Month: February 2011

Talking With Fear About Dying Tomorrow: A Conversation with Matt Austin, Pt. 1

My first encounter with photographer Matt Austin was over two years ago during my time as a student in a photography class where he was the teacher’s assistant.   Since the days of me trying to catch sneak peeks of his work in the photo labs at Columbia College, his work has evolved into something that is less about the photo as a static object and more about how photography functions as a tool within something larger–his life experiences and the experiences of those around him. What we can gain from his practice is not only an appreciation for the moments in life that we often take for granted, but also the opportunity to tap into our own uncertainties and fears of meaningful interactions with unfamiliar people and places through his treks across cities, countries and seas.  His most recent work invites you to tag along as he creates a biography in motion.  In light of his solo exhibition, Talking With Fear About Dying Tomorrow, which opens on March 4, 2011 at Johalla Projects, I …

The Logan Square Comfort Station: In the 'Art' of a Community

Last fall, as the end of sweater weather drew near, three local artists took advantage of the final surge of Logan Square outdoor market goers to breathe new life into a neighborhood landmark.  If you live or work in the area, you’ve probably passed by it a hundred times, that little Tudor-style building across from the Logan monument.  For years the building dubbed the “Comfort Station” sat empty and untouched, slowly deteriorating.  It was not forgotten, however, and this past fall the City of Chicago leased the turn-of-the-century building, newly restored, to Logan Square Preservation, the volunteer organization responsible for the National Historic District and City Landmark District designations of Logan Square and its boulevards.  This change of hands marked a new era for the Comfort Station that once served as a refuge for streetcar commuters along Milwaukee Avenue.  Within two weeks of the acquisition, Logan Square homeowner, preservation member and artist, David Keel, initiated and executed the Comfort Station’s inaugural gallery exhibition in collaboration with Chicago artists Josh Crow and Terry Swafford. “It’s something …

Finding A Peace of Land: An Interview with ACRE Co-Founder Emily Green, Pt. 1

The Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions, better known as ACRE, isn’t your typical residency.  It is a science lab, playground, classroom, workshop, and a studio.  It is a place for artists to make new connections or strengthen old ones, and then learn the glamour and grunt of putting together an exhibition from beginning to end.  In one year ACRE has become all of that and more for quite a few artists inside and outside of Chicago.  Whether you’re speaking of the 100+ acres of land in Steuben, Wisconsin or ACRE Projects exhibition space in Chicago, founders Emily Green and Nicholas Wylie have created quite the breeding ground  for interaction between some very promising artists.  (The results of ACRE‘s first year can be seen in the dozens of weekly exhibitions on their 2010-2011 calendar.)  To kick off a series of SIFC interviews with ACRE and some of their residents I sat down with Emily Green to learn more about how ACRE started, her background in photography and textiles, where ACRE will be going in the future …

Tell the Next Mayor, Why Art Matters.

On Friday night, February 11th, 2011, SIFC partnered up with The Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) at their space in Pilsen. This was not just any event—it was an occasion, an opportunity for the art communities and political figures in Chicago to meet and engage in conversation with one another. Other partnering organizations included: Three Walls, Cro, New City, Chicago Reader, WBEZ Radio, Gozamos, Urban Gateways, Chicago Artist Coalition, Chicago Public Art Group, The Chicago Art Department, Co-Prosperity Sphere, The Institute For Arts entrepreneurship and Barrio Bonito Urban Showcase. SIFC set up shop with a video confessional booth.  We invited anyone to address the mayoral candidates by answering one question: “Why is art in Chicago important to you, and why should it be supported by our next mayor of Chicago?” Lauren Pacheco and Peter Kepha (directors and founders of The Chicago Urban Art Society) have been pushing hard for progressive citywide support of the arts. They have met with numerous aldermen and are two of the most important ambassadors of art in the city of …

“All Forms of Rocking”: Meet Christopher Tavares Silva

Puerto Rican born and a resident of Chicago since 1983, Christopher Tavares Silva has been a long-time contributor to the Chicago art community. After living in Puerto Rico for the past few years, Silva has made a recent return and planted new roots in his lifelong city.  Silva’s career as an artist began with the influence and then eventual practice of graffiti writing and street art. He received a ‘traditional’ fine art education at the American Academy of Art where he constantly pursued artistic and personal development. Neither of Silva’s art practices—be it the more traditional studio works or his public works—are separate from one another. Instead, (in a way) they coexist, which makes Silva’s work incredibly accessible and interesting to a rather extensive and varied audience. Silva works fluidly where everything is symbiotic and universal to a certain degree. By pulling artistic inspiration from urban city influences and simple humanisms, Silva is able to stay true to his artistic mission. Silva is revered for his extensive list of mural and public art commissions in …

A Mayoral Engagement: What Does Art in Chicago Mean to You?

It is a Mayoral Engagement at The Chicago Urban Art Society. Join SIFC at Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) this Friday February 11th, 2011 for the Mayoral Meet and Greet for the Arts! SIFC will be asking, “What Does Art in Chicago Mean to You?” This is a great opportunity to engage in conversation and dialogue with other arts-minded people, local arts organizations, artists and arts educators. All mayoral candidates have been personally invited! On Friday, we are turning the SIFC photobooth into a videobooth confessional and asking one question all night long, “What does art in Chicago mean to you?” Help CUAS and the rest of Chicago’s art advocates in this extra campaign effort get ART elected!