Here I find myself eight days into February, which is a short month already, and I have yet to cross one item off my February Resolution List. Pretty People, this situation was getting dire and something needed to be done post-haste.
I hopped over to Time Out Chicago’s weekly Free Things to Do column on their #Chicago blog to see if any free events were taking place which struck my fancy. There were a handful of options for Friday night, but the Chicago Arts District 2nd Fridays gallery night piqued my interest. Not only was it 100% free (otherwise it couldn’t have been featured on the blog…duh!), but the monthly event takes place in Pilsen, a neighborhood I haven’t visited in many years. It was a logical choice for an inexpensive, yet culturally enriching evening.
Jürgen and I rendezvoused (that would sound kind of scandalous if he wasn’t my husband) at the Chicago Arts District information center, where a lovely woman presented us with a map and a very detailed explanation about how the event worked. With over thirty gallery spaces in a four block radius, the oh-so-artsy Pilsen hood was overflowing with mixed media, sculpture, installations and in one special case, chocolate. Even on a February night in Chicago, there was a nice crowd taking in the artistic offerings. We didn’t visit every gallery space, but a few of our favorites were:
Yeah, you knew I would highlight the one spot which was dolling out food options. Food in my mind is simply edible art, and these chocolates are no exception. All hand-made on site they are beautiful, glossy, richly flavored confections all dressed up in lovely eco-friendly packaging. They were sampling a chocolate martini (don’t mind if I do!) and we picked up their special Art Walk Belgian Hot Chocolate which was gloriously decadent. After all, one needs fuel in order to fully appreciate the art around them.
When the end of the world is upon us, and Zombies, or Vampires, or a fleet of botox-filled Kardashians take over the earth and we are left to fight for our very survival who will we turn to? Local artist Bryan Sperry is currently building a fleet of post-apocalyptic warriors to protect us. An impressive array of brightly painted mannequins, decorated with a variety of found objects, each imbue their own distinct personality. Lucky for us the artist was present, and I asked him if he planned each warrior before he created them, or if they were improvised. He told me he starts with color, as he doesn’t want any one to be the same hue as the other. Once the paint is added he goes through his collection of old hub caps, coffee mugs, bakeware and old cameras to build their armour. Adding piece by piece, brushing on a little more paint, until he feels each piece is complete.
We stopped into Both Sides at the beginning of our tour around Pilsen’s art scene. It’s an eclectic mix of handmade jewelry, graphic prints, and brightly colored oils on canvas. As we were gearing up to head out Jürgen asked me “what do you think of that painting?” He pointed up to a square canvas hanging high up on the wall, painted with a mix of yellow and reds. Now, if you know Jürgen, you know he isn’t the type of guy to make impulsive spending decisions, so the question caught me off guard. I looked at it and immediately knew it had a place in our home (it also helped that it was a total steal for a piece of original artwork). However, not wanting to rush into anything I suggested we continue on our walk and think about it. After perusing all sorts of different spaces and taking in photography, mixed media and antique home furnishings we circled back to Both Sides Gallery and purchased our very first piece of artwork, from the artist themselves.
I have to say, it was pretty freaking cool.
We carried our brown paper wrapped canvas to our car and decided to pay The Violet Hour, one of our favorite cocktail bars, a visit for some celebratory drinks and a few frites on the side.
And then we came home, ate slices of Chicago’s pizza and watched The Incredibles. You guys, the folks at Disney-Pixar hold the key to my heart, they seriously do.