I’ve finally made it to Michigan Avenue. It ain’t the Art Institute but it’ll do for now. These ads went up a few days ago in the windows of the late, unlamented Artist’s Snackshop on the ground floor of the Fine Arts Building.
They’re promoting an eight week music series which starts Wednesday in the building’s fourth floor Venetian Courtyard.
I’m scheduled to draw the musicians as they play. The guy who’s putting on the series has a music studio up on the eighth floor. We met after he saw my Chicago writer paintings at the Dial Bookshop on the second floor. He wanted me to design his album cover. He gave me some money and I tried it a bunch of different ways but it didn’t work out. Then we ran into each other when the building reopened at the beginning of July and he asked me to be part of his music series. We’ll see how it goes.
A couple weeks ago I went to my first live concert since the shutdown. It was at Constellation on Western near Belmont, across from where the overpass used to start. Each of the very spread apart seats had a long-stemmed rose on it, the lighting was dim. About fifteen of the fifty seats were taken when Helen Money came out with her cello.
Ms. Money, whose real name is Alison, thanked us for sharing the special night with her. “We’re in a club!” she repeated a couple times, to underscore how an ordinary thing like that has become a precious rarity. She said she’d play in a mask out of solidarity with us rather than out of fear of infection. Her solemn, sometimes delicate, sometimes hectic sound felt like the right soundtrack for the moment. With the low lighting, flowers, and mostly empty room there was a funereal feel to it all. But I did what I’ve done at shows for decades—I drew to feel closer to the music. About halfway through, it came to me that though concerts are thought of as a communal experience I rarely take them in with anyone else. My communion is a solitary one. I hope to be back to this temple soon to worship again.
—I reviewed Fuckface and Other Stories and wrote about visiting the Art Institute the first day it reopened.