Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Closing Party Fri 4/2

The Chicago Aldermen Project is having a closing party for the 50 Aldermen/50 Artists group portrait show THIS FRIDAY, April 2, from 7-11 PM at Johalla Projects, 1561 N. Milwaukee. This will be the last time you can see the exhibit at Johalla — before it moves (more on that coming soon). Come to the party to win prizes!!

PRIZES??? Yes: The Chicago Reader has published a pop quiz, and attempting it will make you eligible for a drawing to win a Four Star commuter bike by KHS Bicycles from Roscoe Village Bikes. (We have some other prizes as well.) Turn in your answers at the closing party (or mail them to Alderquiz, c/o Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, 60611, or take the quiz online at to become eligible for the drawing. Answers must be received by the end of Tue 4/6.

More than 830 people came to our 3/19 opening, including 17 aldermen, staffers from three other aldermanic offices, an Illinois Commerce Commissioner, and a state house rep. Writers for the NY Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and many other publications, and two TV news crews also came. We don't expect this party to be as crowded as the first, so expect to get a good look at the portraits.

Lauri and Jeremy want to thank the following people for helping the 50 Aldermen / 50 Artists show happen:

— Johalla Projects, especially Anna Cerniglia and Caitlin Arnold
— All of the artists and aldermen who participated
— The Chicago Reader for printing ads about the show and related events, for serving as a sponsor, and for holding the bicycle giveaway
— Anthony from Old Style and Adam Seger, Jennifer Piccione, and Jennifer Kessler with HUM for providing refreshments for the events
— The League of Women Voters for registering folks to vote at our events
— The Reader's Mick Dumke and Alderman Scott Waguespack for giving talks on 3/20
— Media Burn, for showing movies on Sat 3/27

We'll let you know about the show's future plans when things become finalized. Also, be on the lookout for an announcement about our next show.

— Lauri and Jeremy

Monday, March 22, 2010

50A/50A Event 3/27 at Johalla Projects

Go to Johalla Projects, 1561 N. Milwaukee, between noon-5 PM to see the 50 Aldermen/50 Artists portrait show. Artist Layne Jackson will be painting new Ward One alderman-to-be Joe Moreno's portrait LIVE from 2-5 PM — as in, the alderman-to-be will be there, posing. And there will be aldermovies!

At 2 PM
Media Burn will host a free screening of their documentary on former 25th Ward Alderman Vito Marzullo. The details:

by Tom Weinberg, 1978, 60 min.

Nobody exemplified the old-style machine politics of the Richard J. Daley era better than Alderman Vito Marzullo, who ruled the West Side 25th Ward virtually unchallenged from 1953 to 1985. This documentary classic reveals how the business of Chicago politics was conducted in that era, with an inside view of the legendary alderman fielding requests for jobs and street cleaning in his ward office, doing tit-for-tat deals with his fellow aldermen on the floor of the City Council, and revealing his personal life in his modest home with his wife of 65 years, Letizia.

Producer Tom Weinberg will be present to talk about what went on behind the scenes of the 25th ward and the making of this remarkable video portrait. The screening is presented by the Media Burn Independent Video Archive (, repository of 40 years of Chicago history as captured by videomakers working outside corporate contexts.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Aldermen Art Show Is Open 3/20, noon-5 PM

Come to Johalla Projects Sat 3/20 for EVENTS:

1 PM: Chicago Reader politics writer Mick Dumke talks about local politics

2 PM: 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack speaks about alderman life

3 PM: Mediaburn shows alderman cinema

1561 N. Milwaukee, home of the 50 Aldermen/50 Artists art show.

We Had a Party, and Everyone Came

Well, not everybody. But 834 people did, including 17 aldermen, staff from three aldermen's offices, State Rep. Susana Mendoza, and Manny Flores. It was all kind of amazing.

The crowd represented every age, color, and background imaginable. We brought out grandparents, kids wearing skinny jeans, community organization leaders, people with fevers, eco-village residents-to-be, kickball documentarians, closet anarchists, non-voters, leagues of women voters, people with federal security clearances, guys from Pittsburgh, saxophone players, people who wore really nice-smelling fragrances, reporters, psychologists, editors, nice young men eating sandwiches and chips, women wearing pearls who really looked like alderwomen but weren't, dudes in suits who really really looked so much like aldermen but also weren't, Obama associates, bosses, close friends of former bosses, spouses, tee-totallers, drunk people, Canadians, Texans, marketers, a blonde girl who looked like participating artist Johanna Meyers but wasn't, participating artist Johanna Meyers, a woman who wore a fedora like a champ, DJs who wear doctors' jackets for fun, dominatrixes, some guy with a plastic bag full of empty bottles, the Local Tourist, artists, designers, someone who ruined all of the toilet paper (I won't say how), a gal with a black eye (it's not what you think), a guy who had a mustache like Jeremy's, drummers, married couples, divorced couples, lawyers, and more artists.

It was more convenient to text your friend in the other part of the room than go look for them, and we had a line at the door (crowd control is essential when your guests know what the city code says about capacity breach). Nobody sang "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" from the balcony to the folks outside, which seems like a missed opportunity, in retrospect. (There will be a closing reception on 4/2; perhaps this goal can be accomplished then.) People ate food named after Todd Stroger at Earwax, the restaurant downstairs.

We heard that one alderperson would not like their portrait when they saw it, but they came and they didn't say they hated their portrait, so maybe they liked it. The piece sold, so somebody liked it.

— Lauri

We're in the Tribune and the NY Times Again

The artists' bio booklet is so long! (As you might imagine, with 50 artists involved.) The best part of editing it was reading artists' statements about meeting with or trying to meet with their aldermen. Some artists couldn't reach the alderman they wanted to portray, even after many calls, while others received personal phone calls from their alderman or hung out with them for an hour or more. Some artists gave their aldermen extensive questionnaires to fill out, while others became the questioned (if you were a Chicago alderman, you might want to know what some artist planned to do with your visage before agreeing to sit for a portrait—seems wise). One artist got a tour of his chosen alderman's ward, and another has maintained regular contact with the alderman he portrayed.

Here's a nice quote from artist Rachel M. Wolfe:
This project has motivated me to move beyond the mediums I typically work in and has me incorporating new methods into my work. The energy and sense of community generated has shown me the direct impact art can and does have on people, while giving me the energy to consider exhibitions and installation ideas I'd shied away from or deemed unworthy of manifestation. A project like this gives artists of all walks the opportunity to share their voices and inspire others to share theirs. An invaluable experience, lesson, and jumping-off point.
It seems we accomplished our goals in getting artists and politicians to trade ideas; promoting awareness of aldermanic culture; and getting artists to make political art without telling them to take a particular position. The results are very impressive—the artists really did a great job, and some of them didn't have much time to make their pieces. If you're not doing anything this evening, drop by and check things out.

— Lauri

Friday, March 12, 2010

James Ewert Writes ...

James Ewert
is a 50 Aldermen/50 Artists participating artist. Earlier this week he posted an account of his meeting with the alderman he's portraitizing, Berny Stone of the 50th Ward, on his blog. Check him out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ha Ha, This Picture Is Funny

We went to City Hall yesterday to deliver flyers and the Trib came with.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Award the Self With Lucite Things

Yesterday we were in the New York Times. Today we were on WGN's "Sunday Papers" talk show with Rick Kogan to discuss the 50 Aldermen/50 Artists show. Here's the audio file. And here's some behind-the-scenes photo footage:

Jeremy looks for hidden prizes, finds none.

Pros don't get nervous.

Chatting between on-air sessions.

We brought the LOLs. They were a bit sleepy.

A job well done deserves an award.