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Friday, October 26, 2018

Photographer Jen Jansen has her Beast in control

Posted By on 10.26.18 at 11:38 AM

Jen Jansen with "the Beast," a Deardorff 11x14 studio camera from the 20s, made in Chicago - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Jen Jansen with "the Beast," a Deardorff 11x14 studio camera from the 20s, made in Chicago

Remember that botched restoration of the Ecce Homo fresco in a Spanish church a few years ago, which became a meme known as "Potato Jesus"? Photographer Jen Jansen has a copy of it displayed in front of her Bucktown studio, where it serves as a cautionary tale of what the ravages of time—and inexperienced restorers—can do to a picture.

"Potato Jesus" may be funny, but Jansen is very conscious that damaged heirloom family photos are not a laughing matter: "People bring me really old pictures and get a very emotional reaction when they see them restored," she says. "It's like they're keeping a member of their family alive."

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Why the Wndr Museum isn't a ‘selfie factory’: a defense of the pop-art pop-up

Posted By on 10.02.18 at 06:00 AM

Photographer Elizabeth De La Piedra in one of the "infinity rooms" - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Photographer Elizabeth De La Piedra in one of the "infinity rooms"

This summer brought us a new, Instagram-friendly kind of gallery/"museum": the "pop-art pop-up," you could call it, a traveling cluster of interactive installations with lots of eye candy—and lots of selfie and Instagram possibilities—designed to be easily enjoyed by any kind of audience, art-world outsiders and children included. The first to blow in, Happy Place, arrived in May, "a new traveling circus—the Instagram trap," the Reader's Ryan Smith called it (a slideshow by Reader photo editor Jamie Ramsay is here). The "experience" 29Rooms, promoted by the media company Refinery 29, made its appearance in July. Now there's a third, more ambitious pop-up: the Wndr Museum.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Humboldt Park kids' store Peach Fuzz gives hugs

Posted By on 09.11.18 at 09:15 AM

Shop assistant Devyn Mañibo - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Shop assistant Devyn Mañibo

"Peach Fuzz is an inclusive kids' shop," says Claire Tibbs of her new business, which opened in Humboldt Park in mid-July. She named the store accordingly: "We all have [peach fuzz], no matter our age. It is tactile, textured, body positive, inclusive, and undeniably human. The space and our goods I hope evoke the same. . . . We want all people to enter and feel hugged by the space."

And that's exactly how I felt after arriving at the store, which is painted in various soothing pastel tones with vibrant neon accents. The walls are covered in unexpected color combinations that surprisingly work beautifully together. One of them opens into a cozy nook designed for more introspective activities: decked with beanbag chairs and minimalist wooden blocks, it's the perfect hideaway for the little ones.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

DJ Duane Powell follows his ‘inner-gy’

Posted By on 08.29.18 at 06:00 AM

  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • DJ Duane Powell

"It's African, it's Afrofuturism, it's house, it's jazz, it's ever-evolving"—that's how DJ Duane Powell talks about his style. On the day he was photographed—after playing a set in Avondale's Woodard Plaza at an event promoted by Elastic Arts, the Corner Project, and Activate Chicago—his look included a tall-brim hat custom-made by Esenshel, a T-shirt by local artist James Nelson, and a neoprene necklace by Rosanna Contadini purchased at the Silver Room. Powell has been "at it" for so long that his taste is remarkably authentic, but he acknowledges artists like Andre 3000, Maxwell and Erykah Badu are "from his tribe".

The self-described "musicologist" exudes panache and self-confidence, but he wasn't always like that. In high school he spent his hard-earned money on designer brands he couldn't afford, just to be able to fit in. "I hung out briefly with what we call 'label whores', but it didn't take long for me to realize that I was looking for some kind of validation, some sort of acceptance—as were they," the 41-year-old says. "It wasn't natural. It was a middle-class performance, and it wasn't me."

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Pedro the Lion at Thalia Hall, and more things to do this weekend

Posted By on 08.23.18 at 06:00 AM

David Bazan of Pedro the Lion - RYAN REYNOLDS
  • Ryan Reynolds
  • David Bazan of Pedro the Lion

There's a lot going on in Chicago this weekend—here's some of what we recommend that you check out.

Thu 8/23-Mon 8/27: A much-anticipated pop-up Glossier store opens at 114 N. Aberdeen in the West Loop this Thursday, where visitors can purchase the brand's makeup products as well as interact with installations that teach visitors more about the brand, created in partnership with local artists. Mon-Fri noon-8 PM, Sat-Sun 11 AM-7 PM

Fri 8/24-Mon 8/26: The Radicalization Process is a performance-art theatrical adaptation of Antigone, looking at revolutionary acts through the lens of 1960's and 70's America. "Originally inspired in 2014 by the activist movements sparked in the wake of high-profile killings of unarmed African-Americans, The Radicalization Process has taken on additional significance since the 2016 presidential election," writes Reader critic Dan Jakes. 7:30 PM, Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219-21 S. Morgan, $10

Fri 8/24: David Bazan's on-again, off-again band Pedro the Lion is back and playing at Thalia Hall alongside H.C. McEntire. In the words of Reader critic Leor Galil, Bazan and his band "excel at the kind of touching emo that both reaches the genre's heights and circumvents its lows." 9 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, $22-35, 17+

Sat 8/25: Local experimental pop duo Ohmme perform at Thalia Hall with the Hecks and V.V. Lightbody. "They sculpt a sound that's rich yet agile, and summon a virtual orchestra using only their voices and guitars," writes Reader's Peter Margasak of the group. 8 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, $12, all-ages

Sat 8/25: As part of the weeklong Dog Day performance series, saxophonist James Brandon Lewis brings his versatile jazz to Constellation, backed by locals Ben Lamar Gay, Kent Kessler, and Avreeyal Ra. 4 PM, Constellation, 3111 N. Western, free, 18+

Sun 8/26: Flamingo Rodeo, the side project of Ne-Hi singer and guitarist Mikey Wells, is releasing its first full-length record, Said Unsaid, this Monday and celebrating with a show at Empty Bottle. 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, free

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Meg and Joe Piercy of MegMade give new life to old furniture

Posted By on 08.17.18 at 06:00 AM

MegMade's new storefront in Bucktown - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • MegMade's new storefront in Bucktown

When life gives you a contractor who steals all your cash . . . renovate a hand-me-down dresser for your newborn, impress your friends, and make a successful business out of it! That's basically the story of Meg and Joe Piercy of MegMade, a five-year-old furniture shop that has recently relocated to Bucktown.

Meg Piercy  in the storage room at the new facility - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Meg Piercy in the storage room at the new facility

"We were broke and pregnant," says Meg. "Now my husband and I work full-time together for MegMade and are definitely out of the rough patch"—she's even carrying a third child. In a way the handy couple still continue in the renovation business, selling their refinished furniture on an almost industrial scale: they currently employ 15 people (many of whom come from the ailing automotive industry) and ship their items across the country to more than 36 states.

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Monday, July 30, 2018

Alexa Meade's Become the Masterpiece installation lets the subject be the art

Posted By on 07.30.18 at 09:29 AM

Alexa Meade in the midst of her installation Become the Masterpiece - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Alexa Meade in the midst of her installation Become the Masterpiece

We can all enjoy art, feel it, reflect upon it, and even participate in creating it. But be it?

That's what Alexa Meade's work is about. Part of 29Rooms, a traveling exhibit that just closed its sold-out Chicago stay, Meade's area included two lively backgrounds and an assortment of garments and accessories for attendees to try on and assume a pose in. You could witness the transformative power of clothes in the process: as they stepped in front of the painted wall, people's attitudes immediately shifted, becoming more confident and performative. And indeed, "the concept for 29Rooms was to create an activation that allows participants to step into a psychedelic world, shed self-consciousness, dress up and become the work of art," Meade told me.

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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Fashionistas: See what you're missing at the sold-out 29Rooms installation

Posted By on 07.26.18 at 02:48 PM

  • Isa Giallorenzo

A gallery-wide girls' night out—that was the vibe at last night's opening of 29Rooms, a traveling interactive art exhibit promoted by the digital media and entertainment company Refinery 29. The "rooms" of the title refer to installations individually curated by celebrities such as Janelle Monáe, Jake Gyllenhaal, Madame Ghandi, and Jill Soloway as well as visual artists like Maisie Cousins and Shani Crowe. (Chance the Rapper and The Chi star Tiffany Boone, who's shown below, were there in person.) Tickets to the Chicago installation, which runs through Sunday, are sold out, but you can see more of the guests after the jump.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Street style at Pitchfork: Ms. Lauryn Hill sets the tone for some serious eclecticism [PHOTOS]

Posted By on 07.23.18 at 02:00 PM

Ms. Lauryn Hill - MATT HARVEY
  • Matt Harvey
  • Ms. Lauryn Hill

Can we just talk about Ms. Lauryn Hill's glorious outfit for the closing night of Pitchfork 2018? Such a bold mix of proportions, volumes, textures, gender identifiers, and casual/formal pieces. Mixing is where it's at. And festivalgoers also did that beautifully, with a very diverse crowd sporting outfits that go way beyond the basic boho look. See some of the creative combinations they put together in the photos below.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Ravenswood’s Sailor features jewelry, textiles, fine teas, handmade shoes, and more

Posted By on 06.25.18 at 06:00 AM

Sailor, at 4658 N. Damen - ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Isa Giallorenzo
  • Sailor, at 4658 N. Damen

Why would a successful jewelry designer—with a loyal clientele and her own line sold at more than 80 stores in the U.S.—sign up for the headaches of running a shop? "Love," answers Sara McGuire, 45, the owner of Sailor, a boutique she opened in Ravenswood last fall.

"It's something I've wanted to do for a long time," McGuire says. "To provide a larger context for the work that we make in the studio, to offer insight into how the work is made, to fill a space with art and objects that inspire. And to create something that's small, personal, distinctive, ambitious and welcoming, all at once. A store for everyday luxuries and special occasions. A neighborhood shop with broad horizons. Sailor is the shop I've always wanted to have on my corner."

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