Art & Culture in Chicago

The least pretentious pretentious art blog

Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

Picking Brains with Cheer Accident

leave a comment »

Alex Perkolup is a musician who currently plays bass and guitar in the critically acclaimed progressive rock band, Cheer-Accident. Originally formed in 1981, Cheer-Accident has maintained an impressively fresh and interesting sound, oscillating between noise and pop, refusing to be categorized. The music is moody, complex, and highly composed, but never muddy. Perkolup has been one of the three mainstays in their ever-evolving lineup for six years. He has also played in Bobby ConnLovely Little Girls, andThe Flying Luttenbachers, among others.

Do you have formal music training?

I started lessons at eight and went on until I was about nineteen. I had one guitar teacher for nine years of that time who was a big influence on me. I started playing because of Eddie Van Halen. I came out of the metal school of musicianship. I was really into difficult playing and my guitar teacher recognized that. He introduced me to King CrimsonMahavishnu OrchestraGentle Giant and some progressive rock bands, so he was very instrumental in my influence.

What is it about “difficult playing” that you are interested in?

The challenge, which is both mental and physical. It’s complicated, so you really have to get inside of something. Then you give it a certain sense of freedom with your playing. Plus it hurts your fingers. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

November 24, 2009 at 8:48 am

The cat IS the hat

leave a comment »

cathatIf you were at the West Loop gallery openings on Sept. 11, you may have noticed a girl walking around with a dead cat on her head. As it turns out, the girl is an artist, an MFA student at UIC, and her name is Rebecca Beachy. The cat hat is one of her new pieces. I paid her a studio visit last week, and we talked about her work.

Did you know that if you google “West Loop gallery openings,” one of the first things that comes up is Alicia Eler’s post on Chicago Now about you and your taxidermied cat hat?

Yeah, I saw that but I didn’t know that it comes up when you google the art openings.

Yep. You were at number three the first time I checked it but today you’ve moved up to the top. And your hat was also mentioned in an article on Art Talk Chicago about the openings. So I think it was a hit. How did you come up with the idea to make the hat?

Most of my art was already concerned with material and I started thinking about the mythology of cats. I have been thinking about puns. You know, the cat in the hat. The cheshire cat. And then the LOLcat website which is such an obsession of people in our generation. So I thought it would be interesting to re-purpose the cat body to make connections between the body and the image and the mythology of the cat. The cat hat was my first project along those lines. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

October 29, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Dormant Art: an Interview with Rob Ray of Deadtech (3321 W. Fullerton)

with 2 comments

 

Rob Ray

Rob Ray

Rob Ray was the proprietor and curator of Deadtech, a defunct Logan Square artspace that existed from 1998-2008.  Deadtech was a venue for unconventional, electromechanical art and a community for artists interested in exploring the dichotomy between man and machine.   Ray is currently working on his MFA at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Kelly Reaves: What was Deadtech’s mission?

Rob Ray: To be a center for art and technology and an assistant to technology-centric artists in the best way we knew how. This tended to manifest itself in the putting on shows, providing technical assistance, and loaning equipment. We also hosted various regular meetings such as the Chicago Dorkbot and the chicago_pd group.  Our mission changed in the mid 2000s as new-media became a term very similar to “alternative” in that while it might have been new at the time, it became quite common.  So, I had to think about how Deadtech could differentiate itself from more established, better funded, and more highly recognized commercial and institutional places.  It used to be common for somebody to look at you totally sideways when you said you wanted to hang a projector in their space. It is now a common thing to see.  We took a fresh look at our assets and realized the biggest one we had was time.  A commercial space or somewhere like the Cultural Center never has time, and tech-based art is a PAIN to suss-out and painful to install. So we could work with artists that really wanted to do almost a residency-type install, or try something new in the actual space. Read the rest of this entry »

Renaissance Man: and interview with Billy Helmkamp of The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee)

leave a comment »

 

photo courtesy of Time Out Chicago

photo courtesy of Time Out Chicago

On a snowy Wenesday night mid February I had the pleasure of speaking with Billy Helmkamp, co-owner of The Whistler, a new gallery, music venue, and bar in Logan Square.  He made me a Long-Faced Dove, a refreshing, pale pink tequila and ginger beer cocktail, and answered my questions about the new space.

Kelly Reaves: When did you open up here?

Billy Helmkamp:  We opened on September 26, 2008.

KR:  What inspired you to open?

BH:  The other owner, Rob Brenner, bought this building about three and a half years ago.  We initially wanted to make it an all-ages music venue and workspace so we could be a space for our friends who do silk-screening and make t-shirts.  The idea behind it went through some variations.  At first, we wanted to do twenty things with the space and we widdled it down to music and an art gallery and there were some other arts related events thrown in like readings series and theatres coming in.  We had a rough idea of what we wanted to do with the building and figured it out over the course of six months to a year. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

March 19, 2009 at 11:41 pm

Short and Sweet and a Little Cheesy- an interview with Malaika Marion of The Brown Sack (3706 W. Armitage)

with 2 comments

 

photo courtesy of Yelp

photo courtesy of Yelp

This is the first of a series of interviews I’m conducting now about art and culture in the Logan Square neighborhood in Chicago.  In February I stopped by my local sandwich shop, the Brown Sack, to speak to the Malaika Marion, co-owner.  I nervously sat and sipped tea while trying to muster up the courage to do my first interview with a stranger.  Well, not quite a stranger, last summer my dog demolished her patio by dragging her picnic table and potted tree onto Armitage Ave. in an attempt to tackle a cute bitch.  So, I kind of hoped she wouldn’t remember me.  She remembered.  But, even despite my mishap, she ended up being one of the nicest people I’ve ever met!  The interview turned out to be extraordinarily enjoyable- a nice introduction to the wonderful world of journalism.  The tape ran on for about an hour before it ran out.  In an effort to make it short and sweet for a school assignment, I’ve cut it down to the first 500 words.  

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

March 19, 2009 at 11:18 pm

An Intimate Conversation with the Sass Dragons

leave a comment »

photo courtesy of the Sass Dragon's myspace page

photo courtesy of the Sass Dragon's myspace page

The Sass Dragons are a punk rock band from the suburbs of Chicago. The Sass Dragons are Mike Oberland, Jimmy Adamson, and Jason Smith. They recently relocated to the city, and are about to celebrate their fifth anniversary as a band. I sat down with them in the beginning of March to reminisce about their oeuvre. (Warning- the following is lude, crude, and incredibly immature.)

Kelly Reaves: How did the band form?

Jason Smith: On a damp locker room floor. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with John Phillips, artist and social butterfly

leave a comment »

Q: How would you describe yourself?

A: I walk both sides of the fence. good boy, bad boy. Sincere & transgressive.  I’m a polarity.
Q:  How would you describe your work?
A: A tug of war between indulgence and intelligence.  And that pretty much sums me up.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Kelly Reaves

October 2, 2008 at 6:49 am