The Happiness Project
November 2011 (Multiple Sites across Chicago)
What does happiness look like for you, others, and the city?
The Happiness Project is a re-imagining of how individuals might best live and work together in urban space through engaging in unexpected and transcendent activities. Presented within empty storefronts in various parts of the city in November, the exhibition fosters connections between "the city that works" and "the city of neighborhoods," as well as ideas of work and play. After 22 years of the longest serving mayor in Chicago's history, Chicago’s new leader, Rahm Emanuel, is creating a new cultural policy plan. While artists often greet new politicians with a screed of demands, The Happiness Project aims to articulate the potential of how the right to pursue happiness, if applied to work, life, and governmental policy decisions, could transform the city and the well being of its inhabitants.
Because of The Happiness Project, artists were included in the planning process of envisioning the cultural future of Chicago. From Feb. 29 to April 4, 2012 community meetings happened across the city to discuss Chicago's Cultural Plan. For a great account of the previous meetings, see below +
I. Chicago Pop-up Loop Alliance Window (27 W. Randolph St.)
Oct. 24 – Nov. 9
Natasha Wheat's Autonomy Handed To You Is An Illusion
This precursor to the official November opening of The Happiness Project, set the stage for discussing the effort involved in happiness - personal and communal - since Wheat's neon sign spells out the illusion of handouts.
Nov. 10 – Nov. 23
Gwyneth Anderson's Laughing Video
Laughing Video is a study of the suppression and expression of happiness, as carried out with a group of individuals. One person was asked to maintain a serious expression, while the rest of the group stood behind the camera and attempted to make the subject smile. The result is a series of faces struggling to stifle emotion, each eventually succumbing to laughter. The original work as carried out at Harold Arts in Ohio is presented in the storefront window, while filming with the public occurs on the sidewalk at 27 W. Randolph at the following times:
II. Edgewater Storefront (1130 W. Thorndale)
Nov. 2 - Jan. 4
Kirsten Leenaars's Under Construction
In humorous and performative ways, Leenaars’s Under Construction asks “what is happiness” and “what is a perfect society” by including the people of the 48th Ward to discuss their role in participatory democracy. Walk in, watch the making of and development of the project, and participate during the filming. Through the extensive interviewing process, the project has grown to include an artist-in residency program at Senn H.S. (see image below) developed by the Leenaars to teach Edgewater students multi-media arts. Leenaars expanded the residency program to include the artists Industry of the Ordinary (Adam Brooks lives in Edgewater) and Juan Angel Chavez.
III. Pilsen storefront (1637 W. 18 St.)
Nov. 3 - 20
Cosmic Workshop by Derek Chan (artist), Lisa Alvarado (artist), Joshua Abrams (musician/composer)
Cosmic Workshop is a collaboration using indigenous symbols of the Americas. Centered around harmony, cycles of change and transference of energy, the artists aim to explore happiness through multiple modes of communication – visual art, music, conversations, and interaction. Finding a balance between work and play, the space is meant to be a public zone for exploring ideas, sounds and words that encourage open–ended explorations of how to transform reality through happiness. The space became a clubhouse and workshop for the people in the community who most needed a space for creativity - kids.
Performance by Joshua Abrams's Natural Information Society: Nov. 4th at 7pm
IV. Pritzker Pavilion (at Millenium Park)
Nov. 4 and 5 from 10am – 10pm
Olivia Block and Joseph Mills with Lou Mallozzi, Laughter and Tears, 2011
Courtesy of ESS in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture
Experimental Sound Studio presents Laughter and Tears, a surround-sound installation using the state of the art accoustics of the Pritzker Pavilion. Starting with recordings of laughter from a variety of sources, including improvising vocalists, anonymous audiences, and ordinary citizens, Chicago composers Olivia Block and Joseph Mills employ numerous electronic and acoustic techniques to transform and structure these sounds into a coherent musical form that explores laughter in all its range and nuance, from the comic to the devious. Lou Mallozzi shapes the composition into a surround-sound format creating an immersive installation environment.
V. Logan Square Comfort Station (2579 N. Milwaukee)
Nov. 5 - 27
Jennifer Mills, Dealing With New Demands (group exhibition)
Dealing With New Demands offers multiple artists’ perspectives on the questions of happiness and quality of life proposed by “The Happiness Project.” The exhibition is organized as an art gallery and sales event, with each original and affordable work ($10-20) on view only until it is purchased, after which it is immediately deinstalled and taken home. The artwork is intended to be a catalyst for continued conversation in people’s homes. The sold artwork becomes a catalyst for continued conversation in people’s homes and the red “sold” dots document the exchanges as well as suggest a booming art economy created by artistssuggest a booming art economy created by artists. The proceeds of the sales are split between the artists, curator, and “Street-Level Youth Media,” a local organization that offers free after-school media arts workshops to neighborhood youth.
Artists presented: Jesse Butcher, Dayton Castleman, Ricardo Harris-Fuentes, Neil Jacobsen, Robin Kang, Katie Klein, Julie Laffin, Joseph Mohan, Anthony Romero, Jillian Soto, and Ashley Thomas
Opening event: Saturday, Nov. 5 at 3:30pm
Open Hours: Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 from 12:00pm – 4:00pm
VI. Chicago Pop-Up Loop Alliance group exhibition (23 E. Madison)
Nov. 8 – Dec 4
Artists presented: Keith Buchholz, Alejandro Cesarco, Derek Chan, Chelsea Culp, Iker Gil, Amber Ginsburg and Lia Rousett, Jason Lazarus, Adelheid Mers, Judd Morrissey and Mark Jeffery, Sabina Ott, Jan Tichy, Julie Walsh, and Frances Whitehead
Daily activities include 50 pairs of tap shoes for tapping & a chill-out room
VII. Swift Elementary School (5900 N. Winthrop Avenue)
ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble)
The Listening Room after-school program
The Listening Room is a after-school workshop with ICE musicians and 5th grade classes, who learn to create a vocabulary of sounds that are translated into symbols, and the symbols are translated into a score, which is rehearsed by the musicians. After listening to the performance the students modify the score. The musicians then perform the final score for the public in the Swift Elementary school auditorium. The community reception is provided by 48th ward Alderman Harry Osterman. The Listening Room is courtesy of ICE musicians, Peter Margasak, Swift Elementary School, and 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman
VIII. Hyde Park space at SHOP (5638 S. Woodlawn Ave.)
Nov. 20 - 5:30 – 8:30pm - Happiness dinner pot-luck
Dec. 1 - Happiness Dinner for communally engaged artists, leaders, and neighbors
John Preus, Laura Shaeffer and SHOP's (Southside Hub of Production) dinner and conversation joins together two of Chicago’s newly formed community art initiatives on the north and south side - 6018NORTH and SHOP. Over food we discuss how a neighborhood can increase the quality of life within the city. http://southsidehub.org/
This dinner builds upon a series of previous dinners at 6018NORTH where through conversation, discussion, and much laughter, we discovered THE MAGIC OF PEOPLE, PLACES, PURPOSES (see below ++)
IX. Window (27 W. Randolph St.)
Nov. 25 – Dec. 8
Meg Duguid's and Nick Black's Human-powered bicycle analog animation machine
Using vaudevillian hand-made sets and props, this window display humorously emphasizes the power of individual creativity and energy. By depicting a city run by bicycle power, the artists suggest that Chicago could increase quality of life through harnessing existing energy sources. As a result the city and its buildings could save energy, elevate physical well-being, decrease pollution, and create a sense of interconnection among its citizens. The window display prompts citizens to envision other problems being solved with simple solutions.
The Happiness Project continued with 2 works:
March 11-12, 2012 Kirsten Leenaars filmed Under Construction with 48th Ward citizens as the actors at Senn High School (5900 N. Glenwood). * **
1. Leenaars’ Under Construction asks “what is happiness” and “what is a perfect society” by including the people of the 48th Ward to discuss their ideas about happiness and participatory democracy. Kirsten Leenaars interviewed 46 people from the community and the above image shows the connections her interviewees drew between happiness, politics, democracy, and freedom. The right side represents community, the left individuality. Yellow connotes problems. She has now finished interviewing 48th Ward Chicagoans. The final film shooting will occur March 10-11 at Senn H.S. (5900 N. Glenwood) where the interviewees come together to play themselves as citizens of an imaginary community 'Everywhen'. This community performative event connects neighbors through participation. By embodying themselves in this imaginary community, they echo the collaborative nature of the project and the idea that happiness is a communal pursuit. Come and watch the humorous performances of a group of people building a road map toward a better communal future.
2. Julie Walsh's Smiley, 2011
Smiley, 2011 is an exploration of the egalitarian nature of happiness as exemplified by children marking thier happiness through location. Students at Baker Demonstration school received smiley face stickers and chalk and were asked to use the chalk to draw smiley faces where they were happy and take a photograph. The photographs are presented at the school in January.
*reviewed in The Chicago Tribune by Lori Waxman
** reviewed in New City by Jason Foumberg and Time Out Chicago by Lauren Weinberg
+ Howard Reich's article in The Chicago Tribune about community meetings: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-03-02/entertainment/ct-ae-0304-cultural-plan-20120302_1_residents-sound-michelle-boone-chicago-cultural-plan
++These notes, culled from this and other 6018NORTH dinners, are a work in progress being expanded as more conversations ensue among multiple constituents - artists, thought leaders, architects, designers, community leaders, elected officials, professors, business people, students, etc.
++THE MAGIC OF PEOPLE, PLACES, PURPOSES++
1. Chicago, with its cheap rents, wealth of cultural offerings, and extensive alternative spaces, is a hospitable place for cultural experimentation.
2. Chicago has numerous communal organizations and some of the keys to their success are:
a. A clear vision (usually a visionary leader advances this vision)
b. Participants feel that their engagement is a win-win situation (all benefit by being involved in the organization)
c. Strong lines of communication exist among multiple coalitions (both inside and outside the organization)
d. The magical meeting of needs and wants happens through communication and partnerships (the "garbage can theory").
e. Transparency helps - people are less afraid of what they can see and what they know, such as community gardens and libraries.
f. Democratic voice is key - people want to have a say in what effects them.
g. Synergies are efficient and contribute to innovation and the clustering effect of arts and culture.
3. Artists can benefit from looking at how musicians organize and work together.
4. We all need to communicate, cooperate, and coordinate to create more amazing opportunities.
5. To be addressed in future dinners:
a. Architects have more job opportunities in Chicago than artists do. Why don't artists? How can this change?
b. Global firms based in Chicago should be encouraged to be locally engaged and buy local artwork for their offices.
c. Chicago's lack of a creative, globally branded image is a problem. (World Business Chicago's branding for Chicago does not address the innovation and creativity of workers as if Chicago is a factory town)
d. Chicago has a wealth of spaces with cheap rent (more than Berlin). How does this information get disseminated nationally and internationally?
e. Chicago has minimal media outlets. What are best practices for transmitting information so that "if we build it, people will come"?
f. What are the best incubation practices for building communal clusters of pollination between art, culture, business, and community?
g. How can public policy and private businesses best facilitate and encourage art and culture clusters?
SUMMARY of The Happiness Project KEY TIMES and EVENTS
(++ denotes performance or interactive event)
MON, OCT. 24 – Oct. 31 – window at 27 W. Randolph
Natasha Wheat, Autonomy Handed to you is an Illusion
++ WED, NOV. 2 – opening - 12–7pm – 1130 West Thorndale
Kirsten Leenaars Under Construction
FRI, SAT. NOV. 4 and 5 – from 10am – 10pm – Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park
Sound installation - Olivia Block and Joseph Mills with Lou Mallozzi, Laughter and Tears, 2011
++ FRI, NOV. 4 – performance at 7pm – Cosmic Workshop – 1637 W. 18 St.
Performance by Joshua Abrams
++ SAT, NOV. 5 – group exhibition opening - 3:30pm – Comfort Station (2579 N. Milwaukee) Jennifer Mills, Dealing With New Demands (group exhibition) various artists
++THU, NOV. 10 - group exhibition opening party – 5:00 – 8:00pm – 23 E. Madison
++ FRI, NOV. 11 – public filming - 3:00 sharp - 4:00pm – 27 W. Randolph
Gwyneth Anderson, Laughing Video
SAT, NOV. 12 – performance – 11:00am –11:45am (meet at Belmont & Sheffield)
James Kubie’s Torero: Running with the Bulls!
++ SAT, NOV. 12 – public filming - 3:00 sharp - 4:00pm – 27 W. Randolph
Gwyneth Anderson, Laughing Video
++ SUN, NOV. 13 – walk and lunch – 12 noon – 1pm – 1130 W. Thorndale
Judd Morrissey and Mark Jeffery, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
++ SUN NOV. 13 – public filming - 3:00 sharp - 4:00pm – 27 W. Randolph
Gwyneth Anderson, Laughing Video
++ MON, TUES, WED, NOV. 14, 15, 16 – walk and lunch – 12 noon – 1pm – 23 E. Madison
Judd Morrissey and Mark Jeffery, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
++ THURS, NOV. 17 – public performance - 5:00pm – 5900 N. Winthrop - Swift Elementary School auditorium
International Contemporary Ensemble's The Listening Room with 5th grade students
++ FRI, SAT, SUN, NOV. 18, 19, 20 – public filming - 3:00 sharp - 4:00pm – 27 W. Randolph
Gwyneth Anderson, Laughing Video
++ SUN, NOV. 20 – Smiley banner flies above Chicago – 12:45pm – 2:45pm
Julie Walsh's Smiley
++ SUN, NOV. 20 - potluck and conversation – 5:30–9:30pm – 5638 S. Woodlawn
SHoP and 6018NORTH
++ FRI NOV. 25 - bike animation – shopping hours of Black Friday – 27 W. Randolph
Meg Duguid and Nick Black, Human-powered bicycle analog animation machine
Tues, Dec. 13 Smiley opens - 27 W. Randolph
Julie Walsh's Smiley, 2001 compiles the locations of childrens' happiness
The Happiness Project on-going events
OCT 22 – 31 – Pop-up Loop Alliance’s window 27 W. Randolph
Natasha Wheat’s Autonomy Handed To You Is An Illusion
NOV 2 – 30 – (see individual dates for timing) – 1130 W. Thorndale
Filming of Kirsten Leenaars’s Under Construction
NOV 3 – 20 (Thursday-Sun only) – 1:00pm-6:00pm – 1637 W. 18th St.
Open studio hours for Cosmic Workshop
NOV 4 – 23 – Pop-up Loop Alliance window 27 W. Randolph
Gwyneth Anderson’s Laughing Video NOV. 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 (Sat and Suns) – 12:00pm – 4:00pm – Comfort Station
Dealing with New Demands open hours
NOV. 8 – Dec. 3 (Mon – Sat only) 11:30am – 5:30pm – 23 E. Madison
The Happiness Project group exhibition open hours
Ongoing - 50 tap shoes for public tapping and chill out room
NOV. 24 – 30 – Meg Duguid’s and Nick Black’s window – 27 W. Randolph
Human-powered bicycle analog animation machine
The Happiness Project is a communal effort involving the support of many. Special thanks go to the artists involved, The Chicago Loop Alliance especially Dillon Goodson, Swift Elementary School's Principal Harlee Mills, staff, and parents, 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman and his staff, 1130 W. Thorndale, and the many public participants who have spread joy throughout this exhibition.
Happiness and 6018 NORTH
6018NORTH was honored to be included in the 2011 inspiring list of finalists for ArtPlace's support. In its second year, ArtPlace is a unique granting organization that is increasing quality of life and happiness throughout the United States. http://www.artplaceamerica.org/articles/2012finalists/
The Happiness Project received Top 5 State of The Art Exhibitions for 2011 by Jason Foumberg in New City Chicago http://art.newcity.com/2011/12/21/top-5-of-everything-2011-art/
Newcity, "Top 5 of Everything 2011: Art" - includes The Happiness Project in top 5 state of the art exhibitions
Chicago Tribune - feature on The Happiness Project
Chicago Gallery News - feature on The Happiness Project
Sixty Inches from Center, "Dealing with New Demands / The Happiness Project" - interview about The Happiness Project
Chicago Magazine, "Rogue Curator Tricia Van Eck’s New House Gallery and 'Happiness Project'" - discusses 6018North and The Happiness Project
Chicago Magazine, "Work by 5 'Happiness Project' Artists" - features artists in The Happiness Project
Time Out, "Tricia Van Eck curates the Happiness Project" - preview of The Happiness Project
Art21 Blog, "Happiness as an Aesthetic Strategy" - discussion of The Happiness Project
Laughing Video: 27 West Randolph Street