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Hashbrown: Spudnik Press' Delicious Fundraiser

Young art enthusiasts were packed in tight Saturday the 26th at 1821 W. Hubbard, hungry for chili. The cook-off was called Hashbrown and took place at Spudnik Press’ new location, down the hall from their previous space. Spudnik organized the fundraiser as part of Space Race, their capital campaign to raise money to move into their new location. Guests paid ten dollars at the door and were given five tickets good to for one cup of chili each.

I’d heard the space was bigger, but seeing it for myself was a different experience. Spudnik’s old space felt cozy and contained, but this new facility was spacious and versatile. The majority of it was devoted to one large room, but now there was space for storage and three artist studios complete with “for rent” signs. The smell of ground beef and spices filled the air as more and more people entered, hungry to try all the chilies. My brother Miles, friend Jeremy, and I made our way through the increasingly thick crowd, exchanging the tickets we received at the door for small cups of vegetarian and meaty chili. Ten different Chicago print studios distributed the chilies, offering condiments, corn bread, and in one case, letter press postcards on the side. One guest commented on all the studios participating: “I was happy to find out that there were so many printing studios in Chicago because before [Hashbrown] I had no idea.” After each studio’s chili, the three of us discussed what we thought. I really enjoyed the lighter taste of Columbia College’s chili, while my brother Miles leaned towards the exotic flavor of Hummingbird Press’ creation. After all, Hashbrown wasn’t just a fundraiser. It was a competition. When it came time to vote, we had to be ready.

Between tastings, we bumped into acquaintances we’d met at Spunik’s Drink and Draw

Hashbrown

Guests find relief from the chili spices at the bar. February 26, 2011. (Photo courtesy of Spudnik Press)

and other pockets of the Chicago art scene. The event also featured tasty free deserts, a raffle, and a small print-based art exhibit. At 9:30, Angee Lennard, Spudnik’s founder and executive director, announced the winners of each category. The crowd was silent as we waited in anticipation. In the end, The School of the Art Institute received a golden squeegee for their meaty chili, while Hummingbird Press received one for their Indian-flavored vegetarian chili. Angee also recognized Alison Kleiman, vice president of Spudnik’s board and organizer of the event.

Speaking with Alison a few days later, she said Hashbrown far exceeded their fundraising goals. It’s not surprising. The space was filled with more people than could have ever fit in Spudnik’s previous studio. If the amount of support Spudnik received is any indication of their future in the new space, I’d say they have a lot to look forward to.