I heard Chicago before I saw it. As I drove down Interstate 80, deep booms and crackles, like hot oil hissing in water, foamed in the distance and blended with the house music playing in my 1998 Honda. The boom-crackles slowly unified with a faraway vision – fireworks. After driving across the Great Plains from Utah (and visiting the “World’s Largest Truckstop”) I reached Chicago the day the Cubs overcame the “Curse of the Billy Goat” and won the World Series. I took it as a good omen. Since then, Chicago’s sounds and visions occasionally unify in little ways that make me smile and say “Damn, I live here.”
That happened during a recent trip to the Chicago Cultural Center – a downtown landmark with a year-round schedule of exhibits and events. Buddy recently opened there, which is, in their words, “a shop, a hub for making connections between friends we have and those we have yet to meet.” While browsing their plywood shelves jam-packed with things by local artists and small manufacturers, I was excited to be introduced to a wide variety of work that emerged from life in Chicago. In a stack of photos by filmmaker Tom Palazzolo, I found a photo of a “pre-occupied man” walking by an octopus float that I can’t stop thinking about.
I eventually purchased the book Beyond Heaven: Chicago House Party Flyers From 1983 – 1989, and queued the first song I saw in it. With what else but “Your Love” by Frankie Knuckles shimmering in my Koss headphones, I climbed a zig-zag staircase to see Chicago: Where Comics Came to Life (1880-1860), a survey of Chicago’s impact on the early comic strip.
However abbreviated, the exhibit is a colorful maze of inventive and groundbreaking cartoonists who appeared in Chicago publications like The Tribune and Defender. I’ll just say there was a lot I was interested in, particularly cartoons by the first Bauhaus faculty member, Lyonel Feininger, whose somewhat unsettling style feels a bit like a fever dream you can’t wait to share with everyone. I laughed at myself when, having just joked about “Impressionist Messes” in last week’s article, I encountered T.E. Powers’ comic “The Origin of the Impressionist School of Art”.
After leaving Buddy and The Chicago Cultural Center, I caught a train home still beaming over how much has or is happening right here, seeing just enough that evening to know that there’s still lots to learn. As the train’s shrieking trebles and thundering lows blended with the comics and house music buzzing in my head, Chicago’s sounds and visions unified once more to remind me that, damn, I live here.
1989年、テネシー州生まれ。シカゴ在住のアーティスト。その印象的な走り書きのようなドローイングは、最近では「The Quarantine Times」「Actual Source Books」に掲載されている。「POPEYE」の2020年11月号に掲載された卵料理企画のページにも、素敵な作品を寄せてくれた。