Much More Than Respite


Openings and/or Artists’ Receptions are a fact of any artist’s life. They’re usually quite pleasant, though on rare occasions, I’ve had people wanting to argue about what they see (and, truth be told, I sometimes relish that, just for the atypical interaction). Generally, I need to take a lot of hearing breaks to rest my ears; there are almost always natural lulls in the attendance that work out beautifully for those; and invariably, I smile and say ‘oh, thank you’ so much that my face can hurt the next day.

The reception for ‘Respite’ last night was incredible!  I planned to arrive a bit early to document the work*, but the doors were already open before the ‘official’ hours, for the East Pilsen neighborhood’s monthly Second Friday artwalk, and it was crowded when I got there…and then ‘crowded’ quickly escalated to ‘packed’ and it stayed continuously, riotously so for an entire four hours.  There was not one..single…lull, not even a slight tapering off.  It went way, way beyond ‘pleasant’ and it will remain one of my favourite opening experiences of all time.


So: I want to thank Vespine, very much.  ‘Respite’ is this year’s version of their annual November invitational show; they came up with the idea and title early last June, while I was at Women’s Studio Workshop, offering the show to me, JE Baker and Maria Jose Prenafeta-pepi, as artists who might need some respite from stress. A bit later on, the show grew to include Amanda Meeks, Marnie Galloway, Sarah F. VogelShayna Cohen and Suzi Cozzens (aka Suzette En Croute) for the same reasons. Those reasons had nothing at all to do with last night’s incredible attendance, however: it was obvious throughout the evening that the big draw was the art, and the art alone….hooray! This was Chicago supporting Chicago artists, and people were engaging with the work on a very thorough level: excellent.


People reading Sarah F Vogel’s books. They read all the wall text, too…!

Women’s Studio Workshop gave the show (and me!)  a lovely shout-out from afar yesterday; I also want to thank them for their continuing incredible support.

A personal pleasure that added to the entire experience was the fact that I used to live at Vespine; it was my home and studio for many, many years, before I moved in with Paul. Today, I’m recuperating a bit, and smiling a lot while I assemble slides for my talk tomorrow at Evanston Print & Paper. I’m thinking that Eileen’s ‘She’s Back’ applies to the entire weekend for me.

Also, most especially, thanks to everyone who came out last night. (And I am wishing Aimee a similar lovely experience at her reception in Lake George tonight.)


*I couldn’t!  Coming soon, I promise.

5 thoughts on “Much More Than Respite

  1. thanks for thinking of me! i was thinking of you, and SO psyched to hear it went so smashingly well!! i had the same issue w/being unable to document…only i don’t get to go back later to do it since it’s too far.

    hooray, hooray, congrats!!!

  2. Melissa, wow, what an incredible opening!! These are the events we all dream of. I relate too well for your need to take those hearing breaks. Been there, done that. But you seem to manage so well in spite of the hearing issues. Must o’ been quite a roar in that room!

  3. Thanks, everyone – (for some reason, WordPress didn’t send me any of these comments via e-mail, so I didn’t see them till just now).

    Velma: I’ll get back to document the show sometime this week!

    Smith: Hmmmm…I’m heading to the unemployment office again tomorrow, so I don’t know about those coattails. (Though it’s kind of surreal and funny to have both experiences within the same few days. I can live with that).

    Aimee: I was thinking of you. How could I not, with openings the same weekend? Suzanne was there, and lots of folks you know, and you were mentioned more than once during the brouhaha!

    Stephanie: Yep. If I wasn’t already nearly deaf, it might have happened during those four hours. I had REALLY tired ears afterwards, whew. But it was worth it.

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