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The T-shirt Show

22 is a new art space on Cermak Road in Berwyn, IL. Jessica Calek and Dan Streeting, two graduates of Cranbrook Academy of Art, opened shop in December and are now in the middle of their fourth show, simply titled The T-shirt Show. The exhibition is comprised of thirty-two t-shirts by nearly twenty artists who have all transformed everyday apparel through foil printing, woodblock printing, spray painting, hand drawing, screen printing, and more. “The show’s been interesting for this neighborhood where people aren’t necessarily going to understand a fine art gallery with paintings on the wall, but walking down the street and seeing t-shirts, it’s an easy thing for everyone to understand,” commented Jessica. Dan continued, “We get a lot of people in here who think it’s a pop-up clothing store, so it’s an entry point for us to talk to them about the art, what we’ve been doing with our other shows, and what we want to do in the future.”

Dan and Jessica both have an interest in design, and that sensibility plays out in how they construct their shows. For The T-shirt Show, each shirt hangs on a translucent, green acrylic hanger, the artist’s name etched into it by laser. The hangars were designed and laser cut by Jessica. It was my first time seeing a show with nothing on the walls or the floor. Instead, the thirty-two shirts hung at different levels from the ceiling, creating an attractive, floating gallery.  I was pleased to see such a wide variety of approaches among the artists. A sweatshirt screen printed with the word “SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET” dangled only a few feet away from a stiff t-shirt, totally encrusted with teal and gold paint. Elsewhere, detailed portraits of President Washington and Lincoln, as they appear on the one and five dollar bills, had been ink pressed onto shirts from huge wood blocks. In addition to the hanging works, extra editions of many of the designs sat on shelves towards the back of the room. Looking at the work, I was happy to see a few artists who I’d encountered in Chicago. First was Mr. Walters who showed last year at Inkling, second was Megan Lee, whose popular Midwest Is Best t-shirts show up at shops and fairs across the city, as well as on the torsos of numerous Chicagoans. Jessica informed me that both artists live in Berwyn, which explained a new shirt by Lee depicting Berwyn’s famous car spindle with the words “Berwyn Love” below it.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s been the highest selling shirt from the show.

Mr. Walters and Lee are two of four artists from Berwyn showing work at 22. Jessica estimates that eighty percent of the artists in The T-shirt Show are from Chicagoland. Dan commented, “What I love is you discover all these people who are doing this work just down the street who you never would have learned about.” Like them, 22 is hard at work hosting inventive art shows and events just down the street from Chicago; It’s definitely worth getting to know better.

The T-shirt Show runs through Sunday May 6. More information can be found at 22’s website. 22 is accessible via the CTA 21 bus or by a short bike ride from the 54th/Cermak Pink Line or Oak Park Blue Line stations.

The T-shirt Show
April 20 through May 6

6910 Cermak Road
Berwyn, IL 60402

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