Thursday, November 11, 2010

The INDO Projects Wins WPB Make Believe

(The following story originally appeared in the Nov. 9 Pipeline e-newsletter, which contains hyperlinks. However, there were some formatting issues, and many of the words were covered up for folks viewing the newsletter on Web browsers other than Firefox. Photos from the ceremony are all by Philin Phlash, the others are ones that I snapped)

"I'm still buzzing, still on Cloud Nine," said Linsey Burritt, above right, via telephone yesterday morning.

Burritt, who appears in today's masthead alongside her partner, Crystal Grover, in a photo snapped by Philin Phlash, is referring to the aftershock of receiving the grand prize of $5,500 in the WPB Make Believe contest. Billed as Chicago's largest art prize, the check was presented to the INDO Projects at an awards
at awards ceremony attended by about 75 people this past Friday evening in the Flat Iron Arts Building.

The Make Believe project, funded by the SSA #33, or WPB, brightened and revitalized ten otherwise vacant storefronts beginning this past June. Burritt and Grover's winning installation, SLOW, installed at 1452 N. Milw., received the most of the some 2,000 votes received by Oct. 27, when voting ended. Coming in a close second (at just eight votes behind INDO Projects) was Christophe Gauspohl's Artichoke (An Urban Constellation), which we featured in the Aug. 3, 2010, Pipeline.The installations came down Oct. 29.

"We were reimagining what commerce would be like in the future," Burritt recalled of the contest guidelines. "We thought of what we'd like to see in the future, a slowing down of things, of using better materials, of going back to the way things used to be made."

Brainstorming led the artists, who've collaborated on a few dozen storefronts dating back to a wishing well that appeared in the window of City Soles/Niche a few years back, to think about our throwaway culture and sustainability. They sourced materials in area dumpsters, selecting trash from hot dog stands and pizza joints. Styrofoam cups were chosen over paper coffee cups and clear plastic cups because they were easier to clean and assemble, per Burritt. SLOW took five days to construct and includes many hundreds of cups, arranged in an abstract formation.

During the final stretch of Make Believe, designers from the Toyota Creative Lounge were interested in renting the 1452 N. Milw. space for a pop-up shop. Rather than relocate SLOW, a collaboration was forged, initiated by Kourtnee Quiza from 7th Market, and written about on this Urban Outfitter's blog post. Burritt and Grover reconfigured SLOW to accommodate a dress-clad mannequin, and even added a fan so that the dress would appear to be blowing in the wind, right.

To encourage Internet voting, INDO Projects used social media sites like Faceook and Twitter and composed email blasts to all of their followers. In the final week of voting they made a few handouts and personally delivered them to neighboring businesses to solicit support and votes.

Of the experience, Burritt reflects, "There were so many takeaways, we met so many people." The partnership with 7th Market has led to an INDO Projects commission for an upcoming spring fashion show at the Creative Lounge. A downtown firm tapped the INDO artists to construct three installations out of relaimed office materials, for a Green Office Challenge.

Shannon Downey of Pivotal Productions, an event management and production firm specializing in the green sector, worked with Firebelly Design to plan and execute Make Believe. Also reached by telephone yesterday, Downey said that she is in the midst of compiling an analysis and postevent survey with feedback from the artists as well as area landlords who opened up their properties to the project. "It is our hope that we won't need to do this project again, that all of the vacant storefronts will be filled, but if we get the opportunity, we believe we've created a strong model that met all of the goals we set for it," Downey said.

For more coverage of the ceremony, visit this Our Urban Times story by Elaine Coorens.

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