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


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