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Art Thu Jan 28 2010

A Happy Union Between Politics and Art

50-50+160x600.pngDo you know what your alderman looks like? Mine has a mustache. Ever had the urge to make a painting of your alderman? Now is your chance. Johalla Projects is putting on a show, titled 50 ALDERMAN/50 ARTISTS, which is pretty much what it sounds like. 50 artists from across Chicago (you could be one of them) will choose one alderman to feature in a 16″x22″ portrait, using their media of choice. There is a point to this -- participating artists will be required to interview or at least attempt to interview the alderman they are depicting. The idea is to use art as a vehicle for learning about the people who represent us at city hall -- to foster an understanding of local politics and more involvement in our communities.

The kickoff event for 50 ALDERMEN/50 ARTISTS will be Friday, Feb. 5 from 7-9pm at Debonair Social Club. This event will provide an opportunity for the artists involved to meet each other, and this is where artists will be matched up with aldermen. If you have your heart set on a specific alderman, perhaps one with a mustache, I suggest making a tribute t-shirt and wearing it to the meet and greet, or maybe getting a photo-realistic portrait tattoo of him or her to demonstrate your enthusiasm.

The actual exhibition will be at Johalla Projects on March 19. All 50 aldermen will be invited to the opening, which will include biographical information and a voter registration table. In addition to simply showing the portraits, the gallery plans to feature the portraits -- as well as portraits of Richard M. Daley and Cook County Board President Todd H. Stroger -- in an "alternative voting guide." How novel! How conscientious! How often do you get to see art with a social purpose that's not dry or depressing?

So, if you're interested in getting involved in this wonderfully Chicago-centric exhibition, go to the mixer on February 5 with your tribute t-shirt and tell them I sent you. If you're not, go to the show on March 19, learn a little something, vote, and maybe even get a cheesy wine-buzzed photo with your favorite alderman. For specific information, visit


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