So I've been dreaming about leaving Chicago for as long as I can remember. I've always stayed for sentimental reasons...family n' friends. That and the ol' cliches that say "No matter where you go, there you are" and "grow where you're planted" running through my head. Meanwhile I'm feeling the itch to head West again! The fact of the matter is that even though Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States...it's not very progressive. It's the Midwest after all. I used to Co-own an art gallery here pre-2000 called "Backburner Art" We were basically creating, showing, selling what is now more commonly known as LowBrow Art these days. People were confused...art snobs called us "amatuer artists" and the "cool kids" were like WTF? At that time Graffitti Art had already been sanctioned as a legitamate art movement by the Art World. But what we were doing was a little different...it was still street...but rooted in Alternative Culture...Punk, Goth, Fetish...an Art/Music Mash-Up! We got really positive feedback from people who mattered, so it was worth it. At the time I was making Art Dolls...this is before the handmade Ugly Doll phenomena. My dolls are inspired by European Witch Poppets, Native American Medicine Dolls, Vodou Dolls, and African Effigies. I curated and participated in several amazing Art/Music Events before calling it quits...
A few small windows of opportunity opened for me. My neighbors in the loft downstairs knocked on my door one morning and said "Hey, you know a lot about Voodoo...right?" They did film related projects...and were shooting a music video for a major record label...I think it was BMG. The band was called the Atomic Fireballs...kind of garage rock/swing band, the song was called "Man with a Hex" I met with the set designer who didn't even know where to start. I pulled out a book called Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou and suggested re-creating a Vodou temple. I pointed her and her team to the nearest Botanica to stock up on Novena candles (prayer candles), the Dollar store for misc. supplies. Everything else was taken from my loft space...my dolls, potions, altar fetiches...they took art right off my walls, two huge boxes of stuff. I showed them how to draw VeVe's (magickal symbols) on the floor with flour. They had a nice budget to work with....but only ended up spending about 100 bucks on blue paint, candles, and yarn which they wrapped old bottles with to look like libation bottles, colored tissue paper to create drapo...flags representing the spirits. Not only did the team get paid a nice hourly sum, they probably pocketed the rest of the budget money. Did I mention that I did not get paid for this? You'd think they could have tossed me a bone! But instead I had to go retrieve my belongings later that evening, only to find my sacred objects cast aside and thrown into the boxes I had neatly and carefully packed them into. Things were lost and damaged...it sucked. I didn't get paid...I didn't get credit...not even a thank you! Here's the video, you'll see my doll pictured above in it! The next day my roomate had her BFA Show for the Photography Dept. of Columbia College. It was a huge event. Some guy sat on the edge of our koy pond and tipped the whole thing over...it spilled about 100 gallons of water through floor boards and soaked all the record companies film equipment. That's what I like to call "Involuntary Voodoo"!
Man with the Hex
Geoff Kinde | MySpace Music Videos
Moving forward about 2 years later, in the fall of 2002 I opened my shop called BELOVED...Spiritual Goods and Mystic Curios. Just prior to opening the doors my friend and co-worker at the nightclub I tended bar at jumped on board and became my business partner. She jumped ship after two years...she suffered a series of nervous breakdowns resulting from a combination of personal issues. Running a business was just too much stress for her to handle on top of all the problems she was dealing with in her personal life. I carried on for a year after that...and decided to close shop after 3 years. I'm really proud of what I offered to the market place through that outlet. I stocked handmade soap and candles, incense, potions, herbs, essential oils, jewelry, Intuitive Art...local and global artists. It was a fabulous Mystical Witchy Gypsy party 7 days a week. I hung a huge custom rusty metal Sacred Heart in front of my shop...and a Vodou Heart VeVe on the front door.
I represented Wicca, Paganism, Shamanism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judism, Vodou, Hoodoo and Gypsy Folk Magick, Santeria, even yes Catholicism...once a Catholic School girl always a Catholic School Girl ;) We even represented good ol' Satan...something for everyone! OneLove Lavonaism! Sequined Vodou Prayer Flags (Drapo) hang next to Tibetan Prayer Flags (Thankas)...in my little Utopia. I offered Tarot Readings and different courses in Spirituality...Modern Witchcraft, Green Magick, Hoodoo. My pal Dj RedLox aka Siri Adi Singh held Kundalini Yoga and meditation classes for a while.
I closed the door in June of 2005...I miss it! I've been coming down from that experience ever since and trying to figure out what path to take next. Is it time to pack up my Gypsy Caravan and head to California? I don't know how the hell I'll going to pull that off...but everything always falls into place!