Chicago Tribune Article about my show, “Chicago Lights”, written by Rick Kogan

Please click on this link to read an article that was just published online in the Chicago Tribune about my show, “Chicago Lights”, which has its grand opening on Friday 16 November at the Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport, Chicago. I am thrilled and chuffed to bits with this. I was thinking about writing a blog piece saying what I’ve been up to this last year and wonderful Rick has done the job for me! Now that’s what I call perfect timing! He has really captured the essence of what I’m doing and he even spoke to some of my subjects about the experience so you really get a proper overview. Anyway, here it is. Please have a read. It takes about four minutes.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-ent-80-notable-chicago-faces-kogan-sidewalks-1106-story.html

Don Gibson, Musician

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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.

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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…

Sophia, Political Science Student


I photographed gorgeous Sophia Kravets back in May at the Art Institute of Chicago, which is quite possibly one of the most beautiful art institutions I’ve ever encountered.

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

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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.

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Art Institute Chicago, 111 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago, USA

www.artic.edu

Footnote:

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”

www.backonmyfeet.org
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it bad? 

My kids at the lake in chicago
Is  it bad that I long for a gin and tonic on a Thursday evening (so middle aged! So middle class! So very English!) and I look forward to it with real pleasure?

Is it bad that I completely revel in using swear words when I drive on the motorway and have to move lanes and no one will let me in?  

Is it bad that I like to take a little daily nap (when I can!) and when I do my small dog naps on the pillow above my head, thereby asserting her tiny furry authority over me! 

Wait, is it bad that she sleeps on my bed at all? 

Is it bad that I adore my kids and they make me laugh and they drive me nuts and I still adore them and see them as my small friends?

Is it bad that when I’m driving and playing loud rock music, I picture myself as a male rock star with Tattoos (not the neck!) who is just too cool? 

Is it bad that I always, without fail, think tomorrow is a new day. 

Is it bad that my cup is always half full?

Is it bad that I hate keeping a secret? Secrets are so annoying. 

Is it bad that I don’t care about matching place mats or dinner ware or underwear or any ware for that matter!

Is it bad that I believe in magic and am an internal optimistic who also wants to shout and tell people to be better and look after our world more?

Is it bad that I am really bossy? 

Is it bad that I consider my dog my third child and know what her barks mean? 

Probably yes to all but I’m middle aged so I don’t care!!!

Eli Wilson, Saxophonist, Band leader

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:

Luxotica Lounge Cabaret – http://www.luxoticaloungecabaret.com
Super Happy Funtime Burlesque – http://www.superhappyfuntimeburlesque.com
Gramps the Vamp – http://www.grampsthevamp.com

You can also check his website for up to date listings – http://www.elivwilson.com

Amee, Showgirl! Chicago!

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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Thanks!
Amee

 

To see Amee in action, please click on these links! Enjoy!

 

Ben Mackey, Singer/ Songwriter

Here is Ben Mackey, singer and songwriter with the band Faux Co. I photographed him for my Chicago Stories exhibition. He has lived in Chicago for three years and originated from California.

The best part about photographing a singer is when they play for you. Out came his guitar and he sang me a lovely rendition of a Bob Dylan song as I took pictures of him on his porch. I love it when photography allows me to enter someone’s life and become a participant for a few hours and not just a passerby. This project is giving me a snapshot of people’s lives all over the city. As a thoroughly inquisitive person, who loves knowing about my fellow humans, this is both enlightening and very satisfying.

“What gives you joy Ben?” I asked him, “Music,- music and love” he replied.

  
https://facebook.com/fauxcoband/