HOT COMMODITIES combines cultural observation, searing art criticism and personal anecdote into a bi-monthly column, written by Scott Speh, an artist, writer and curator living in Brooklyn, New York (until May 24 - then onto Chicago). The column started on the now-defunct 16beaver.com site, the internet portal of the 16 Beaver Group. This group, a non profit, platform-based community art space, has dissolved, transformed, transmogrified into something quite different from it’s heyday in late 2000, early 2001 due to legal and financial morasses too painful to delve into here. Highlights of the 16 Beaver site are now (or soon will be) housed at HOT COMMODITIES. This includes Scott Speh’s column; Market Watch, an online zine born from the ashes of artzine, a art and cultural criticism journal founded in Madison, Wisconsin; 16 Beaver archives - images and documents from past projects; and Barry’s Brother’s Football Picks - hilariously intellectual musings from the world of pro football. Future additions to this site will include artwork and exhibition proposals from Scott Speh.

Since the site was forced to vacate the 16 Beaver server, it is undergoing a mass re-organization and re-construction. Therefore images and links may not work properly in this interim phase. Various excuses abound for these problems: slow dial-up connections; only one worker bee to upload pages and fix problems; this worker bee is not as skilled in html as he might be; and time, time, time. Time, oh give me time, cause time makes lovers feel like they got something real.

Who runs this site?

Scott Speh has exhibited work at the Hermetic Gallery in Milwaukee, the Standard Gallery in Chicago, the 16 Beaver Space in New York City and at the Baltimore Festival of Arts. He recently completed a one-year residency as the head curator and associate director for the 16 Beaver Group, a non-profit space and artist’s community in lower Manhattan. Projects organized there included “One Million Dollars” a show about money, “Scott’s Toilet Paper Show” a whimsical look at toilet paper and “Cultural Studies” a two person show with artists investigating cultural tropes through performance and photography.

Before moving to Brooklyn, New York, Speh lived in Madison, Wisconsin, where he started artzine, a quarterly journal on art and culture and published 7 issues from 1997 to 2000. A hardcover compilation of all seven issues plus the never published 8th issue is in the planning stages. There also exists the possibility of artzine rising from the ashes on this very site. Stay tuned.

Speh organized local shows while in Madison. Flora & Fauna at the Wendy Cooper Gallery presented four artists (from Baltimore, Chicago, New York and Madison) who investigate human interaction, for good or bad, with nature. The show included drawings, installations, videos, a performance and an essay, “Art & Science as Ways of Seeing” by a local scientist. Another project was Secrets About Goo, a “visual mix tape” art exhibit featuring 5 Midwestern artists, a catalogue with an exhibition essay connecting the ideas of mix tapes with art and the Midwest, and a CD of artist interviews interspersed with local bands covering the artists’ favorite songs. Again, look for highlights from these shows on this site.

He also co-founded and participated (from 1995-2000) in the artist collective SLOP Brand A®t, a group that produced exhibitions, lectures, websites and the biennial juried exhibition SUPERMARKET. SLOP art and events can be found at http://slopart.com.

As of June 3rd, Speh will assume a new position at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as an assistant director in admissions. Upcoming endeavors include the curatorial projects Sensitized Shopping at the Silicon Gallery in DUMBO opening May 2002, "Accidental Sublime" at the Bower in San Antonio in September 2002 and the forthcoming artzine compendium artists book.


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