julia Chicago

// Artist Interview: Don’t Fret//

Photo by Don’t Fret

Photo by Don’t Fret

Photo by Don’t Fret

Photo by Don’t Fret

Photo by Jaime Rojo.

Photo by Jaime Rojo

Photo by Don’t Fret.

An edited, abbreviated version of this post ran today in Chicagoist

One of the things I love most about this city is all of the art you can find right at street level. Don’t Fret, a Chicago native, has been blowing up the streets of Chicago with a style that sets him apart from the other conceptual artists who use the same medium of wheatpaste on city walls. I got the opportunity to chat with him about his work, which has a unique voice that “cracks up the streets.”

In an interview with Chicagoist, DF explained how art has always been a part of his life - “I grew up thinking art and drew a lot as a child.” He was attracted to graffiti around the 7th grade, “but I was awful at it - I wasn’t really attracted to more traditional hip hop grafitti.” Since he grew up in Chicago, the ban on spray paint also had an impact on his work. He saw an artist called Sunny drawing “really simple rain clouds” and that stuck out to him and spurred him to start making wheatpastes of “characters and little poems.” He visited Sao Paulo, which he described as “the mecca of street art” and was impacted by the work there as well and his process of wheatpasting led to more elaborate characters and scenes.

DF is also known for his many works that are just made up of words, coy “dating ads” that hit like one liners with funny truths like “Wanted: A conversation with a woman that doesn’t revolve around how much that 2-week volunteer trip to Costa Rica has ‘shaped’ her view on humanity.” DF is very humble about his abilities as a visual artist, and discussed how he feels like he isn’t that great at drawing or painting, and has had to really work on it. “At one point I was debating whether I should call myself an artist or if I’m just a writer who uses pictures sometimes.”

Like his words, DF’s characters have a unique voice that makes them instantly recognizable. We asked him a little bit more about how that style devoloped. “I loved children’s books and cartoons as a kid and there was this PBS show “Mystery!” and I remember seeing those credits as a kid and there was something there that resonated with me.” Someone recently suggested that he check out the Edward Gorey retrospective currently on view at the Loyola Museum of Art because they have a similar style, and he realized that he was the artist behind those opening credits.

We have always wondered whether the work comes first and finds a home, or if the location determines the work, but DF explained “there isn’t an either/or. Some of my characters are placed where they are because they fit within that space and sometimes because they are completely absurd within that space. Sometimes I see a location and I’m like ‘boom!’” DF travels quite a bit and he brings his work with him, but also creates work relevant to each city on site. “Every time I go to a city, there’s at least one location or one spot that I know what needs to go there. I have a notebook with random intersections from different cities so I guess I’m plotting,” he said with a laugh.

With the uncertainty of how long a piece will remain up or get damaged, exhibiting work on the streets can be a challenge. DF imagines his characters as multidimensional, really delving into their unique personalities to make them come alive in his work.”There are times where I know this is absolutely where it has to go - this is where this guy has to live. If I see him in the morning, that’s great, but if I don’t…They have to live their lives, whether it’s a day or two years - it’s kind of like you never know how long you’re going to get.”

Fortunately, he does have frequent opportunities to give his characters safe refuge in gallery spaces. “There are certain aspects of what I do that works inside that don’t work outside like this new one ‘Tea & Whiskey’ - it’s a painting of someone who is super productive by day, but super alcoholic by night. There are little devils feeding him whiskey. Part of it’s stylistic - I can spend more time with them because I’m showing them in a gallery and I don’t have to worry about they being destroyed. I always make a lot of work for shows - I like quantity and over-preparing - I feel like that mimics some aspects of city culture - making as much work as you can.”

DF’s work often “blurs the lines between installation and experience” said the artist, he is likes to “take energies about chicago and the street and living in the city” into his work. To hear more about his work and how it is deeply rooted in his hometown of Chicago, check out the video DF just made with Claire Molek & Johalla Projects.

Sneak peeks. 

Original recipe: Rosemary Garlic Chicken for the slow cooker

I’m still kind of new to the world of slow cooking. I got frustrated trying to find a simple recipe for chicken that I could make without running to the store, so I made one up. 

Side note: My recent foray into actually publishing my original recipes has inspired a collaborative side project: handmade seasonal recipe books. More about that coming soon. In the meantime, let me know what recipes you’d like to see!

our neighborhood finally got slightly insulted.

our neighborhood finally got slightly insulted.

(Source: slightlyinsultingchicagoposters)

One of my all-time favorite songs.


Jonathan ‘Song A Day’ Mann - Kittens In Space

I made an educational video.

How to make a fucking awesome whiskey sour. (by juliachicago)

// lavender tea cake//

One of my assignments this week was “invent something.” I decided to create a new recipe using one of my favorite ingredients, lavender. Lavender is usually used as a subtle note in recipes, often paired with lemon or vanilla. I decided to do something different and make lavender the main event. The result was a lovely chocolatey cake that allowed the sweet floral flavor of lavender to really shine. This cake pairs well with Earl Grey tea or would be an excellent end to a spring or summer dinner. It’s a quick recipe that’s great for a crowd - makes about 24 brownie-size slices. 

Lavender Tea Cake

3/4 c. raw sugar

3/4 c. white sugar

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. white whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 c. extra virgin coconut oil

1/2 c. unsalted butter

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa 

2 eggs

1/2 c. lowfat milk

1 1/2 tsp. madagascar bourbon vanilla

1/8 c. dried lavender

Preheat oven to 375. Grease & flour a baking sheet. Mix sugar, flour, baking, soda, salt and lavender in a large bowl. Combine 1 c. water with coconut oil, butter, and cocoa in a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir into dry ingredients until smooth. Whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla and add to bowl, stirring until batter is smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. Pour into baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a rack. Dust lightly with powdered sugar or dust heavily and cover with plastic wrap (once bottom of pan is cool) to create crackle fractal look in photo. 

UX web homework inspired by today’s unseasonably warm weather. 

UX web homework inspired by today’s unseasonably warm weather. 

daydreaming about our upcoming adventure to portland. can’t wait for a whole week of exploring a new city & nothing to do but play. 

daydreaming about our upcoming adventure to portland. can’t wait for a whole week of exploring a new city & nothing to do but play. 

an early valentine’s feast. 

amuse bouche: homemade ricotta atop crostini with a drizzle of truffle honey & a sprinkle of lemon zest

appetizer: seared radicchio with a thyme cider vinegar reduction & pecorino

main: penne pasta with vodka sauce

recipes here.