Friday, September 30, 2011

Chicago Artists Month and Logan Square Happenings!

It's October, and do you know what that means?! Yes, it means pumpkin beers, carving contests and making sure your kids don't eat too much candy. But do you know what else it means, specifically in Chicago? Chicago Artists Month! That's right, every October, us Chicago artists take the month to appreciate ourselves, and get the whole city to join in! That doesn't sound too bad, right? What better way to enjoy the crisp air, that new sweater and a cup of warm cider than with A LOT of art happenings? 

Organized by the Chicago Dept of Cultural Affairs and the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, CAM teams up with over 200 program partners to showcase Chicago's vibrant art scene. Showcasing....Chicago' scene. sound familiar? scroll down. no DOWN down. to the last post. yes! That's an awful lot like the goal of the Transit Residency program. Oh look at that, Meredith Winer is on the 2011 CAM Advisory Committee! A little name-drop fact there. Did we mention how excited we are to be showcasing Transit in our new gallery? (Reception: Oct 7th, 6-830pm)

Kasia Houlihan, still of Hold On, 2011
But what else is going on in the Square this year? Well how about our friends down the road at The Comfort Station? Oh yes! Opening tomorrow (Oct 1, 3:30pm) is their newest show, Bring Me Close. Teaming up with Michael Green (MCA, Curatorial Assistant), Bring Me Close features photo, video and sound based work from Chicago Artists Aidan Fitzpatrick and Kasia Houlihan. According to the website, the artists "[work]primarily in photography and video, both artists employ conceptual strategies at the same time as they take a personal and emotional approach to their media." In what looks to be a show that will be delicate, ephemeral and just a hint haunting(yes, it's Halloween month, but that's not punny!) Bring Me Close is the type of cutting edge contemporary show that's bringing more and more attention to Logan Square and in turn, more and more artists and art-friendly businesses. 

Aidan Fitzpatrick, Light at Cafe Du Monde, 2010
Don't forget their weekly events year-round(October-Chicago-Artists-Month included)! Jessie Devereaux at The Comfort Station says, Stop by! We are open every Tuesday for Logan Square International Film Series screenings at 7:30p, and every Thursday for Comfort Music programming, which also begins around 7:30p. We’re also open every Saturday and Sunday from 12-4pm, thanks to the help of Chicago Underground Library, who also has a display from their collection in the space.

What else is going on, you say? Well you can check out the events section on our sweet new website (we really like new things. and sweet things. rad, even) to see whats going on in the Square...for example the Berlin Chicago Kaleidoscope, an exercise in connecting the global artistic community, opening at Elastic Arts this Saturday evening. Or you can head over to the Chicago Artists Month website to get an even broader, city view of all the autumn-time art appreciative happenings. And then say that 3 times fast.

Bring Me Close: Aidan Fitzpatrick and Kasia Houlihan
The Comfort Station - 2579 N. Milwaukee
Organized by Michael Green
October 1 - 26, 2011
Opening: Saturday, October 1, 3:30p
Gallery hours: Saturdays & Sundays, 12-4p
Friends of Transit
I Am Logan Square - 2644 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Opening: Friday, October 7, 6-8:30pm
Berlin Chicago Kaleidoscope
Elastic Arts - 2830 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Floor
Opening: Saturday, October 1, 4-10pm
Artists' Panel: 4pm
Live music starting at 7:30pm ($7 cover)

au revoir!
-W. Tanner Young

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friends of Transit=New Gallery KICKOFF

Oh hello. Don't mind the mess, we're just getting everything set up in our BRAND NEW GALLERY SPACE. Have we mentioned? no? Then why don't you 'Like' us on Facebook, we like you! What's that? It's not us, it's you? you need space? ok, look!

©W. Tanner Young

ok, now that we've made up, lets talk about THE FUTURE! our future. no...we don't need to have 'a talk' again, lemme talk. To kick off this year's Chicago Artists Month we've partnered up with our friends from Transit Residency with an amazing Printmaking show to match our amazingly beautiful new space. Friends of Transit is a printmaking exhibit featuring works of both local and out-of-town printmakers, including artists from Moongirl Productions, Monkey-Rope Press, Judge works and Slow Industries, to name a few.

The show, fittingly themed around the idea of transience, is Transit's second year participating in Chicago Artist month. The IALS minions were sent forth by our hallowed Gallery Gods to discover more about Transit and relay it to you. Luckily, founder/director Meredith Winer took pity on us and was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Transit's residency program and the upcoming show.
©W. Tanner Young

oh yeah, Transit doesn't actually HAVE a physical work space. Transit relies on Winer's extensive network of art organizations around the country. oooooh yes, the name "Transit" is starting to make a little more sense. It's not just a cool name. if she wanted that, she could have named it "xTreme Art," or something...right? Anyway, after extensive research, Winer found there was a need for the niche of an "urban residency" program in Chicago, and decided to fill the void and pool all her resources in and outside of Chicago.

And as for the L to the O-G-AN Square? oh yes, well I suppose that's why you're here, fellow Logans and Loganettes. I know I know what you’re asking, “why are more bada-- arts organizations moving into Logan Square? When did this happen? Why us?” right? Well why not, duh. Ok, SPECIFICALLY speaking, what attracted Winer and her Transit transient ideas to the Square is a taste of childhood. Growing up in San Fransisco’s Mission district, the diversity of ethnicities and perspectives that Logan Square is quickly becoming known for felt like a little taste of home. Not believing in elitism in the art, Winer wants the diversity of an up and coming arts neighborhood, with a rich history of already established organizations and local artists.  And heck, setting up shop in a growing community, without a need for a physical gallery space sure makes it easy to mingle, without the overhead. *Ahem* *cough cough*, we DID mention how LOVELY our new space is, yeah? Yeah. GOOD!

©W. Tanner Young
This show, as mentioned before, is based on the idea of transience. I could tell you a little more about what I gathered from my little sneak peek, but you're probably tired of listening to me. or I don't want to explain it. no, both of those sound bad. OH! I know. I could tell you a little more about what I gathered, but Winer explained it so much more eloquently than I could. Yes, that. So WHY transience? Winer replies, "We decided to have a print invitational this year, instead of a show including all mediums, just to make it different from last year's [Chicago Artists Months] exhibition. I am personally obsessed with old travel posters and vintage postcards, but my assistant director/curator Marcela Andrade, and I agreed that a travel-theme or items relating to transit (the dictionary definition is pretty wide) or travel, was enough. I am really excited to see that our submissions are both quite varied and yet go together so nicely!"

And we're quite excited to have such a lovely show to kick off our lovely new space...kicking off Chicago Artists month. As far as the future of Transit? Well, Winer doesn't like to speculate so soon, but what artist doesn't deal in big plans? According to Winer, "Our aim is to be ready to offer a first call for entries -- even if it is limited to just a couple folks, to start -- by this coming summer. I would be honored if this proved to be repeatable in other cities, down the road. In five years, I hope we've got some relationships/partnerships outside the US as well as outside of Illinois. Maybe other folks are doing this sort of thing already and I'm just not yet aware of it; we'd love to partner with similar organizations."

oh and remember i mentioned Chicago Artists month earlier? well, I think we've 'talked' enough...more on than soon! hows that for "space?"

-Tanner Young

Friday, September 23, 2011

The perfect pair: local art & local business

Artwork by Nicholas Zulauf at New Wave Coffee
The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival has already come and gone for the year, but Logan Square’s arts community is constantly growing and thriving. In particular, Logan Square is lucky to have the support of several local businesses that allow artists to showcase work in the business space and on their walls, in addition to Logan Square’s dedicated gallery spaces. Such arts-loving businesses include, but are not limited to: Boiler Room, Revolution Brewery, CafĂ© Mustache, Cole’s Bar, Rocking Horse, New Wave Coffee, Ciao Napoli Pizzeria, El Cid, and more. D’Noche recently put out a call for artists and will be curating a new set of artwork on their walls shortly.

Just a few weeks ago, New Wave Coffee hosted an opening for a new art show being displayed on their walls. Susan Wingerter, one of the masterminds behind New Wave, detailed the new show: “The current work this month on display is the annual collection of artwork done by all of the employees of New Wave Coffee: a ‘Staff Show’, if you will”. In addition to the benefit of having their work shown in a high traffic public space, artists are also able to sell their work. Susan explains: “The artists are free to price their artwork for sale if they wish, as well as their contact information, but we do not handle sales for the artists of their work, nor take any percentage of commission… The benefits [to New Wave] come from seeing the shop ‘change its shirt’ every month or so and from seeing the customers stop for a minute on their way in or out and have a look around at the walls.  It makes our place more interesting, and it makes the artists happy to come in and see their stuff up on display.”

Artwork by Sarah Stambaugh
at New Wave Coffee

Art shows at New Wave Coffee are chosen and curated by employee Elizabeth Tieri. Typically Elizabeth picks the artists and medium herself, however New Wave is always open to having a show concept pitched at them. If you’d like to show your art a New Wave, simply submit a request and a link to some graphics of your work to

Cole’s Bar, voted ‘Best New Bar’ and ‘Best Neighborhood Bar’ in the 2011 Chicago Reader Poll, takes on a slightly different approach to the artwork hanging on their walls.  Changed up about every two months, it is Tracy Kostenbader and Brett Swinney of AnySquared who curate each art show. AnySquared is also the group behind the Cinema Minima series that
occurs on the first Sunday of every month at Cole’s Bar. Owner Coleman Brice explained his decision to have AnySquared curate rotating artwork: “It connects me with a community of artists, and it is refreshing to have a small change of pace every once in a while. In general it makes customers have a better and more interactive experience”. 

Artists displayed at Cole’s Bar are allowed to price and sell their work with no commission taken by the bar. Currently being shown is artist Angela Davis Fegan, whose work will be up for the next two months. For more information on how to have your artwork considered for a show, email

© Angela Davis Fegan--
her work is currently at Cole's

Voted ‘Best Brewpub’ in both 2010 and 2011 for the Chicago Reader Poll  (not to mention a Runner Up for the ‘Best Pub Grub’ of 2011) is newcomer Revolution Brewing.  Though they’ve only been open in Logan Square since February 2010, Rev Brew has emphatically embraced and supported the local arts culture. Changing up the artwork every 6 weeks to 2 months, Rev Brew’s Morgan Marshall elegantly describes how he chooses which artists to feature:

"That's the great part about being involved in a community as creative as Logan Square, often times the artists choose us. In addition, we're fortunate to have talented artists already working for Revolution. Very rarely do I have to hit the streets to solicit artists, it's more common to have interested parties contact me directly. I have a wealth of talent to choose from, after that I parse it down using criteria based on the needs of our business. Our goal is to be welcoming to families while still maintaining a commitment to supporting the arts which can result in difficult choices...I've viewed art that's no less than stunning, but whose content is too challenging or controversial to be palatable within the context of our business. It's a tightrope I have to walk. Beyond that there are aesthetic considerations; the environment that a show hangs in can be as important a composition as the content of the show itself. If I feel that our space doesn't service the art or the art doesn't service our space that could possibly disqualify an artist. Our ideal art is to be legitimately provocative without being outright explicit or offensive. The name Revolution is itself a broad canvas on which anyone can project their associations; it means different things to different people but it's always exciting. We simply ask that the art hanging reflect that, regardless of the medium. I always welcome the chance to discover new artists and possibly collaborate, and encourage anyone interested to contact me at”


As with New Wave Coffee and Cole’s Bar, artists are allowed to sell their work with no commission taken by RewBrew. But Morgan expounds another benefit: “In addition, we offer the artist a gift card worth $100 to use as they see fit, to bring multiple guests to enjoy a beer with them as they admire the new show.”

Morgan describes RevBrew’s reasoning behind constantly displaying new artwork in the restaurant: “ Apart from the personal benefits we all enjoy by being in the presence of vibrant art, which is its own reward, our art program has strengthened our bond with Logan Square as a whole. As I said, Logan Square is an artist's community, and to not actively engage on that level would be akin to willfully drawing a line in the sand. We hope to be an inclusive force for good in the community, not some intrusive behemoth that seeks to change the character of the neighborhood...this is our personal goal more than a business strategy, and our art program is directly related to that. Our continued collaboration with I Am Logan Square allowed us the opportunity to sponsor of the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival this summer, which was a huge success, both for us and Logan Square. Again, we take no commission from art sales, there is no financial incentive for us to hang art. Art is its own incentive.”

Currently being displayed at Revolution Brewing is 6x40-foot custom mural titled “Dominion” by Terrence Swafford and Josh Crow. Only on display for a short while longer, Morgan exudes the beauty of the piece: “It explores the similarities between man's relationship with endangered species and their treatment of the permanent underclass. It has a magnificent graphic style and is genuinely thought provoking (and somewhat polarizing).”

Logan Square is truly a thriving arts-oriented community. In addition to the shows described here, there are constantly new shows and arts-based events happening in the neighborhood. I Am Logan Square recently launched a free directory listing for artists and arts-focused merchants and organizations in the community. You can also check out the IALS events page for a comprehensive list of Logan Square arts events.  Using these tools artists, galleries, and businesses alike can connect and help out the Logan Square arts community continue to grow.

--Justine Rowland

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Logan Square Arts Center opens with a great lineup of performance and art!

So, we know we have mentioned the new Arts Center a LOT, but let's face it, we are extremely excited to have a new centralized location for arts programming in Logan Square.  The building is still getting its finishing touches and yet there is already a great lineup of performances, art openings and fundraisers.  Much of that is due to the work of local organizations like Voice of the City, Elastic Arts and the Logan Square Chamber of Arts. And because of them, the fall lineup of arts events is steadily taking off!

"Dance Attack" at Logan Square Arts Center, during the
Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival,
photo © Ryan Singer
First up, don't miss Come Together, the inaugural art exhibition at the Arts Center. Come Together features the works of several artists including Seth Apter, John Bannon, Katarzyna Bietak, Mary Ellen Couteau, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Celia Greiner, Bridgette Guerzon-Mills, Ignacio Montano Amie Sell, Jen Worden and Michael Young.  The exhibit features everything from sculpture to installations and collaborative pieces. The opening reception was last Saturday, but don't worry if you missed it because you can see the show Wed.-Thurs., noon-3PM or Fri.-Sun., noon-5PM! 

Coya Paz,
writer/developer for "The Americans"
photo © Jazmin Corona
In addition to the art exhibit, there is a play we are particularly excited about: The AmericansVoice of the City, together with writer/developer Coya Paz, is presenting this intriguing performance about what it means to be American. The Americans is based on improvised conversations with over 100 people and is a look at a national culture built on the importance of individual freedoms--and what those freedoms mean to everyone, how those freedoms are seemingly denied or prejudiced and how our relationship to "America" is often quite complicated.  Topics such as what these freedoms mean to immigrants and what contradictions  we experience as Americans are explored through the interviews. All of this is being developed by Coya Paz, who feels that "what makes this contradiction feel particularly American is that the denial of freedom (including due process) feels like a betrayal of what could be: the fundamental promises of the United States...The cynic (and historian) in me thinks that these promises have never really been fulfilled, certainly not for everyone. But the optimist in me still has hope for their potential." And Paz is not only working on this play--she is also the founder of the all-Latina Chicago theater company Teatro Luna and of Proyecto Latino, a multi-media project that amplifies the success and impact of Latinas in our community.  To keep up with all the great work she is doing, check out her blog here.

The Americans was created with Halcyon Theatre as part of the DCA THEATER INCUBATOR SERIES, a program designed to support the creation of new work by emerging theater companies.  The opening reception is Fri., Sept. 30 at 6PM with a FREE performance at 7 PM, and an after-party at 8:30 PM. Performances continue Saturday and Sunday, October 1 & 2; and Friday and Saturday, October 7 & 8.  All performances are at 7 PM.

And lastly, though this event isn't happening at the arts center, we wanted to mention that Elastic Arts is once again presenting their Intersections series this Sat., Sept. 17 at 9PM at the space at 2830 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd floor, above Friendship Chinese. This performance will be featuring clarinets, saxophone and electronics by Jeff Chan, Douglas R. Ewart, Guillermo Gregorio and Tatsu Aoki.  Intersections is a monthly series presented in colaboration with Asian Improv aRts and AACM.  Tickets are $12 and Elastic Arts is BYOB, so bring a bottle and enjoy a night out with some great music.  Look for more music programming from Elastic coming up at the Arts Center in the next few months. 

The new Arts Center- Logan Square/Avondale is located at the intersection of Milwaukee, Kimball and Diversey Avenues on the second floor of the newly restored Hairpin Lofts building. 

--Brooke Herbert

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This September Logan Square is all about Preservation!

Chicago is well known as the home to some of the world's finest architecture and Logan Square is no exception!  Notably, our neighborhood boasts over two miles of early 20th century historically-preserved homes and buildings along one of Chicago's most pristine boulevard systems. In a time when cookie-cutter strip malls, condos and homes seem to be taking their place as the new American "architecture," there are fortunately organizations in our city who not only appreciate Chicago's historic architecture, but also work to preserve and protect it. Two of these committed nonprofit organizations, Preservation Chicago and Logan Square Preservation, will be hosting two unique events in Logan Square this month in support of their shared missions.

Preservation Chicago will hold its annual fundraiser in Logan Square's new Arts Center located at the Hairpin Lofts (2810 N. Milwaukee Ave) on Friday, September 23 from 6 to 9pm! Preservation's Stacey Pfingsten describes the event as having a bit of an old-world carnival theme--with everything from juggling to magic shows and world class music. The ticket price is $85 in advance and $100 at the door, and all the money raised goes directly to funding Preservation's mission: preserving Chicago's historic architecture-- irreplaceable homes and structures with a deeply rooted history. And remember- that ticket includes a festive feast of fair-style bites, an open bar and a unique silent auction, featuring one-of-a-kind donated items!  You will also be entertained with juggling, magic shows, old world jazz tunes, Revolution brews and plenty of gourmet popcorn! There will be free valet parking. To reserve tickets or for more information: visit Preservation Chicago's website, call 773-334-8800 or email

In addition to Preservation Chicago's fundraiser, Logan Square Preservation is hosting its annual House and Garden Walk--a guided interior tour of historic homes and buildings along Logan Square's boulevards and surrounding streets this Saturday, September 10, from 10 am to 5 pm. You can arrive at any time during those hours, but they suggest allowing at least 3 hours for a leisurely walk. When you arrive, meet at the starting point at 3024 W. Logan Boulevard, where you will receive a welcome talk, brochure and map.  You are then able to see the homes at your own pace, but will greeted at each home by a docent who will guide you through the interior spaces. Tickets for the event are $15 ($12 for Seniors 60+) in advance and $18 ($15 for Seniors 60+) the day of the walk.  Purchase advance or day-of tickets at the 3024 W. Logan Boulevard location.

All too often we take the spectacular architecture of this city for granted, but this month we have two fantastic opportunities to support and even experience this rich history that this city--and our own neighborhood-- have to offer!

--Brooke Herbert

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pottery with Good People

If you had a chance to visit the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival you may have seen Penguin Foot Pottery's booth of artisan ceramics. From a gorgeous array of goblets, vases, and bowls to a hand-casted chess set—Penguin Foot Pottery boasts an inventory of quality work. The business is lead by the owner, Chris Busse, a graduate of SAIC in ceramics and arts education, and his lovely administrative counterpart Paige Bailey. They opened up shop only a year ago, and Penguin's going to have its first birthday party in October which will be open to the pubic for all to celebrate!

Courtesy of Penguin Foot Pottery
Penguin Foot is located at 2514 W. Armitage Avenue, though the entrance is actually just around the corner on Bingham Street. Tucked comfortably into a re-purposed industrial complex on the fringe of Logan Square, it is easily accessible from many of the area's surrounding neighborhoods.

Penguin Foot offers moderately priced classes that cater to patrons of all ages and skill levels, including a kid's clay hour, beginner's workshops, open studio hours and even a happy hour class on Saturday nights. I had the pleasure of attending a class two weeks ago and tried my hand at the wheel for the first time. At $25, which includes materials and three hours of class time, it was a great deal. Chris taught the class himself and was always ready to contribute insight or lend a hand to a shakily spinning vase. He makes throwing pottery from scratch look like child's play. Though difficult for the uninitiated, his easy going attitude and pleasant disposition keep even eager beginners like myself from getting frustrated.

Courtesy of Penguin Foot Pottery
Chris began the class with a demo of how to center the clay and set the speed of the throwing wheel. There was a large supply of extra clay to accommodate the inevitable mistakes. With six wheels in the studio it was an cozy class, and the students were soon joking as they worked. Making the class even better was the music; the White Stripes were playing—as a music and art combo is truly a must.

It was a blast and I'm proud to say that Penguin Foot Pottery  - both for its people and classes - is by far one of my favorite Chicago businesses. I encourage you all to go check out their website, take a class and watch out for the birthday party extravaganza happening this October!

-Alex Palmer