Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival Recap and Survey

Well, the festival has come and gone again for the 4th year and we'd like to thank everyone in the neighborhood and city who came out to show your support for the musicians, artists, crafters, and performers who made the neighborhood reverberate with arts activity for the festival weekend.  We hope you got a chance to get to all three hubs and that it was easy to navigate and find your way through each aspect of the festival.

Although we have heard a lot of great feedback and most of our neighbors thoroughly enjoyed the festival, we've also received some concerns. We would like to take this opportunity to address those concerns.  The primary issue that we've heard is a lack of visual art as compared to years past. During the planning stages of the festival, IALS realized that the majority of formerly empty storefronts used as pop-up galleries last year were rented, under contract and/or undergoing renovations, and therefore not feasible exhibition spaces. Additionally--incorporating feedback we received in previous years about the festival being too spread out and difficult to navigate--we included visual art at all three festival hubs, including the Hairpin Arts Center, the Festival Center and near the Cole's stage.

The Hairpin Arts Center was packed with performances each day, from After School Matters to outstanding jazz performances.  If you missed Chioke Morais' exhibition, "Song for My Father", you still have the chance to see it through Labor Day weekend (and check out the photos below).  The pillars were covered with Art in the Park by Unity Park and community members and there were works by Zachary Baker, Mike Bolsingia, Lewis Lain, Laura Lulu and Cinema Culture.  

In the festival center, the main stage was non-stop with music, the kids gathered for art activities and a drum circle, and we ate and drank delicious food, beer and sangria.   If you missed Ana Tijoux's set, you missed an incredible performance! Check out the video for a snippet.  Did you get to the art tents in the center? Thanks to Spudnik Press, Penguin Foot, Latitude, and AnySquared for curating the art there. And thanks to Comfort Station for opening their doors for the festival and showcasing the photographs of David Schalliol.  Even the mayor stopped by on Saturday to show his support and stayed to listen to Los Vicios de Papa--also a great performance. 

Finally on the south end, the Cole's stage rocked from afternoon to night and Threadless, Urban Folk Circuit and numerous artists and crafters presented an incredible amount of lovely, funny and creative goods to make an all-around great market.

It was an experiment, and we agree that it was not the perfect solution.  We are committed to keeping the MAAF a unique experience for our community and beyond.  While the MAAF is our annual centerpiece, IALS is dedicated year-round to promoting and supporting the arts. Our organization is 90% volunteer-sustained.  We welcome your ideas and suggestions regarding new ways to make the MAAF an engaging experience for all. Please take a few minutes to complete our post-festival survey here, send us an email, stop by our office at 2644 N. Milwaukee Ave. or call us at 773-278-4257.

Thanks Logan Square, we love you and this great city!

Check out some photos below, more photos coming soon to our the MAAF and IALS Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/IAMLoganSquare

Photos below by W. Tanner Young and Colin Hayes

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's here! The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival!

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival (MAAF) is this weekend (July 20-22)!  Chicago has so many festivals every weekend, but the MAAF strives to be more than just another run-of-the-mill street fest. It celebrates art, culture, music, and food. It's a chance to show the city that our little neighborhood has an incredible community that we want to share with everyone. The Festival is our invitation to the city to come and share the very best of Logan Square!

If your feeling overwhelmed by the breadth of what this one-of-a-kind fest has to offer, here is a suggested itinerary to help you out!  Whether you have 3 days to explore or just one--get out and enjoy the beautiful weekend, this itinerary is only a suggestion. There is plenty more going on than what we have listed here--check out the website, pick up a program on Friday and create your own itinerary!

Three-Day Itinerary of Fun:


Get an early start after work and head to the festival center to kick off your weekend with some Revolution Beer and Lula Cafe Sangria. The bands start at 5:15, stay for one or stay for them all. Grab some food from one of the food trucks and walk around the festival center and check out a few of the featured art exhibitions and the MAAF marketplace of artists and merchants. Headliners, Disappears, perform at 9:00, so be sure not to miss what is sure to be an incredible performance!


After brunch at Revolution Brewing (or one of the other festival wristband promotion participating restaurants), stop the fest's south end and spend the afternoon browsing the Threadless Make Great Market on Belden. Sip on an afternoon sangria from Lula's booth and check out the all female-fronted band lineup on Cole's stage, starting at 1pm.  Later in the afternoon, hop on the California blue line and head back to the festival center at the Logan stop to spend some time checking out the art exhibitions by Spudnik Press, Penguin Foot Pottery, Latitude, Comfort Station and AnySquared. Stick around for dinner at the fest and catch NOMO at 9pm. At 10pm, head over to the Hairpin Arts Center (a quick 1/2 mile walk from the monument) and dance the night away to DJ Jesse de la Pena, all while sipping on Tito's craft cocktails. Make sure to get your souvenir MAAF photo taken in the Magnolia Photo Booth


Grab brunch at Cafe D'Noche (15% off with your festival wristband!) and head to the Hairpin Arts Center to check out some performances. Stop by the Gap Outlet on your way to check out Chicago Ballet's performance in the windows. There will be dancers in the windows at 10:30, 11:45, 1:00 and 2:15.   Flamenco Chicago performs at the Hairpin at 12:15, followed by performances all afternoon by Dance Attack!, Bare Bone's Theatre and more.  

Looking for some family fun? Spend the morning in the Festival center with Rhythm Revolution, a family-friendly drum circle and take your kids to the Family Activities tent where there will be origami, face painting and jewelry making. Then head over to the arts center in the evening for a great jazz lineup by Elastic arts and Chicagomusic.org.  Make time for the Good Stuff House community map and story booth in the festival center!

End your weekend with friends and beers in the festival center and don't miss the incredible Ana Tijoux (if you need convincing, check out a performance here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv66cnvdy_w).  If you're still not ready to go home on Sunday evening, head to The Owl, for an official closing party and share some drinks with your friends.

MAAF Food and Drink:

We all know the feeling… you go to a festival so excited to hear your favorite band or see that art piece everyone is talking about, but when it is comes to food everything is a little... blah. There are only so many Bud Lights and deep fried items you can consume before your taste buds start to rebel. 

But at the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, we celebrate all the arts, including the culinary arts! Last year we were the first festival in Chicago to have food trucks and we will be continuing that tradition this year.

At the festival center you’ll find all the tasty food trucks. This year we have:

Cevapcici- delicious Balkan sausages with pita bread
Taquero Fusion- sumptuous and yummy tacos
Miko’s Italian Ice- (a local favorite!), cool, refreshing and all natural Italian ice
Suzie’s Fun Foods- classic carnival favorites
Intelligentsia- the city’s best iced and hot coffee to keep you going

You’ll need delicious drinks to wash down all the yummy food offerings. Revolution Brewing beer will be available at all three hubs! The beer tents will be pouring: Rosa, Cross of Gold, Eugene Porter, Bottom up Wit, and Anti-Hero IPA. Along with beer you can sip on refreshing Lula CafĂ©’s Sangria at the Festival Center and South End Cole’s Stage area at Belden.

Share your experience with the city! Upload photos to Facebook, twitter and Instagram! Our hashtag is #MAAF2012

Pick up an official MAAF program from any of the hubs! And for tips on how to navigate the festival by foot, car or public transit, visit the website:  http://milwaukeeavenueartsfestival.org/directions.html

Don't forget to call the boss, and let him/her know that you won't make it in to work on Monday!  Happy festing!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Visual Art at the 2012 Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival!

It's almost here....the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival is this weekend! On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there will be no shortage of great music, food, craft beer, and of course, the visual art!

This year's fest features five curated art exhibitions in the Festival Center, numerous artists and vendors in our TWO MAAF marketplaces (one in the Festival Center and one at Milwaukee and Belden), two exhibitions in the Hairpin Arts Center, film screenings and the Threadless Make Great Market, curated by Urban Folk Circuit (located at Milwaukee and Belden).

In the festival center, next to Comfort Station (Milwaukee and Logan Blvd.), check out the five featured art exhibitions:

Spudnik Press- The 2012 10 x 10 Project
Penguin Foot Pottery- Transformation In Form: An Exploration in Shape
Latitude- City on the Make
AnySquared- Stop. Look. Listen
Comfort Station- The Bloomingdale, photographs by David Schalliol

City on the Make, presented by Latitude, features the work of Matt Austin, Walker Blackwell, Maria Hummel, Eileen Mueller and Victor Yanez-Lazcano. Stop. Look. Listen., presented by longtime MAAF collaborators, AnySquared is a multi-media art exhibit that poses the question: "If you could put one moment of your life on pause, what would it be?" It will be an opportunity to experience some of local Chicago artists' most defining moments. It is curated by Jenn Grossman in representation of the AnySquared Arts Collective and features the work of Steven Barrett, Molly Brandt, Jerry Cargill, Gabor Esperon, Jennifer Hines, Kayla Koeune, Luis Sahagun and Peter J. Schulz.

For Penguin Foot Pottery's, Transformation In Form: An Exploration in Shape, there will be work by Jeremy McLeod, Michelle Stiehl, Nicole Argy, Carrie Crawford, Sarah Finkel, Aly Stout, Jessie Decaro and Anna Spreitzer. There will also be live demos on the potter's wheel. Try out another hands-on activity at the Spudnik Press tent and view the work of Brian Hofmeister, Colin Palombi, Jeremy Tinder, Joe Tallarico, Justin Santora, Krista Franklin, Liz Born, Lovercraft, Nate Beaty and Revise.

Courtesy of Peter Schulz, part of Stop.Look.Listen
Chioke R. Morais, who showed with Elastic Arts for many years before leaving Chicago is returning to Logan Square this summer to be a part of the MAAF.  His solo show of all new works titled “Song for My Father” at the Hairpin Arts Center includes mixed media presentations inspired by the photography of his father and the games of his children.

“My father was a photographer in Harlem in the 40s and 50s and many of the pieces in the show are based on these small 2x3 photographs of his that I still have,” said Morais. “Because of their size, the pictures are kind of hard to display, you can’t really hang them on your wall and I wanted to preserve them, to give these people life again. So I decided to paint my interpretation of them. It seemed like a good way to honor my father’s work and it was a way to bring our art together.”

The shadow paintings depict the street games of his youth and the games his daughters play. His children and their friends cast many of the shadows on the actual paintings.

“I have such great memories of being a kid in Staten Island and then in St. Louis playing these games with my friends and I get great joy now seeing my own kids playing them. I felt like I needed to document that part of childhood,” said Morais.

Showing the work in Chicago “is perfect for me,” said Morais. “I live in a very rural environment now and both of these series’ celebrate what I love about urban life. Since Chicago is most definitely my favorite city, it makes all the sense in the world to bring the series there first.”

Morais has lived and worked on Martha’s Vineyard since leaving Logan Square in 2008. “I am really looking forward to being a part of the Logan Square art world again and thrilled to be bringing my work back in time for the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Fest.”
“Song for My Father” opens Friday, July 20th at 6 pm and will remain up through Labor Day Weekend.

Also at the Hairpin Arts Center is the Unity Park, Art in the Park gallery and several film screenings. On Friday night at 8PM, come out and get spooked at the 720 Film Screening, featuring five 16mm horror films all created in 2012 by local Chicago artists. On Saturday at 6:30PM and Sunday at 5PM, Cinema Culture will present an eclectic selection of short and feature films from local and regional film and video artists. Along with two special curated programs, Avant Garde Remixed and Watch This! Film & Video Tour.

Finally, on the south end, get some fun shopping done at the Threadless Make Great Market and MAAF marketplace. The Threadless market is curated by Urban Folk Circuit and includes handcrafted good by 12 artists and crafters. In addition, check out the artwork and merchants all along Belden, all while sipping on Revolution Brewing beers, Lula sangria and listening to Cole's stage music.

Check out the website for more info and for even more details about #MAAF2012!
Can't wait to see you there!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2012 Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival Music!

Alright folks, get ready... it is just about time for the 4th Annual Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival! After a great Kick-Off party (see photos here) at Revolution Brewing on June 26, we are ready to let you in on all that's happening at the 2012 MAAF! 

From July 20-22, the MAAF transforms the Logan Square neighborhood into a full-blown arts district featuring outstanding visual and performance art, live music, interactive arts activities for the whole family and yummy food and drink including craft beers by Revolution brewing, sangria by Lula Cafe and gourmet food trucks (stop drooling, there's a more detailed post about food coming soon!). 

This year, the festival will feature three main hubs of activity with two outdoor stages: the Festival Center main stage placed at the Logan Square monument and the Cole’s Bar stage at Milwaukee and Belden. And the indoor stage at Hairpin Arts Center, 2800 N Milwaukee Ave. will feature an amazing lineup of jazz, in addition to more visual and performance art . The music lineup this year is sensational and here are just some of the highlights. Put your dancin' shoes on!

The main stage music promises to be the most exciting yet as Chicago-based alt-rockers Disappears take the stage on Friday, followed by afro-beat collective NOMO on Saturday and Latin American Hip-Hop artist Ana Tijoux on Sunday. The Chicago Mixtape showcase on Saturday will feature five Chicago favorites including Cains & Abels, Del Rey, Unicycle Loves You, Los Vicios De Papa, and Rambos.  Sunday on the Main Stage will feature an eclectic mix of tribal rhythms, space rock, Flamenco guitars, Balkan fusion, two of Chicago’s most acclaimed rock acts (In Tall Buildings and My Gold Mask) and one of the rising stars of Latin American Hip-Hop Ana Tijoux.  

The Cole's stage at the south end of the festival will feature indie acts arranged into three distinctly themed nights.  Logan Square's best garage rock bands, The Yolks and Rabble Rabble will take the stage on Friday night. On Saturday will be a showcase of ten female-fronted bands including The Runnies, Ruby Yo, Tyler Jon Tyler and Moritat.  On Sunday, a lineup of Americana music includes The Weepin' Willows, Al Scorch and The Lawrence Peters Outfit.

Ana Tijoux
The Hairpin Arts Center, presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, located at 2800 N. Milwaukee Avenue will be the festival’s official after-party location with Vocalo DJ dance parties, featuring legendary Chicago DJ Jesse de la Pena on Friday and DJ Trancid on Saturday. On Saturday and Sunday, Elastic Arts and ChicagoMusic.org will feature some of the city's best jazz and improvised musicians including Josh Berman with Matt Schneider, Guillermo Gregorio, Cameron Pfiffner, Jason Adasiewicz and David Hernandez. The jazz will close on Sunday with an energetic set by local free jazz heroes Mars Williams and Kent Kessler.

This is only a sampling! For the full line-up and schedule, check the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival website. There you’ll find information regarding the music, featured art exhibitions (blog coming soon!), performance arts, the Threadless Make Great Market (an art market curated by Urban Folk Circuit), family activities, and the culinary delights that will all be taking place at the MAAF.

Stay tuned for blog posts all about the visual art exhibitions, performances and food!

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound at the 2011 MAAF

Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival
Friday July 20th through Sunday July 22nd
3 Main Festival Hubs
1) Festival Center, the monument - Milwaukee & Logan
2) the North end at Hairpin Arts Center- Milwaukee, Kimball and Diversey
3) the South end at Cole's Stage- Milwaukee & Belden

Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Orchestra Hall Presents!

Neighbors in Logan Square are finding out about one of the newest BYOB scenes in town. On Wednesday nights from 8:30 til 11:30, The Grilly Brothers perform LIVE and FOR FREE at Orchestra Hall, 2341 N Milwaukee Avenue.  It’s a great chance to get out in the middle of the week and enjoy live music and a cool beverage. If you’re planning to meet some friends and have a full night out, this show is the perfect place for the group to hook up at the beginning of the night.

Play the video to check out the scene at Orchestra Hall.  For more details, check out their website at http://www.grillybrothers.com. 

-Dan O’Donnell

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An IALS/MAAF Artist Profile: Good Stuff House and The Great Fire: A Traveling Truck Show

Kayce and Chris working on sketches at home
Kayce Bayer and Chris Lin are a team. They are not only a couple who live in an incredibly creative environment, but they work together as a curatorial and production duo called Good Stuff House.  Kayce and Chris met in Logan Square in 2008 when Chris was playing ukulele at a show with his "folk-thrash band", Hannis Pannis. Chris is from Taipei, Taiwan and Victoria, British Columbia respectively and came to Chicago in 2006 to get his masters at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Kayce moved to Chicago in 2005 from Memphis, where she received her Masters of Fine Arts from Memphis College of Art.  Chris's main focus at the time was working on his cardboard sculptures and puppets. His work has often focused on creating replicas of real life objects with cardboard, an idea that still plays out in some of his more recent work.  Kayce started out painting, but she began "veering away" from painting in favor of video, performance and "doing [things] in the public eye".  She was looking for a way to combine all her artistic passions.   In 2009, Chris was applying for an artist's visa to stay in the country and so  Kayce and Chris organized an art party and show called "Keep the C in Country", an ode to both their love for old-timey country music and for literally keeping the "C" (Chris) in the country.  They wrote a theme song for the show and "put together anyone who performed" for the party. It was their first time putting a group show together and they really enjoyed it--they "liked to include all these other people..to get the opportunity to show off other people's work" So, Kacye and Chris decided to keep trying this and together they created a curatorial/production duo called Good Stuff House.

Mabel's Wayback Machine
photo courtesy of Good Stuff House
In April, 2010, Good Stuff House produced Noooo! at the Op Shop in Hyde Park as an interactive installation. "We set up a cardboard film set based on the climatic final act in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke Skywalker learns that Darth Vader is his father. We created a visual quotation to the 5-second scene in question: each shot was synced to the original shot from the film as the amateur set playfully mimicked the sleek future of the “Cloud City.” At the opening, we invited visitors to act as either Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader in a re-enactment. The players were videotaped while they reinterpreted the scene with their own personal touch. After the “shoot” (opening night) was over, the footage was edited and placed on a compilation DVD available for rent (“take” for free).  The video acts as document of performance, but also a work in itself. Once edited, the context of the original scene is gone, the pairings become a playful interpretation of pop culture, and the characters of real-life are elevated."

In addition to Nooo! in 2010, Good Stuff House produced Mabel’s Wayback Machine, a variety show also hosted by The Op Shop 3 in Hyde Park. It featured a range of acts: comedic skits, musical storytelling, spoken word, sing-alongs, chanting, art performance, and puppets made by an 8-year old. Good Stuff House is currently working on comfy installation/environment The Soft Shop, and their new, large scale project, The Great Fire: A Traveling Truck Show.

Sketches for The Great Fire: A Traveling Truck Show
Courtesy of Good Stuff House

The Great Fire: A Traveling Truck Show is a project and idea born out of Kayce and Chris's dedication to the idea that art should be about inclusion and accessibility.  Both artists' main motives are to "have fun and create an experience." To that end, The Great Fire is a show that includes many performers, actors and artists.  The show is a vaudeville/carnival themed traveling truck show that will make at least four stops throughout Chicago neighborhoods beginning in the fall.  The theme of the show is based around the great Chicago fire of 1871 and branches from there. "Many Chicago neighborhoods got their start from the fire and the recurring theme of fire [in the show] represents the spirit of Chicago," says Kayce. The four performances are to take place in Logan Square, Pilsen, and Clark Park Playlot and one other location,  and are "tailored to each site with neighborhood story lines...With Chicago’s Great Fire of 1871 as a starting point, we will weave together tales of personal and community triumph.  We are using the idea of fire symbolically. The Great Chicago Fire destroyed a city in early stages of growth, but established a ground for rebirth and reinvention, which ultimately led to the city’s greatness.  This theme of transformation will carry through our story, inspired by historic characters and events from each Chicago neighborhood."

The truck show will feature rhythm and revival music by Poor Elvis, tarot card readings, a throat singer, fire breathing, belly dancing and a snake charmer. The themes of each performance are not only centered around Great Fire events, but also focus on immigrants', workers' and women's rights and neighborhood development. Good Stuff House will also be doing guest workshops in conjunction with the traveling truck show at schools around the city.

And in a just a few weeks, you'll have a chance to meet and interact with Good Stuff House at the 4th Annual Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival!  Good Stuff House will have a booth set up near the monument in the Festival Center with some family- friendly activities (which will also be interesting to adults of course!) Stop by their booth and take part in the giant community map and story bank. The giant 8' x 8' map will engage viewers by asking them to draw or create their own piece to pin to the map--whether it be a home, favorite shop, favorite park or a place with a special memory. You can then go to the story bank and tell your own story in the video booth. Good Stuff House will be at the MAAF for all three days, July 20-22, so make sure to stop by and say hello. You'll be glad you did.

For more info, visit Good Stuff House here or The Great Fire website here. To learn how you can get involved, email Kayce at kaycebayer@yahoo.com.

This piece is the first in a new IALS blog series, Artist Profiles. If you'd like to be considered as a featured artist on the blog, please send a brief bio and link to your website. And, as always, IALS is looking for engaged, creative writers for our weekly blog. If you are interested in either, please email brooke@iamlogansquare.com

--Story and Photos by Brooke Herbert Hayes, except where noted