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.
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Monday, February 26

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Art Wed May 01 2013

Dreams of a City: Postcards Give Life to Chicago's Desires

Postcards from Dreams of a City, New York City

If you've been paying attention in Chicago lately, you've probably found white, pre-stamped and pre-addressed postcards scattered throughout the city--in bookshops, record stores and anywhere they can find a place to hide. The postcards have one prompt on them and a code in the bottom right corner. The prompt is always the same: "Tell me one thing you dream of doing before you die. Use this card as your canvas." You've probably figured out is that this is part of something artsy. But what you may not have known is that the postcards are part of a huge, city-wide art exhibition by Jenny Lam, one of Chicago's most impressive independent curators and a self-described "troublemaker and all-around nerd."

For months now, Lam has been collecting the postcards you send in, reading your answers, and tracking where you obtained your postcard by the code in the bottom right corner. The evidence she compiles will be part of her project, Dreams of a City, which will include a book of the postcards, a large exhibition, and site-specific installations around Chicago. Collecting postcards from every Chicagoan who is willing to send one in might seem like a daunting amount of work, but Lam has actually done this before: in New York City in 2008. Lam's current Dreams of a City in Chicago, however, promises to be bigger in scale and better than ever. Lam, who's most recent exhibition I CAN DO THAT won audience choice for "Best Art Exhibit" in the 20th anniversary edition of NewCity's Best of Chicago issue, is a pioneer of art that is interactive, collaborative and as much fun for viewers as it is for artists. She sat down to talk with me about her exciting and mysterious Chicago postcard venture.

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Caitlin Bergh

Sixty Inches from Center Thu Jan 24 2013

Radius: A Sonic Lens

by Kate Korroch

Thumbnail image for SIFC-GB-Featured.jpgArt platforms that strive to break away from the traditional "white cube" frequently consist of a new kind of physical space transformed into a gallery-like setting. Using a radio broadcasting system, Radius transcends material space and creates an entirely new kind of art platform. Artists occupy the space for two weeks or one month like an on-air residency. Through their time on Radius, artists work with Director Jeff Kolar and Editor Meredith Kooi to schedule broadcasts that experiment with notions of sound.

This January marks Radius's two-year anniversary. Since its conception, Radius has aired 34 episodes created by 71 individual artists and have released 144 broadcasts on their station 88.9-FM, which is roughly 25 hours of audio. They've had three special series, two FM re-broadcast networks (soon that will be three with an online station added to the mix), two exhibition installations, a booklet, a newsprint, and a live concert. In their two years Radius has been prolific to say the least.

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Sixty Inches from Center Thu Aug 02 2012

Wooden Awesomeness for Weirdos & Perpetual Nerds: The Work of Michael Rea

By Danielle Jackson*


Looking at the idea of failure and drawing from pop culture inspirations, Michael Rea creates enormous wooden sculptures. To borrow from Jeriah Hildwine, he produces a "wooden wonderland for nerds." Remnants of your favorite movie or book are manipulated, altered, and combined in an attractively entertaining way. Last weekend, I caught up with Mike for a studio visit and interview. We spoke about his awesomeness, the progression of his work from painting to sculpture as well as how cinema and humor informs his practice. Mike's work can be seen in Odie Off at threewalls in collaboration with Kelly Kaczynski through this weekend. Additionally, he is curating an exhibition entitled, My idea of fun, at ebersmoore featuring a diverse group of artists such as: Chris Nacka, Zach Meyer, Ethan Gill, John Abbott, Kate Ruggeri, Matthew Hebert, and Kassie Teng Olsen. My idea of fun explores the comical and the subjectivity of the artists.

Danielle Jackson: To start, how would you describe yourself and your work to someone who was oblivious to your awesomeness [laughter]?

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Sixty Inches from Center Sat May 05 2012

From Ansel Adams to Ol' Dirty Bastard: A Conversation with Mike Schreiber

by Tempestt Hazel


SIFC-GB-Featured.jpgIn one of my favorite Black Star tracks, "Thieves In The Night", rapper Mos Def challenges listeners to "separate the real from the lie." Maneuvering comfortably in the classic techniques and processes of analog photography, New York-based artist Mike Schreiber works to achieve exactly that by creating images which resonate globally with music lovers and photography aficionados alike. Whether it is of musicians who regularly occupy the headphones and speakers of millions of music fans, or the people on the streets of Cuba and Jamaica, Mike's portraits place emphasis on the humanity of his subjects. His photographs remind us that these people are just that-people. He does not attempt to make them into caricatures of themselves or play into a larger-than-life persona. Mike pushes in the antithetical direction with the goal of making a photograph that brings out, as he puts it, a version of themselves that "their mother would recognize."

Fittingly titled True Hip Hop, Mike's recent book reflects the results, experiences and anecdotes of a career that has brought him and his camera in front of everyone from B.B. King to Voletta Wallace, the mother of the late Notorious B.I.G. In light of his upcoming debut exhibition in Chicago and book signing at The Silver Room, I spoke with Mike about his signature style, starstruck moments and what it means to be a photographer's photographer.

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Sixty Inches from Center Wed Nov 23 2011

Moments of Possibility - An Interview with Dave Murray

By Amanda Mead*

In September, I attended an exhibit at the LVL3 Gallery titled This is the Same as That, a joint exhibit between New York artist Letha Wilson and Chicago artist Dave Murray. The show dealt with examining the real and the unreal, the physical and the imagined. The exhibit included photography, sculpture, and installation that dealt with the duality of materiality and material limitations.

So in October, over the din of silverware scrapes and the clank of beers at the Exchequer Pub (a supposed SAIC graduate student spot), I was finally was able to interview Dave Murray between his trips from North and South East Asia stopping in Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Beijing, and his next trip to India and the Middle East including stops in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kuwait, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. As the Assistant Director of International Admissions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dave's job involves grand travels. In a few weeks he will be traveling to Portugal and Turkey.

Our conversation varied from kindergarten to the Tower of Babel, and in between we had some great discussion about art.

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Sixty Inches from Center Thu Nov 10 2011

Spoke Exit Interview: Part 1

By Zachary Johnson*


Kristin Mariani, "A Sample of Making", 2009. Spoke, Chicago, IL. (Photo courtesy of Spoke)

Spoke, a mixed project and studio space in the West Loop closed its doors in August after hosting over forty artist projects, events, experiments, and residencies in its nearly three years of programming. What always struck me about Spoke was how public its programming was. Once while wandering around their building at 119 N. Peoria, I knocked on their door and was soon let into the middle of an artist's project under construction. I assumed I was interrupting, but the artists chatted with me, explaining their project, and inviting me to stay if I had time. Visiting a later opening, I was taken back by the SAIC cheerleaders, mini-marching band, fake sports mascots, and kooky drum major who had crammed into Spoke's small project space to accompany "Game On", their interactive opening full of nonsensical artist-made games. Through art parades, beer making projects, international collaborations, and more, Spoke's programming proved to be unique, surprising, and full of variety.

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Street Art Wed Sep 28 2011

Meeting of Styles (MOS) 2011

By Nicolette Caldwell

SIFC-GB-Featured.jpgMeeting of Styles (MOS) is an annual meet-up of graffiti writers and aficionados. Artists are invited and assigned to an area on stretches of wall space. Public focus is emphasized at the main wall called the "Wall of Style" located at 30th and Kedzie Avenue. The remaining permissioned wall locations are segmented in general proximity to the Wall of Style. To get a good perspective about the event and it's general history, graff writer and organizer of Meeting of Styles (MOS) Đmn ÔloǤy chatted it up with me regarding his experience and involvement with the event and graffiti writing culture. In addition to speaking with the organizer, two former participants provided a better understanding about their experiences with participating in past MOS events.


Nicolette Caldwell: How many times have you participated in MOS?

Đmn ÔloǤy: Well, since I am one of the organizers, I have been involved since the inception of Chi MOS, starting in 2003, 7 times... but I have also participated in several MOS outside of Chicago, in Germany, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area.

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Sixty Inches from Center Fri Sep 16 2011

The Only Game in Town: Interviewing Chicago Community Darkroom


This article was originally published on Sixty Inches from Center on Sept. 12.

By Miles Johnson

The invention of the camera gave the world the ability to capture a single moment and preserve it on film. No longer would people have to rely on paintings or their own murky memories to recall the past. In a photograph one could peer into yesterday just as it was then. With photography one could effectively stop time. So how ironic is it that film, this original vehicle of permanence, has been powerless to halt the rise of digital photography? Now anyone with a cellphone, much less a camera, can snap a picture and view it instantly. If one requires a physical copy any Walgreens or computer printer can print one out . Cameras, as they have transitioned from skilled tool to everyman's toy, have transcended the need for film.

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Sixty Inches from Center Thu Sep 15 2011

Street Art Approval


This article was originally published on Sixty Inches from Center on Sept. 5. This is the first of a series of content exchanges with them.

By Zachary Johnson


Last week, while exploring Chicago's Polish Village, I interrupted my friend mid-sentence as a familiar sight came into view. "Another one!" I exclaimed. Quickly, we crossed Milwaukee and headed towards a wall featuring the street art of Mental 312. Mental's thick, blue lines were similar to his other pieces: bold and expansive, almost Aztec in their geometric style. I didn't know how old the piece was, but judging from what I've observed of Mental's other works, it may have been around for a while. What strikes me about the pieces is that people don't seem to mind them. The ones that first went up last winter along the Garfield and Indiana Green Line Stations are still there, and those at the Sheridan and Bryn Mawr Red Line stops have stayed up for months as well. In fact, the Bryn Mawr piece looks even older, as if it's been around for years.

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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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A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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