Art & Art History
ALERT – Please Proceed to a Shelter Nearest You
ALERT – Please Proceed to a Shelter Nearest You is an exhibition created in conjunction with the Artists of the Little City Multi-Disciplinary Art Center. The exhibition responds to the society of fear, to the propagation of anxiety and stress that currently pervade our mental lives. Designed to question the definition of “emergency,” the show explores how our consumer culture perpetuates fear while ignoring concerns such as health care, housing, and education.
Over the course of the ALERT exhibition, Gallery 400 was used as a shelter for relief efforts in case of any emergency: it provided a work site, an information/distribution center, a support system, and entertainment.
Artists of Little City Multi-Disciplinary Art Center respond to our concern for alert/alarm systems for safety and protection by collecting vital information for our general well-being and design systems in the event of Emergency. All of the artists at Little City were asked what they thought was needed in the event of an emergency and how to go about addressing that need. What resulted was a series of contingency plans—exaggerated as the case may have been—that gave one an appearance of solace in the face of an imminent potential threat. Over the course of the ALERT exhibition, Gallery 400 will be used as a shelter for relief efforts in case of any emergency: it will provide a work site, an information/distribution center, a support system, and entertainment.
Together with the exhibition, POST commissioned “Evacuation Plan,” a new poster created by artists of the Little City Multi-Disciplinary Art Center. For their POST project, artists Harold Jefferies, Kathy Kane, and Michael Lyon responded to non-specific crisis situations with the messages, “Don ’t Freeze, Run!” and “If It ’s Really Bad…Take Other Precautions.” Layered on top of a sprawling, line-drawn evacuation plan, the artists consider the protocols of emergency conditions and question the assumptions of personal safety and well-being. Posters are available in limited supply at Gallery 400 during the opening reception and are posted throughout various south and northwest neighborhoods.
The Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center (MDAC) at Little City Foundation (LCF) exists to support the creative expression and the artistic culture of people with developmental disabilities through a variety of artistic media, including video, visual, and performing arts. Artists working at the Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center at Little City Foundation include Harold Jefferies, Charles Beinhof, Dana Duerr, Rita O ’Connell, Ken Hirsch, Mike Lyon, John King, Jack Armstrong, Nick Diedrich, Kathy Kane, Jeanne Reindl, Lori Couve, Charles Seeberg, Martin Markowski, Jeris Reed, Marcellous Williams, and Jerry Rose. Their work is facilitated by Brett Bloom, Jennifer Galicinski, John Grod, Esther Hwang, Pete Liebenow, Laura Piazza, Michael Piazza, John Ploof, and Margo Rush.
ALERT- Please Proceed to a Shelter Nearest You was commissioned as part of the 2003 At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago
ALERT- Please Proceed to a Shelter Nearest You is presented concurrently with POST Chicago: April 2003 – April 2004.
Postcard: Alert – Please Proceed to a Shelter Nearest You – Opening Reception
Poster: Alert – Please Proceed to a Shelter Nearest You
ALERT – Please Proceed to a Shelter Nearest You is supported by the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Special thanks to the jury that selected the 2003 At The Edge projects: Danielle Gustafson-Sundell (artist and co-director of Deluxe Projects), Paul Ha (Executive Director, Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis), Kevin Kaempf (artist), Jennifer Reeder (artist and UIC faculty member), and Lorelei Stewart (Director, Gallery 400).
Run! Don’t Freeze
From atop the robot, the Mayor deployed his forces. His regular agents couldn’t take part in operation Gallery 400; funds for overtime had been drastically cut. So the agents completed their work in advance. Laboring on their behalf, supporters set up stockpiles and opened supply lines. They worked in shifts.
They first secured the homes. Extra-high fencing went up around each house, corners triple-knotted with rope, marked with red posts. Inside, halogen beam floor lamp airbags.
Then came the safety signs, videos and manuals, walls were built and named. Emergency exit plans were drafted and approved. Lists compiled and laminated. Natural disasters itemized. As were hot items, flammable materials, insects that bite or sting, and things that are poisonous. “Be wary of strangers!”
She had been playing with her brother (who was a bit older), building with bricks. The bricks were light weight cardboard covered with brick-patterned contact paper. They played in the foyer with the front door open wide to let in afternoon sunlight and a little breeze. She was always deferring to her brother who knew best, or so she thought at the time. If he had really known best he would have known not to play by an open door. A black Lincoln (maybe an Oldsmobile) pulled up in front of the house, maybe twenty, maybe thirty feet away. Men in dark suits wearing black sunglasses jumped out of the car like in the movies. Acting quickly, somehow she had enough time (though she had no time, really) to close the front door as quickly as she could, except it wasn’t very quickly, it couldn’t be because in order to shut the front door itself, one first had to shut all the stained glass panels that connected the door to its frame. Only then could she shut the door, at which point it was too late. Being small, she was only able to reach a few panels. Her brother had scrambled. “Run! Don ’t freeze!” she thought. But she could no longer run. She had only one option: play dead.
The Mayor convened his cabinet. AlI were identified as strangers. Food pantries were stocked with canned items; the items were given warning labels. Barricades replaced regular walls. Building plans indicated exit doors. Bundled tightly, yarn lay piled.
Whenever she closed her eyes she could see them inside the corners of her eyelids. She never searched, but she knew that if she focused her attention just so, she would find them: the size of her thumb, dark fat brown cockroaches crawling into the corner and up the wall. She could hear them, and she could smell them. Under the plaster and lathe, there were thousands, if not millions. A building crawling under its own skin.
Her weapon was a large bottle of Borax. She puffed the powder in every crevice and ringed a thick beard on the floor around her bed. A poison moat: cross if you dare.
One day she snapped. As she stepped into the tub, she saw one near the drain. Back a minute later, can of spray in hand, she opened the shower curtain, pointed at the crack on the wall right where caulk was missing, and sprayed. Holding her breath, she sprayed more. Slowly, then fast, then much faster, tiny ones first fell, then large ones scurried fiIling the bottom of the tub before she blew it. She ran and slammed the bathroom door. With duct tape, she thickly sealed gaps around the door. A poison trap.
She didn’t sleep in the apartment for a week, maybe longer. When she returned (after pest control), she opened the door and found a death valley. Bulging, small, winged, flat, long, skinny. Crushed under her weight as she swept.
Sometimes you need to know things in advance. At least be prepared. Someone should have placed a warning on that building: ALERT. DON’T LIVE HERE. Instead, the apartment fooled her with rooms of light, more windows than walls.
She didn ’t warn anyone either when she finally left for good. By then it was too late. The disaster was over and she was left trying to get the roaches out of the corners of her eyelids.
In case of emergency, run. Don’t freeze. Someone should have told her that, though overconfident in her own comfort, she assumed she would, but didn’t. She stayed.
Everyone was on edge, except the Mayor’s forces, they had been living like this for a long time. The Mayor had asked them to take action and they had been ready. They spoke with the people of their fears, experiences, and strategies in an effort to thwart rage and greater chaos. Slowly, they erectad a banner to alert those who didn’t yet know.
For each stranger just entering the site, everything was strange. They read the banner: ALERT! TAKE NO RISKS OR RISK ALL.
Jacqueline Terrassa, Run! Don’t Freeze, November, 2003.
This essay was distributed in the gallery during the run of the exhibition.
Collaborative alarm soundwork (karaoke)
911 Series, 2004
One Black Man, 2004
Red Crosses Red Crescents Flag, 2004
A Wall So Thick God Can’t See Through, 2004
Drywall, discarded material
Evacuation Plan, 2004
Radio Shelf, 2004
Names tags for all visitors
Harold Jeffries, John King, Michael Lyon, with Brett Bloom
Robot Suit, 2004
Harold Jeffries, Charles Beinhoff, Dana Duerr, Rita O’Connell, Ken Hirsch, Mike Lyon, John King, Jack Armstrong, Brian Kaplan, Angelo LaPietra, Kathy Kane, Eric Priebe, Jeanne Reindl, Lori Couvé, and Charles Seeberg
Alert Channel 1 Video, 2004
Video, 42:04 min.
Harold Jeffries, Charles Beinhoff, Dana Duerr, Rita O’Connell, Ken Hirsch, Mike Lyon, John King, Jack Armstrong, Nick Diedrich, Kathy Kane, Jeanne Reindl, Lori Couvé, Charles Seeberg, Martin Markowski, Jeris Reed, Marcellous Williams, Jerry Rose
Radio Alert (88.5 FM), 2004
Audio, 57:28 min.
Safety Zone, 2004
We Need a Sidewalk, 2004
Safeway Food Distribution Center, 2004
Canned goods, warning labels, pantry shelves
Please use emergency exit doors in case of fire drills and tornado drills, 2004
Warning sign wallpaper
Alert Logo, 2004
Blueprints of safety airbags for household furniture and appliances, 2004
Design for Airbag Concepts/Beach Chair Prototype, 2004
Radio Antenna, 2004
The Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center at Little City Foundation supports the creative expression and artistic culture of people with developmental disabilities through a variety of media including video, visual, and performing arts. Little City Foundation is a residential center located in Palatine, Illinois; its mission is to provide services that will help children and adults with mental retardation and other developmental, emotional, and behavioral challenges lead meaningful and productive lives. The arts program at Little City began in 1985 with the launching of Project VITAL; its goal was to make video production more accessible to people with developmental challenges and other disabilities. Out of this program, the Media Arts Program began producing the award-winning KISS MY TV SHOW, which airs nationally on cable access channels. The media program also established a venue for artists with disabilities to create video, radio, and internet projects. The Studio Arts Program began in 1994 as a temporary artist residency; it has since grown into a daily program. Little City residents and artists from other residential facilities work Monday through Friday from 9 am to 3 pm alongside artist-facilitators who travel to the site. The Studio Arts Program allows the artists to pursue the arts as a vocation, offering them materials, space, equipment, and support so that they can create, exhibit, and sell their work.