Artists in Conversation:

Suzanne Clores

Writing the Book that Comes to You

Trusting Your Gut with Intuitive Research

I didn’t plan to write this book. I had been planning and drafting and revising another book—a novel about a fake Intuitive Medium—for the better part of ten years. That book remains in progress. The new one took over, and it came to me in a flash.

Ginny Sykes by Joe Mazza

Evaluating the Worth of Art Fairs and Satellites

Lessons from the Field: Miami and Stockholm

A commercial fair is a trade show. You are taking your work to market. Learn about your audience. It takes time to build your presence. Hone your organizational skills and talking points. Meet as many people as you can. Find out why they have come to the fair and what kind of art they collect.

Deb R. Lewis

Tips for Queer Artists in Chicago

No tantrums, return the favor and ask for what you want

Your art may have a lot a meaning for the queer community. This is one kind of success. Just as queer folk don’t devour strictly queer fare, neither should your art feed only the queer set. You will get further, faster, if you have something to say to the broader audience.

Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant

One Part Plant

Using both brains: changing your diet to improve productivity

The gut contains more neurotransmitters than the brain. Food is information, not just calories. When I was feeding my gut with crappy Sour Patch Kids and Big Gulps, I was sending a message to my brain to feel like crap, too. When I started treating my belly with the same care as my brain, powerful productivity changes happened.

Singletrack: Charles Rumback - Drummer

"Convulsive" performed by Stirrup

When I wrote this piece, I was still making music with a band called Leaves. I always felt like the guys in Leaves played this song beautifully, but the band broke up before we had a chance to record it. Since then I recorded this song a few different times with a few different bands.

The Cast of "Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology"

Singletrack: Victoria Blade

"Let Hope Rise" from the stage production, Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology

I wrote this song the night before an audition for a play addressing crime in Chicago. I was driving home and began to think about what to write. I didn’t know anything about crime in my city, so I began to pray and ask God His perspective on this seemingly hopeless issue.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Players. Photo by Andrew Spear.

Singletrack: John Dorhauer of Heisenberg Uncertainty Players

"Death & Taxes" from the album Emergency Postcards

“Death & Taxes” was originally written for Black Umbrella Brigade (a rock band I’m in). Our singer wanted a danceable, instrumental song, so I brought in this idea for an angular funk jam. It was too hip for the room, though, and we never performed it.


Singletrack: Rob Warmowski of Sirs

"Mira, Mira, Maribel" from the album High Minors

This song has the usual rock and roll theme: trying to get through to a woman. This song has a minor-key, quiet-loud-quiet flavor and some lyrics in Spanish. My mother's family is from Puerto Rico. Spanish phonology can be very forgiving when writing lyrics. Lots of attractive vowels.

Derek Harmening

Derek Harmening: Writer, Indie Book Store Staff

How I learned to stop worrying and love the books

The Book Cellar sells books at list price, as it must. But for that extra five-to-ten dollars per book, you’re treated to an entire world: a space for weekly book clubs, for children’s story time, for local authors to come read and sign their work.

John Cicora

Singletrack: John Cicora of Nootka Sound

"Lines and Creases" from the album A Man and His Ego/Evelyn

The hardest part about writing and arranging for a larger ensemble is deciding when to employ every instrument, which produces a huge sound, and when to value dynamics through the utilization of only a few instruments.

Singletrack: Frank Catalano

"Sona" from the album XXX

As a saxophonist, I have always loved the challenge of expressing moods, emotions and feelings with out using words. Bending the pitch of the notes, vibrato, false fingerings can all help shade the saxophone's notes, but heart and feeling is always king.

Roger Lee

Dance & Choreography

On attracting and retaining diverse audiences

“Many professional dance companies in major U.S. cities dream of having more African American audiences for their work. Reality sets in as artistic and administrative staff look out over the crowd and wonder where all the African Americans audiences have gone.

Markus Rutz

Singletrack: Markus Rutz

"I'll Remember November" from the album It's Cooler by the Lake

The initial elements of this tune came together my first Thanksgiving out of college; I was playing chords on an upright Kimball piano in my grandmother’s living room in Oak Park, Illinois. The title reflects that time of year when we were always in Chicago.

Suzanne Clores, author

Suzanne Clores - On Finishing

Eight tips for writers approaching the finish line

I won't suggest that you write at the same time every day, decorate your writing area, or drink enough water. The end of any large work is as physical as it is psychological, so in addition to maintaining workout routines, therapy appointments and sleep schedules, approach the end of your book, essay or story collection with authenticity and grace.

Phil Schurger

Phil Schurger: On Presence

Music as a conduit for mysticism

Music is an intention. It is thought directed toward manifesting the essence of an experience. Meditating upon music is like meditating on a symbol: it can often inspire other forms to arise in the mind and dip into a wealth of information associated with that symbol.

Bill MacKay of Darts & Arrows

Singletrack: Bill MacKay of Darts & Arrows

"Mystic" from the album Eyes of the Carnival

I'd been thinking about "Mystic" awhile before presenting it to the band. I wanted to record it while the song was very fresh, so its innocent and searching qualities remained intact. To this end we didn't perform it live until after it was recorded.

Samuel "Savoirfaire" Williams

Samuel "Saviorfaire" Williams - Jazz Violinist

Strike a Balance ... And Don't Give It Away

I believe that few people who consider themselves musicians are really interested in performing for a living. I attribute this to the pervasive myth that there is no value in music as a profession. Too often musicians will play for exposure or for free or for the price of admission without any guarantee.

Ryan Singleton


Exploring the other side of literature

I want to hear a fire in authors’ voices today. Writers create work not only because it has meaning on a page; the sound of the words has meaning on its own. I want us all to hear their words as writers hear them internally.

Sabina Ott

Sabina Ott: Terrain Exhibitions

The territory and the terrain: defining an artist-run space

My experience of galleries has been that the more important they are, the more inhospitable and chilly. There’s no place to sit and chat. Terrain is the absolute opposite. When you are at an opening party, you are in my house. You are invited.

Making Theater that Makes Money

Advice from Gorilla Tango Theatre

With a lot of nonprofit theater companies struggling to make ends meet in a tough economy, it seems implausible that anyone in their right mind would start a storefront theater company expecting to make money. Yet Dan Abbate has done just that. He started Gorilla Tango Theatre as a for-profit business in 2006 and sees that model as the future for live theater entertainment.