The very first Public Works exhibition and the origin of, and foundation for, what became our gallery. It wasn’t the name of the gallery (yet), but it was the name of the show. To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of design studio Someoddpilot, we wanted to dig into the heart of what makes art & design accessible: does the public see a way into the work? Why should they care? Can artists create work that has a relevant place in their lives? What’s that connection?
In other words, what makes art “work” truly for the public?
We named it “Public Works” because it is exactly that: work made by artists & designers that rides the edge between art & design, proving the boundary isn’t real, and proving that there is a way for art to be a lot more accessible and relevant to the public, rather than an elitist cultural moment.
Held at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, “Public Works” featured four artists who’d spent years in Chicago working within the independent art and music communities: Cody Hudson (Struggle Inc.), Justin Fines (Demo), Andy Mueller; (Ohio Girl/The Quiet Life), and Chris Eichenseer; (Someoddpilot). Longtime friends, the four men parlayed their street-level art styles into careers as internationally recognized graphic designers. The new pieces presented in this show are wholly representative of the dual-influences of fine and commercial art in the artists’ lives, the gallery covered in an egalitarian display of screen prints, a digital pastiche of color blocks, Greco-Roman statues, sardonic portrait photography and Dungeons and Dragons references. Accompanying the new work is a wall thick with retrospective rock posters, album covers and street images that bump and overlap, a physical manifestation of the artists’ intertwined pasts and common futures, and the myriad ways “into the work” from a public vantage point.