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Pilsen's affordable art

Head down south to find artwork that doesn't break the bank.


No Coast
Don’t be deceived by the awning that says DON JUAN’S DELI & GROCERY: The former bodega’s been replaced by this store run by a collective of seven young Chicago artists. Prices range from about $5 for a zine to $60 for a handmade shirt or high-end poster. But No Coast’s exceptional collection of posters and prints—prominently displayed on every square inch of wall space—includes plenty of great pieces for $10 or less, such as gig posters made by Ryan Duggan and Mr. City Press. The books, music and accessories arranged throughout the 320-square-foot store are made by artists from across the U.S. and beyond: No Coast member Alex Valentine cites Space 1026, a respected Philadelphia print studio, and Berlin-based art gallery and store Bongout as notable sellers.

No Coast accepts merchandise on consignment and gives artists 60 percent of the proceeds. Valentine says the products change all the time, but the collective aims to alter the display significantly every few months and will increase its stock this spring. “We’re only constrained by space,” he explains, and since a movable partition (painted with a groovy abstract mural) is all that separates the store from the collective’s year-old studio, the space can expand and contract for knitting and screenprinting workshops—or karaoke. 1500 W 17th St (312-850-2338). Wed–Fri 1–7pm, Sat noon–7pm, Sun noon–6pm.

Golden Age
SAIC grads Martine Syms and Marco Kane Braunschweiler opened the boutique in fall 2007 and moved to their current 635-square-foot storefront in 2008. Recent renovations yielded a gleaming, uncluttered space with funky lighting and a curtained dressing room for trying on Elizabeth Jaeger sweatshirts decorated with hand-sewn illustrations of animals, as well as other clothes, which Syms says usually range from $25 to $150. Shelves and tables hold an impressive range of what Braunschweiler calls “conceptually based” products, including a $50 songbook (complete with CD) by goofy Canadian art star Rodney Graham.

Golden Age’s prices range from $5 to $300, but most items hover near the lower end: A lovely illustrated version of Pilsen artist Dewayne Slightweight’s one-act multimedia opera The Kinship Structure of Ferns is only $15. Braunschweiler and Syms love such interdisciplinary projects. They’ve filled the store with music made or compiled by artists, including $6 cassettes on Chicagoan Peter Friel’s Young Tapes label and almost every back issue of the gorgeously packaged Journal of Popular Noise ($30, includes three limited-edition 7" records). DVDs by experimental Pilsen filmmaker Ben Russell for $20 and accessories for $10 to $60 by LULU Jewelry (a.k.a. local artists Stephen Eichhorn and Jessica Paulson) demonstrate how diverse Golden Age’s stock is: How many other stores would set up booths at both Art Chicago and Pitchfork? 1744 W 18th St (312-850-2574). Thu–Sun noon–6pm.

antena gallery
This gallery shows an exciting mix of contemporary art—primarily paintings, videos and installations. Founder Miguel Cortez estimates prices range from $200 to several thousand dollars. Compare that to River North and West Loop galleries, where the cost of a single artwork almost never drops below a month’s rent and frequently exceeds your student-loan debt.

Before founding antena in April 2008, Cortez spent several years organizing shows in the same ground-floor space for Polvo, which he founded with partners Jesus Macarena-Avila and Elvia Rodriguez-Ochoa as an alternative to commercial galleries that were far removed from Pilsen’s independent artistic heritage. At antena, Cortez continues to showcase avant-garde artists from Chicago and beyond: At one popular recent show, Columbia College prof Patrick Lichty re-created the Berwyn Spindle in Second Life.

The gallery’s latest exhibition, “The Pour Rubber,” opens with a reception Friday 20 from 6 to 10pm and features recent works by Chicago artists Nick Black (who melts toys into gooey sculptures) and Paul Nudd (who immortalizes goo in gross-out videos). 1765 S Laflin St (773-344-1940). Sat noon–5pm or by appointment.

Deck the halls with something different

Staffers at chic Ravenswood boutique Hazel (1902 W Montrose Ave, 773-769-2227), offer suggestions for spicing up your pad for an orphan holiday party:

• Appalled by the idea of chopping down a tree only to throw it away month later? Try decorating a coatrack instead. “There’s no mess from a real tree, and the coatrack is functional year-round,” says in-store visual merchandiser Marissa Vanden Bout.
• You can even do away with a tree altogether and simply hang ornaments from the ceiling. “Attach metal wire from the ceiling by hooks,” says Vanden Bout, “then tie your ornaments at varying levels from the grid. The effect looks great [when seen] outside of a main window.” Note: Hard-to-reach ornaments will also keep kitty off your shit list.
• Bring Frosty to life without a white Christmas. With the help of water, the Magic Snowman ($4.50 at Hazel) grows nontoxic, white crystals in the shape of a snowman and even comes with a scarf!

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