posted by Caroline Picard

On Saturday I sat at a two-day book fair at UIC. Temporary Services and collaborators brought the Free Store to Gallery 400; The Free Store is a place where one can drop off and pick up things at no cost. As part of The Free Store, Temporary Services organized a series of talks by a variety of local arts organizations in the exhibition space. They also hung an exhibition. The photos are included below.

I sat next to David, who made sound portraits using potato chips, balloons, loose change, styrofoam, saws etc.

The GL Table at The Bookfair

The Free Store!

In commemoration of the Communist Manifesto’s birthday, people were invited to read passages into a bugle horn. I wish I could have made a video of just the mouth inside the horn. I think that would have been really pretty.

That said my favorite part about the show, as is always the case–my favorite part was seeing people, talking to them, seeing what they’re up to. I’ve been pretty busy this year, I think, working on things underneath the surface. I feel like I spend so much time working on getting the Green Lantern to a place where it is public again, and in the meantime I keep working on under-the-surface stuff, adminstration, organization–so much of my effort is about projecting on to the future, (a process I’m really excited by, too–it’s consuming a really great way) that being in a space with old friends doing really cool stuff, being in a place I had to sit at for six hours. It was great. I saw BadatSports folks, Golden Age was across from me, Spudnik Press, Temporary Services’ not-so-new press HalfLetter Press which is, not surprisingly, up to some amazing stuff, Anthony Elms from White Walls, No Coast, folks from Pilsen, ACRE–a residency program that takes place in Wisconsin and I’m still missing people–I mean really. It’s incredible the amount of energy and time people in this city put into their projects. I love it. It’s inspiring.

Next Weekend: Bookfair

February 21, 2010

posted by caroline picard


Friday, February 26, Noon – 6 pm
Saturday, February 27, Noon – 6 pm

Two days of art, books, talks, things for sale, things for free, and more!

Organized by Temporary Services in conjunction with ART WORK: A NATIONAL CONVERSATION ABOUT ART, LABOR, AND ECONOMICS •

G400 Lecture Room & Gallery 400 at the Art & Design Hall, University of Illnois, Chicago
400 S. Peoria St (at Van Buren) • 312-996-6114

AREA Chicago
Bad At Sports
CAFF “Find us in the real world motherfuckers!”
Gallery 400
Esteban Garcia
Golden Age
Green Lantern Press
Half Letter Press
Terence Hannum
Harold Arts
Imperfect Articles
Clifton Meador & guests
David Moré
No Coast
Onsmith Dog Stew & Monkey Nudd Wine
Pros Arts Studio
Proximity Magazine
Radah & Team
Spudnik Press
Bert Stabler

posted by Caroline Picard

This essay, originally written for the ARC Digest boook and then used for FLAT’s publication about apartment spaces was posted on the BadatSports blog. You can read the whole thing by going here, though I’ve included the first paragraph/quote, what was written by one Sarah Stickney who used to live in the space….The quote was taken from a small publication created/curated by Young Joon Kwok and Rachel Shine called “It’s Your Turn.” Their silkscreened, small edition 7″-size publication was also about DIY exhibition practices and how they are important.

On the matter of public (1) space : or my apartment gallery is an arctic explorer

“‘Oh, you have a roommate?’

“ ‘Yeah, she’s actually here right now, but she’s sick….Don’t do that—she’s trying to sleep.’

“I heard them but pretended to remain asleep by keeping my eyes closed; [closing your eyes] is what passed for privacy then. My ‘room’ was in a corner of the kitchen on the other side of a folding screen. If you were tall enough, you could see me from either side at any time. The above exchange took place during the installation of a show when I happened to have a cold. I lived at the Green Lantern from 9/06 to 8/07. Recently out of college, I moved to Chicago to get my bearings. I had just spent two years living in the French countryside with no heat, no car, no Internet, no noise, no zines, no sushi, no shows, no jargon. When I moved in, I had never owned a computer. Suddenly I was in the middle of an art scene.

“Any Chicagoan who’s hip to the jive knows that an apartment gallery poses a unique set of problems. Someone actually lives there—sleeps and cooks and poos there—and yet the obligatory neutral space of the gallery must remain white-walled, spacious, antiseptic. At the GL in the earlier days, the gallery was clean, airy, spare, while on just the other side of a makeshift wall was a seething and barely-controlled chaos. A visiting friend once described the living space as ‘under a great deal of pressure,’ like the lack of density in the gallery half had to be balanced by ultra-density in the living half. This density consisted of, among other things, a large mounted buck complete with antlers, a five foot plaster statue of a fat man with an umbrella, a bong made out of steak shellacked to a milk carton, a taxidermied rooster, two large Chinese screens, many works of art in various stages of undress, two living cats…enough plates and stemware to host a diplomatic gala, a sink doubling as a bookshelf, a home-made up-ended ‘bar,’ an enormous vintage fridge, a miniature vintage stove, an easel, double-stacked books, innumerable trinkets ranging from delicate Eastern figurines to an ancient can of spam, an old-fashioned sandwich press, two Dictaphones, one enormous toaster (not in use) and a tiny one (in use). People liked throwing around comparisons to Alice in Wonderland, but that was legit. The fact that the two-foot high pepper mill was three times as tall as the delicate teapot, for instance, made me wonder if I’d accidentally swallowed a pill. And keep in mind that I’ve listed perhaps a sixteenth of the contents of those two or three improvised rooms. I haven’t even mentioned the huge quantities of building supplies, the aluminum ladder, the planks and tools and cans of paint…” (2)

Posted and written by

lil elote

Hey y’all.  The Art Chicago and Next art fairs took place last weekend at the Merchandise Mart.  You know what that means…MAKEOVERS!

I wanted to share some pictures from the No-Coast booth at Next, where the makeovers took place, and where B-E-A-U-T-Y WAS BEGOTTEN:








This group of young kids came by, and the girls dared some of the boys to subject themselves to a makeover.  The boys kept insisting that they weren’t gay, nor did they want to ‘look gay’ after their makeover.  This left me puzzled– What’s gay about beauty? What makes them think I’m gay? Is it because I’m beautiful?  Yup, that must be it.

‘Til next time,


lil elote

posted by Young Joon


No Coast is a screenprinting and fiber arts collective in Pilsen looking for new members. In addition to extensive studio equipment we also have a multi-use space for retail and public events.

Applicants should have experience with or interest in group work, concensus process and collective practice. We have weekly meetings and all volunteer a few days a month to work the store and run public events such as workshops and screenings.

Spaces are available now. Rent is $200-225 and includes utilities and some public supplies. Preference will be given to those who can commit to the space for a minimum of 6 months.

Facilities include cutting, printing and drawing tables, personal storage, drying racks, exposure unit, light box, wash-out room with pressure washer, flat files, bathroom, kitchenette, washer/dryer, letterpress and sewing machines.

For more information go to

Send an e-mail to everyone[at]no-coast[dot]org to apply or ask questions.

written by Rachel Shine
Reba Rar Rar, aka Rebecca A. Rakstar, is a crafty motherfucker.  She sells her letterpressed postcards and posters on Etsy, at Permanent Records, at craft fairs nationwide and at No Coast, a muli-use space and studio that has a sincere interest in building on the artistic community in Pilsen with workshops, potlucks, book and record releases and hangouts.  She keeps track of her comings and goings at  She gave me the low down on letterpress over a delicious dinner of fake sausage and shell pasta with escarole and raisins.  Oh, and pinot grigio.
If I had a present to give you, which would you prefer: a ceramic breast-shaped mug, a Mercedes Benz belt and buckle or a bag of avocados?

Reba:  That’s the funniest question ever.  I guess a bag of avocados so I could make some guacamole.

That’s what I would have chosen too.  On your Flikr pages I saw pictures of the Hamilton Type Museum.  What is the Hamilton Type Museum?

It is a museum in Two Rivers, WI and they actually produced a majority of the wood type that came out back in the day and now it’s a museum.  They have the equipment to make type and they still do cut type, it’s pretty pricey, though, and then they just have cases and cases of type.  They have a huge warehouse of stuff they haven’t even gone through yet.  I went there with Columbia for a weekend.  We took an area and went through the boxes, figured out what was there, and put some stuff into drawers

Can you explain what letterpress means and the process?

Reba:  Letterpress is basically just individual letters that are put into sentences, put together.  They are metal, sometimes lead or wood.  So let’s say you have a paragraph of type that you want to print, you hand set all the letters.  Each drawer of type, it’s called a California case, has a basic set-up.  The letters are always in the same place.  There were lots of different case designs, and they tried to figure out the one that made it go the fastest because the newspaper was completely in letterpress.  So they figured out to write the, which is such a common word, those letters are all in a line with each other.  And the i and s are right next to each other for is, and a and r are right next to each other for are, you know, ar is kind of a typical combination.  And then you lock it into the press and you have to use pieces of wood, which are called furniture to make a solid block to hold it all in place tightly.  And then there are inks and rollers. I use Vandercooks mostly, which are actually more of a proof press.

What is a proof press?

Reba:  A proof press is [used] to do a test run, make sure that there’s no spelling errors, and then you put [the type] on a larger machine.  You know, because letterpress evolved and there was a mechanical mechanism that came into it where paper would feed and it would run more on its own, instead of doing it manually.

Which is what they had for newspapers?

Reba:  Yeah.  Actually for a while there was a system almost like a typewriter that would cast a whole line of text at once.  And that metal would get melted back down and made into the new type the next day.  It was called linotype.  And then after that they started doing more photo processed and that’s when offset press came into the picture.  My big complaint with letterpress now is that you can easily design something on the computer and then have a plate made – send someone a file and they’ll make a zinc-based plate, so zinc mounted on wood, of what you want to print, which you do a lot for images.  Or you can do linoleum cuts and print  them on the press but they’re not as crisp.  And then there’s also photopolymer, which is another process, this plastic plate kind of thing.  A lot of people do that now.  I don’t know; I kind of have a hatred for that.  I think it’s cheating.

So what do you love about the letterpress type that you do?  Is it that sense of history?

Reba:  It’s the history and I think that it’s also like I’m touching the letters. I feel certain type speaks a certain way and has a certain kind of thing to it. I love the fact that I can touch everything and I’m putting it in place.  There’s a lot of care that goes into it.

Yeah, it’s very immediate.

Reba:  Yeah, I’ve done a couple postcards with the photopolymer, but I try for the most part to hand set everything because I feel that it’s more sincere, more of a craft.  Because anyone can just throw a plate on the press and print it.  But also there’s the fact that a lot of stuff nowadays is over punched, you know that punch that you can sort of feel the letters on the page, that’s overprinting.  If you were using real type, especially metal type, you would destroy the type by over punching it.  But I think because these people are just making plates that can just be thrown out they don’t care; they just punch it as hard as they can.  So that really bums me out.  Because when letterpress first started, you know, with the Guttenberg Bible, they wanted to just have it be on the page. If you touched it you wouldn’t feel that it was letterpress, it seemed like someone just hand wrote it.

How do you work: do you set deadlines for yourself so you can work on a schedule or do you make things as you’re inspired?

Reba:  It’s weird now.  I think I’ve set it up now that there’s a period during the holidays or even a little before that, probably September to December, that I just have to be doing the finishing touches: sending out orders, going to craft fairs, maybe have books, the covers printed and then me just sitting around and binding them.  And right now I’m going to start, every Tuesday, to print something and get my stock back up. And then do another set of craft fairs!

Do you travel regularly to Seattle and New York?

Reba: I did Seattle this year.  Me and my friend, actually my only friend from undergrad, she makes shadow puppets and we’ve sort of teamed up because we both do paper work.  But that’s kind of funny because her work is kinda kid-friendly and my work says Fuck everywhere.  There’s a weekend where there’s a bazillion craft fairs going on, and she really wanted to go to Seattle and visit a friend – that’s the good thing about craft fairs, it’s kind of an excuse to visit friends and pen pals and old friends and get paid in the process.  So she went to Seattle and visited a friend and took both of our stuff, and I took both of our stuff to Minneapolis and visited my friend there.  I want to start to not have to travel as much. In the last year I’ve done the most traveling for craft fairs that I’ve ever done and I’m really busy still right now.  I thought I’d be really dead right now and have no orders and have time to work on stuff, but I sent out stuff [two days ago] and I have ten orders already to send out tomorrow.

Awesome!  Is that from Etsy?

Reba:  From Etsy.  I sell pretty much on Etsy.  I do have a couple stores but I’m really bad at contacting stores and getting my stuff in their stores, you know.  I’m  not very professional.  I don’t have a product list.  It’s just really weird.  I’m an artist, but I’m not into treating my art as a business and I’m more in the craft world.  I do a craft fair that’s actually called Art v. Craft in Milwaukee and it’s sort of funny.  It is that sort of like “yeah, this is my artwork,” but it’s sort of crafty.

How do you see that difference? Is craft a lot more commodified, to you?

Reba:  Letterpress is a craft; it’s just something you have to do to print the newspaper, you know, there’s machinery involved.  But because I’m doing a conceptual spin on it that sort of makes it artwork.

You are heavily involved in keeping No Coast going.  How does your work foster this sense of community or do you find that it’s more the philosophy behind the art that fosters that community?

Reba:  Because I have a very strong d.i.y. background and am very involved in the punk scene, you know, moved to Indiana, started working on this anarchist bookstore space that had shows, started booking shows there, made zines.  I’ve been doing things myself for a really long time. And I like to be involved in the community.  I like the idea of No Coast because it’s more of a community vessel.  It’s a community space that I could teach bookbinding at, that I could teach people how to screenprint at and I’ve actually started to screenprint myself again; I’ve started making t-shirts with a lot of my postcard designs.  So that’s really exciting to be back into that and feel like I’m finally involved in the Chicago art community.

Do you have neighborhood people come in to No Coast for these workshops or are most of your attendees from the community you come from?

Reba:  Yeah, there’s a kid that lives a couple blocks away that just kept walking by the space, and was just like “aw, fuck it! I’m going to go in,” I think he’s a design student.  But then he came to the lock-in and he came to the bookbinding class I had.  He’s a musician, too, so he got really into trying to pick my brain at like how he could make some alternative packaging for his cd.  I like being able to help people figure out their projects.  I mean, now that I have a Master’s Degree I could work at a University, but I don’t want to.  I just want to help smaller groups of people figure it out.  You know: “I can use my skills to help you make this cool thing, help you out!”

Do you think it’s working?  Do you feel that community at No Coast?

Reba:  Yeah, there’s people that always come out for stuff.  And we have a lot of bands that come through, and we help them produce their merchandise.  These Are Powers came and made their t-shirts there.  Like Bird Names- we printed their LP covers.  It’s cool helping the music community, too, make stuff themselves.

One of my favorite designs that I’ve seen of yours is “My Bike is my Benz.”  Does your bike have a name?

Reba:  No.  It’s funny.  All of my work involves little sayings.  I do say some funny shit sometimes, and my friends say some funny shit sometimes, or I hear stuff in a hip hop song or some pop radio song and I think that’s hilarious.  I think “my bike is my Benz” came from a conversation with someone about our bikes, and they were a big fixed gear kind of kid, always pimpin’ their bike.  Yeah, your bike is kind of like your Benz.

Apartment Galleries #1

December 10, 2008

Uyyy, I’ve been writing a long ass essay for my application to a MA program on the socioeconomics of the apartment gallery and its relation to the institutions of the art world…

I’ve decided to post snippets of this essay, which appropriates chunks of other thinkers’ ideas, in three installments on this dear blog; remember kids, Green Lantern was once an Apartment Gallery!

Young Joon

The democratic forum for free opinion in postwar America expanded to discussions amongst citizens—of art objects that didn’t do anything, and weren’t worth anything, but which were perceived to embody values they held dear enough to argue about and invest in.  This led to what art critic Dave Hickey termed the “Secular Reformation—a return of the Word at the expense of the flesh and a new jihad against idolaters, now guilty of ‘commodification.’”  That is to say, this birthed the modern art world (the social system centered around artistic production and commerce).  Institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Art Institute of Chicago held power in the art world, and promoted tenets on behalf of an ongoing “critique of representation.” As Hickey observes, This drove contemporary art to functioning much like religious art had in the past—promoting social divisions, official policy, and commerce.

Apartment galleries and a plethora of independent art spaces, which now thrive in Chicago, seek to demonstrate against standards of the art world and advocate their own vision of power and beauty; they rose from the alternative discourse of embodied dissent.  Yet, though apartment galleries exist under the rubric of alternative culture, they can still reinforce socioeconomic divisions and reinstitute art world hegemonies: they often perform insularity similar to that which takes place within the art world.  In fact, alternative art spaces often feed into the practices of the very institutions that these spaces initially functioned to criticize—such is the paradox of alternative discourses.

An apartment gallery is a residential apartment that includes an art gallery, with boundaries that are defined by the resident/gallerist.   Artists often start these spaces seeking sustainable modes for displaying their work.  Apartment galleries are often in violation of legal codes and other official statutes.  They are transient, vulnerable to the limits of leases and increases in rent.  Their presence is an act of assertion over a space in which one has very little real control but very much perceived agency.  These are a collective enterprise —a fluctuating network of complex relationships amongst art spaces and negotiations between the tangible dichotomies of artist/community, private/public, alternative/mainstream, and art/domesticity.

Apartment galleries provide alternative models for artistic success, insofar as the most common measure of success within the art world is indoctrination into the cultural institution.  The art institution gives value and meaning to a given artwork, since artworks are created through the subjective experience of the artist.  Without the aura of importance bestowed upon an artwork by the institution, the greater public would be unaware of the work’s significance.  Thus the institution provides an external, authoritative mechanism to substantiate an artwork’s contribution via the general public’s realization of the objective value of an artwork within the larger cultural market.

Cultural institutions perform a distancing act of sorts between social classes despite their pretense of democratic universalism, by stating their positions regarding what art is and how it is to be viewed.  The institutional model for viewing artwork (currently concordant with Kantian aesthetic theory—whereby a certain level of cultural competence is required for the proper experience of art) implies the notion that the less educated—typically those of a lower class—lack the academic qualifications and exposure to aesthetic experiences requisite for properly experiencing art.  The art expert gains cultural capital , through his/her reliance on the institution of art-historical training as the necessary means of gaining the tools for appreciating works of art.  This can be seen as a way by which class inequalities are perpetrated and perpetuated.

Artistic experience functions differently in apartment galleries.  By introducing aesthetic ideas to their neighborhood, they can potentially incite a cultural dialogue with members of their local community.  The presence of an apartment gallery within a residential neighborhood is inherently political; the resident has adopted a position of social agency within a community during a time of increasing widespread isolationism.  Due to the apartment gallery’s close proximity to one’s home, art is introduced into the practice of one’s everyday life.  This can cause one to feel any number of different emotions and thoughts. Be it pride, wonder, antagonism or intrusion, such reactions exemplify art’s social agency. However, the full social potential of an apartment gallery depends on the apartment gallerist and how he/she engages the local community.


In the case of my apartment gallery, la espacia, the neighborhood is vital to the praxis of the gallery’s inception.    la espacia is located in a street-level apartment of a 2-flat in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, a community predominantly inhabited by working-class Mexican families that made their homes here generations prior to my settling in it.  My entrance into the neighborhood, along with that of the growing number of art students who live in surrounding blocks, and the emergence of an artists’ book store in an old storefront about a block away, are indicative of the gentrification that has begun in the neighborhood.  I chose the three double-pane windows that face the sidewalk as the main mode of reception for art exhibitions because I felt that was the way I could reach the largest and most diverse audience.  I hang artwork on a wall on casters, which I built.  During the day, the wall is kept to one side of the dining room to let light in.  At night the wall is rolled against the window and front lit so that the public can view it.  I conceived this as a sort of site-specific installation wherein conventions of public commercial displays (store window displays, billboards), along with administrative, preparatory, and curatorial practices, became essential elements of this project, and by extension, my artistic practice: the apartment gallery as art studio.
What are the implications of an apartment gallery that is open to the public, but essentially serves the gallerist, him/herself?  Do apartment galleries merely cultivate the personal status, lifestyle and the acquisition of social and cultural capital by the gallerist and artist?  The apartment gallerist explores these and other issues through real-time lived-in experience.
To be continued…