Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, March 1

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Art Tue Nov 17 2015

One of a Kind Show Returns to the Merchandise Mart

One of a Kind Show logoPerhaps you've noticed the street banners parading in downtown, or are a returning shopper, but next month, the One of a Kind Show and Sale will return for its 15th annual holiday sale. The handmade shopping event will include more than 600 artists, craft makers and designers from all over the United States.

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S. Nicole Lane

Craft Sat Jun 21 2014

Renegade Craft Fair Introduces Mini Market

9731657815_62a8c7a93e_o (1).jpgThe Renegade Craft Fair is bringing Chicago something new this weekend: a pop-up Mini Market. The Mini Market is just what its name implies: a concentrated version of the larger craft fair. Although smaller in size, the Mini Market plans for big fun.

Part of a new event series, Mini Market showcases dozens are artisans and makers in a more intimate setting. Attendants of the free, all-ages market will find jewelry, clothing, leather, art, stationery and more, handmade by more than 80 crafters.

"I do look forward to the intimacy of it," said Madelon Juliano of Renegade Craft Fair. "We did our first one in Brooklyn...and it was nice to be able to make a round in the fair and not feel totally exhausted and overwhelmed."

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Miriam Finder

Art Sat Mar 08 2014

Wicker Park: First Fridays @ The Flat Iron Building

The weather, warming up slightly this week, urged a substantial amount of Chicago makers, gallery goers and visual arts lovers, to the Flat Iron Arts Building last night. I, finally wearing something that wasn't reminiscent of a Christmas Story, trekked out to Wicker Park for the open studios, refreshments and socializing. This was my first time "First Fridays" at Wicker Park; I usually frequent Pilsen for "Second Fridays," instead. However, I am a fan of the area and decided to wander down for a peek at how they run things down at the Flat Iron Building.


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S. Nicole Lane

Art Sun Nov 04 2012

A Return to Form: SOFA 2012


Norman Mooney. AMBER STAR No. 2

SOFA is a fair of history. This is evident upon first entering Festival Hall at Navy Pier and was especially noticeable on opening night of the 19-year-old fair. Unlike the weariness masked as over-jubilant fervor of the inaugural EXPO CHICAGO, the spirit of SOFA (Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design) is born out its familiarity for visitors and for collectors.

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Britt Julious

Craft Sat Jun 02 2012

RETRÄTT Knife Block Lamp Hack

7309040502_23d567b9c4.jpgEvery once in awhile I walk through Ikea looking for objects that can be repurposed -- planter boxes as storage cubes, napkin holders as book displays and the like. In one such trip, I happened upon the RETRÄTT knife block and thought it would make a nice looking accent lamp. Made of birch and stainless steel, the block has a convenient hole drilled all the way through for a sharpening steel, making it ideal for a lamp hack. The blocks stainless steel bands and exposed knife holders give it a nice modern look.

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Christian Scheuer

Design Tue Jun 14 2011

Get Your Guerrilla On Tonight


Furniture geeks and functional art fans, take heed: the 7th Annual Guerrilla Truck Show is tonight, along with a bevy of exhibitions and parties in the area designed to be visited in tandem. These events take place tonight from 5:30 to 9:30 in the West Loop, with the official truck show at Morlen Sinoway Atelier: 1052 W. Fulton Market St. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. For a map of all the locations participating, click here. Also, (not noted on the map) EBERSMOORE (213 N. Morgan, #3C) is hosting a special exhibition of work by the talented group known as the Dock 6 Collective (works pictured above). For photos of past GTS's, check out this Flickr collection.

Kelly Reaves

Art Wed Apr 06 2011

Common Sense, Chicago


Sheila Pepe, Common Sense, Artisterium 3, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, 2010

Brooklyn-based artist Sheila Pepe's ongoing and traveling installation performance, Common Sense, makes its fifth stop in Chicago at Oak Park's he said, she said. Thus far, the performance has traveled to CAHM in Houston; Testsite/Fluent-Colab in Austin, Texas; Artisterium 3, in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia; and Carroll and Sons in Boston.

The participatory exhibition is yet another example of the gallery's ongoing effort to engage audiences in a conversation about art and culture. Incorporating ideas of abstraction and construction, the large-scale crochet "drawing" allows audiences to participate in the work by unraveling the material to be used for their own creations. As well, this is another chance for art lovers to venture to the burgeoning and eclectic art community growing in the diverse suburb of Oak Park.

Common Sense, Chicago opens April 9 at 6pm and runs through May 14. he said, she said is located at 216 North Harvey Avenue, Apt. #1 in Oak Park.

Britt Julious / Comments (1)

Art Tue Oct 26 2010

Discounted SOFA/Intuit Tickets


The work of glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra in Holsten Galleries booth at SOFA CHICAGO last year, photo courtesy of SOFA

For those of you who are planning on going to the SOFA/Intuit Outsider Art fairs next weekend (November 5 - 7 at Navy Pier), we have good news: you can get half off your tickets if you use the code "ARTFAIR" when visiting the Tickets & Showtimes link at

Better yet, you can register with Intuit here for a FREE ticket, plus they'll get a donation for every complementary ticket that is turned in.

Before the discount, general admission is $15 per ticket-- this admits visitors to both fairs and their related lecture series, special exhibits and events. Both fairs kick-off with a joint Opening Night Preview in Festival Hall on Thursday, Nov. 4. The public is invited to attend from 7 to 9pm for $50.

Kelly Reaves / Comments (2)

Business Tue Oct 19 2010

Inkling Makes East Lakeview a Little More Colorful


All photos of the shop are by the author

On an eclectic strip of North Broadway St. in East Lakeview sits a new(ish) store called Inkling, where Stephanie Keller sells her wares-- from hand-printed wrapping paper and greeting cards made by local artists to wacky porcelain knickknacks she's collected at antique stores and estate sales over the years. It's like Etsy, but you get to touch stuff.

The store oozes cozy creativity and smells really good, too. There are so many interesting objects packed into the space that a fair viewing will probably require a good half hour, at least. Take your time. I would recommend bringing a coffee to aid with digestion and a few bucks, because you're going to want to buy something. Luckily, though, a few bucks are all you'll need because the prices are surprisingly low, especially considering that many of the items are hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces. $5-$10 will get you a quirky, thoughtful little birthday/housewarming/baby shower gift for someone and $20 will get you an original screenprint.

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Kelly Reaves

Art Wed Oct 13 2010

Bridgeport Art Walk This Weekend


Version Fest @ Co-Prosperity Sphere in 2007, photo courtesy of Co-Pro

Bridgeport is home to a surprisingly bustling artistic community, from Co-Prosperity Sphere, run by the Public Media Institute to the Zhou B. Art Center. In an effort to raise awareness of that fact, the cultural spaces down there have teamed together for a "Bridgeport Art Walk" this weekend. At least seven (but probably more) exhibition/production spaces will open up to the public for us to meander around and gawk at their wares. The CAR website says that the walk will kick off each day (Friday, Oct. 15, Saturday and Sunday) at the Bridgeport Art Center at 1200 W 35th Street with the artists of Eastbank studios and then scatter throughout the neighborhood.

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Kelly Reaves / Comments (1)

Craft Mon Sep 06 2010

Meet Illinois Artisans

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Susie Ryan.JPGThis weekend, September 10-11, the Historic Water Tower Building at Pearson and Michigan Ave. will host art-making demonstrations and original artwork for sale by Illinois artisans. The newly remodeled Water Works Visitor Center will offer visitors the opportunity to purchase one-of-a kind jewelry, fiber, and ceramics pieces during the monthly Meet Illinois Artisans program. Hosted by the Chicago Office of Tourism and the Illinois Artisans Program, this month's event will feature the work of Highland Park's Dan Greene, Lake Villa's Svetlana Kunina, Metamora's Susie Ryan (art pictured), and Chicago's Meg Guttman.

Admission to the event is free. Visitors can view the work of different artists at the Water Works Visitor Center, 163 E. Pearson, on the second weekend of each month. This month's Meet Illinois Artisans runs from 1-5 pm on Friday, September 10, and Saturday, September 11.

Emily Disher

Art Fri Jul 23 2010

Call for Artists: Chicago Artists Month Exhibition


Chicago area visual artists are encouraged to submit work to an art exhibition to kick off Chicago Artists Month that will sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Arts District and Gapers Block. A panel of three Gapers Block staffers will curate the show, and selected artists will participate in the exhibition on Friday, October 1 from 6-10pm at 2001 S. Halsted Street.

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David Schalliol / Comments (1)

Art Thu Jul 22 2010

Graphic Novel Kids Camp @ Lillstreet

Registration begins now! For a graphic novel camp taught by renowned cartoonist Nicole Hollander who is the creator of famous "Sylvia" cartoon strip. Starting at Lill Street Art Center, 4401 N Ravenswood Ave. from August 2nd to the 6th, this unique one-week camp enables children from ages 10 to 14 to create their own short graphic novel. No previous experience is necessary! Camp fees are $175 for Lillstreet Members and $180 for non-members. To register, visit or call 773-769-4226.

Hiba Ali

Art Wed Jul 21 2010

Graphic Novel Kids Camp @ Lillstreet

Registration is open for a graphic novel camp taught by renowned cartoonist Nicole Hollander, creator of famous "Sylvia" cartoon strip. From August 2 to the 6, this one-week camp at Lillstreet Art Center enables children from ages 10 to 14 to create their own short graphic novel. Camp fees are $175 for Lillstreet members and $180 for non-members. To register, visit or call 773-769-4226.

Hiba Ali

Art Tue Apr 20 2010

Don't Miss Version Fest

version10.jpgThe illustrious Version festival starts this Thursday with Territories, a group exhibition at the Zhou B. Art Center. Also, starting that night at midnight Version fest presents six episodes of experimental television featuring works submitted to this year's festival. Watch every night of the festival at midnight to view a 30 minute episode on Chicago Cable Access Channel 19 (CANTV).

On Friday the opening party for Version Festival kicks off at 8pm at Co-Prosperity Sphere, promising more unabashed creativity and wild rock and roll than any one human being could hope to completely absorb in one night. The meat and potatoes of the show Friday will most likely be the live music by amazing local acts including Mahjongg, Brilliant Pebbles, and Mr666 (among others), but the show will be garnished by art and entertainment by Telefantasy Studios-- a group of artists specializing in Sci-Fi/fantasy film productions who claim that their aim is to "transport people to realms never before imagined and to tell heroic stories with dazzling special effects." For the Version fest opening party they will create a temporary soundstage for performance, and they want everyone to come in costume as a Sci-Fi/fantasy character to be filmed, photographed, interviewed, and auditioned.

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Kelly Reaves

Art Thu Feb 11 2010

Some Like it Cold

Winter: a curse to humans, a boon to anthropomorphic ice cream sandwiches. Gain some new perspective with local crafter Steff Bomb's bitten-into plush Ice Cream Sammy, who's got to worry about melting and being eaten. Man!

Rose Lannin

Business Mon Jan 11 2010

Pearl Art and Craft Closing Stores

Pearl Art and Craft is closing several stores across the country, and the Chicago store is among them. Everything in the store is 50% off, so deals are to be had even with furniture and easels. How often can you pick up a solid oak easel for half off?

Christian Scheuer / Comments (3)

Art Tue Dec 29 2009

Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago

artscrafts_lg.jpgRecently, trends like the Renegade Craft Fair and the Slow Food Movement have shown people are recoiling from today's mass produced, dehumanized, and automated way of doing things. On the heels of this trend is the Apostles of Beauty exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. Much like today, the Arts and Crafts movement stemmed from an anti-industrialist mentality that placed an importance on thoughtful design and handmade artifacts. The exhibit is vast and varied and what is truly fascinating is every piece of art came from private collections in the Chicago area.

Although most people were huddled around the pictorialist photography portion of the exhibit, the most "wow" inducing segment was the Japanism display. By the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Japanese style and woodblock prints were wildly popular (Frank Lloyd Wright was an avid collector). A Japanist-style Tiffany Lamp brilliantly glowing against the wall is hard to miss. Its dragonfly shade and mosaic base detail is breathtaking.

This is a nicely curated show, especially for those interested in interior design, architecture, and Chicago history. It closes January 31st.

Whitney Stoepel

Art Sat Dec 05 2009

What the Hell is PechaKucha?

0000119.jpgI attended my first PechaKucha night at the Hackerspace known as Pumping Station: One, last night. If you are anything like I was before I went to this, you will have no idea what any of that means, and that's okay.

Lets start with PechaKucha; the name is based on the Japanese word for "chitchat", it was originally devised in Tokyo as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. It has evolved into what almost seems like a party game for the both creative and tech savvy, although neither of these are prerequisites. PechaKucha is essentially a speaker series, for instance, I saw seven different speakers talk about things ranging from the history of metal music to geology. Presenters have to follow some simple guidelines that limit their time, and the way they might decide to present, mainly, 20 images x 20 seconds. Each talk is then limited to 400 seconds (6 min 40sec) and hilarity ensues as the speakers try and fit, and fill information for each image.

Next we tackle the age old question what is a Hackerspace. These are community-operated places, where people can get together to work on projects, simply stated a hackerspace is a geek headquarters. Pumping Station: One, on north Elston, is Chicago's hackerspace, and I encourage you to check out an event at some point, especially if you are someone who has projects. Word of warning, this is not your typical stitch and bitch.

HARBINGER-thumb-350x144-117.jpgPumping Station: One is a member based non-profit, but that non-profit status seems to only ensure that there is a space to house something as unique as this is. Okay it might not be a unique as all that, but I do have to say that within an environment such as this it is hard to imagine most people having this sort of experience.

Production is infectious and PS One, having 40 some odd active members, is a snowballing mountain of productivity. That sort of environment can make a huge impact on a person, even a single visit by a less than inspired tinkerer may yield a lifetime of change.


Craft Wed Nov 18 2009

Not Your Grandma's Stitching: Embroidery at Renegade

mandy mcgee moxiedoll etsy.jpg
Embroidery, once a craft embraced by grandmothers and the perpetually pregnant, is getting a contemporary facelift this Saturday thanks to the ladies at Renegade Handmade, 1924 W. Division.

Embroidery empress Jenny Hart will host a workshop and sign copies of her latest how-to book, Embroidered Effects: Projects and Patterns to Inspire Your Stitching, on November 21st from 4:30 to 8pm. The event kicks off the third in Renegade's Spotlight Series, the In Stitches Showcase, which features the handiwork of 15 fabric artists adept at stitching slightly sardonic designs into overly precious mediums. (Ironic sayings prettily sewn into lacy pillows, anyone?)

The first 15 buyers of Hart's new book will get a sit-down course on how to amp-up their stitchery. Everyone else is privy to a book signing and reception with purchasable work from all artists in the exhibition. And free wine and beer.

Pictured artwork available from Chicago-based crafter Mandy McGee, via

Katherine Raz / Comments (1)

Craft Fri Jul 17 2009

Free Button-O-Rama!

Busy Beaver will be giving out free buttons at Pitchfork Festival July 17-19. Get your photo taken for free by and get a free button when you stop by Busy Beaver at Booth 40. The first 50 people wearing buttons to Pitchfork win a free gold button from Busy Beaver! Enjoy!

Margo O'Hara

Art Thu Jul 16 2009

Ice Cream Without the Drips

If you're like me, you love the way some things look more than they taste: cotton candy looks like sugar-spun clouds of heaven but leaves an unfortunate residue and makes the molars tingle. If you're not like me, you can still have it both ways with local crafter Steff Bomb's plush, a poly-filled array of sweet, vegetable, and occasionally Krylon-wielding delights.

Rose Lannin

Art Mon Jul 06 2009

Call for Artists: "Chicago Week" from GB and Wall Blank

Chicago visual artists are invited to submit their work to a competition sponsored by Gapers Block and the Rockford-based arts purveyor Wall Blank.

The four winning artists will be featured on Gapers Block, and their work will be offered as prints for sale on Wall Blank during "Chicago Week" in August 2009.

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David Schalliol

Feature Mon May 18 2009

Make Your Own Wooden Toy Cars

Every once in a while I look at that big bin of scrap wood in the shop and think I should do something with them. Obviously, most are odd shaped pieces and relatively small, but it would be a waste to just through them away, so why not make some toy cars?

Kids like toys, kids like cars. Toys can be expensive, so making some toys is a no-brainer. Making toy cars isn't really hard: a piece of wood is cut into a car-like shape, and some wheels are put on to make the toy functional. Not hard at all. What I'm going to do is show how easy this can be and show some different interpretations of the idea of moving toys.

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Christian Scheuer / Comments (3)

Craft Fri Apr 24 2009

Friday Flickr Feature

Bill Guerriero shared this photo of some of the vibrant glass beadwork on display at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen.

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Jamie Smith / Comments (4)

Feature Mon Mar 02 2009

Slatted End-Grain Side Table

Recently I decided that making simple furniture is something I should do more often, and in doing so, I should make some items others could do at home with a little knowledge and simple tools, or access to some other bigger tools.

This project is something that I've been thinking about for the past few months, a Slatted End-Grain Side Table with storage. I like plywood, I like it a lot, and multiple layers of wood stacked up just looks cool. Keeping with the theme, the project I had in mind was something that someone could make with limited tools and -- importantly -- stuff one could get at the local home center.

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Christian Scheuer / Comments (1)

Art Sun Feb 15 2009

Presidents in Cupcakes!

Baker/artist extraordinaire Zilly Rosen created an amazing 5,900 cupcake mosaic featuring President Obama and Lincoln in honor of President's Day.

Check out Illinois' Presidents in all their butter cream glory here on Cake Wrecks.

I desperately want to see a sped up version of the web-stream from that day if anyone has a link.

Kristin Barrick

Craft Mon Jan 26 2009

Want Aretha's hat?

So how awesome was Aretha with that church-going hat? How many of us kinda wanted to run right down to the local craft store, buy a Bedazzler and get down to it?

Over at, they've got some talk in their forums (here and here) about how to make one for yourself.

Of course, if you're a little lazy or chained to your computer, have some fun with Photoshop and get yourself and Jack Nicholson an Aretha hat.

Kristin Barrick

Art Tue Jan 06 2009

Fiber Artist Karen Reimer Guesting at MCA Stitch n' Bitch

There's a great opportunity at the Museum of Contemporary Art for some stitching, bitching and conversation with the great artist Karen Reimer.

image001.jpgFrom 5:30 to 8pm at the MCA's Puck Café, knitters and hookers (crocheters) will be getting together with guest artist Karen Reimer to share techniques and stories and some good wintery bitching.

Check out more of Reimer's conceptual fiber art including embroidery here, here (LOVE the Equal packet and crossword puzzle) and here.

Kristin Barrick

Art Wed Dec 24 2008

Find the Piñata Factory

underpass pinatas chicago

The overpass at Grand Avenue and the underpasses at North Avenue, Sacramento Boulevard and Logan Boulevard and 90-94 have some new residents: dozens of piñatas stuffed with emergency blankets. They're part of "a one-time community based sculptural installation organized in collaboration with arts organizations throughout Chicago, a high school art classroom on the South Side, and a number of Chicago artists."

It aims to draw attention to the issue of homelessness in Chicago and the spaces that used to act as shelter before they were fenced off/in. The piñatas are the output but are far less important than the community and awareness brought about by the process of manufacturing. Over 60 Chicago area youth, more than 30 community members, and numerous artist volunteers provide a large scale and social context.


The piñatas are made of materials reclaimed from the Center for Green Technologies dumpsters and trash piles alike throughout Chicago. The paper mache pinatas are %100 biodegradable and are stuffed with emergency space blankets in case some of the underpasses are inhabited. Production began at the factory nearly two years ago in a makeshift workshop on Chicago's West Side. Demand increased as the fences went up and now we are out of space.

In this collapsing economy the factory could no longer afford the high cost of storing the piñatas or feeding the volunteers. Labor conditions also began to deteriorate as temperatures fell and it became evident that it was time to release these recycled beasts to the streets from which they came. So come on down to your nearest underpass to see if the menagerie is in your neighborhood (bring a plastic bat and a ladder if you need a blanket).

More photos of the piñatas' construction and installation here.

Andrew Huff

Craft Thu Dec 11 2008

Get a break with Winter Break Camps

Not as excited about Winter Break as your kids? Sign them up for one of these Chicago Winter Break Camps, pour yourself some egg nog and relax.

Wishcraft in Lakeview has it's Craft and Theater Camp where 8-12 year olds will write, design and perform a play with the theme of "eco-super heroes" saving the galaxy. Actor camp leaders assist the kids with improv games, costume construction and poster design. Cost is $240 and $200 for additional siblings.

The Noyes Cultural Arts Center up in Evanston focuses on giving during their Winter Break Arts Camp 6-day camp beginning December 22nd. Each day is self-contained and will explore crafts, cooking, art, music and drama. Depending on your budget or your child's interests, you can go in for all six days or a one-day break from the holiday. Call 847.448.8260 for registration and price details.

If you're up for some family art-making and low on cash post-holiday, the Art Institute of Chicago has numerous family workshops featuring DIY snow-people family scenes and colorful pastel environments. Cost is your museum admission with kids under 12 getting in for free.

Kristin Barrick

Art Thu Dec 11 2008

Rolling Art

chicago roller printTangible World has created some great gocco prints, as well as t-shirts and posters, worthy of giving to your Chicago-obsessed friend this holiday season. I'm a fan of the simplicity of this one.

And speaking of holiday shopping, Blue Buddha Boutique is hosting a holiday show tonight from 5pm to 9:30pm, featuring its own chainmaille designs as well as art, jewelry and crafts from a variety of local artisans, including the Chicago Craft Mafia. Worth checking out.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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