Film 🎥 by Gunnar Curry shot on Friday 16 November at the Zhou B Art Center for the opening night of my audio/visual show, “Chicago Lights”. Performers featured in this mini film include Theatre Director and actor, Anthony Moseley, Cabaret star the Duchess Darling Shear and Vocal Performance Artist, Kiara Lanier.
I photographed Don Gibson; musician, singer, songwriter and bouncer, in Logan Square, a trendy and artistic area of Chicago. I had only been in touch with him by email before we met and I was struck by how calm, quiet and gentlemanly he was. He chose to do his shoot in front of the inspiring wall art in the area.
Here is lovely Don’s interview:
I’m from Brooklyn, New York and I’ve been in Chicago since 1997. I work at Double Door, which is a music venue as security. I have played numerous venues in Chicago, such as Schubas, Double Door, Gallery Cabaret, Old Town School of Folk Music, Elbo Room, Fitzgerald’s.
When I’m playing, I feel a sense of fulfillment that reaches down into my soul, which I rarely feel from anything else, except for a few things here and there.
Music is like a religion to me. I’ve always felt a passion for it. Whether I’m listening to different arrays of music, or playing my own, I’ve always felt that the mysteries of life can be revealed in a well written song.
I started playing when I was around 19 or 20. Always a student of the craft. That’s the exciting aspect of playing an instrument. There’s always something else to learn. I started singing when I was in school chorus.
No one in my family really inspired me to sing, but it was always encouraged to have something creative to do.
I do write my own songs and I enjoy the challenge of writing songs that are very visual in nature, while having a rough acoustic sound as background. I do enjoy singing other people’s songs, but I work more from my original stuff.
Me: What brings you joy Don?
Don: Hmm… Walking in the rain with my headphones on…. Reading a good book with a whiskey at my side…. The feeling of acoustic strings against my slightly blistered fingers while I’m strumming for my life… Finishing a song that has been constantly calling and evading me in my mind for a long time… The Yankees winning the World Series…
I was instantly charmed by Sophia’s lovely demeanour and gentle, happy attitude.
Here is our interview:
What do you do?
Sophia: I am a student at De Paul University in Chicago. I also work in PR. I study Public Relations and Communication with a double major in political science.
What would you like to do with your life?
Sophia: I would love to work within PR or advertising as a short term goal. What to do with my life still rests in my hands.
How long have you lived in Chicago?
Sophia: The entirety of my life.
What would you say is the most positive aspect of your personality?
Sophia: My smiles
What would you like to see more of in Chicago?
Sophia: I would love to see more street food, i miss crepes and falafel at my fingertips at all times.
What’s your favourite food?
Sophia: Chocolate croissants and cappuccinos
What can’t you live without?
Sophia: I can’t live without the movie, “When Harry met Sally” (my easy pick me up) almonds and my loafers.
How does music and/ or art make you feel?
Sophia: Its the core of my being. My moods set the tone for my daily music choices and my peaceful state of mind rests at the Art Institute of Chicago.
What do you think is your life’s purpose?
Sophia: To make a difference for women within my city and throughout the world. To travel and learn, immerse and change.
Is there any woman’s organisation that you actively support?
Sophia: “Let girls learn”, which is the Michelle Obama initiative that she’s taken globally.
Art Institute Chicago, 111 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago has recently been named one of the best museums in the world. If you come to Chicago, this is definitely a must see. You can spend hours here and there are loads of activities for kids!
In keeping with Sophia’s life purpose, she volunteers regularly with the homeless in particular the organisation “Back on my feet”
I photographed Eli Wilson for my project at his studio in Humbolt Park, Chicago. He is a saxophonist and plays in a funk band as well as hosting his own alternative music night, featuring cabaret and burlesque dancers. The studio was just like an indy music studio should be – a bit messy, old furniture strewn around, a Playboy lying nonchalantly on the floor circa early 90s and a bar filled with bourbon. If you were writing a book and needed a cool, laid back music scene, this would be it. Outside the studio was the purple tour bus – I know, I told you – perfect!
Eli was a thoroughly approachable and lovely person. I am looking forward to dragging my husband to one of his music events – that’s the joy of this project – I am getting to go everywhere and meet everyone and I love it!
“So what brings you joy?” I asked him at the end of the shoot. “Lack of routine and structure. I thrive on putting myself in crazy situations and figuring out how to make it work and have fun with it. That’s probably the biggest joy in my life.”
For more information about Eli’s future performances, please see these websites:
You can also check his website for up to date listings – http://www.elivwilson.com
I met fabulous Amee Binder back in the Spring. She is a choreographer, dancer, producer and performer! We took these photos at Uptown Underground, where she also works as Bar Manager. This is a woman of many talents and irrepressible charm! It was an absolute joy to photograph her.
I asked Amee some questions about her life as an artist and her inspiration and here she is in her own words:
I wear a few different hats, I work as a choreographer and dancer with “Kiss Kiss Cabaret”, I also Produce a Public Access TV Show that I perform in – “Late Night Binder”, and I am Bar manager for Uptown Underground, which is the home of “Kiss Kiss Cabaret”.
I have always loved dance, I started very young and then got distracted by other aspects of performance and theatre, as well as other types of athletics like basketball, track and field. But with every musical track that I found inspiring I was always choreographing something in my mind, before I really even knew how or what choreographing was. Once I moved to Chicago in 2004 and started navigating through the performance world and different opportunities a big city has, I always found myself looking for things dance related. So I got myself back in some classes and just kept on with it. The Television show I produce is called Late Night Binder, it’s a Variety show that airs on Chicago’s public access TV station called CAN TV. Its very cheesy and silly, it’s super fun to do and hopefully fun for people to watch as well! We shot the first episode last July, so almost a year ago! We have done 3 episodes and we are currently on pre-production of the the 4th. The shows all have lots of dance, as well as stand up comedy, sketch comedy, singing, magic, faux product placement and clowning.
Performing and creativity is something I will always need in my life, it makes me feel happy. Success and failures are equally rewarding for different reasons and being able to use your imagination is a gift I’m super grateful for.
My performance style is for sure 40’s/ 50’s inspired, but usually with a modern twist. I have found lots of inspiration with the classical movies that had major focus on elaborate dance numbers with amazing showgirl vibes, like Singing In the Rain, Les Girls, Ziegfeld Follies, Easter Parade, and the Shirley Temple movie, all of which are filled with great, over the top ensemble numbers! I also find inspiration from pop culture. I like to keep things new and fresh but still with a bit of old Hollywood glam, stylized movements in the vein of Bob Fosse, or homage to the classy eye high kick of the Rockettes.
I get nervous about answering questions about the future in performing. It’s such a day by day thing. I try to be grateful and present for when things are going well. And I suppose similarly for when they are not going so well, so hopefully I can learn how to do better for the next go around. But I will say I hope the future holds more creativity than I know what to do with, and that people I am surrounded by are loving and kind.
To see Amee in action, please click on these links! Enjoy!
I had to add this one as it’s so uplifting and the sun was shining and today is an optimistic day!
Today I photographed beautiful Joon at the Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. I met her at Nordstrom the other day, whilst shopping for a big puffy, bear like coat to keep me warm in the Chicago winter. She redirected me wisely to something far more sophisticated and exciting and, as I tried on the coat, I started to talk to her. I found her very charming and friendly and invited her to be part of my project and she said yes! Here she is, looking wonderful and enigmatic on a gorgeous bright day in Chicago. Joon came here from Korea when she was just 11 years old. She loves fashion, is super stylish and has a very endearing personality. She has just got engaged and is very happy!
“So what brings you joy?” “My family, I have been travelling with them the whole time in my life, from Korea to America- my family is everything and now.. my fiancé and his family as well- getting to know them and learning about them brings me joy.”
I met gorgeous Chrissy through a friend at my children’s school here in Chicago. Over an outdoor brunch, before the winter weather finally took hold, I asked her if she would take part in my big portrait project and she said yes! She is very down to earth and has a lovely girl dog called Frank, who made instant friends with my dog Skyla, which did make our shoot slightly chaotic! We are hoping to do another shoot together in the near future. I am bursting with ideas and Chrissy is very easy to photograph.
I met Gavin the first weekend we arrived in Chicago. He was making drinks for a cool crowd in an even cooler hat shop in Buck Town – a cool and creative part of town (if you are a Londoner, think Ladbroke Grove with a sprinkling of Kensal Rise and a teeny touch of Chiswick). There was a little party going on there during a festival weekend (this city has a lot of street festivals during the summer as it’s all part of the big release after the very big winter) and I got chatting to him as he made the drinks. I asked if i could take his photograph and he obligingly said yes, and five months later we finally did the shoot! His image will be part of my series for the exhibition, Chicago Stories, coming in September 2017.
This photograph of lovely young journalist Bianca, is the first I took in a series of Chicago portraits that I am shooting as part of a forthcoming exhibition, entitled “Chicago Stories”. I am photographing a whole cross section of people from all walks of life and also interviewing them. The idea is that the exhibition will celebrate the city and it’s people and pull back it’s skin, showing how it works and how it is all interlinked.
I really enjoyed photographing Bianca. She is young and extremely wise, with a very clever head upon her shoulders. I do like it when I get to spend time with people who are over 20 years younger than me and are so astute, it gives me hope for our future.