Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Greetings & Wishes to All Our Friends and Supporters!

We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood with no shortage of artistic talent and innovation, replete with visual, musical, performing and literary arts and as a supporter of the arts, you understand the meaningful impact they make on our community.

To further that impact, IALS provides vital assistance to artists and arts organizations that add so much value to our neighborhood and we depend on your support to continue our work.

Thank you for your generosity in 2011. We are deeply grateful for the time, talent, efforts and financial support you have contributed to IALS and the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival.

Moving forward, we are seeing an increased need in the career development opportunities and services IALS provides. We are glad and proud that we are able to serve artists who bring such great richness to our community, but we cannot continue to do so without your help.

Your contribution is essential to keeping the arts alive and vibrant in Logan Square.

As the year draws to a close, we hope that you will consider making a new or additional gift to I Am Logan Square to enable us to continue our vital work and serve the Logan Square community.   

Please donate by mail or call our office at  773-278-4257 with your credit card number. You can also donate online here.

Thank you and have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year! 

Cara Dehnert Huffman, Executive Director
Natasha Casanova, Marketing & Development Director 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years Eve and awkward kisses in the Square!

So much New Years, so little time. wait, that doesnt sound right. So much new year ahead, so little this one. Well, poetics aside, technically, I'm correct. So what are your plans to bring in 2012? I mean, aside from champagne(let's be honest, it's just generic sparkling wine) and an awkward kiss with that guy/girl-you-like-but-doesnt-like-you-back-but-feels-bad-for-you-and-it-IS-new-years-afterall sorta kiss. ! ....? oh, that was weird. BUT BESIDES THAT! what else? Well, if you're looking for something to do, or have a list you'd like to add to because you're a guy/gal about the town, Logan Square has a bunch to offer!

first and foremost, hurry hurry hurry to get a ticket from our official gallery series sponsors, Revolution Brewing (facebook link w00t w00t!)for their Party! a New Years Party, if you havent guessed. Or, NYE as facebook/the blagoshpere is referring to it. $95 gets you 4 hours of More Booze of Doom(this is what us blog-o-teers foreshadowing.) aka open bar of wine, liquor and your favorite Rev Brew...brew. OH! and their meat and veggie-friendly buffet. And if you don't want to party with people, nurse your New Year hangover with brunch from rev brew, as they'll be open for brunch, lunch and dinner on the 1st!

"But mysterious/faceless IALS blog writer, my NY needs to be ushered in with a little more latino/cubano spice!" you say? Heard! Lucky for your face, our lovely Industry Night Sponsors, Cafe Con Leche/D'Noche (facebook link what!)is hosting a party as well, and with 3 seatings to choose from! For you aforementioned guys/gals about the town, you can get a ticket from 7pm-9pm for a 3 course dinner, a cocktail, and you're also-aforementioned-bubbly. Then of course, you can go about the rest of your hundreds of Lgn Sq. parties, or whatever it is you social However, if you want to start 2012 cubano style, then get your 3rd seating ticket  for 10pm-3am and get said 3-course dinner, un-previously-said 3hr open bar, and pre-said bubbly at midnight! oh yes, dont forget to dance in the new year with the tunes provided by their live DJ! Also, dont forget that awkward-unrequited-love sorta kiss....LATINO STYYYYLLLEE!

"Faceless IALS blog slave! I'm only hungry for deliciously crafted holiday cocktails/fancy drinks my Grandad used to slip me at parties when mum wasnt looking!" Oi vey, what a whiney bunch of Logan Square-ian-ites you are. Lucky for you, Local Cocktail Lounge, The Whistler (facebook link huh!), is throwing a party where you can whine/un-whine all you like. YES! as they put it, $85 will get you "all the fancy cocktails your heart desires, gratuity, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and all-night dance jams pumped out by Dino Soccio of Only Children. [They'll] even make sure you’ve got a party hat and a glass of champagne to toast with at midnight…but you’re on your own for The Kiss" no, I'm not getting lazy on my writing, I just couldn't have said it better myself! also, I wrote it. no, thats a lie. But they did make me feel a little less weird about mentioning the awkward-kiss thing so much. I'M NOT ALONE! Well, until NYE, at least. Oh IALS blog writer, you're messing this up! Disregard that. LOOK! Spinny-disco-ball-thing!

"But tall-dark-mysterious/disturbingly-faceless IALS blog writer," you whine once again, "the only thing I'm hungry for on NYE is TO HAVE MY DANG SOCKS ROCKED CLEAN OFF ME!" Well keep your socks on, for everyones sake, please. HOWEVER! If you must know (you really must.) MBD is playing a new years eve party at Saki! (facebook link who!) for all you MBD fans, you know what i mean...or maybe you dont, it is just a 3 letter abbreviation, afterall. Most Brilliant Dummy. Man Beats Duck. Man Becomes Duck. More Booze of Doom(foreshadow...complete).....ok NO! Murder By Death. Thats right! Your favorite punkabilly/indiebilly/punkapunky/cellobilly rock band is playing an Epitonic Saki Session to Murder 2011, and bring in a new one! yeah, that was cheesy. BUT ALSO AWESOME. Seriously, I may ditch my own NYE house party to see this. and if youre not an MBD fan....well I suppose you can take my spot at my party. Just kidding, the show is at 4pm, WELL before my party time. You're uninvited to my party. Seriously though (can I ACTUALLY be serious?), if you owe your entire foundational understanding of punk/post-punk bands and online music sharing to Epitonic like I do, you can't miss this. Unless you don't live in Chicago. But since you're reading this, I'm calling your bluff on that lie!

well until next year, fellow blogosphere/Logan Square-ian-ites, farewell! Hope 2011 was fantastic! However, according to recent poles saying 76% of Americans regard 2011 as the worst year of their lives....well I REALLY hope 2011 was good for you! If you're looking to make 2012 even better, you can start by checking out our current show Snapshot: Inventing the Everyday, curated by our own Brooke Herbert Hayes and W. Tanner Young (yes, it is I, your mysterious and slightly terrifyingly faceless IALS blog slave, UNMASKED!)

Oh, and good luck on the NYE kiss thing, you weirdo. If it makes you feel any better, smashing your face to someone else's whilst hiding your nervous, clammy palms to bring in a new year probably looks REALLY WEIRD to aliens.

All the best,
-W. Tanner Young

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gallery Provocateur: Fostering Decadence

Christopher Shy, "Origami Ballerina"

Gallery Provocateur 2125 N. Rockwell St.
When viewing art in a gallery, it is traditional for the gallery to provide a neutral, blank space that will not detract from the art on display. This setting is ideal for clean, crisp works but for exhibitions focusing on more alternative fair, a sterile, sparse gallery would contradict the work to its core. Gallery Provocateur, located at 2125 N. Rockwell Street, is the antithesis to traditional galleries and is quite proud of such distinction. With a primary focus on figurative artwork, Gallery Provocateur reshapes the typical gallery experience by creating a venue that seamlessly meets the needs of cutting edge, contemporary works while referencing dark, romantic allusions to history. The ambiance is somewhere between a classy opium den and a 19th century salon in Logan Square and based upon their current show “Celebration of the Dark Arts”, Gallery Provocateur enforces the need for atmosphere in a gallery, not a lack of it.

Vice-President of Gallery Provocateur, Simon Lamb with Founder/Curator Veronika Kotlajic

I met with Gallery Provocateur founder and curator Veronika Kotlajic and Vice-President Simon Lamb for a private showing of the gallery’s current show “Celebration of the Dark Arts”, on display through January 2012. The instant I turned the corner at Rockwell Street, the gallery set the mood for a dark and sensual evening of art. Gathered black curtains cut the windows into narrow crescents, while a stone lion head perched above the gallery entrance suggested gothic chambers. When I entered the womb-like gallery, the dimmed lighting and low, pulsating bass music drew me to the walls, which are brimming with artwork of all mediums. Cutting through the low lighting of the main room were spotlights trained on each piece that caused the work to glow against the textured walls. Viewing walls swelling with art, instead of the sparse hanging of pieces perfectly lined up on a wall, draws you closer to each work to inspect the details and craftsmanship. It also encourages you to notice new pieces during a second viewing. The first room housed close to thirty pieces from several artists and only then was I informed that the show sprawled out over three more rooms.

While the work on display primarily focused on figures, the genres featured throughout the exhibition were difficult to pin down to a single category. Traditional figure painting transitioned seamlessly into the genres of fantasy, pulp, surrealism, as well as macabre, horror, and fetish, all along the same wall. “The mission of Gallery Provocateur is to provide a non-traditional artists’ space,” curator Veronika Kotlajic explained. “[I wanted the gallery] to give back to the art community and to act as a not-for-profit space to show non-traditional work that is at times discounted by other galleries.” Kotlajic and Lamb went on to explain the typical experience of artists who produce art that is based upon subculture. “It’s harder to get counseling when you are in the fetish or even nude genre,” Lamb said. “Photographers will do glamour, event, and fashion photo shoots to pay the bills and do fetish and erotica on the side, which is what they love but [they’re encouraged not to] use their real name…nowadays with the market the way it is, people are buying cheap and quick and it is disappointing for artists.”

"Alison as Silk" and "Origami Ballerina" by Chrisopher Shy

Kotlajic and Lamb designed the interior of Gallery Provocateur to be a comfortable setting where viewers would feel encouraged to take their time looking at the artwork, and have a seat to discuss the exhibitions. From the atmospheric lighting to the wrought iron chairs upholstered in the same deep red velvet as the curtains, Gallery Provocateur does create a mood and milieu akin to the setting of a Tim Burton film. Over the course of my visit, I never felt as though I was visiting a business establishment, but rather a parlor from a bygone era, which perfectly matches the tone of the work. “White wall galleries can be intimidating, stoic and cold to some viewers. And that’s not the best way to begin a collection of art,” Kotlajic said. “We want to take underground artwork to greater visibility this way,” Lamb added.

Another Wall Brimming with Art at Gallery Provocateur

Throughout our conversation, it was clear that Kotlajic and Lamb both understood the plight of underground artists over the years. Kotlajic began modeling for artist friends after graduating from Columbia College Chicago and saw firsthand how artists working in “subversive” subcultures were being discredited by the traditional gallery system. “It frustrated me,” Kotlajic sighed. “I worked at another gallery where I steered some artist friends because they occasionally showed non-traditional art. Through the process I found out that they were not treating the artists properly. In response to that, I decided to open up Echo Gallery and do things the right way.” In 2001 she opened Echo Gallery in Chicago to act as a not-for-profit gallery space to exhibit the work of artists who needed to get their voices heard. Echo Gallery was open for over five years, but when the building was sold, Kotlajic was forced to find a new location. Nestled at the base of the historic Congress Theater, Gallery Provocateur may have found an ideal new location. Many pieces in the gallery cater to a rock n’ roll audience, or at least a public that is not threatened by nudity or macabre imagery in art. “We are always trying to push it,” Lamb explained. “Art is supposed to evoke an emotion.”

"Sacrifice of the Divine" by Christopher Shy

While some of the work may appear off-putting and severe to some viewers, it is impossible to discount the craftsmanship on display. Gallery Provocateur features several substantial works by artist Christopher Shy, who specializes in classically rendered figurative works that incorporate biblical allusions as well as a healthy dose of erotica. On my third lap around the gallery, Kotlajic and Lamb followed me to Sacrifice of the Divine and explained Shy’s process that begins with masterful hand drawn sketches that are scanned into a computer and painted digitally. His painted sketches are then printed onto canvas upon which he hand paints details with tempera paint that he creates from the chicken eggs he raises on his farm. The painting is then sealed with a glazing technique dating back to the 16th century. They also mentioned that Shy stretches all of his own canvases, which is nothing special, until they added that he had built the stretchers from the wooden beams of a one hundred year old barn. While Gallery Provocateur is always accepting submissions for new artists, and receives around twenty submissions a week, Kotlajic and Lamb regularly attend gallery viewings, art fairs, and comic conventions to discover new talent. Over the years they have established longstanding relationships with several artists whose work is regularly incorporated into the four annual shows at the gallery.

"Petrified Existence" by David Richardson

"The Seer" by Larkin
“The Dark Arts show began everything,” Kotlajic explained about the show circulation. “It is a staple and the other three shift depending upon what is going on in Chicago.” The work featured in the show ranges from traditional paintings of nudes to a bronze cast of a Hip-Hop Pope, painting references to famed stop-motion horror animator Ray Harryhausen, and ominous sculptures of a figure with a ram’s skull for a head extending an apple in hand.

 When I asked about previous shows, they mentioned an “Anti-Valentine’s Day” show, an annual show that correlates to local comic book conventions, such as Wizard World or the upcoming C2E2 in April, but they spoke at length about their last show, a tribute to the work of Frank Frazetta, the celebrated fantasy artist responsible for shaping the genre of fantasy artwork from the mid 60’s through the early 80’s. For the Frank Frazetta Tribute show, Kotlajic and Lamb requested that artists submit work inspired by the art of Frazetta or bore allusions to his style. “The first submission we received in the mail was from a prison,” Lamb smiled. “You never know where work is going to come from.” When I asked for more information about Frazetta, Kotlajic and Lamb began citing the artist’s origins in Pre-Raphaelite imagery and impeccable draftsmanship as well as his fondness for mythological allegory. They emphasized his use of the tradition as a means to reach the contemporary audience of his day.

"See Ya Real Soon" by Malachi Maloney

Subverting history may be an apt description for Gallery Provocateur as well. Throughout our three-hour discussion, I could not help noting the striking similarities between Gallery Provocateur to the spirit of the 19th century French salons that seceded from the Academy in opposition to the practice of only featuring prominent, established artists. In addition to presentation style and aesthetic, the two pioneer the exhibition of new talent. A reference to the 19th century also conjures a romanticism that enhances the relaxed, warm atmosphere of the gallery and encourages discussion of art history. Many of the featured artists have never shown elsewhere before.

Artist G. Edwin Taylor

Artist G. Edwin Taylor visited during my showing to speak of how Gallery Provocateur provided him with the first opportunity to show his work. Taylor comes from a Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy background and created four new paintings for the show. Before Taylor began researching galleries, friends were telling him of Echo Gallery. “A friend recommended Echo Gallery [a few years ago] but I didn’t think I was ready for a gallery show. Later I found out that Gallery Provocateur was run by the same curators as Echo Gallery and considered submitting work. I knew that they were the most likely venue to show my work. My work definitely isn’t for normal galleries.” When I pressed for him to elaborate, he detailed the frustrating experience of researching galleries where he could submit his work.

"Temptation of the Serpent Spirit" detail by Charles Moesch

“I looked at the galleries out there and couldn’t find a fit for my work; they would dismiss it. None of the galleries fit, and I kept coming back to Provocateur. Last year I felt I was [ready] to begin showing and submitted work to the Dark Arts show.” Regarding the work he produced for the show, he briefly detailed the literature of oft forgotten horror grandfather, Robert Chambers and his collection of short stories The King in Yellow. Based upon the literature of Chambers, Taylor generated paintings incorporating narratives parallel to scenes from the stories. Three of Taylor’s paintings have already been selected as the cover art for a limited edition printing of the Chambers collection upon which the work is based. “Gallery Provocateur is giving me an opportunity to showcase my work where I normally wouldn’t be able to show it,” Taylor explained. “They are helping me and other artists show work you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else.”

"Gangsta Pope" by Jason Christopher Hawk

The predicament of fantasy artists like Taylor as well as the stigma associated with the other established artists at Gallery Provocateur brings to light a double standard of genre in art and a caste system within the industry. Historically, fantasy, horror, pulp, erotic, exploitation, and fetish are all genres that face opposition when new talent presents such work, however prominent artists such as David LaChapelle, Steven Klein, John Currin, Monica Majoli, and John Kacere are not required to defend their work in the same manner. Their most explicit pieces are deemed collectible rather than lowbrow and break the invisible barrier of white wall galleries. Many artists have redefined their careers around fantasy imagery and provocation, yet new generations of fetish, pulp, and other “underground” artists continue to be marginalized. The work at Gallery Provocateur underscores the unspoken bias against genre and youth in the industry. Youth and lack of notoriety may play a role but if so, at what age does provocation in art turn from juvenile to being sophisticated and noteworthy?

"Elf Portrait" by Matt Hughes

The “dark arts” on display at Gallery Provocateur are attempting to tip the scales of convention with their classical execution of their otherwise coarse or sinister subjects. Stark walls would ruin the illusion so masterfully rendered in these pieces, and the gallery’s dedication to fostering darkness and provocation is evidenced in the appropriately moody aesthetic trappings of Gallery Provocateur.

This feature is part of an article exchange program with Sixty Inches from Center. This post was written by Brian Willard.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Good Mood Blues @ Rosa's Lounge

In the mood for blues? Forget the trek downtown and soak in live tunes and all-round good vibes at Rosa’s Lounge. Living up to its claim as Chicago’s friendliest blues lounge, owner Tony Mangiulla greets the crowd and frequents the stage on drums, while mother, “Mama” Rosa tends behind the bar. The duo recently celebrated their 27th year in Logan Square and shows no signs of slowing down.

For those who have never been, Rosa’s Lounge provides a cozy retreat from some of the more tourist-targeted venues in town. The atmosphere here is cool and eclectic. Musical legends and patron graffiti have accumulated on the walls and give the establishment well-loved character.

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of grabbing a beverage and letting the sweet, sweet Chicago style blues take me away. The Blues Jam fronted by legend James Wheeler kicked off around 10pm and by the third tune, “Mojo Workin,” music lovers took to the floor. Other attendants sat back and swayed to the rhythm. The band continued to engage audience members, intermittently cracking jokes between songs.  Despite connotations of “the blues”, I left Rosa’s spirited and wanting more.  It is something everyone should experience.

Catch James Wheeler, Tony Mangiulla, and the rest of the band belt out blues on Thursday’s or drop by on a weekend and take advantage of the local and infinitely talented scene at Rosa’s Lounge. Whether you are looking to sit back and relax or bust out those moves you’ve been rehearsing at home; Rosa’s Lounge is the place to be.

Tuesdays-Saturdays @ 9:30
Cover: $7- $15

Rosa's Lounge
3420 W. Armitage Ave.
Chicago, IL 60647

--Photos and text by Jacquelyn Peterman

Friday, December 9, 2011

Opening Reception for IALS's first photography exhibition- Snapshot: Inventing the Everyday

Within the history of photography, it seems that snapshots have existed as an amateurish sub-genre of fine art photography. This aesthetic has been associated with the commonplace, the language of the everyday. Today, in the age of sophisticated camera phones and social media, when families and friends gather around a computer rather than a photo album, some are reconsidering the snapshot’s artistic value. Snapshot: Inventing the Everyday, a photography exhibit exploring the art of the snapshot, will open on Thursday, December 15th from 6-8:30 PM, at the I Am Logan Square Gallery, located at 2644 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Food and drink will be provided by Ciao Napoli and I Am Logan Square’s official gallery series sponsors, Revolution Brewing and Paper Moon Pastry.  In addition,  a photo booth will be installed at the opening reception courtesy of Magnolia Photo Booth Co. and photos taken during the event will be put on display for the duration of the exhibition!

“Snapshots embody our very culture; we use them to explain our lives by smiling at a camera – always with an audience in mind,” explain co-curators, Brooke Herbert Hayes and Wm. Tanner Young.

IALS’s first photography exhibition will include photographs and interactive pieces by Young and Herbert Hayes. Both Logan Square artists have contributed to IALS’s volunteer team since last spring documenting Logan Square arts events and taking leadership roles managing IALS’s blog. In addition to these works, Snapshot will also feature photographs by Natalie Krick, Andrew Thomas Lopez, and Brian Sorg. Bob Nanna will be showcasing a selection from his "Neverending Polaroid Project" and Jeff Phillips will be showing pieces from his found photo series, "Is This Your Mother?". The photos taken in the photobooth during the night will be on display for the duration of the exhibition.

Snapshot: Inventing the Everyday will be on display through the end of January. The gallery will be open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 6 pm and by appointment and will be closed for the holidays from December 23 - January 8.

Natalie Krick
Pam reclining, 2011
19" x 23 1/2"
C Print

IALS hosts monthly gallery exhibitions of works by local artists and accepts exhibition proposals on a rolling basis. Participating artists and/or curators must either live or work in Logan Square to exhibit their work and priority will be given to group or collaborative shows.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Night Roars Cabaret at the Logan Square Arts Center!

photo © Jacquelyn Peterman
A variety event comes to Logan Square at 8 p.m. on December 12th at the brand new Arts Center Logan Square-Avondale. A unique night of performances from a diverse group of Chicago artists, the Night Roars Cabaret is brought to us by Voice of the City and Striding Lion performance group and features 9 different performances. Striding Lion, an 11-year-old company, works with both traditional and non-traditional methods and spaces to bring the viewer into the performance and engage them in a way that is more than just a passive experience. They are dedicated to the independent artist, expression, and enhancing the audience experience; making this show a perfect fit for the new Arts Center.

In addition to this one night show, make sure to check out the open mic variety show that runs every Thursday at the center through December 22nd and make sure to come prepared if you would like to participate, a 10-minute set is encouraged. Open mic is BYOB and cover is $5!

photo © Jacquelyn Peterman

The Run-down:
Night Roars Cabaret, December 12th , doors at 7:30 and show at 8pm
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or at
50% of ticket prices goes directly to the artists

Open Mic Cabaret- every Thursday through December 22nd, 7:30-9pm

Arts Center Logan Square- Avondale
2800 N. Milwaukee 2nd Floor

-Katie Holland

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holidays on the Square!

Did you shop Small Business Saturday? Good for you! Or maybe you're like me and didn't have a chance to do your due diligence. It's okay. The best neighborhood in town is hosting its first annual Holidays on the Square this Saturday, December 3, where you can not only support small business but feed some dollars into neighborhood shops.

Poster by Lily Red Studio
So how is this different from a regular shopping day? Participating businesses will be bringing out the best of holiday cheer with special treats, trunk shows, food trucks, hot apple cider, a Toys for Tots drive, and a tree lighting, just to name a few things.

Ann Kienzle, the owner of the toy store *play and a co-organizer of the event, says, "You'll be able to explore the neighborhood businesses and restaurants. They'll have their doors open with unique offerings and allow you to get a taste of the neighborhood." *play itself is hosting photos with Santa and local floral shop Fleur is doing a Truffle Truffle pop-up shop and a wine tasting.

Ann feels that Logan Square is ripe and ready for this type of event. "I think the neighborhood is new and recharged and this gives everybody an opportunity to come down and celebrate the holidays together and explore Logan Square."

So how did this even come about? "Kelly from Fleur and I were brainstorming about doing something together and it turned into this," says Ann. "We literally started planning this six weeks ago. It kind of just came together and turned into something grander than we planned, but exactly what we were hoping for."

Participating merchants and their deals/events follow. Festivities start at noon and last through the evening. Check the Holidays on the Square Facebook page for updates:

*play (Santa photos starting at noon)
Fleur (Truffle Truffle pop-up)
Ciao Napoli Pizzeria (Italian lessons by Multilingual Chicago and I Am Logan Square previews its upcoming photography exhibition, Snapshot: Inventing the Everyday)
El Cid
Lula ($1 off a hot chocolate or specialty cocktail)
Logan Pets
Wolfbait & B Girls (Bonnie Body Trunk Show and wine tasting from 4-6 p.m.)
Provenance Food and Wine (1-3 p.m. Few Spirits and Spencer's Bangers tastings and 3-6 p.m. wine tasting and knife sharpening)
A Touch of Vintage (20% off by mentioning the event)
New Wave Coffee
The Rocking Horse
Dunlays on the Square
Letizia’s Fiore (tree lighting)
Longman & Eagle
Multilingual Chicago
La Boulangerie
Tula Yoga Studio
G-Mart Comic Books
Reform Objects
Logan Square Neighborhood Association
Chicago Community Chorus
Refresh Ease
Cafe con Leche
Mr. G's Beef

And more!

Click here to view complete list of specials and promotions

-Tamara Matthews
tweet: @writingtoatee

Monday, November 28, 2011

Girls Rock! at saki record store

DJ Lady D teaches the girls how to synchronize beats
© Brooke Herbert Hayes
Unless you have a teenage or pre-teen girl who is an aspiring DJ, you may not have heard about the Girls Rock! event at  local record store saki last weekend. But last Sunday, girls ages 7-17 could go and get up close and personal DJ lessons from Girls Rock!, a local non-profit organization "dedicated to fostering girls’ creative expression, positive self-esteem and community awareness through rock music."  For the DJ sessions, Girls Rock! brought in one of their instructors, DJ Lady D to teach girls the basics of how to spin records, synchronize beats and do mashups.   

Heather Lember, co-founder of Girls Rock!
© Brooke Herbert Hayes
Not only does Girls Rock! host events like the one at saki throughout the year, but they also host a summer camp for girls ages 6-18.  The summer camp started in 2006 after co-founders Heather Lember, Melissa Oglesby and Emily Easton heard about  Portland's Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls.  Lember, who is also the Program Director said they were inspired by the response to the Portland girls camp and thought, "why don't we start one here?"  

Girls Rock! has been hugely successful since it's inaugural camp and Lember says they get so many applications, they have to turn some away. The tuition for the camp runs on a sliding scale and Lember  says they focus on accepting the most motivated girls, even if they cannot afford the tuition. If a girl really wants to come to rock camp and cannot pay, they will still let her attend the week-long session. The curriculum for the sessions include instrument lessons, band practice, games and workshops.  At the end of each summer camp, the girls get to have a performance day and a recording day. On recording day, the girls actually go to Engine Studios and record an album--something that really helps the girls feel a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment.  And next month, saki will hold a release party for the 2 CDs produced in last summer's camp.  They invite all the girls to the CD release party, and they will get their first chance to hear the CD and see it in person.

Photo courtesy Girls Rock!, © Amanda Barbato

Oh, and did I mention that Girls Rock! is completely run by volunteers? I got a chance to talk with one of the girls who has attended camp for the past three summers, Alex Lund. Alex is in 7th grade, is 12 years old, plays the guitar and does vocals.  Last summer, her band at camp was called The Sometimes Girls.  She was incredibly enthusiastic about the program and expressed how she thought it was a great way to influence and inspire girls to express themselves through music and it is "so cool to be able to record [their] own music." Alex says getting to record a CD each year is an incredible opportunity and credits her influences to her dad who teaches at the Old Town School of Folk Music--and to musicians like Mavis Staples, Joss Stone and Alicia Keys.  But when I caught up with her, she was just diving into a book about the Beatles, another band she draws inspiration from. In addition to benefits like recording music and performing in front of an audience, Alex says she has made "lifelong friends" at the camp.

Alex Lund, musician and 3-year student of
Girls Rock! Summer Camp
© Brooke Herbert Hayes 
So if you want to check out the music made during Girls Rock! summer camp, be sure to head to saki on December 11th for the CD release party and support the 150 girls who pour the hearts and souls into making great music every summer.  Stay tuned for details!

For more info on saki or Girls Rock!, please visit these sites:

--Brooke Herbert Hayes

Thursday, November 17, 2011

AnySquared Studio Day

© OTK Photography
Looking for a collaborative environment or somewhere to work on projects with the kids? Every week at the AnySquared's Studio Day at their space on Milwaukee Ave, artists and families gather to work on a variety of projects in the unique studio space. Starting two years ago after amassing a collection of various supplies, they started to invite people over to work and it turned into a weekly open studio in which anyone could come. A variety of supplies are available for use, including drawing supplies, collage materials, easels, paint, a sewing machine, etc. The space overlooks Milwaukee Ave and has multiple tables and desks to work at. There is plenty of room for working on screenprinting, drawing, painting, sewing, laptop work, and much more. You can bring your own project and supplies to work on or make something on the spot with what is provided. AnySquared provides a relaxed, yet productive environment where people of all ages can get brainstorming and production done!

© OTK Photography
AnySquared says: "While many of us are visual artists, all art forms encouraged and welcome! Bring supplies... share supplies... some supplies available and provided... bring a project... bring ideas... brainstorm... Some days are a couple people, some days a crowd."


AnySquared is an artists’ collaborative that organizes events, exhibitions, and projects. Email for information or visit

Open studio is every Wednesday from 3-8 PM at
at AnyWhere Space located at 2328 N. Milwaukee, 2nd floor.  Go check it out!

© OTK Photography

© OTK Photography

-Katie Holland

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dealing With New Demands // Happiness Project // Part II

At the opening reception for Dealing with New Demands, Jennifer Mills and her art consultant trio engaged in a one-night only performance that encouraged the audience to participate by purchasing art on the spot. The exhibition is part of a larger project called The Happiness Project which is taking place in a variety of art spaces throughout the month of November. Below is a brief interview* with curator, Tricia Van Eck where she goes into great detail about her project and the corresponding exhibition curated by Jennifer Mills.

Nicolette Caldwell: I am curious to know what the motivation/inspiration behind this project was for you initially. Could take me through some of the steps of this project? How did you select the artists?

Tricia Van Eck: I started thinking about my own happiness and the power of an individual pursuing their dreams and the power of that, if magnified, could be transformative if everywhere people were pursuing happiness. By happiness, I mean a kind of Aristotelian idea that happiness is a virtue and a kind of excellence - that you are striving for your potential or meaning in life as a way of life. It is not necessarily a hedonic notion of happiness but a more Buddhist notion of happiness that requires a concern for others' happiness as well. Following on the Declaration of Independence, your right to pursue happiness stops when it impinges on another's right for happiness.

NC: How do you think the response will manifest as the range of places and audiences will vary greatly? Any other locations that you would like to have your project that you have not nailed down yet?

TVE: All of the locations are nailed down and it's a cross-section of the city's neighborhoods where artists live: Logan Square, Pilsen, and Hyde Park. It also includes Edgewater, which hosts the most diverse populations in the city—it’s like a mini UN.

Each venue is open for the month and there are 8 sites total including 2 venues downtown, 1 window installation, 1 group exhibition and 5 projects in neighborhoods, which are curated/run by artists.

I think the response in each venue will be different in that the shows are addressing and connecting to the population of that area. They are commanding foot traffic to stop to engage with the art. While the artists are obviously interested in having the art crowd see the work, the reason all of the spaces are on the streets or in storefronts is so the public who pass by, and not necessarily just the art crowd, can interact with the works and ideas. It's bringing art to the people.

It was important for the spaces to be storefronts for the public but also to address artists as potential drivers for creative and economic change. If policy leaders still think in terms of economics, it is important to show that artists can help turn around the bad economy. Jennifer Mills's piece with its red dots showing sold works directly addresses this.

Dealing With New Demands // The Happiness Project

Also it was important that the spaces be both downtown and in the neighborhoods addressing work and play issues and the city/neighborhood dichotomy. A big factor in happiness, or lack of it, is people losing their job. I think this is not necessarily because they loved their job but because of the uncertainty of money, identity, etc. So we normally think of play and fun outside of work, in the neighborhoods, but play and fun can also happen at work such as with the 50 pair of tap shoes in the 23 E. Madison St. space for people to tap dance in downtown.

NC: What is the ultimate goal of the project? What kind of behavior are you hoping to influence?

TVE: I think people know what happiness is so it is more about thinking about its power. It's thinking about what ultimately creates lasting happiness - quality of life - and reminding the public to demand from their elected officials policies that promote quality of life. I think Occupy Wall Street has reminded the people that they can and should have a voice in a democracy. Kirsten Leenaars's project Under Construction asks, “What is happiness” and “What is a perfect society” by including the people of the 48th Ward to discuss their role in participatory democracy. Aldermen and Alderwomen are often the voice of the people in the city and she is creating the piece as the 48th ward Alderman Osterman is working with the people in the ward to create a master plan as he tries to develop the ward, which includes Uptown, Edgewater, and Andersonville, into a new Arts District. She invites people to walk in, watch the making of and development of the project, and participate in the filming.

It also reminds people about the power of community. SHoP's dinner aims to discuss the role people working together as a community can play in developing flourishing neighborhoods. It’s also about experimentation with community and even questioning how we can best live together as individuals contributing to a larger whole. In Pilsen the Cosmic Workshop invites the public on 18th street to engage in a collaborative experiment using indigenous symbols – Mezoamerican and North American - centered around harmony, cycles of change and transference of energy, to explore happiness and discuss and develop ways of acting, living, and playing that respects the Cosmic Whole. Finding a balance between work and play, the space is meant to be a zone for exploring ideas, sounds, and words that encourage open-ended explorations.

Furthermore, I would love for some of the projects and ideas to be incorporated into the Mayor's Cultural Policy Plan 2012. At The ICE Project (ICE), The Listening Room teaches students how to translate sound into notes, notes into scores, and then their score is played. After listening to it, they readjust it through rewriting, and then the final score is played. This is a project that is shovel ready, particularly when so much of arts education in the schools has been cut.

NC: Have you received any interesting feedback?

TVE: Aaron Delehanty had a precursor Psychiatric Help booth at The MDW Fair. He gave a free beer to participants and confetti flowers that when planted, grow into flowers so that their ideas of happiness could bloom. People loved that. In speaking with Jason Foumberg he mentioned that it is like a think tank around Chicago. The window on 27 W. Randolph is open and it displays Natasha Wheat's neon sign; Autonomy Handed to You is an Illusion, which sets the tone for participatory democracy. But no one is by the space tracking comments. When it switches to Gwyneth Anderson's Laughing Video, she will enlist the public walking by to recreate the piece. We’ll get a better sense of that response then.

Guests purchase art, while others enjoy the exhibit.
NC: Could you explain more about the Jennifer Mills show at the Comfort Station?

TVE: The Logan Square show is Dealing With New Demands. Jennifer Mills curated the show and is "acting" as the gallery dealer. The artists that she invited to be in the show are all responding to the ideas in The Happiness Project and have created artworks that are to be sold at the opening event. Julie Laffin has also invited a hand masseuse during the opening to give out massages. That will make me happy! The exhibition is organized as an art gallery and sales event, and the original artwork is sold for prices between $10-20. Once sold, the work is deinstalled and taken home, where it serves as at catalyst for continued conversation in people’s homes. As the works sell, the exhibition evolves into an installation of red “sold” dots documenting the exchanges as well as suggesting a booming art economy created by artists. The proceeds of the sales are split between the artists, curator, and “Street-Level Youth Media,” a local organization that offers free after-school media arts workshops to neighborhood youth.

As “gallery dealer” Jennifer discusses with the public the ideas of the show and how these ideas are manifested within each work. In a way, she "sells" the public the need for quality of life issues to be discussed and the power of art in initiating and framing that discussion, as well as arts ability to spur on the economy. If we go back to measurement and measure the effect of art, according to the Sarkozy commission, we will encourage the creation of more art. If we measure the quality of life through art, then we'll have both more art and a better quality of life. The show is a very concentrated version of The Happiness Project and raises issues about the value of work and art and the central role of art in the economy, people's lives, and in the city.

Participating artists include Jesse Butcher, Dayton Castleman, Ricardo Harris-Fuentes, Neil Jacobsen, Robin Kang, Katie Klein, Julie Laffin, Joseph Mohan, Anthony Romero, Jillian Soto, and Ashley Thomas.

The exhibition will be on display at The Comfort Station with open gallery hours for the rest of November on Saturday and Sundays from 12:00 – 4:00pm.

For more information about the exhibition, curators, gallery and participating artists involved with this project explore the websites listed below.

To see more images from the show check out last week's Part I feature of Dealing With New Demands  and  The Happiness Project.

*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall eats and treats in the Square!

Something about this time of year makes the sweet tooth hyperactive, right? I mean, come on, it’s one thing after the other: the trick-or-treat grab bag, Thanksgiving’s creamy pumpkin pie, holiday cookies covered with sprinkles, figgy pudding. Well, you can satisfy that sweet tooth and so much more during this brief break between holiday engorgements by attending Logan Square Kitchen’s Pastry Market on November 12 and 13. Admission is only $1 and kids are free!

Just try to make it through this sentence without drooling a little: The market will give you a chance to munch on scones, cranberry crostatas, savory maple-leaf shaped pastries, pumpkin cheesecake brownies, buche de noel samples, deep-fried ricotta beignets, carrot cake, cream puffs, truffles, caramels, gourmet chocolates, macarons, gluten-free treats, miniature pies, and much, much more.

You really should check out the pastry market if you haven’t before. Zina Murray, the owner of Logan Square Kitchen, says, “It’s this delicious experience because it’s the only time that you’re going to have 18 amazing local food artisans all together in the same room like this. Everybody makes market specials or debuts new products here that you’re not going to see anywhere else.”

Valentine's Pastry Market, photo © Christina Noel Photography
Courtesy of Logan Square Kitchen
The pastry market is also a great excuse to come check out the two-year-old Logan Square Kitchen, an awesome multi-use, LEED-certified space that does the neighborhood proud. Zina says that she started holding the markets in 2010 to contend with city license use requirements and to show off the space to potential event-holders. “The first one was really lightening in a bottle…No one had ever seen a market like that before.”

If sweets aren’t your thing (if that’s possible?), Zina has something else to entice you: “You’ll get wonderful new ideas for winter cocktails because the Logan Square Kitchen is working with a liquor distributor and mixologists from Lula and Longman & Eagle to develop great winter cocktails and we’re going to sell small tastings and give away recipe booklets.”

The Details:
Logan Square Kitchen Pastry Market
November 12-13, 2011
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
2333 N. Milwaukee Avenue

And again, if sweets aren't your thing, and you missed the Logan Square Harvest Dinner, it’s okay, you still have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the season (gastronomically speaking) at local Logan Square restaurants!

Here’s a small bite of what you’ll find throughout the month:

El Cid
--Tamales (a savory fall favorite) with cactus
--Atole, a thick, creamy milk-based drink flavored with cinnamon and guava
--Mexican hot chocolate

Longman & Eagle

--Nichols Farm pumkin agnolotti with foie gras, walnuts, brown butter and wild huckleberries
--Venison sausage with poached crab apple, sauerkraut pierogi, porcini mushrooms, saba, and whole grain mustard
--Roasted leg of antelope with knefla, piggy sprouts, gingerbread sauce and huckleberries
(Also, don't miss the special Thanksgiving day feasts! On November 24 at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. for $65.)

Lula Cafe
--Pumpkin and apple salad with apple, mascarpone, sesame-Sichuan peppercorn brittle
--Heirloom winter squash soup with grilled frisee, pear, cocoa nib, tamarind, goat cheese
--Celery root 'risotto' with rutabaga, klug farm grapes, nasturtium, black walnut

Masa Azul
--The Smoking Jacket: Casa Noble reposado tequila, sweet potato-avocado leaf puree, malbec red wine, fresh lemon juice
--Miss Mistletoe: Don Fulano blanco tequila, Jo Snow cherry-thyme syrup, lemon zest topped with Gruet blanc de noirs sparkling wine and a thyme-skewered cherry
--Sweet potato tamale

--Grilled amish half chicken, delicata squash stuffing, tamarind, annatto seed, cilantro
--Braised rabbit casareccia pasta, lavender, seasonal nut bolognaise, sunchoke puree
--Grilled sturgeon, puy lentils, coco beans, edward’s ham, swiss chard, green tomato relish

 ¡Buen Provecho! Bon App├ętit! And Good Eats!

-Tamara Matthews

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dealing with New Demands

Art you an artist? Art patron? Are you happy? Wondering if the quality of your life is good? Dealing With New Demands explores these very questions. Curated by Jennifer Mills, this group exhibition is currently on display at The Comfort Station, a gallery and community space located in Logan Square. It is just one component of a much lager program entitled, The Happiness Project curated by Tricia Van Eck. At the opening reception on Saturday, November 5th a one-night-only performance took place by Jennifer Mills and her art consultant trio encouraging the audience to participate by purchasing art on the spot.

Below is a slide show displaying a series of photographs from the opening reception. You will see that many of the photographs simply show red dots or numbers. These were intended to demonstrate a real-time exchange of the purchase of affordable artwork on display only to further encourage more of the same.

For a further look into The Happiness Project and Dealing With New Demands check back next week for a more comprehensive recap of the exhibition including a brief interview with Tricia Van Eck about her project. The exhibition will be on display at The Comfort Station with open gallery hours from 12-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays for the month of November.

For more information about the exhibition, curators, gallery and participating artists involved with this project check out the websites listed below!

This feature is part of an article exchange program between I AM Logan Square and Sixty Inches From Center. This post was written by Nicolette Caldwell, Co-Director/Founder of Sixty Inches From Center.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Saw You @ Cole's Bar

I SAW YOU! I Saw You at Cole's Bar, Nov. 4. You were wearing a black band tee, with a flannel button up, i was wearing the same, with chucks. You were funny, i....was watching.

© W. Tanner Young 2011
WHAT! oh oh, right, no. really! I Saw You at Coles! Sound like a craigslist ad? Do you secretly read through the missed connections and giggle yourself to sleep? good! So does local comedy troupe Bruised Orange Theatre Company, and they decided to do an entire comedy show based on online personals! now you're intrigued. ACTUALLY, Bruised Orange has been doing their I Saw You show for 5 years now. well not, NOW, but on friday! Exactly 5 years ago on Nov. 4th was the first time they performed it, so why not have a big birthday bash at a big badass Logan Square bar, right??

In case you havent caught the show before, 3 performers rotate from the Bruised Orange lineup every Wednesday at Town Hall Pub, and yes, it is fresh and hilarious EVERY WEDNESDAY. Mark Spence, co-founder of BOTC curates the show, and scours craigslist, OK Cupid,, etc every week for the best and funniest online ads, for your voyeuristic, twisted amusement. When asked what started this whole show, Spence replied that 5 years ago, online dating was not nearly as commonplace as today. It was actually a bit taboo, and made for an awkwardly amusing show. Originally, the performers would write songs and SING the ads, these days the ads are divided in two parts (Missed Connections and Seeking ads), and read "in character." Most absurd, some absurdly pretentious, all the ads chosen are bizarrely hilarious and all too real, making the show a creative, amusing voyeuristic observation and comment on the human condition and city life in an online and perpetually connected era.
©W. Tanner Young 2011

So what makes the anniversary show different? well its....longer...and bigger, and BETTER! Instead of just 3 members of BOTC, this show will feature EVERY member thats ever performed I Saw You, including some members who are no longer part of the troupe! Oh, and i mean, its in Logan Square, and Cole's, WHICH IS SWEEEET. you know. OH! right, yes, did we mention local doll and coffee shop owner Susan Wingerter is part of the company? thats right! Logan Square's own New Wave Coffee's own(..?) will be performing at the show! I dont think she'll be making any lattes dont ask!

oh, and if you actually put up online personals, you may not want to attend. It wouldnt be the first time an audience member has been featured during the show! wowza!

I Saw You 5-year Anniversary
Nov. 4 - 8pm (free)
Cole's Bar
2338 N. Milwaukee Ave

see you there!
-W. Tanner Young