When Fun Is Work | Chicago Antisocial | Chicago Reader

When Fun Is Work 

Taco mix and Saturday Night Live? C'mon people!

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All I really wanted to do last weekend was stay home and listen to 97.1, the Drive, because they were hosting two days of "deep tracks"--lesser-known songs off regularly played classic-rock albums, or, as a friend put it, "music that reminds you of your dad on cocaine"--to promote their brand-new Internet-only radio station (WDRV.com), which plays all deep tracks all the time.

But that'd make this column about one paragraph long. I solicited entertainment ideas from my friends and Friendsters, but the only invitations I got were for taco mix and Saturday Night Live, an evening of board games, and smoking weed and listening to Dead bootlegs.

What the hell? The previous weekend people were rip-roarin' ready to shovel out multiple parking spaces to party hop. But after that first big snowstorm I guess the winter doldrums had set in, and no one wanted to expend much energy having fun.

Finally I checked this very paper's listings and found out about a release party happening Friday night at Bucket Rider Gallery for Art Prostitute, an elegant magazine based in Denton, Texas, whose mission is to get young people interested in collecting art. Ubiquitous local artist Cody Hudson, who designs CD covers for Chocolate Industries, snowboards for Burton, magazine covers for Lumpen and Select, and clothes for Syndrome and Stussy, is one of the four artists showcased in the latest issue, and since he knows Bucket Rider owners Keith Couser and Andrew Rafacz, he helped Art Prostitute founders Mark Searcy and Brian Gibb book the space for their party, which turned out to be very civilized, if a little odd.

The only work Searcy and Gibb had brought on their mini tour--LA, Dallas, Chicago--was four pairs of Vans slip-ons that had been decorated by the four featured artists--Hudson, Gary Baseman, Tiffany Bozic, and the married "collective" Kozyndan. Bozic dipped the toes of her shoes in chocolate-colored acrylic paint, then painted wispy seafoam green birds on them. Kozyndan put pink bunny silhouettes on theirs, and Baseman's wide-eyed, simpering deer/clown faces floated over green condomlike shapes. Hudson decided to keep the new Vans and turn in an old pair he'd doodled on with black Magic Marker. Little clouds, hearts, trees, and words like lovers and struggle were blurred by muddy stains and splashes of paint.

The unpeopled shoes on pedestals in the middle of the room looked a little forlorn. Luckily the walls were covered with vibrant, whimsical work by Hudson, Emily Counts, Rob Doran, Gisela Insuaste, Jason Lazarus, John Duda, and five other local artists, part of the gallery's winter group show, which ends on Saturday, February 5.

You couldn't tell any of that just by looking around, by the way--unlike most galleries, Bucket Rider doesn't post credits or titles on the walls, an approach that's either so laid-back and oblivious to art-star politics that it's awesome or really pretentious in its assumption that of course you know what you're looking at, duh.

The best conversation usually happens adjacent to the event you're attending--on the stairwell, in the doorway, in the kitchen. In the gallery's side room guitarist Andrew Duncan of OK Go told me he'd just quit the band on amicable terms because their touring schedule had worn him out. Out in the hallway I got into a racier conversation with Duncan's girlfriend, TenbyTen editorial assistant Lindsey Delahanty, about those new K-Y Warming UltraGel commercials. "Is it just me," she said, "or do they make that stuff seem good?" I wasn't so sure. If your pussy or asshole is dry and cold, chances are you're a corpse.

The winter blahs don't seem to register if you're 18, from the suburbs, just took your GED exam and want to celebrate with your friends, and your older cousin told you about a free all-ages party in the city on Saturday night. Which explains the group of long-haired kids--led by my little cuz Kyo--kicking around a hacky sack in the gallery portion of Wicker Park's High School space at a party for "SeeThru," a collection of installations that, said the invite, explore the "materiality of the translucent/transparent." A posting on Friendster asked attendees to wear transparent clothing and "let your intentions be known." Though the place was decorated with bubble wrap and Plexiglas, no one wore anything see-through.

But local artist Sayre Gomez found a wheelchair and flipped himself backward in it, which provided a second or two of entertainment. The guy who used to make the best falafel sandwich at Sultan's Market was there, dancing with several lovelies. (That guy is suddenly everywhere I go, dressed in floral shirts that look like they came from his grandmother's closet, dancing around and acting a fool. Hey, ex-Sultan's guy: what gives?) A young woman pranced about in a furry panda mask that looked oddly familiar. I finally figured out it was the one I'd stolen from the Flaming Lips on New Year's Eve last year, after three of my friends and I were paid to strip out of plushie costumes onstage, then dance in pasties and frilly underpants. I'm guessing the mask ended up at High School later that night, after I snorted a ton of Ritalin and passed out on the sidewalk in front of the building wearing it, fur boots, and not much else.

By far the high point of this party was my cousin's unwittingly inappropriate behavior. While kicking that little beanbag around, Kyo ran into the wall and knocked askew a precious-looking piece made with Plexiglas, tempera paint, and crayon. Later, he booted the sack too high and accidentally took down a sewn-together string of envelopes with plastic windows that was part of an installation by Asimina Chremos. But hey, he thought he was in a hacky-sack-friendly environment, and with all the earnest, hippie-looking art in the place I didn't blame him. The cutest moment of the night was when Kyo got a few partygoers to join his circle. Watching the hipsters play with the babies--everyone looking sweetly desperate for fun--was heartwarming.

Hacky sack 1, art 0.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Andrea Beno, Liz Armstrong.

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