Author: Miles Johnson

Sixty on Sixty: An Interview with Andrea Sparr-Jaswa

In the wake of her 30th birthday, I joined Andrea Sparr-Jaswa in her beautifully decorated Logan Square apartment. Andrea is a long time resident of the neighborhood and a contributing writer to the Chicago Arts Archive.   Amidst bites of fudge cake, we chatted about Andrea’s academic background, and her opinions on art, Chicago, and orbital sanders. Sixty on Sixty is a new series in which SIFCers interview one another, allowing readers to get to know the fine folks who bring you the latest from Chicago’s art scene. Tell me a bit about your educational background.  How did you get involved with art history and writing for the arts? I went to college for a while, changing my majors and trying to figure out what I wanted to do.  Art history was always the class that I wouldn’t miss, even if it was at 8 AM.  I always liked writing the papers, and I always enjoyed doing the work.  It always seemed so fascinating to me. For a while I pushed against it, because I …

Drink and Be Merry: Marwen Art Fair 2010

My recent Friday night spent volunteering proved yet again that unpaid work is often more rewarding than compensated labor. On November 5th, Marwen celebrated their 5th annual Art Fair, and I and a friend of mine were there at the coat check to help out. Marwen is an organization that offers art education to Chicago youth whose own elementary, middle, and high school art programs are lacking.  90 percent of Marwen participants attend college, compared to the measly 52 or so percent of Chicago public school students that manage to graduate high school.  Art Fair 2010 celebrated Marwen’s success with the exhibition of around 150 pieces of student, alumni, teacher, and staff work. DJ STV SLV of the Hood Internet kept the patrons moving with his live se

Bucktown Arts Festival Turns 25

This past summer marked the 25th anniversary of the Bucktown Arts Fest. As a new resident of the neighborhood, I welcomed the festival as a chance to connect with my local community and see some great art. I dove right in and signed up as a volunteer for both days of the event. On Saturday I arrived at the information tent ready to get my hands dirty. Coordinators Laura Doede and Brett Mackie put me to work selling posters and water. The environment was loose, as patrons with their dogs strolled by, volunteers drifted in and out, and artists stopped by to chat. Our posters, all emblazoned with goat heads, sold like hotcakes, but also raised a common question. “Why the goat?” people asked me. One story is that Bucktown gets its namesake from the goats (a male goat is a buck) that frequented the neighborhood back in the 1800’s, when Poles and Germans populated the area. Living in Bucktown, I’ve found other Chicagoans often lump my neighborhood in with Logan Square or Wicker Park. …