GOLDEN AGE, CHICAGO
“If you want it there you have to create it,” opined Marco about his personal commitment to creativity and achievement. Spoken with the shrug of a shoulder, it seemed only natural for Marco Kane Brunschweiler to embark on an entrepreneurial-slash-artistic endeavor such as opening an art store with creative partner Martine Syms. Together, Martine and Marco’s excitement with their products, and for their pursuit – which wholly transcends hawking commodities – fills the place with golden optimism.
Golden Age Store + Studio opens this week on Pilsen’s 17th Street. Divided into a front and a back, or the store and the studio, the place will bustle with activity. The storefront features limited edition artist books, mix tapes, 7” records from local record labels, ‘zines, artist-designed T-shirts, posters, jewelry, DVDs, screensavers, and more. All items were selected for their attention to both concept and their design, for packaging made by artists surely is part of the artwork itself.
Behind the store is a sewing room where Annie Novotny will create her fashions for her clothing line Frei and where artists Keelin Mayer and Aay Preston-Mynt will continue their individual fiber practices. The basement houses a silkscreening studio for artists Alex Valentine, and Danny Zaretsky, and graphic designer Anthony Decanini. There is the possibility that many objects will end up in the store, but so far Marco and Martine have drawn their collection from national and international sources alike.
The hope for such a hybrid studio space where artists can share facilities and resources is to contribute to and extend the practice whereby artists do not simply adhere to one single mode of output. Today it might be printing and tomorrow sewing clothes, and eventually the clothes might require silkscreened images. “Nobody just does one thing anymore,” says Marco. “Here, we can all link up, communicate, and create more things.” The point is to extend the range of possibilities.
While the studio will further entrench artists within their practice, the store will serve to introduce browsers and connoisseurs alike to a fresh crop of young artists. The setting is an important aspect of the store’s success, for while it showcases artwork, it is decidedly not an art gallery. “We needed another outlet for showing art,” says Martine, referring to the community of cultural producers who don’t fit easily into the white-walled art world. Both Martine and Marco come have roots and affinities with various subcultures – for Martine, it was punk, and for Marco, skateboarding. Although neither claim allegiance to those subcultures any longer, their participation instilled in them a will to make it possible to be active in engaging a community of supporters. In turn, Martine and Marco have found the Pilsen community happy to contribute to the well-being of the store, offering business and zoning advice freely.
Marco and Martine hope to schedule some programming soon for the store, from readings to screenings. Recently they collaborated to organize a series of film screenings about Chicago’s underground hip-hop, which showed at the Cultural Center. Such topics will certainly be at the fore of their efforts to shed light on important trends in contemporary artistic practices.
Marco and Martine gave me a sneak peak of some of the gems that will be for sale at the Golden Age Store.
The Lauren Anderson Society’s Betty Smocker Memorial Cookbook is a hard to resist collection of recipes amassed, stolen, and assembled by artist Lauren Anderson. “It makes a great Mother’s Day gift,” says Marco.
The store is selling a selection of CDs from an indie noise record label based in West Elms, IL called Arbor. They will also feature unsigned bands, such as Chicago’s Fake Lake.
The quality of artist’s books at the store is quite exciting. They’ve entered into an agreement with Nieves, a notable independent publishing house based in Zurich, which released Chicago’s infamous Wesley Willis’s book of drawings, North Lake Shore Drive 1990. Tiny Jams, a publisher in Kansas City, will sell ‘zines for as low as $1, while Danielle Aubert’s limited edition book 16 Months Worth of Excel Drawings is on the higher end, and well worth a look for anyone who’s ever used the spreadsheet program. Aubert’s “drawings” range from the psychedelic to the conceptually witty – anything to subvert the pragmatics of Excel into a leisure activity.
The t-shirts will also have a great presence. Chicago’s [Im]Perfect Articles, run by Mike Andrews and Noah Singer, creates small edition shirts by well-known artists such as Royal Art Lodge and David Shrigley.
Where similar art stores abound elsewhere, from Ooga Booga in Los Angeles to Printed Matter in New York City (and which Golden Age is surely influenced by), it will be a great boon for our city to have this new outlet for new art. It will fulfill a need and boost community, if not for gold, then perhaps for the ages.
Published in Newcity (August 28, 2007)