In Search of the Mundane

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© Courtesy of the Artist and threewalls
In Search of the Mundane

119 N. Peoria #2C
Chicago, IL 60607
October 16th, 2009 - November 8th, 2009
Opening: October 16th, 2009 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

West Loop/West Town
Tue-Sat 11-5


In Search of the Mundane, organized by Randall Szott and the Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and The Everyday (InCUBATE) will feature extended conversation and programming about the arts of living. This exhibition's activities focus on mundane life, drawing upon the spirit of Allan Kaprow, Michel de Certeau, Jane Addams, John Dewey, and others. These  artists, activists, and thinkers will serve as a jumping off point to consider what constitutes “the good life.” In addition to  considering the perceived divide between art and everyday life, we hope to highlight how ordinary creative strategies in day to day life might enhance one's living conditions.  What might mark the difference between thinking of art as a career and living life creatively?  Associated programming will bring together a range of people engaged with this question to share their own strategies for artful living.

Expanded Schedule of Events:

1. October 16th: Opening 6-9 PM, "New Knowledge" Team Trivia Night with host Jon Brumit

2. October 18th: "Saturday & Sunday", Maxwell Street Market tour with Robert Gardner, 10 AM meet time at Des Plaines and Roosevelt

Robert Gardner leads a culinary tour of Maxwell Street Market. The Maxwell Street Market has been around for one hundred years, albeit it in a different location.  Since 2008, it's been centered around the 500 block of W Roosevelt (between Canal and Clinton).  Hundreds of vendors set up show each Sunday from seven to three, selling all manner of things from socks to socket wrenches.  Numerous vendors also sell homemade Mexican specialties not usually available at most corner taquerias.  Robert will lead participants from vendor to vendor, tasting Maxwell Street Market's choicest offerings.  (The tour is free; bring money to buy your own food.)


Robert Gardner, one of the founding members of loves to eat. He’s discovered that the way to eating bliss is by eating local. For over three years he and his family have tried to get (nearly) all their food from the Upper Midwest, a food zone Gardner calls the Big Ten Conference. Beyond pleasing the palate, Gardner and his family have discovered the many other benefits from eating local. Rob and his family’s eat local adventure has been written up in the Chicago Sun Times, Medill News Service and the Oak Park Wednesday Journal. He and his family’s eat local experiences will also be featured in a forthcoming “Day in the Life of the Village” in the Oak Park Oak Leaves. Gardner recently published an essay on eating local in the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Perspective section, and blogs almost daily at He is also a contributor to the Eatlocalchallenge blog.

3. October 22nd: Public Culture lecture: "Storytelling as an Everyday Art" with Megan Stielstra, 7 PM

Stalin wrote that, "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." Everyday we see this on the news--numbers, numbers, “us” and “them”--and it’s not until we hear the actual story, one person’s loss or love or courage or fight, that we start to understand what’s really going on around the world, a jumping off point to that bigger picture. Art is built around storytelling--a painting, a play, a novel, a film--but there are also the stories we tell day-to-day in simple conversation: in bars and at work, to strangers or loved ones, to explain where we're coming from and where we want to go. This lecture will explore storytelling as an every day art; how we connect, teach, bridge gaps, unite communities and find truth. How do you use storytelling in your day-to-day, and, more importantly, how can you?

Megan Stielstra is a writer, performer, and Director of Story Development for 2nd Story (, a personal narrative storytelling series set in wine bars around Chicago. She's told stories for The Goodman, The MCA, The Chicago Cultural Center, The Chicago Poetry Center, The Neo-Futurarium, Story Week Festival of Writers, and Chicago Public Radio; she's published stories in Other Voices, Freshyarn, Pindeldyboz, Swink, Perigee, and Punk Planet; and she's talked about stories at AWP, The Center for Art and Public Life in San Fransisco, The National Association of Writing in Education in London, CCC's Creative Nonfiction Week and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Currently, she teaches creative writing at Columbia College and The U of C.

4. October 27th: "Doing Cooking," Boozy Brunch and Trekkies 1, 11-5ish

Please join us for a potluck brunch and a screening of the film Trekkies. Choose your poison - a Bloody Mary or Canada's own (Bloody) Caesar and share food while watching a beautiful testament to the creative re-use of popular culture. RSVPs are greatly appreciated for this event so that we can coordinate the meal.

The film:
Trekkies examines the various fan cultures and practices spawned by Star Trek.

5. October 29th: "Doing Cooking," Boozy Brunch and Trekkies 2, 11-5ish

Please join us for a potluck brunch and a screening of the film Trekkies. Choose your poison - a Bloody Mary or Canada's own (Bloody) Caesar and share food while watching a beautiful testament to the creative re-use of popular culture. RSVPs are greatly appreciated for this event so that we can coordinate the meal.

The film:
Trekkies 2 continues the explorations of fan cultures and practices of Trekkies.

6. November 1st: "Envisioning One's Living Conditions," Tour of Anthony Elm's collections,      2 PM

On November 1st, we will lead an excursion to the Artist and Exhibition Ephemera Collection of Anthony Elms, at his home in the Northwest Side. We will meet at the gallery at 2 PM and take the train together over to Anthony's house where he will introduce his collection and participants will be given time to peruse the materials.

Anthony Elms' collection includes show invites, correspondence, museum brochures, exhibition posters, self-produced posters and broadsheets, postcards, clothing, DVDs, mail art, knickknacks, LPs, scribbles, CDs and doodads as of March 25, 2008. The full collection is listed at as part of Public Collectors.

BIO:  Anthony Elms is the assistant director of Gallery 400, the editor of WhiteWalls, and a writer. As an artist, Elms' works have been included in projects exhibited at Artists' Space (New York), Boom (Oak Park), Gahlberg Gallery (Glen Ellyn), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago), Mess Hall (Chicago), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Randolph Street Gallery (Chicago), Suburban (Oak Park), and Temporary Services (Chicago), among others.

Public Collectors consists of informal agreements where collectors allow the contents of their collection to be published and permit those who are curious to directly experience the objects in person. Public Collectors is founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible. Public Collectors asks individuals that have had the luxury to amass, organize, and inventory these materials to help reverse this lack by making their collections public.

7. November 5th: Public Culture lecture: "Optimism and Everyday Life" with Claire Pentecost,   7 PM

Claire Pentecost visits the epicenter of a failed paradigm and asks how people generate optimism.

BIO: Claire Pentecost is an artist and writer, engaging a variety of media to interrogate the imaginative and institutional structures that organize divisions of knowledge. Recent projects focus on the global food system and alternatives. Pentecost is Associate Professor of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.,

November 8th: "Wine and Time" lecture and tasting with David Tamarkin
7 PM
Suggested donation of $5.  No one turned away.

David Tamarkin will lead a seminar on the pleasure of wine; a sensory examination and evaluation of wine for personal appreciation. We will discuss a range of perceived flavors, aromas and general characteristics of wine in a casual format and do some tasting.

David Tamarkin is the Associate Feautures Editor at Time Out Chicago where he covers restaurants, bars, wine/beer/spirits, food politics, local artisans, specialty-food retail, grocery stores, farmers' markets, cooking classes, food-and wine-related events. Tamarkin has worked as a features producer for CBS News and as a writer and researcher at Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, where he sealed the fate of countless needy straight men. But all of that was merely to support his food-writing career. He wrote his first restaurant review for Time Out New York in 2000; a few years later he left New York to become a charter member of Time Out Chicago. He is a regular contributor to Gourmet, Wine & Spirits, and Every Day with Rachael Ray.