If you know EJ Hill then you’ve probably gotten food for your mind, body and intellectual soul from him. You’ve probably entered a very inviting environment. You are probably an amateur artist without even knowing it–just by being who you are and doing what you do, and participating when invited.
For “Us”, the closing event for Op Shop, EJ invited the public to participate in a potluck in Hyde Park. While I’ve been to the Op Shop on the corner of Lake Park and 53rd at an abandoned, former Hollywood Video, this particular Op Shop brought up old memories of good music and my days as a High Fidelity-esque record store snob. See, this particular location was once Dr. Wax–the place that people in-the-know went to purchase tickets to the best shows and get the scoop on new music from the guru of all that’s good, Duane Powell. It was Dr. Wax that introduced me to Jaspects, Bilal Salaam and 4Hero. It was where I bought my Foreign Exchange tickets. (Insert Deep Sigh Here).
I digress. So, EJ brought many together in the name of food, drink and conversation–and there was much of each. I even got to sit down and have a conversation with my friend Dara Epison–something that was LONG overdue. Dara, a brilliant art mind and pivotal part of the Theaster Gates camp, told me that the remaining record collection of Dr. Wax was purchased by the celebrated Chicago artist. Thousands of records!
I digress again. So, several people were there. Sabina Ott, artist, educator and SIFC advisor was there. William Boles, a graduate student at Northwestern and theater production artist gave amazing conversation. Same with Jesus Mejia, who just applied for an amazing residency in Spain. And I got to talk to EJ, one of my favorite people, about his recent ACRE Residency. And eat. And dance a little bit. And bake bread for people–I love having a reason to bake. So, support the Op Shop on Kickstarter. It’s a great thing that MUST continue. The following video includes an exclusive Post-‘Us’ interview with EJ.