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