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