So we at the “Bad at Sports” have been trying to only post calls occasionally, but this one seems kind of special. This one involves helping to construct a South Side Community Center. It sounds pretty freaking amazing. The downside seems to be that it is on the south side of Chicago and thus it joins the ranks of many of our favorite community-oriented projects which we don’t manage to get to as often as we would like.

Why can’t this be happening in Albany Park? they asked that we update with the following info…

“I wonder of we can add that we will be open every Saturday from 10-6p.m. until we open October 1st for studio visits, house tours and work days!

Each week we will have a builder/renovator on deck to teach us a special skill like how to putty windows, interior painting techniques, how to tile a floor (these should be read mentally with an upbeat voice that lifts at the end of each life skill, thick with the stuff of exuberance and anticipation!) In true Tom Sawyer style!” 


Check it out it might also blow you mind. What follows is the invite to the opening of the space and the call for builders, helpers and community fans.

Fellow builders/makers/artists,

S.H.o.P. (the Southside Hub of Production) in collaboration with Dilettante Studios would like to invite you to propose an installation, project, built-in, or work with other artists/designers/builders on existing projects, for our upcoming grand opening.  SHoP recently signed a 1-year lease with the Unitarian Church on the Fenn House, (formerly the Blue Gargoyle) to develop a temporary cultural and community space as an extended iteration of the Op Shop, Laura Shaeffer’s ongoing project.

SHoP focuses on cooperative learning, skill sharing, community involvement and development, inter-generational events and programs, and developing manual competency.  SHoP will house exhibits, salons and conversations, workshops, classes, potlucks, a kunstverein (community museum), a recording studio, a wood working studio, social clubs for various ages, a library for unpublished and self published works, a seed bank, and a time bank … and other things that may develop.

The Fenn House has 16 rooms, some available for rent as artists studios or small not-for-profit businesses.  Some may remain open as installation spaces or experimental rooms that will be adaptable to artist/design projects.  Follow this link for pictures of Fenn house.   There will be an open house this Saturday the 27th, between 2 and 4 p.m. if you would like to see the space and propose an idea.

We would like to invite you to design/build something for the space, a piece of furniture, an installation, a treatment of a room, a playful interactive design of a room, a meditation on some aspect of domestic/family (in the broadest sense)/community life… or something we haven’t thought of yet.  Projects will be judged according to relevance and suitability to the space and expected audience, which will include a wide range of age and ethnicity.

Aside from proposing your own projects, there are a couple of possible ways to contribute your talents and skills.

1. Artist/builder John Preus recently relocated furniture (desks chairs, office and classroom furniture) from his installation, the World as Text, at Columbia College down to the Fenn House, as part of his project, Slow Recovery. The project considers forms of care and usefulness, and will document the varied and ongoing transformations of the pieces of furniture over the course of their lifespan, as the objects are re-written into varied and novel functions.  Some of the furniture will be turned into a bar/jungle gym, and Preus welcomes help from adults and their children in designing and building the Jungle Bar, which will serve local home brews to the parents, and lemonade for the kids.  Parents can chill while their children get hopped-up on sugar.

2. Re-imagine John’s furniture in some other form, such as one of the following:

3. SHoP will need a number of functional installations that also welcome creative, artistic, poetic, conceptual play.  Needs include:

-a stage for performances, either movable or able to be used as a seating platform, or able to accommodate potlucks, sitting/eating.
-modular and portable seating
-plant life installations-things in the space that involve living elements
-office, kitchen, bathroom and library interventions

Rather than being paid in dollars, any labor you put in for SHoP can be logged into the time-bank and later redeemed for other goods and services volunteered by other community members. More detail on how the time-bank works will be available soon.

Your names will be listed in all opening literature along with wall tags describing the pieces that you work on.  Preus will be featured in an artist profile in an upcoming Chicago Reader as part of the beginning of the gallery season opening, and the SHoP project will be featured.  Installations may be proposed for the entire year, or for a shorter period of time depending upon their function and durability.

Proposals are only a paragraph describing your project, or your interest in being involved in one of the listed projects.  Skilled builders/designers can also volunteer to lead a team to build out one of the proposed Please send all proposals to:

We look forward to hearing your ideas!
-SHoP cultural committee