Friday, July 29, 2011

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival this weekend!

As you may have noticed, we have been very busy throwing together a stellar festival called the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, which kicks off today at 4! We have been getting a lot of wonderful press about the fest, including from The Huffington Post and The Reader, which we are very excited about! But in the midst of all the planning, we have also been putting together our website which we are pleased to announce has officially been launched! Go on over and take a look: we have announcements, a comprehensive events listing page to keep you up-to-date, a directory of local businesses and tons of info about the arts in Logan Square.  We are quite proud of the new site and hope you pop on over, take a look and tell your friends. Are you an artist or business in Logan Square that promotes the arts? Get listed on our directory for free! Just visit the website and submit a directory listing. Got an arts event in Logan Square? Submit that on the website and we will help get the word out! 

While you are visiting the site, be sure to check out the info about getting your Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival wristband, it’s not too late, and for only $10, you get admission to all three days, along with numerous discounts at local restaurants, stores and services. It's like a special little Logan Square bracelet that rewards you beyond the festival and all throughout the neighborhood! We are so excited about this year's festival --over 30 independently-curated art galleries, numerous performances, a music line-up that can't be missed and culinary delights that you can wash down with some Revolution brews and Lula sangria.

MAAF is host to numerous performances this weekend many of which will be at the new Logan Square-Avondale’s Arts Center in the historic Hairpin Lofts, located at 2810 N. Milwaukee. The Arts Center will be open to the public, showcasing dance, theater, performance arts and music in addition to Manuel Cinema's shadow puppetry projection (which you should all know about!) Check out the lineup for the Arts Center on MAAF's site!

"The Porch" by Margaret Rogers 
Part of "Calling Home
Among the dozens of galleries that will be lining Milwaukee Avenue and filling up empty spaces, there are a few we would like to highlight! At Pierre's bakery parking lot, check out Neighborhood Gift Chain directed by Woman Made Gallery, where you create and exchange small art objects and take a photo in the photo booth. At our gallery at 2648 N Milwaukee, Oscar Martinez has curated Symbols, Myths and Metaphors, an exhibition of outstanding Chicago-based Latin American Artists. Calling Home is an exhibition of print-based works examining the theme of home and identity and how the notion of home changes in response to foreclosures, natural disasters and immigration. And the lot by Milwaukee and Logan will be transformed into a HUGE outdoor sculpture garden (the largest in CHICAGO to be exact!) for Sea of Sculptures!

Another special event we are excited about is Around the World in Eighty Hours at Nothin' Less Cafe. We all already love that little cafe for the inventive coffee drinks inspired by flavors from around the world and this weekend, as part of the festival, Nothin’ Less, (located at 2642 N. Milwaukee) will also become a stage for international music, dance, and martial arts.

So take advantage of what is supposed to be a sunny and gorgeous weekend and come out to the festival, support these artists, musicians and local restaurants.

Where else can you experience so much art in one place? 

What:  Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival
When: this weekend, July 29-31, Fri. 4-11, Sat. & Sun. noon-11
Where: Along N. Milwaukee Ave. between Kimball and California in beautiful Logan Square
Cost: $5 suggested donation per day or all 3 days for $10

--Brooke Herbert

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This Saturday Marks Your Chance for Some Art in the Park!

Impatiently counting down the days until the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival next weekend? So are we, so we’ve decided to channel our anticipation productively and we encourage you to do the same by going to The Unity Park Advisory Council’s third annual Art in the Park this Saturday, July 23! Children and friends, neighbors young and old, pair up with professional artists each year and create art together.  The Unity Park Advisory Council emphasizes that the event’s intention is to establish a sense of creative reciprocity between artists and children. Since the idea isn’t only for children to leave with a new piece of art, having benefited from the artistic guidance of professionals, it is also for the professionals themselves, so that they come out of the experience newly inspired by young talent and fresh energy.  

The Unity Park Advisory Council  will provide canvases, boards, paints and brushes for older participants and finger paints, paper and crafting for younger participants. The council will also provide snacks, as well as music for those seeking diversion or inspiration. So if being teamed up with great artists, receiving free supplies, food and music isn’t enough of an incentive, maybe what will get you out of bed this Saturday morning is the thought that all artwork created during Art in the Park will be displayed at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival the following weekend!  And by all means, if you would rather just take your art home with you, you can certainly do so! All proceeds of Art in the Park pieces sold during the festival will go towards keeping programming alive and thriving at Unity Park.

Yet again, Logan Square is giving you a chance to participate in its thriving artistic community: this weekend at Art in the Park, and the next at MAAF, so we hope to see many of your faces in the next few weeks!

What: Art in the Park
When:  Saturday, July 23rd  from 10AM to 2PM
Where: Unity Park at 2636 N Kimball Ave.
Cost: Free!

--Julia Pagnamenta

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tour de Fat - Chicago!

Beer! Bikes! Balloons! Booths! ...BMX Babes! ...Biking Blokes! ...(New) Belgium Brewing! I guess they should have named it Beer be Bat. Ok ok, so I'm talking about New Belgium Brewing's Tour de Fat. did ya see it? did ya did ya? were you in it? good for you! fun, yeah? Or did you get stuck in traffic because of it? well, then you should have been biking.

For those of you not familiar with Tour de Fat, think bike culture meets carny culture...minus rednecks, plus good beer...and a good cause. ever been to a county fair? well its almost nothing like my ohio showing again?
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

Started by bike-minded New Belgium Brewing(Colorado) 4 years ago, Tour de Fat is a touring bike carnival "pandering through 13 U.S. cities spreading the good word about the positive societal offerings of the bicycle," and good beer, of course. And this year's Chicago TDF started right in IALS's backyard, in Palmer Square! There were booths, there was booze, there were bikers, and of course, the parade! did I mention the parade? Aye! It's the main event at TDF! 10 am saw Logan Square's streets flooded with all sorts of bikers (minus the beer, of course!), meandering around Logan Square, showing Chicago that bikers arent just a bunch of pesky, hip hot-rodders that don't belong on the streets. Biking is a viable and pollution-free way of commuting in the city; we have numbers and we have the right! Oh, we also have the numbers and power to hold up traffic at whatever intersection we like. B-O-O-Y-A. We can do it in costumes, too. I didnt tell you about the costumes?!?! oh, well:

©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

I did say it was a carnival, afterall.

Of course, Tour de Fat isnt ALL fun and games. Ok, so maybe it is, but there's also a philanthropic element to it, too! Each tour stop benefits a local bike-oriented organization. This year in Chicago was West Town Bikes. West Town Bikes is a local organization dedicated to educating youth, especially under-priviledged communities, with bike workshops, advocacy projects and a productive community environment, "to foster and serve Chicago's growing bicycling community."

Ok ok, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "but TANNER!! mentioned BMX Babes. hmmmm?" YES! Kicking off the parade was Chicago's very own all-girl BMX dance troupe, The Racketeers, performing a few routines! There were beats, stunts and two stepping! ...I may be lying about the two stepping, but there was dancing!
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

When we got back from the Parade, of course, were the fun and games. We had a whole day of fun events, good beer and ...odd bikes ahead of us. observe:

There was the Keg Tapping:
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

Ride-able Articles were monstrosities on wheels. Sort of like a bike parts store had a baby with an art school, while drinking a lot of New Belgium a radioactive wasteland.
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

Stunt Pepper was an odd-job comical side show of pepper-brandishing bandits:
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011
Did I mention the flame-throwing pogo stick?
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

Wolverine Farm Publishing is a Fort Collins, CO, Non-Profit Publisher. Philisophical in content and community based at heart, they were passing out issues of their free quarterly paper, Matterhorn.
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

They also had a REALLY BAD map of Chicago, where you could pin up your favorite spots in the city, with a corresponding address and description on another sheet. They were kind enough to let me go the extra step for IALS, and put a URL actually on the map. thanks guys!
©Wm. Tanner Young 2011

Finally, I'll stop boring your bike brains with my babbling (oh yeah, that took effort), and close it off with the other..other main event; The bike give away! Trade Your Car For a Bike is TDF's crowning jewel. One lucky winner from each city will get a hand-crafted New Belgium commuter bike, all they have to do is promise to stay car-free for at least a year....and oh yeah, hand over their car to New Belgium to donate and benefit a non-profit (west town bikes for Chicago!). This year's winner was Chicago's own Dave Pabellon! Let's check out his entry video and soon-to-be-doomed SAAB.

Make sure to check out the Bike Trade blog to stay updated, and good luck to Dave on staying pollution free for a year!  No, really, good luck. Its all fun and games in the summer, but I suggest a bike tour to Florida, come December!

Oh oh! did i mention my Parade costume? I'll give you a hint: I can turn water into Holy Beer, and my bike into a earth-friendly Papal-mobile. YES! Morning Pope returned to graced TDF with his presence, and TDF graced him with their Holy Beer from On High!

As they say in the Vatican, Ciao!
-Tanner Young

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Shadow Puppetry in the Modern Age

No longer does a shadow puppet show consist of your friends making barking dogs, snapping alligators and soaring birds. That's kid stuff compared to what Manual Cinema, a contemporary Chicago based group of shadow puppeteers, can do. So far, this barely one-year-old baby of a company has already completed: a performance, Study in Forgetting #3, featured as part of Collaboraction’s Sketchbook Festival, a short teleplay, Nauct Und Traume, adapted to incorporate live action/shadow puppetry for Link’s Hall Puppet Cabaret and The Ballad of Lula Del Ray, which was built and rehearsed in the incredibly short time span of three weeks.
Manual Cinema was formed when puppeteer Julia Miller was developing Ballad and Drew Dir filled an open position. Kyle Vegter and Ben Kauffman from the band Oh+Ah were contacted to provide music for the performance and after its success, the four fused to create the company. After its formation, another puppeteer was hired on, Sarah Forace to make the impressive five team company that is Manual Cinema.

For those of you who are wondering how these shows really work, I had the pleasure of asking Drew Dir some questions about their process and he sums it up best! Drew explains, “All the puppets are moved by hand. They're hand-cut from paper and manipulated on overhead projectors. The music is typically live-mixed by Kyle and Ben, though for our next show Ada/Ava, Kyle and Ben are going to perform live with us.”

Ada/Ava is the newest project from Manual Cinema and is being performed at The Charnel House, running from July 28-31. Tickets are only $10 so go check it out!

As you all know by now, the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival is July 29-31, and while Manual Cinema will be showing Ada/Ava, they will also be contributing to the vibrant collection of art and performance to be showcased at the festival. The group will be working with a much bigger canvas this time, using seven projectors and six puppeteers, as their screen will be the Hairpin Lofts. Don't know what that is yet? Well, the Hairpin Lofts (at the corner of Milwaukee, Kimball and Diversey) are being transformed into the new Logan Square Arts Center, which will be our neighborhood's 8,000 sq. foot multi-arts space complete with businesses in the first floor and artist lofts above. Drew explains that they want to use the architecture of the building to help tell a story, especially with use of the many windows that wrap around the building. Drew says, “It'll be the kind of installation where you can walk by and admire the images we're producing in the windows, or you can stay a little longer and see a story begin to emerge.”

Can't wait to see them in action? Well, neither can we! And it's only about two weeks away, so mark those calendars! Come on down to the festival and see what Manual Cinema has in store for us, and then mosey on down to The Charnel House to Ada/Ava.

What's in store for the company as the year progresses? Word on the street is that in addition to collaborating with the Chicago Q Ensemble, they will also be composing a show from the poetry of Zachary Schomberg (he's one of my all time favorites!), so stay tuned.

I'll leave you all with an inspiring quote from Drew Dir, “This past year has been all about learning our craft and pushing the medium to experiment with just how much story we can tell with shadow puppetry. It's a very limited medium, but those limitations can be creatively liberating.”

What:   Ada/Ava
Where: The Charnel House, 3421 West Fullerton Avenue
When:  July 28-31
Cost:   $10 tickets here

And don't forget to check out Manual Cinema at MAAF @ Hairpin Lofts -corner of Milwaukee/Kimball/Diversey
July 29-31

-Alex Palmer

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Superheroes in Logan Square! A preview of "Powerless, Issues 1-3".

In a perfect world, we would all be protected by superheroes. After all, Metropolis had Superman, Gotham City had Batman and New York had the Fantastic Four. And what does Chicago have? Well, we have the Society of Young Superheroes.  And they are coming to a theater near you!

Powerless, Issues 1-3
is a "comic book play about superheroes set in Chicago", and not only are the superheroes in this play from Chicago, but from our very own Logan Square!  Powerless, Issues 1-3, produced by Hannah Fenlon and written by David M. Brent and Mitch Salm, is a new play that will be previewing during our very own Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival for 3 nights at Voice of the City!  I had the opportunity to sit down with Fenlon last week to talk a bit about the play and what she hopes it will bring to audiences in Chicago. 
At first, the plays seems a bit confusing; what exactly is a comic book play? Well, imagine a comic book-- panels of characters and scenes interspersed with gutter space--  a complex story with lots of room for the viewer to interpret what is happening.  Now, put that comic book on a stage filled with actors who are performing scenes of the play while being surrounded by hand drawn art panels on all sides. That is the feel that Powerless is going for.  The story, like most comic book stories, is full of motion and changing scenes and there is a lot of story going on.  But that story, Fenlon described, is constantly being supported and enhanced by the original art panels being projected around the stage.  The viewer may even feel as if they are inside a comic book; that they are controlling what they are seeing.   

As far as the plot goes, the story is somewhat complex, but the theme seems universal.  The play is set in Chicago, in a alternate reality where we are all born with superpowers. But in this Chicago, everyone's superpowers are under lock and key; they aren't allowed to use them. Sure they can work in offices and become civil servants, but the superpowers are what makes each person unique and the main characters aren't about to let theirs' go to waste.  Thus they form the Society of Young Superheroes! To find out what happens to these young superheroes, you will just have to see the play!

Hannah Fenlon at a fundraising picnic for Powerless
photo © Jack Mayer
Fenlon, and the rest of the SYS crew are quite invested in this project.  Not only are they a group of artists, actors and writers trying to get their voice out there, but they are invested in Logan Square as a community which is why the partnership with Voice of the City (VOTC) is working so well for them.  When Fenlon met with Dawn Marie Galtieri of VOTC, she felt instantly that it would be a good fit.  The space is a bit of a blank slate that Fenlon described as the perfect location for a "superhero hideout".  VOTC's mission to unite and connect artists with the Logan Square community is exactly something Powerless is trying to do.  Fenlon is adamant that the play really "feels like Chicago" and connects to Logan Square, a neighborhood right in the middle of transition. They hope the play will speak to a lot of people in the neighborhood and Chicago about finding empowerment.

Powerless, Issues 1-3  is presented in a series of "Issues" and you can see one or all (though we recommend all three to get the full story).   We haven't seen the play yet but are excited to see it firsthand and  so pleased to have Powerless as part of the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival!

MAAF Schedule for Powerless (these are free previews but Donations would be VERY VERY much appreciated!)  
There will also be a Powerless Art Gallery--an art exhibit of original prints and illustrations inspired by the theme "Powerless"
       All performances at Voice of the City, 3429 W Diversey 

"RossSpeech" by Daniel Killacky
Thurs, July 28    Issue 1 at 8PM. Concert to follow at Crown Liquors at 9:15.
Fri., July 29        Issue 2 at 8PM, followed by Issue 3 at 9PM.
Sat., July 30       Issue 1 at 7PM, followed by Issue 2 at 8PM & Issue 3 at 9PM.

A regular schedule for show performances will be released soon!

Powerless is currently accepting donations to meet their fundraising goal--please click here if you want to help out. 
Click the links for more info on Powerless, Powerless Art Gallery, or the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival!

Hope to see you there!

--Brooke Herbert

Friday, July 1, 2011

Come Transmit/Transmute at the Comfort Station this July!

Starting tomorrow, July 2nd at 7PM, the public is invited to interact with Adrian Moens' installation and multimedia exhibit “transmit/transmute” which weaves together a combination of sound, sculpture, video, writing and painting. Come to the Comfort Station to view and (possibly decipher!) Moens' many different themes, such as rhythm and resonance, loss and removal, and empathy and revulsion.

The concept behind Moens’ exhibit stems from when he was a guru developing what is described as his own mythology “based on the human relationship between the human jaw and resonant throat-space and the rhythms of the body and the brain.”  So come see the Comfort Station like you’ve never seen it before-  a  performance space accompanied by sacred electronic music!  Adjacent to the installation are various other pieces carrying Moens’ motif of "transmit/transmute", for example, the MANTRAFESTOS series, where in one piece the artist chose to explore the figurative aspect of the word “indeed.”

Ultimately, if you are not sure what you are in for, maybe the installation’s mysticism is supposed to lure you in.  If you are wondering what this exhibit is all about, come out to Comfort Station and decide for yourself! And if you cannot make it this Saturday, have no fear, the exhibit will go on every Saturday and Sunday until July 22nd.   Besides, Comfort Station’s history alone is worth the visit. In the heart of Logan Square, this centennial structure used to be a resting spot for travelers. And now? A renovated arts hub still attracting a nomadic crowd of young people seeking to create and explore!

Cost: Free!
For more info: 

--Julia Pagnamenta