2nd Floor Rear 2015 Call for Proposals

2nd Floor Rear is a 24-hour festival of experimental spaces, apartment galleries, and ephemeral and migrant projects, celebrating Chicago’s vibrant community of alternative and DIY art spaces. Each February, 2nd Floor Rear connects artists with new audiences, helps underfunded and under-appreciated alternative spaces get some exposure, and enlivens a dreary winter weekend at the peak of Chicago’s bleakest season. Past artworks, events, and happenings ranged from late-night studio square dancing to a guerrilla sculpture garden, a site-specific installation in an underpass, and a nomadic gallery in a handbag.

The curatorial premise for 2nd Floor Rear 2015 is more of a feeling than an idea; it comes from the nearly untranslatable Danish word hygge. Hygge is conceptually and culturally specific to Denmark’s subarctic lifestyle. It roughly describes the sense of contentment drawn from camaraderie during a long winter.

With another long winter upon us, we want to build a festival around this feeling. We want to adopt the hygge concept as our mantra and put it into practice. This year, we want art, performances, gatherings, happenings, installations, and events that warm us, that draw us in, that make us stay. We want prolonged engagement and mutual stewardship. We want to experience the intimate, the meditative. We want anti-spectacular wonder. We want practical, clear-eyed shamanism and radical tenderness. We want to feel present and connected even in our winter fugue states. We want a safe place to be vulnerable and wildish. We want things to resonate–to find us again days later while we’re waiting in line at the Walgreens checkout counter. The curatorial premise of 2nd Floor Rear 2015 is Chicagoans’ annual substitution of “stay warm” for “see you later”; it’s also the hypnotic quiet at winter’s core that makes the season’s deep melancholy savorable. Continue reading

Coming Soon: Call for 2015 Submissions

Call for 2015 submissions coming very soon! New development: there’s going to be a curatorial premise this year. We can’t say more about what it is at present, but in the meantime, start brainstorming.

Set the mood with these images:

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Presenting Mundane Talismans for STARWALKER

Mundane Talisman web

2nd Floor Rear proudly presents Mundane Talismans, an exhibition and silent auction for STARWALKER, Threewalls’ 2014 benefit gala.

Works for auction by

Ali Aschman

Josh Dihle

Danny Floyd

Ellen Nielsen

Bobbi Meier

Nora Nieves

Betsy Odom

Janna Van Hasselt

Erin Woodbrey

Erin Washington

Additional work by

Corkey Sinks



Aesthetic Divination Machine

a performance by the Society of Smallness


7pm-9pm VIP Dinner

9pm-1am General Admission

9-9:30pm performance by the Society of Smallness


For tickets and more information, visit starwalkergala.org

To preview the silent auction, visit paddle8.com/auctions/threewalls.

2nd Floor Rear 2014: Second Lives

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2nd Floor Rear 2014 might be over, but the DIY art events live on! Napkin Poetry is a regular thing now, happening at Uncharted Books once a month. Jenelle Cheyne, Cassie Ahiers, and 2014 Assistant Director Karly Bergman are teaming up to bring you Table Manners, an “amuse-bouche of sketch, song, and weird sh*t, all unified on the female-food-culture menu,” every Wednesday night in May. Finally, check out the photos from Haptic: From One to Another, an afternoon of participatory performances by Aram Han and John Paul Morabito, capping off the Haptic exhibition at Adult Contemporary. 

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From One to Another 17

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Welcome to 2nd Floor Rear 2014!

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Hello Friend,

Years ago, I trekked to Paris on that specific pilgrimage that is unofficially mandatory for all art history geeks. I saw everything I could see, checking off master paintings from an itinerary culled from various introductory Western Art History textbooks. To my surprise, my favorite paintings were the unfinished ones. There was this one Delacroix in particular that depicted lions tumbling around in the desert. Somehow, the quick zips of yellow and red that were so impossibly mouth- like, so suggestive of cat jaws athrust in a guttural roar, were more captivating than any of the finished works.

Fast forward to the present. This is 2nd Floor Rear’s third season. I thought it was about time impose a curatorial scheme. I had grand plans to re-imagine the entire history of alternative creative practices in Chicago. Things didn’t quite work out that way, but really, it’s for the best. We’ve put together a solid lineup of performances, exhibitions, and creative miscellany—each with its own unique conceptual thrust.

So rather than reviving the ghosts of Chicago’s artistic past in any thematic sense, 2nd Floor Rear 2014 inflects this history in practice. We are pleased to bring you a festival that is, like all DIY creative production, scrappy yet self-aware—equal parts humor, conceptual complexity, neighborliness, relevance, and play.

If I had to choose an overall curatorial concept for our third season, it might be what one of my favorite cultural theorists calls “the messiness of lived experience.” *1 We have an exhibition about failed romances, performances that that come and go unannounced, homages to Chicago’s bohemian beginnings, and an exhibition about failed and emerging technologies, featuring Rob Hart, casualty of the Chicago Sun-Times’ mass firings. To this end, 2nd Floor Rear 2014 is less about Chicago then and now than it is about Chicago art practices here and now, inasmuch that the artistic tastes and interests of any given place and time are always an unfolding of the place’s entire creative history. Flux trumps permanence—this is the heart of DIY cultural production. To be scrappy, yet self-aware means embracing the ad hoc as a part of one’s practice; to infold improvisation and makeshift solutions as a means of navigating the complexities of lived experience.

To me, this is suits a city like Chicago. Here we are, experiencing the most brutal winter in three years, and everyone soldiers on, calling dibs on shoveled-out parking spaces, throwing on just one more sweater, and braving single-digit temperatures to go look at art in some goofy, unknown location. And this is precisely what we are inviting you to do. So join us today and tomorrow for the coldest, boldest, and in all likelihood, most unpredictable art hop around.

Happy festivaling,

Katie Waddell

Director, 2nd Floor Rear


1 Sarah Ahmed, “The Cultural Politics of Emotion”

Just a Little Fundrai$er

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Just when you thought 2nd Floor Rear 2014 couldn’t get any better–what with 30+ unique events including exhibitions, performances, parades, and general tomfoolery–it did. Oh Yeahyuh. In addition to all the great stuff we’ve got going on, we thought we’d throw in a little bonus for our most devoted (and charitable) audience members.

Here’s the deal–if you donate $30 or more to 2nd Floor Rear 2014, you get a special tote bag (see illustration above), which you can take to various festival locations to receive limited edition artists’ multiples. That’s right, you give $30, you get a special bag to fill with free art, to be picked up at TBA 2nd Floor Rear locations. It’s basically like trick-or-treating, but with art instead of candy. (Unless one of the pieces of art is actually made of candy. Not unheard of.) So what exactly are these free art items? One could be a zine, another could be a mixtape featuring various bands from Young Camelot, another could be an artist-designed bumper sticker courtesy of Trunk Show, and yet another might be a piece made by a 2nd Floor Rear Artist explicitly for 2nd Floor Rear patrons. We don’t want to spoil the surprise, so you’ll have to donate to find out! Click the donation button below to make the magic happen.

P.S. Special art bags are limited, and gifted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nab one by donating before February 1. We only have 15 left! Don’t forget to leave your name and contact info in the “Special Instructions” box.

P.S.S. There were a lot of surprise expenses this year. Even if you don’t have $30, any amount helps.

Make a Donation Button

Kickstarter Shmickstarter


Like Chicago artists and DIY curators, we are scrappy and resourceful. To us, “no” just means “try harder,” or, at the very least, “try it another way.” So while our Kickstarter wasn’t successful this year, we haven’t given up on raising some extra dough for our hardworking event producers.

 You can still donate to 2FR 2014, AND you can still get those sweet rewards for donating.

Check out our donation page for complete details.

Fund our 2014 Kickstarter: Double or Nothing (Literally)

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So, the good news is, we’ve managed to raise $850 via Kickstarter thus far (Hooray! Thanks, everyone!) The bad news is, according to the ironclad rules of Kickstarter, if we don’t raise our goal amount by the deadline, we lose all of the donations. This means that we have little more than 1 day to raise the remaining $1,150. Tricky, but not impossible. We did the math (Please be impressed. Math is not our best subject.) and determined that we can totally make $1,150 if ~77 of you donate $15, or if 50 of you donate $30. That’s ~77 sit-down lunches or 50 Urban Outfitters T-shirts that, let’s be real, you don’t really need. So why not throw that money away on something we can all enjoy?

You didn’t want that black bean burger anyway.

Done here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/445506472/2nd-floor-rear-2014

Volunteer Task Force, Assemble!


2nd Floor Rear 2014 needs a fleet of outstanding volunteers to make their third year the smoothest and sexiest yet!

Do you <3 ART? Does you resume need an extracurricular? Do you wanna shmooze with Chicago’s hot new thangs? Are you a generous soul with some time to donate? If you said “yes” to any of these (out-loud or in your head) then this position is right for you!
We need help:
- Posting fliers throughout Logan Square, Bucktown, Ukrainian Village, Avondale, Humboldt Park, Wicker Park, and all major Universities
- Wheat pasting large posters
- Delivering festival materials to event venues
- Crafting fabric pennant banners and Kickstarter rewards
- Help event producers set up for events and install work
- The extraordinarily trustworthy can help run and monitor events
- The extra-dedicated and outgoing can act as festival “docents,” escorting festival-goers from venue to venue
- Helping venues with breakdown and cleanup
Interested?You should:
1.) Email 2FR 2014’s Volunteer Task Force Captain Karly at itsa.karly.pony@gmail.com, letting her know you’re interested and what your special skills are.
2.) Sit and enjoy the feeling of good karma flowing back at cha. We seriously appreciate you volunteering. You will be rewarded with snacks and 2FR schwag.
Thanks for reading through this! Please forward to any potentially interested friends/roommates/randos!
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Don’t Panic!



The dreaded Winter Vortex is upon us, and with that comes cancelled meetings, emergency grocery shopping, and panic naps. But not to worry! We’re working hard to put 2FR 2014’s schedule of events together. If you sent us a proposal and still haven’t heard back, expect an email within the next 24 hours. We promise!


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