29 April 2014

Free-dom

Last week I activated my "freegan" palette by participating in so many free experiences that I feel like my head is still spinning. Seriously, this is what I felt like after my week of not spending money on amazing activities

I'm the free king of the world! via Twisted Red Lady
My social calendar is a bit intense but not without good cause. Last week was totally one of those weeks, where I just couldn't say no to all of the wonderful things this city has to offer. I'm feeling a little bit like my favorite Miley Cyrus song, I can't stop. 

Thomas Hart Benton, Cotton Pickers,  Oil on Canvas, 1945
Thursday night I visited the Art Institute for a lecture on the Thomas Hart Benton painting that some of my research helped to acquire, titled Cotton Pickers. The lecture examined issues of race and class identity of physical laborers in the historically wrought cotton industry of the South. While I knew the basics of working conditions of laborers (many of which were descendants of former slavers), I didn't even consider my own take on the cotton industry, or how my opinion of "cotton" is heavily influenced by a 1970's ad campaign that redefined views of cotton and the cotton industry. 

That's right, the Fabric of Our Lives advertising campaign was deliberately released to change the way in which we as a culture associate with cotton the product. No longer are we associating cotton with backbreaking slave labor, share cropping, and post-Civil War economies, but rather we think of cotton as a commodity, something that is wholesome, feels good, is soft to the touch. Yeah, mind blown.

Haunting, right? via The Whistler Chicago
After the talk, Ben and I attended an informal reception with, you guessed it, free finger foods and free wine. It was such a wonderful surprise pick-me-up after an engaging lecture, on a free night at a museum I love. Following snacks, we hightailed it to the Whistler in Logan Square for Crimson Glow, a feminist inspired dance party, where I was surprised to discover that there would be an artist performing a piece as part of the event. Such joy, such rapture, completely free. Also, Rose brought a gaggle of ladies with her, and I might have coaxed myself into buying a $6 drink (or two...) Gotta support the local business, after all. 

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One of the MFA Students built a robot that breathed, drank, and pissed.
Who needs a drinking buddy anymore?
Friday, Ben and I had even more hanging out (please don't move to VA!!!). We visited Western Exhibitions and Paris London Hong Kong for two exhibition openings, and a single free beer. When in Rome, right? And following those openings, we hopped on the train eastbound for the SAIC MFA exhibition opening at the beautiful Sullivan Galleries. The show was gigantic, high energy, exciting, and free :).

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And as if the fun were to stop there, I was on such a roll, that when Andrew suggested we go to the free Owls show at Punch House in Pilsen, I couldn't not go. We grabbed a last-minute southbound Uber, and found ourselves packed into a tiny basement bar sipping punch, free beer, listening to Free bird Anyone Can Have a Good Time, bobbing our heads along, 100% satisfied. 

I think in total, I spent $30 bucks on the entirety of all of these activities (the price of four drinks). I attended a lecture, I danced my butt off, I took in a performance art piece, I attended three art openings, and I saw a band that I've been listening to for nearly a decade play a live show. Why pay when you simply don't have to? 

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