Sunday, November 22, 2009

Snack Time Report, Friday November 20th

by Jeriah Hildwine

Packer-Schopf was quite the scene last night. I'm not really up on local television personalities, Stephanie and I don't own a TV, not so much in that elitist hippie way ("Kill your TV, man") but more like we moved in together and didn't have roommates with a TV anymore, and never bothered to get one because who the hell has time to watch TV anyway? But apparently there's a fellow named Phil Ponce, who is apparently the host of something called "Chicago Tonight" on WTTW, which is apparently a network of some kind. (Okay, so I'm a little out of touch with some elements of popular culture, so sue me.)

So, this show at Packer-Schopf consists of artworks made by Phil Ponce's wife and daughter. No, no, relax, it's two separate women. Ann Ponce is a painter and her daughter Maria is a photographer. I met Ann in her studio on Wilson Ave. up in my neighborhood of Ravenswood, during Ravenswood Art Walk. I really appreciate traditional, realistic figure painting, and Ann does it well, so I was looking forward to this show especially from that perspective. But this isn't about art...this is about snacks!

I may not follow celebrities particularly closely, but I have learned one thing: where there are celebrities, there are snacks. And boy oh boy, were there snacks at Packer-Schopf for this opening! (Yes, there were.) Immediately inside the front door was a table displaying chocolates, from the Anna Shea company Like I occasionally have to point out, you can't buy a mention in the snack just have to give me snacks. So, thanks for the delicious chocolates, Anna Shea. I'm not 100% clear on which ones I had; looking through their catalog, I think the second one I had, which was my favorite, was the "Lia." I nibbled it and immediately thought it was so good I brought it to Stephanie to try it. She said it tasted like licorice, I think, but I didn't read it that way. The catalog describes its filling as "Earl Grey Tea Ganache: Floral dark chocolate ganache complimented with an Earl Grey tea infusion and orange blossom water." Man oh man, what a good chocolate. Seriously, I'm not even usually a giant fan of fancy chocolates (too many "mystery fruit" fillings that taste like the flavored local anesthetic they give you at the dentist's office) but this was epic. If you buy a love interest a box of these as a romantic advance and they aren't immediately smitten, you can safely write them off as a person with no taste whatsoever and move on with your life. I promise.

So that was greeting me at the front door. Then we looked at the paintings and photographs in the main gallery, at the rear of which was a table serving wine and popcorn. For the wine, Steph and I had brought our GSI Wine Glasses, which I had ordered from REI. No more drinking wine out of little plastic cups! These plastic wine glasses are "takedown" models, meaning the stem unscrews from the bowl and then the foot snaps onto the rim, with the stem inside, making for a very compact package. To protect them from scratches, we pack the two of them base-to-base inside an old (clean) sock. They worked great!

The popcorn was in these big metal drums; it probably said the brand on it but I wasn't taking notes. There were two, well sort of three flavors: you could get caramel, or cheese, or there was a third drum that had some of each in it. I opted for the mix. I thought it was delicious, Stephanie was put off by the mix. She's not too fond of the sweet-and-savory mix, generally, while I am. Regardless, they were available separately, for those who so prefer.

Downstairs, there was yet another snack table, and this one was the real hearty fare. In addition to a refill of wine, I had dolmas, falaffel, hummus, baba ghanouj, and pita. The falaffel was particularly good, which was surprising: falaffel served at events is usually a bit hard on the outside, probably because it hardens as it sits out for a while, but this stuff was really nicely textured, not too hard at all. Nicely done! An excellent spread such as this is precisely the kind of behavior on the part of galleries that I'm hoping to encourage with these snack reports. Thanks for the snacks, Aron. They were truly excellent.

We headed over to the 118-119 Peoria buildings; our first stop was Walsh. They were having some kind of 16th Anniversary celebration, so the place was all full of balloons and T-shirts. Unfortunately I didn't see any snacks, although I did see a couple of cups that might have once had wine in them, so maybe I missed something. Or maybe they'd drifted across the hall from Dubhe CarreƱo Gallery, which was serving red wine. We stuck with the gallery-provided plastic cups, since transferring the wine to our glasses might have proved awkward. Thanks for the wine, guys!

To wrap up the West Loop, we headed across the street to Western Exhibitions, which had the standard galvanized tub of Grolsch. Ah, good old Grolsch. The fliptops are great for if you finish looking at the work before you finish your beer, you can close it up for the trek to the next space. Thanks for the beer!

65 Grand, as usual, had a bucket of ice with cans of Old Style in it. An apartment gallery classic! Thanks for the beer, Bill!

Noble and Superior Projects
is a relatively new apartment gallery who made a good first impression on me last month with an excellent offering of snacks at the reception for their first show, haven't dropped the ball. Once again they offered a variety of cheese (I think it was pepper jack, mozzarella, and Swiss) and crackers (several types), cookies (several types), nuts (mixed), beer, and wine. I accepted my hosts' gracious offer of Trader Joe's canned lager, called Simpler Times. Last month I had the bottled Frugal Joe's Ordinary Beer, which I liked; Simpler Times was also good: a basic, unpretentious canned lager, a bit better than the usual. I liked it. Even though I was still kind of full from Packer, I had some cheese and crackers, too. Thanks for the beer and snacks, Erin and Patrick!

Abryant is a relatively new "gallery" that basically consists of owner and director Angela Bryant curating exhibitions in different spaces. The current show, "Technically, It's Art," is only her second project, but it was looking good. The setting was incredibly posh as well; every fixture was black, and the bathroom sink was this crazy apparatus with electronic temperature controls and weird colored lights in the water. It was intense. The whole apartment was over the top, or "off the chain" as I hear the kids say these days. Snacks consisted of cheese and crackers, and wine. There was beer in the fridge, too. I stuck to cheese, crackers, and a couple of glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon in my GSI wine glass. Thanks for the snacks and wine, Angela, and congrats on a great show!

This wraps up another snack report. Our mission, to encourage galleries, museums, and project spaces of all kinds to up the ante on the refreshments tables. Never another starving artist! And to encourage our readers to get out there and look at some art, because you should never have to pay for a drink on a Friday night.


  1. I look forward to the day when the galleries of Chicago cater their openings with you in mind. When I come visit, can we go on snack tour together?

  2. Jeriah & Stephanie,
    Phil & I LOVED this review! Thank you for being there; I only got to say hello to you because of the distraction of all the people around (and the snacks, of course.) Am forwarding this to our neighbors who donated the Garrett popcorn AND to Aron Packer, of course.