Artist of the month? Say what now?
Yep. It’s a new thing we’re starting up here. Every month Chicago Rants will feature one of this city’s many fine and underappreciated artists. In these features, there will be a good mix of some transplants, some locals, some painters, some sculptors- you name it, and I’ll be covering it at the top of every month. You don’t know art? That’s fine. I’m right there with you. Other than the fact that I rock at drawing stick figures, I actually know very little about art. So let’s jump in this together.
To kick this monthly feature off we have local painter, drawer, and printer, Susan Sarandon (pen name), who built a makeshift studio in his Humboldt Park apartment and is working on a series of ghost-inspired artwork.
Originally from Tucson, Arizona, where the art scene is as lively as a Sonoran cactus in an August drought, Susan Sarandon moved to Chicago to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. At the school, Sarandon specialized in Animation and Print Making classes, and it shows in his work that has been featured in local showings. “I’ve learned a lot by being here, Chicago has great culture and a thriving arts community,” he told me, “Chicago has art shows every week with really great artists.”
Susan Sarandon previously had a residency at the South Side Hub of Productions where he built a studio and taught art classes before it closed down. However, after the community center closed its doors, he packed up the studio and brought it home. Currently, he uses his hand-built screen printing press to make limited edition posters and fliers that have been used by local bands and venues such as the Empty Bottle and The Owl. “The box was made from found wood, and my friend found this huge piece of glass in an alley one day and the lights were scavenged out of an old closet,” he said.
Some pretty cool stuff is made the makeshift home-studio, from screen-printed shirts to elaborate sketches, “I’m constantly working on something no matter what,” he said before he gave me a quick rundown of some of his current projects. Currently, he is working on selling a handful of pieces, which is sometimes easier said than done, because lets face it, a college kid would rather have a Bob Marley poster hangin in the dorm rather than a piece of local art. “I’d be happy if younger people would buy art,” he said, “if people bought art like they bought records it would be a much different scene.”
One of Sarandon’s current projects on the market is a 4-part series of drawings involving a medieval ghost haunting a small town. “I had a lot of hauntings growing up, “there was a story of a Mormon couple that lived down the street from me who killed themselves, and I would always see their ghosts in my bedroom window. However, I had a very superstitious mother and at that age it was hard to separate fact from fiction.”
But on a lighter note, his girlfriend, Tate Won Chen, makes some nice crafts out of found and recycled material:
If you dig what you see, she has an etsy page with all kinds of good stuff up: SaltyGoldfish Etsy