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
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.
This portrait project came about from a need to meet people in this new city that we were now calling home. I know, I thought, I can take photos of everyone and that way I’ll meet everyone! Well that initial seed has now grown up into a rather wiser little shoot.
Recently I’ve been wearily watching world politics with a growing sense of dismay and alarm. It seems to be a very divisive moment in history, where bridges are being burnt (metaphorically speaking), walls being built and fear and suspicion are taking hold. I have no answers and am no politician but in response to global news I’ve been inspired to create a project about building bridges through photography. My aim is to create a space where portraits and quotes from people of all colours, economic levels, religions and ethnicities stand side by side, expressing their common humanity in a dignified way. I know – I sound like a hippie!
The show is about joy and the things we love. I want it to be uplifting- like a large group hug! It’s my little contribution to this city that has embraced us and made us feel at home.
Pic: Chicago skyline, as seen from Lincoln Park, Chicago
I had to add this one as it’s so uplifting and the sun was shining and today is an optimistic day!
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.