I went to Chicago for the 1st time During the C.A.K.E. festival for a week with Julianna & Andrice. There were a handful of other portland closies that were all there too but not as long. During the fest Julianna & I started out staying in the talented Metal Hurlant throwback Lane Milburn's couch, & Andrice stayed in Laura Parks phenomenal museum like apartment. We got to see Lanes incredible proof copy of his new book coming out soon from fantagraphics. For you out there as nuts about Mobius and Liberatore, or maybe even more specificly 80's floppy anthologies like Starblazer are going to loose there minds on this book. During the fest I was able to meet a handful of phenomenal talents who I will be writing about a lot more on my Gridlords page. Among them were the very generous Scott Longo who I wish I had spent more time with (thank you for all the beautiful books!). I also met Joe Tallarico who was SO KIND & SO ACCOMMODATING!!! He got us in & toured us with his vast knowledge all over & underground in the Chicago Art Institute museum. Tallarico helped us locate some of the Chicago Imagists work I had set out on a pilgrimage to see in person & to find as many books about as possible to bring home, as there are ABSOLUTELY NONE IN PORTLAND. Portland Art museum alone has 3 tiny catalogues of Chicago's imagists & 2 books on Jim Nutt during the 80's and One Wirsum in its collection. I was able to get a pretty good batch of stuff and take in some really beautiful stuff up close. Sadly I found I was so taken & sleep deprived I only photographed the Jim Nutt I saw. I also met the EXTREMELY MULTI-TALENTED Sara Drake. Sara was a breath of fresh air in art for me. We shared a panel organized by Brain Frames (chicago's sibling program to Gridlords) Lyra Hill. Sara was generous to get us into the MCA and see a really great Isa Genzken retrospective that both inspired & frustrated. At the MCA we also got to see a great gender exploring contemporary art show called Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Kahlo which featured an interactive piece by felix Gonzales - Torres that made Julianna loose her mind as she had been studying & falling in love with he & his partners work. Julianna even shared a beautiful moment with one of the employees of the MCA when Julianna told her she intended to fold her piece of paper into a candy wrapper & the MCA employee was so touched because she knew what this had meant and had been finding most people who interacted with the Gonzales -Torres piece left there papers in the trash or all over the streets outside the gallery. Everyone I spoke with at the MCA was so wonderful & knowledgeable of the work they displayed. While in Chigao during the festival I was also part of a C.A.K.E. panel discussion organized & led by Brain Frames Lyra Hill. Lyra & I had an epic 2 or 3 hour phone conversation becoming instant friends before the trip & I met her for the 1st time in person in just the right way. I entered the room to be on the panel & found lyra roaring low tones into her microphone for soundcheck. I walked directly on stage and began harmonizing my own disgusting sound with hers. Soon Sara Drake Joined in and made the stage and added her own beautiful higher tones to the harmony. We then wordlessly transitioned into drum sounds by tapping our mics together. It was one of the best moments of my life. Something special was happening for certain. I instantly felt a connection to these two creatives that felt natural like they were my siblings & we had grown up together & were comfortable being awkward and real & expressive with each other to back us up.
I got to spend more time with Lyra after the fest and talk even more in length over dinner about our ups & downs being leaders in these experimental performative arts we built over comics. It was extremely comforting to know someone else out there was sharing the intense struggle that has made me almost loose my mind as well as the intense joy in exploration that has kept me going. Lyra after dinner took me, Julianna & Andrice to a show at The Empty Bottle where her boyfriends band Magical Beautiful was playing. Magical Beautiful were phenomenal & just my thing with moments of transcendental space workouts that would pop back into pop structure with lead synth melodies reminiscent of Genesis in its finest synth lead moments (those of you who know me, know thats a compliment. DONT HATE GENESIS!). Then there was Population who played the last set of the night. Population was an incredible & very special band. Population sounded like the amalgamation of factory records as one entity. It was as though this band had grown up living in the apartments surrounding the hacienda & then formed a band but could only afford one synthesizer & favored live drums. The lead singer had the most frustrating posturing for my taste. The band itself was a 5 piece with an awesome & inspiring ethnic mix up. Each member were all very skilled and had a visible love and intensity that poured into these songs. The bass guitar player was the most striking, looking somewhere between a dad who has a side gig in a Mariachi band and a Biker punk. The passion sincerity and absolute talent in this band was SO nuts! Id see them all the time if they played here. It had the vibe of a 50's throwback, verses odd looking partnerships vibe that earlier bands like Los Microwaves had. Its an almost unnamable quality that I love.
The last big thing the three of us took in before getting on a plane back to Portland was going to the Intuit museum which was another one of my shinning moments. I have no problem asking about an experience if I feel like it could get radder. The Henry Darger room was one of these. The Darger room they had assembled to be as it was at his studio apartment, was roped off to gaze upon at a distance. I asked if there was a way to get closer, & the man who's name has escaped me, then guided us on a very personalized and intimate tour through the items of Dargers room and into the space. It was absolutely beautiful & I will share my photo's & feeling on that in the next post:)
Pleases enjoy these photos I took of the city & the pieces at the museums & galleries we visited. I loved Chicago!
Julianna at Laura Parks apartment.
Some beautiful examples of the narrow brickular & stone magic all over Chicago's cityscape
Some Jam Drawing between friends new & old during Cake & started by Michael DeForge
Magical Beautiful at the Empty Bottle (sorry for the crummy photos)
The Art Institute of Chicago Museum
Unbound: Contemporary Art After Frida Khalo
Isa Genzken retrospective
Me lying in the remaining floor mount of the incredible installation piece by Amanda Ross Ho.
Edward Gorey Exhibit at Loyola university museum of art (i have more pictures but these were most important to me)
upstairs at Loyola
Julianna & Laura Park lead the way
YES! back at the Art Institute of Chicago museum