Curatorial and Programming projects
Since 2011 a great deal of my time and artistic efforts have been wrapped up in Comfort Station, a multi-disciplinary art space in Logan Square. My roles have evolved over the years from co-founding and programming the Comfort Music series, to my current role as director. Since its inception Comfort Station has been extremely grass-roots and ad hoc in terms of its identity and organization, and it is in part an ongoing experiment in how to cultivate a programming space that is porous and hyper-collaborative in nature. We’ve also tried to embrace the schizophrenia and scrappiness that inevitably comes with an eight hundred square space that acts as gallery, music venue, cinema, community meeting space, workshop, performance venue, micro-cultural center, and more. We eschew the conventional wisdom of “don’t be everything to everyone”, instead aiming to do just that.
Our central location within a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood has made it incumbent on us to be responsive and intentional not only in terms of what happens in our space but also in signaling to the broader community that we are a radically public space for all.
Perto de Lá (2015)
I spent a six week stint in Brazil in the fall of 2015, five of which were in Salvador, Bahia working on a project called Perto de Lá ("Close to There"), in collaboration with Lanussi Pasquali and Joãozito Pereira. This project was developed under the umbrella of their organization Projeto Ativa, whose short-term goal is to create spaces for contemporary art experimentation in abandoned or under-utilized buildings managed by IPAC (Instituto do Patrimônio Artístico e Cultural da Bahia), which oversees a network of Salvador's major museums. Ativa's long term goal is to build on this network in order to "activate" and stimulate new kinds of contemporary art production. They had already done one exhibition in the Galeria do Jardim--a 1200 square foot space they carved out of an obsolete storage building behind the Museu de Arte da Bahia--and we began planning Perto de Lá as a continuation of that effort. Our strategy quickly snowballed into a large group exhibition, three weeks of multidisciplinary programming, a series of site specific installations, dance parties, and performances.
We settled on the name "Perto de Lá" thinking not only in terms of bringing distant artistic communities (Salvador and Chicago) together, but also a way of imagining a future possible ecosystem for contemporary art. It's in many ways an oxymoron: a joining of things that are categorically distant from one another (in Portuguese "lá", as opposed to "alí", is a "there" that is not immediately visible or physically present). We wanted "Perto de Lá" to support Projeto Ativa's mission of activating artistic practices not only be opening up a new exhibition space but also by setting up possible future exchange or cross-pollination by inserting Chicago artists into the mix.
With Brazil going through multiple crises, our plans of a second annual event in 2016 might be postponed, but our long term intention is for Perto de Lá to continue building relationships between Chicago and Salvador's artistic communities as well as branching out to other cities.