Edie Fake’s Ecstatic Afterlives

January 11, 2013 · Print This Article

Edie Fake, Gateway (for Mark Aguhar) (Palace Door - calloutqueen), ballpoint pen, ink and gouache on paper, 2012

Edie Fake, Gateway (for Mark Aguhar) (Palace Door – calloutqueen), ballpoint pen, ink and gouache on paper, 2012

On view currently at Chicago’s Thomas Robertello Gallery are 15 pen, ink, and gouache drawings on paper by local artist, illustrator, and author of the Gaylord Phoenix volume of comics, Edie Fake. Titled ‘Memory Palaces,’ the exhibition is a stunning showcase of Fake’s exceptional, and exceptionally idiosyncratic, formal skills in composition, pattern-design, and color, as well as a moving meditation on loss. Specifically, Fake pays tribute to the passing of five friends, colleagues, activists, and artists (Mark Aguhar, Nick Djandji, Dara Greenwald, Flo McGarrell, and Dylan Williams) in a series of drawings titled Gateway, and to ten real or imagined spaces of queer congregation no longer, or never, existent.

Edie Fake, JANE, ballpoint pen, ink and gouache on paper, 2012

Edie Fake, JANE, ballpoint pen, ink and gouache on paper, 2012

Put simply: depicted are places Fake, or the rest of us, may never go. They are hopeful spaces vividly imagined by those living in a contemporary urban environment largely ravaged and rid of countercultural nightlife by neoliberal vice and zoning laws, class-targeted antidrug policies, and corporate gentrification efforts throughout the late 20th century. As such, the collection of building facades Fake depicts – described as a neighborhood – can only be psychically located between utopian fantasy and interpretive research. Doing so foregrounds how the imagination and it’s shadow, desire, propels individual or collective searches for heritage, lineage, and belonging. What might be made possible for someone whose very personhood and politics teeters on the brink of unviability by the realization that, yes, La Mere Vipere (a burned down gay/punk venue in the now-gentrified Boystown), Killer Dyke (a radical lesbian periodical), and JANE (a clandestine feminist-led abortion service) did, indeed, exist here in the 1970s? Comprehension of these disappeared, criminalized spaces and services entails not simply an intellectual recognition, but something much more sensorial and perhaps even spiritual when translated through the prismatic hallucinations offered by Fake.

Edie Fake, The Snake Pit, ballpoint pen, ink and gouache on paper, 2012

Edie Fake, The Snake Pit, ballpoint pen, ink and gouache on paper, 2012

The flatness of the paper Fake has drawn upon is only a format, as his palette of offbeat hyper-colors and remarkable geometric drawing skills translates a deeper, pulsating dimensionality, like the embedded optic phenomena of a Magic Eye poster and a horror vacui painting. A handful of the places recreated here include dance venues, sex-clubs, and art spaces, all of which Fake has foregone a faithful architectural re-approximation of in favor of getting at something much more enigmatic – the mind-altering life practices they facilitated. Representing nightlife from psychedelia through disco and punk, up to rave, Fake renders his spaces with the fluorescent sensibilities and colors of escape developed via dance-floors and acid-trips. Neon hues that should clash, but somehow don’t, cohere in vibrant mosaic facades Fake has lent to 80s voguing-hub Club LaRay and former host of 70s gay anarchy nights The Snake Pit. Seeming inspired by the hypnotic, transportive potential of repetition and detail in geometric art, Fake’s designs are infused with a mystical content in the style of Islamic tile work or Huichol yarn and bead art.

Edie Fake, Gateway (for Dara Greenwald), ballpoint pen, ink and gouache on paper, 2012

Edie Fake, Gateway (for Dara Greenwald), ballpoint pen, ink and gouache on paper, 2012

The evocation of non-Western, nondenominational, and anti-representational spiritual aesthetics acquires political significance upon realization of for whom Fake has drawn a Gateway. Fake has imagined entryways into the hereafter markedly more colorful, robust, lavish, and peculiar than the pearly ivory luster of Judeo-Christian concepts of the afterlife. Those mourned are imagined as entering a kaleidoscopic, palatial elsewhere, rightly undoing inherited notions of heaven too tidy, too conservatively patriarchal, for housing the spirit of trans-queer-feminist artist of color Mark Aguhar, the anti-racist feminist dance parties of Dara Greenwald, or the critically outsider sensibilities of punk/metal-comic pioneer Dylan Williams.

It is here where Fake’s project best comes into full relief; it is only through the physical manifestation of improbable psychic longing that another world becomes possible, knowable, inhabitable. After hours, off the books, and after life; Fake honors such phenomena, and those residing there, with an informed, aspirational intensity apparent in the meticulous, strange, gorgeous labor of his drawing.




Top 5 Weekend Picks! (11/30-12/2)

November 29, 2012 · Print This Article

1. MORE IS MORE at HAUSER Gallery

Work by Meryl Bennett and Matt Taber, Britton Black, Anita Brathwaite, Guerrilla Smiles, Jane Georges, John Kurtz, Julia Haw, Marc Hauser, Deborah Lader, Jean Loup Sieff, Grace Molek, Harvey Moon, On The Real Film, Rabbits, Alfredo Salazar-Caro, Bill Sosin, and Xiao Tse.

HAUSER Gallery is located at 230 W. Superior St. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

2. Twelve Galleries Project presents Quarterly Site #12: EPIC SOMETHING at Hyde Park Art Center

Curated by Zach Dodson, Dan Gleason, and Caroline Picard, with work Jesse Ball, Irina Botea, EC Brown, Lilli Carré, Ezra Claytan Daniels, Edie Fake, Heather Mekkelson, B. Ingrid Olson, Frank Pollard, Aay Preston-Myint, Deb Sokolow, Bill Talsma, and Viktor Van Bramer.

Hyde Park Art Center is located at 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Reception Sunday, 2-5pm.

3. Blank Origin at The Franklin

Work by Justin Bendell, Terence Hannum, Thad Kellstadt, David More, and Bert Stabler.

The Franklin is located at 3522 W. Franklin Blvd. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.

4. Durationals no.1 is located at Anatomy/Gift/Association

Work by Kiam Junio, Chelsey Sprengeler, Natalia Nicholson, Joshua Roginsky and Collin Pressler.

Anatomy/Gift/Association is located at 1619 W. 16th St. Reception Saturday, 7-9pm.

5. Where I’d Leave the Thing Itself at Roots and Culture

Work by Lilli Carre and Alexander Stewart.

Roots and Culture is located at 1034 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.




Top 5 Weekend Picks (6/29 & 6/30) -

June 28, 2012 · Print This Article

1. The Dragon is the Frame at Gallery 400

Work by Mark Aguhar, Claire Arctander, Nina Barnett, Jeremy Bolen, Elijah Burgher, Edie Fake, Pamela Fraser, Tiffany Funk, R. E. H. Gordon, Steve Hnilicka, Kasia Houlihan, Mark Kent, Young Joon Kwak, Andrew Mausert-Mooney, Marianna Milhorat, Tim Nickodemus, Aay Preston-Myint, Juana Peralta, Macon Reed, Colin Self, Michael Sirianni, Nathan Thomas, Neal Vandenbergh, Xina Xurner and Isaac Fosl-Van Wyke, Allison Yasukawa, Gwendolyn Zabicki, and Latham Zearfoss.

Gallery 400 is located at 400 S. Peoria St. Reception Friday, 5-8pm.

2. Show Room at Threewalls

Curated by Shannon Stratton, with work by Laura Davis, Carson Fisk-Vittori and Julia Klein.

Threewalls is located at 119 N. Peoria St. #2C. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

3. KLOSS/STOLTMANN at New Capital

Work by Mike Kloss and Kirsten Stoltmann.

New Capital is located at 3114 W. Carroll St. Reception Saturday, 7-10pm.

4. Inner Self at Prak Sis Gallery

Work by Juyeon Kim.

Prak Sis Gallery is located at 1917 W. Irving Park Rd. Reception Saturday, 5-8pm.

5. Bowling Alone at Andrew Rafacz Gallery

Work by Brandon Anschultz, Daniel Baird, Benjamin Funke, Sarah Mosk, Eileen Mueller, Aay Preston-Myint, and Min Song.

Andrew Rafacz Gallery is located at 835 W. Washington Blvd. Reception Saturday, 4-7pm.




Come & Have Some CAKE

June 13, 2012 · Print This Article

There is a really fantastic comics festival going down this weekend at Columbia College. Edie Fake and Neil Brideau have been putting it together for the last several months, as is evident from the ambitious vision and extensive programming. It’s like a world-class event with some phenomenal talent, old and new alike. A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to email back and forth with them about what the festival is about, what’s going down and how it relates to the pulse of the Chicago comic scene.
Caroline Picard: I can’t believe that CAKE is just around the corner — what made you all decide to put something like this together? Why this year? What’s it been like to organize?
Edie Fake: Yeah - CAKE is coming up so fast – it’s really exciting! Our initial impulse was that the alternative comics community in Chicago is so large and vibrant, it didn’t make sense tonot have a comics festival to celebrate it. We’d been to other amazing small press festivals of different flavors: TCAF in Toronto, Stumptown in Portland, SPX in Bethesda, BCGF in New York, APE in San Francisco… and it’s awesome to see these festivals harnessing the energy of a city’s scene and putting it in conversation with artists from all over.
This year is shaping up as an amazing year to debut a show like CAKE – there’s a ton of outstanding comics coming out right now, and I’m blown away by the talent we’ll be hosting. We’ve gotten to watch the Chicago Zine Fest (CZF) really take off in the past few years too, which is really encouraging.
Organizing for this year’s CAKE meant laying a lot of groundwork for the festival to continue – so it’s been a long and wild ride at times. We’ve got a tight core of five organizers now and an auxiliary committee of about 20 other folks and that sort of manpower really helps make everything more manageable. It actually makes putting it together pretty fun.
CP: In many ways I feel like your efforts in organizing community zine and comic-events is this incredible way of drawing out and publicizing vital energy that tends to lie below the surface. I feel like there is a ton of natural comic-energy at the moment, but I also feel like my awareness is tied to community opportunities for discussion and public engagement (like CAKE) that you and others are creating. Can you talk a little bit about what that’s been like? And maybe the tension (if there is one) between insular community-creativity and public accessibility? 

Neil Brideau: I think over the past few generations comics have really come into their own.  They’re being accepted more by the larger cultural world, and I think that helps cartoonists break out of their shells a little bit.  Most of CAKE’s exhibitors are in their late twenties and early thirties, and I feel like this generation is a lot more social than their immediate predecessors.  There’s this stereotype of the alternative comics artist toiling away in their studio not getting any financial or critical compensation for what they love, and feeling sorry for themselves.  But I see our peers really celebrating their creative process and the creative process of others. Not that there aren’t a lot of nights spent alone in a room inking pages of comics very few people will read.  I think Chicago too, in general is really welcoming of DIY and small-run creativity. Whether it’s the Night Market, or the CIMM Fest, or the Chicago Zine Fest, or Printers Ball, or house shows that DIYCHI is putting together, Chicago seems to be an incubator for lo-fi production and celebration of that production.  I think cartoonists in Chicago react to that energy, and are more social and community-oriented animals.

CP: Is there a way that you would characterize the comic-making energy and interest in Chicago at the moment? Do you have a sense for how that compares to other cities?
EF: Comics in Chicago have been a pretty big deal for a while – but I think we’re in a golden time right now. There’s a lot of overlapping community here. The Trubble Club is a great example of folks meeting up and drawing, sharing about what they’re making and influencing each other’s work. We’ve got micropresses like Sarah Becan’s Shortpants Press and printshops like Spudnik and try-anything stores like Quimby’s. Lyra Hill’s performative reading series Brain Frame is expanding what  comics are and how they’re presented. We’ve also seen totally off-the-chain events happen here recently like Hilary Chute’s star-studded Comics: Philosophy and Practice conference. This city values great comics like no place else- the scene here is really open, supportive and interactive. People here really up the ante for each other.
CP: I feel like we should talk about CAKE too, of course! What kind of things can people expect? Are there certain events that stand out as highlights for you?
EF: It’s going to be a jam-packed weekend! We’ve got over 200 artists exhibiting comics and a full slate of panels, screenings and conversations. We tried to set up events that we thought were a vital part of comics that we hadn’t seen happen before, like a panel on silkscreened comics and how the printing technique changes and expands the shape of comics. Ryan Sands, who’s an incredibly interesting and edgy editor is presenting a slideshow/mixtape of stuff he’s excited about and it just might be like seeing the future. The Eyeworks Animation Festival has curated a great program of work that highlights the overlap of comics and cartoons along with a q&a with Amy Lockhart, Marc Bell, Jim Trainor and Jo Dery. We’ve also got artist and comics historian Joe Tallarico leading a discussion on comics and fine art between two tremendous local art monsters, Paul Nudd and Karl Wirsum.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too – we’ve really been able to do a lot our first year out, including putting out an anthology CAKE Book with ITDN Group and an art show in conjunction with Morpho Gallery’s downtown Annex. It’s going to be a great time.
CP: Aren’t some people debuting comics too? What’s that like? (I’ve never been to something where comics — and multiple comics — debuted, but I imagine it’s some kind of custom? haha. I sound like such a goober.)
NB: Oh yeah! Debuts are a great tradition at alternative comics shows. Self- and small-press publishers often use comics fests as anchors to plan their publishing schedule. Making a comics fest like CAKE as the first time someone can get their hands on a comic helps create a buzz for their publication, the creators are excited to get it in people’s hands, and a lot of attendees seek out new work, knowing their the first folks to get their eyes on the comic!  So celebrating these brand new books are events within the larger event of CAKE and those celebrations add to the excitement that already exists within this convergence of tons of comics creators showing off their gems of self expression.
We have over 25 new titles debuting at CAKE, which we’ve been announcing on our website, one at a time. Being the one who posts them on the site, I’ve been bubbling with anticipation about some of the stuff coming out.  My list of comics I need to get my hands on is already really big.  A few that stand out to me are:
-Suck It Up by Krystal DiFronzo, who enthusiastically performed a portion of the comic (which involves a character puking out her stomach to consume her lunch) at the most recent Brain Frame performance at Happy Dog
-July Diary by Gabrielle Bell, published by Uncivilized Books.  Gabrielle is a great cartoonist who drew a comic everyday last July, which is now collected in this book.
-The Adventure School for Ladies Comics Intensive, is putting together a book during their two-week session, which takes place right before CAKE, so their book will be hot off the presses!
-Weather by Gabby Schulz -who also goes by the name Ken Dahl.  Secret Acres is publishing a comic featuring his character, Gordon Smalls, who is a great vehicle for Gabby’s social commentary on american consumerism.
For more information about CAKE and all its illustrious events, please visit their website.



Top 5 Weekend Picks (11/4-11/6)

November 4, 2011 · Print This Article

1. Archival Impulse at Gallery 400

Work by  The Alliance of Pentaphilic Curators (Jason Dunda and Teena McClelland), John Arndt, Conrad Bakker, Dexter Sinister, Christa Donner, Kota Ezawa, Edie Fake, Eric Fleischauer, Stephen Lapthisophon, Jason Lazarus, Dani Leventhal, Aspen Mays, Mary Patten, Jenny Perlin, Public Collectors, Jason Salavon, Paul Lloyd Sargent, Cauleen Smith, Edra Soto, Stephanie Syjuco, Sergio Vega, and Philip von Zweck.

Gallery 400, 400 S. Peoria St. Reception Friday, 5-8pm.

2. Water at SideCar

Work by Tom Burtonwood, Holly Holmes, and James Jankowiak.

SideCar, 411 Huehn St, Hammond, IN. Reception Saturday, 5-10pm.

3. A Paler Shade of Yellow at Kirk’s Apartment

Work by  Larry Lee

Kirk’s Apartment, 3710 N Marshfield. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

4. Wax/Wane at ACRE Projects

Work by Liz McCarthy.

ACRE Projects, 1913 W 17th St. Reception Sunday, 4-8pm.

5. Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers: AN AMERICAN TALE OF SEX AND WONDER at The Renaissance Society

Reading by Mike Edison.

The Renaissance Society, 5811 S. Ellis Ave, Cobb Hall Room 307. Reading begins at 2pm.