If the night could be reproduced, would there no longer be such a thing as a starving artist?

When a fundraiser for starving artists is called Starving Artist and involves not just food but edible art created by chefs who’ve self-actualized as artists and starved artists no longer, the hyperbole and reality of the hunger in all its forms resonates in places that are rarely accessible, “places you don’t talk about at parties.” So powerful was the transformation, it rendered a fairly innocuous looking cube of musk melon into something worthy of careful analysis – Chef Koren Grieveson of avec has such powers – as its co-inspired art created by the amazing and truly kind master artist Tim Anderson stared back at you. Beef tartar care of Girl & The Goat’s Stephanie Izard took on a similar complexity as person after person quieted much longer than it takes to swallow as they contemplated what it all means. But just before things grew too quiet for crickets and tumbleweeds to make an appearance, burlesque dancers from Pearl Pistol Productions would saunter by offering yet more contemplative edibles while a carefully curated set of ambient tunes care of DJ Margot played out into the night.

Such was the menagerie of fantasy and collective sensation at the Chicago Artists’ Coalition (CAC) last night during their first annual Starving Artist event. Involving a silent auction pitting offerings from four of Chicago’s vanguard chefs in addition to four equally accomplished Chicago artists, the gallery space seethed in the type of frisson that truly changes people for there was more than just money on the line. After all, quietly waiting in the basement were some of the “starving artists.”

Referred to as Bolt Project Space, Bolt residents represent those select few Chicago artists who competed and won not only the right to rent out space in the basement of the CAC headquarters but receive guidance, support and exposure.  Marty Burns, Amber Hawk Swanson, Eric Wall, Melika Bass, Homa Shojaie, Gwynne Johnson, Jenny Kendler, Stacia Yeapanis, Kathryn Trumbull Fimreite, and the duo that is Sarah Belknap and Joseph Belknap make up this elite few. As Alyson Koblas, Director of Membership and Programs pointed out, the success of the evening also “allowed the artists to network as well.”

This type of networking might be one of the biggest payoffs for the evening, a type of capital that goes beyond literal money. Nancy Herring, Chair and Financial Consultant of the CAC Board of Directors, spoke of the importance of the “unrestricted funding” allowing “improvements to the work environment” of the resident artists. Alyson Koblas qualified the financials even further with mention of the value of attracting folks who usually don’t attend art events such as Starving Artist: The foodies.

Celebrity is a powerful thing that can transform complete human wastelands into something worthy of charging admission fees just to see. When that power is yoked with the laurels of hard work and talent such as that exemplified with the artists and chefs in the gallery last night, people who didn’t even realize they were aficionados forked over the $125 ticket fees to take it all in.

While many folks worked together to make the magic happen, over and over again one name among even the famous kept cropping up over and over again: Carolina O. Jayaram. In particular, Maria Campos-Vera, charge of social media promotion and volunteer coordinator, mentioned Carolina Jayaram’s success in changing things up at Chicago Artists’ Coalition with her lack of Chicago roots; Jayaram just moved here from Florida. Consequently, she brings to the Chicago arts scene more than new perspective but freedom from the constrictions that too often saddle efforts to help Chicago artists. Kathleen Rapp, exhibitions assistant and intern, brimmed with the euphoria – and it really was euphoria everyone was feeling by the end of the night – enabled by such exquisite leadership: “There’s art on the wall, food and the whimsy brought on by the burlesque dancers that even allowed the chefs a little break.” This seems like a simple observation but having watched the chefs exhale a huge sigh of relief when the dancing started, the observation is astute. The success of an event often lives and dies by small graces such as a break afforded by the stylings and compelling allure of even a dancer. Attention to such details make for not only a promising future for the Chicago Artists’ Coalition but hopefully, the entirety of Chicago’s artists.

See Slideshow of Starving Artist on Flickr »

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