the investment in time, the mental exertion and the physical pain (fingers bleeding, ladder climbing stiffness). That’s the reality of art. Art is pain. But it’s FUN PAIN and helping Ender create his work was a lot of fun and I would do it again in a heart beat.

There are other beautiful people and other stranger than fiction characters and loads of ‘your amazing’ ‘no, your amazing’ conversations so I’m in a happy place.

Opening night is suddenly upon us and I try to chat with as many people as possible, Noor arrives wearing the most mind blowing ensemble and I spend the night taking sneaky pics of her. Apparently Noor means ‘light’ and her surname (Blazekovic) has the word ‘blaze’ in it. She is a Blazing Light. A beacon for artists like me and I hope I have sufficiently shown her my gratitude for this experience 🙂



Me with Noor (‘Blazing Light’)

And then the night is suddenly over and I am Ubering back to Pilsen taking stock of all that has happened and feeling tired but also ‘charged’.The following night I am treated to a home cooked meal as my Airbnb hosts very kindly invite me along to a friends dinner party. It’s another warm and inspiring experience, the hosts are more examples of Chicagoan charisma. I’m sitting in front of a fire in a beautiful ‘early bungalow’ in the company of some totally lovely people. A geriatric cat is enjoying my company, everything is glowing and I have a serious case of the warm fuzzies. It’s a great end to a fabulous week.

In my next blog I ramble about the next phase of my Chicago experience… Weaving School!

Published by: IRREVERSIBLE

IRREVERSIBLE is a multidisciplinary collective for emerging and established artists. IRREVERSIBLE makes buying and collecting art accessible and affordable. Many of our collaborations with artists, galleries and art fairs have succeeded outside of the traditional format, our projects are viewed as one of the most influential exhibitions platform of our era. We have become breeding grounds for cutting edge exhibitions. Our versatility provides a platform for emerging artists giving them the opportunity to showcase their talent, as well as offering more established artists the freedom to play and produce experimental exhibitions. NOOR BLAZEKOVIC Founder/ Publisher Chief Curator

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