The 2FR 2015 Fun(d)raiser is Live!

Pledge your support to 2nd Floor Rear 2015 here!

Even DIY art festivals have bills to pay. Since we don’t take in money from sales or advertising, and aren’t yet a 501c3, we have to get creative about where the money comes from. We did a little summer fundraiser with Threewalls and ten generous artists, and entry fees from accepted project proposals will cover printing, but we still have a long way to go. That’s why we’re calling on you, our crazy, wonderful collaborators, fans, and supporters to give a little to our 2015 Indiegogo campaign, and get a lot in return.

Here’s a summary of what we need and what we’re offering:

What We Need

$2,675 minimum, by January 24.

This will cover our basic operational budget. We believe that creative labor is valuable labor, and should be paid labor. While nobody’s going to get rich off this, offering our contract staff small stipends is, for us, a matter of integrity. We also need to pay for posters, festival maps, and we like to buy our volunteers the occasional pizza.


What You Get

$1 A Subliminal Hug | Subliminal hugs are made to order per each $1 pledge. After incubating each subliminal hug for an undisclosed period of time, we carefully stuff them into tiny cannons and shoot them across the ether. Subliminal hugs can take anywhere between 30 seconds to eight business days to arrive. Expect to experience a light pressure and waves of inexplicable contentment upon receipt.

$5 Custom Tweet + FB Status Update | The festival admins are pretty good at the internet. Donate $5, and we’ll write a special Tweet/Facebook status update just for you. Example: “Jane Doe just gave us 5 bucks. Let’s cheer for Jane! *Hooray!* We don’t know Jane very well, but we picture her as the kind of person who appreciates squirrels for their tenacity, but refrains from volunteering this information in casual conversation.”

$15 Handmade Card | A handmade thank-you card, like Mom used to buy at the store, except not from a store. These cards will be gorgeously weird. We hope you like googly eyes.

$30 Warm-in-the-Winter Festival Readiness Kit | A warm-in-the-winter festival readiness kit* tucked inside a custom 2FR15 tote bag. We strongly recommend this reward, as it will contain things you will wish you had handy when the winter art hopping starts to get real.

$50 Real Art from a Real 2FR15 Artist | A limited edition artists’ thing, made by an artist affiliated with 2FR15. Once we’ve made it halfway to our fundraising goal, we’ll reveal the artist and the limited edition thing.

$100+ New BFFs | Invitation to the 2FR15 pre-festival “family dinner,” sometime in mid-late January. You’ll get to hang with the folks that make the festival tick, including this year’s artists, curators, producers and advisors. We are nice, and mostly probably don’t bite…but we do have a lot of opinions and weird ideas, and would rather talk about them than play Yahtzee. You’ve been warned. (Bonus points: For every $50 you add on to the $100, you’ll get an invite for one guest (so $150 = you and one guest, $200 = you and two guests, and so on))

Contest! Highest single donation: Become a local legend | We’ll get someone who is good at drawing to whip up a portrait of you. We’ll pair this portrait with a (tasteful) statement about how great you are (like , “This is Steve. Steve smiles and makes eye contact, but not in a creepy way.”), and send it off to our friends at Busy Beaver Button Company. They will make 100 buttons. We will distribute these during the festival. You will be famous(ish)!.


Donating comes with one more reward: the sweet satisfaction of knowing that you contributed to the work and livelihoods of some of Chicago’s most exciting working artists. Also, did we mention that funding helps keep the festival free? For the fourth year in a row, there are no tickets to buy, no cover charge, and we want to keep it that way.


What You Do Now

Follow this link, pledge your support, and share the campaign on your social media site of choice (and hey, there’s nothing wrong with good ol’ fashioned email). And know that we deeply, really appreciate it, and we’re stoked to bring you another great festival. You’ve earned it.



2015 Call for Proposals: Special Projects

Due midnight, CST on Friday, December 19

2nd Floor Rear is pleased to announce two special project locations for the 2015  edition of the festival: Corner, a storefront project space located at 2912 N. Milwaukee Ave., and the Whistler Storefront Gallery, located at 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.


The Corner



Corner is a storefront project space run by Avondale artist Lynn Basa.

2nd Floor Rear and Corner currently seek proposals for an installation that will remain in the storefront gallery for the entire month of February, with a live, participatory component to take place in or around the space for any length of time during 2nd Floor Rear 2015 (Feb. 7-8).

Installation Specs

  • Corner is a white-walled gallery space with large, street-facing windows. Download PDF with complete specs here.
  • The proposed installation should address the entire space and be visible from the street.

Participatory Event

  • In addition to an installation, the proposed project should include a live participatory component. This must take place in or around the gallery space sometime during 2nd Floor Rear 2015 (Feb. 7-8).
  • Ideally, the participatory component will draw locals to the space during the festival.
  • All types of work will be reviewed, but preference will be given to projects with participatory components that incorporate storytelling, food, or gatherings, and that engage 2nd Floor Rear 2015’s curatorial premise.

Additional Details

  • If selected, the installation component of the proposed project will remain in the gallery space for the entire month of February.
  • The proposer will work closely with Lynn Basa to ensure successful execution of the installation and participatory component.
  • The artist(s) must be ready to install by the last week of January.
  • Proposals by groups and individuals will be considered.

To Apply

Send the following to no later than midnight, CST, on Friday, December 19:

  • Written description of project–both the installation and participatory component (250-500 words)
  • Brief (100-250 words) answers to the following questions:
    • Given this year’s curatorial premise, how do you see your proposed project contributing to the festival’s overall vibe?
    • Describe the experience you hope the audience will have. Ultimately, what do you want people to walk away with?
  • Examples of previous work- link to an online portfolio preferable. Alternately, attachments of no more than 5 examples (tif, jpeg, psd, pdf) will be accepted.
  • Artist Statement or Bio
  • A Resume/C.V.
  • Visual mock-up of project– (tif, jpeg, psd, pdf) not mandatory, but strongly encouraged



Whistler exterior

The Whistler Storefront Gallery

The Whistler is a bar, gallery, record label, and venue that hosts live music and DJs seven nights a week. The Whistler Storefront Gallery showcases a new and unique art installation every other month, with a focus on three-dimensional work by local artists.

2nd Floor Rear and The Whistler currently seek proposals for an installation that will remain in the storefront gallery for the months of January and February, with a reception to take place on Sunday, February 8, as part of 2nd Floor Rear 2015’s programming.

Installation Specs

  • The window is approximately 12’ wide x 6’ tall, with an enclosed space roughly 2.5’ deep x 13’ wide x 10’ tall.
  • The space is equipped with one, 15A circuit, and two dimmable standard overhead bulb fixtures.
  • Work of all types will be reviewed, however preference will be given to installation and 3D works that utilize the entire space, and relate to 2nd Floor Rear 2015’s curatorial premise.
  • Please refer to the “Gallery” section of the website for outside views of the space.

Reception / Other Programing

  • In addition to, or in place of, a reception, the artist may elect to incorporate performance or some other live presentation during the festival, Sat-Sun Feb. 7-8.
  • Any additional live component may occur in or around The Whistler, but may not interfere with The Whistler’s hours of operation or regularly scheduled Saturday night programming.

Additional Details

  • The Whistler will award a $150 stipend to the selected proposer.
  • An area on The Whistler’s website will be provided for artist bio and contact information.
  • Time allotted for installation of work is 2 days. Time allotted for de-installation is 1 day.
  • The artist must be ready to install the first week of January.

To Apply

Send the following to no later than midnight, CST, on Friday, December 19:

  • Written description of project (250 words max)
  • If you wish to incorporate live performance or other time-based component during the festival (Feb. 7-8), please include a brief written description (250 words max)
  • Visual mock-up of project– (tif, jpeg, psd, pdf)
  • Examples of previous work- link to an online portfolio preferable. Alternately, attachments of no more than 5 examples (tif, jpeg, psd, pdf) will be accepted.
  • Artist Statement


Questions? Comments? Check out our FAQ page, or email

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:

RM photo-main

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Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 6.52.49 PM Continue reading

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

To preview the silent auction, visit

2nd Floor Rear 2014: Second Lives

From One to Another 09


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. 

From One to Another 11

From One to Another 16


From One to Another 07


From One to Another 17

From One to Another 18

From One to Another 19

Welcome to 2nd Floor Rear 2014!

2nd floor 2014 letter v2


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

funraiser tote

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)

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 4.48.56 PM


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:


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