Transistor’s love for local art and music is immediately evident when patrons enter the store’s Lincoln Avenue space, with visitors greeted by an eye-pleasing mélange of books, records, electronics, and musical instruments, many with Chicago connections. Deep-pine-green walls bear paintings, photographs, and prints by locally based visual artists, as well as silk-screened gig posters from bygone local shows. Books from Chicago arts-and-culture publishers such as Continuum and Taschen delve into film, photography, music, and other forms of creative expression. An ample stock of vinyl and CDs by indie-rock, punk, and classic-rock artists pairs with high-quality sound equipment, such as turntables and headphones from Numark. Regular in-store live performances by area musicians are dutifully recorded and posted on Transistor’s website, also home to a regular podcast featuring music curated by an eclectically minded five-person crew of store DJs. Periodic classes in skills such as oil and acrylic painting, home recording technology, and basic photography help transform art lovers into artists.
The creative team of framers and decorators at Foursided stocks stacks of creative greeting cards and paraphernalia. The self-described "frame nerds" do more than cultivate a collection of stationery by planting paper seeds in nearby printing presses; they also place prints and objects into frames and furnish homes with original pieces by a handful of favored artists. Staffers also buy and sell vintage flash cards, puzzle pieces, and letter tiles harvested from a variety of objects.
Owner Todd Mack has worked in framing for 20 years, and he draws on his vast experience when custom mounting a broad spectrum of pieces. Vintage and recycled frames, archival framing, and shadow boxes are a few of the options available. Mack's interest in shadow boxes makes perfect sense to visitors who take a look at his own art, which assembles found photos and objects in forms that aren't always 2-D.
On HGTV's Urban Oasis, interior designer Vern Yip ornamented a luxury apartment with prints gathered from Foursided's expansive collection. In that collection, colorful shelves of letter blocks, maps, corks, baby-doll heads, and harmonicas turn personal, nostalgic objects into stylish new decorations. Candles, jewelry, and books round out the gift selections.
A glass of cold sangria in one hand, a plate of food balanced in the other. The only reason to disrupt such a perfect combination might be to dance to the live band performing just a few feet away. That's the basic Midsommarfest formula, and every summer, nearly 50,000 people flock to Andersonville for this celebration of all things local. Going strong for the past half century, the fest takes over Clark Street from Foster to Catalpa with booths for food and crafts as well as five different stages. These showcase eclectic entertainments that truly reflect the neighborhood's charm: not just cover bands (though there are those, too), but a pet parade, Swedish music, dance troupes, and sets from blues, roots, and funk bands. All the fun also helps the neighborhood, and not just because stoplights are powered by laughter; proceeds go to benefit community causes.
Students upload working knowledge of various art forms in digital-arts and photography classes, the newest department at Lillstreet Art Center. During a digital-video class, instructors begin with a translation of camera controls and settings before showing students how to import video to the computer, edit footage, add sound and music, and put completed projects onto DVD, the Internet, or viewer-friendly blimps. The crash course in Adobe Photoshop, a software program used by many photographers and graphics professionals, introduces students to the various tools and menus through a gamut of in-class exercises that practice scanning, painting, cutting, and adjusting imagery. Tote confusing cameras to the digital-photography class, and harness the power of ISO, shutter speeds, apertures, and different shooting modes to take photos that look more professional than a snapshot clad in a business suit. Several hands-on exercises assimilate amateur eyes to the difference between auto and manual focus, as well as depth of field and capturing moving subjects.
A Swedish immigrant himself, Kurt Mathiasson took it upon himself to found an institution that would preserve the legacy of the Swedish-American experience within Chicago. The Andersonville-neighborhood leader opened the original Swedish American Museum in a storefront log cabin in 1976, receiving the blessing of His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, who personally attended the ceremonies. Just over one decade later, the museum moved to its present Clark Street location, giving it both the space and the means to continue its mission of celebrating Swedish heritage and the experiences of Chicago's Swedish immigrants.
The three-story museum's permanent collection boasts roughly 12,000 artifacts. These historical pieces include original passports and steamship tickets, household items that immigrants brought to the New World, and various folk crafts. Within the museum's permanent exhibits, these artifacts provide visitors with valuable insight into the struggles and triumphs of Swedish immigrants as they established a new, vibrant community within Chicago.
Beyond the permanent exhibit, the institution also features the Brunk Children?s Museum of Immigration, which provides youngsters of all ages with hands-on opportunities to experience life in a replica of a Swedish farmhouse. Youths collect firewood, learn to milk a cow, and connect to the internet using a crank-powered modem. From there, children can board a 20-foot model of a steamship, which mimics the journey across the Atlantic and then teaches passengers about the log-cabin lifestyles of America's frontier settlers. The Swedish American Museum's Nordic Family Genealogy Center provides yet another service for interested visitors, giving them the opportunity to research their families' Scandinavian heritage.