In early November 2014, the Elastic Arts Foundation ceased operations at 2830 N. Milwaukee, a second-floor space that the 13-year-old nonprofit had occupied since 2006. According to director and cofounder Sam "Samiam" Lewis, the HVAC system had failed, leaving Elastic with no heat or air-conditioning. And because none of the windows in the space would open (the stairwell to the front door provided the only source of ventilation), even the relatively mild summer had been "insufferable," especially when the main room filled up for a concert, art opening, or other event.
As they moved out, the Elastic folks did their best to reassure the public that they had a new home in mind and would resume their programming there as soon as possible. But given the city's regressive, borderline hostile attitude toward its arts community (to say nothing of its obstructionist behavior), I certainly didn't consider that plan a done deal. I wouldn't believe Elastic had a new space till I saw it with my own eyes.
Thankfully, it's all true. It's really happening. On Thu 3/19, the handsome new home of the Elastic Arts Foundation throws open its doors for its first public event—part of an ongoing collaboration between Homeroom and Spudnik Press called Ten x Ten, which pairs ten improvising musicians with ten visual artists. And on Fri 3/20, the monthly Elastro electroacoustic series (booked by Elastic cofounder Paul Giallorenzo since 2003) returns with a show featuring a duo of drummer Michael Zerang and keyboardist Jim Baker, a solo set from Cooper Crain of Cave, and more.
Elastic's new quarters (3429 W. Diversey #208) are right around the corner from the old ones. At roughly 2,500 square feet, with a capacity of 120 people, they're quite a bit bigger—the Milwaukee Avenue space was about 1,700 square feet and was supposed to hold only 50.
Landlord Jaemey Shim Bush is the daughter of Ocean and Zero Shim, the couple who previously co-owned the building (the City Council named a stretch of street in the neighborhood after the two of them in 2011). She intends to call the whole second floor (which includes the Elastic space) the OZ Arts Center, after their initials.
In addition to Elastro, the monthly Homeroom Songwriter Showcase will continue; so will the Thursday improvised-music series, which saxophonist Dave Rempis of Umbrella Music has programmed since 2002. Elastic's monthly hip-hop series, booked by Lewis, will take the name "Dark Matter" to help foreground its experimental bent—it focuses on "new directions launching from and beyond hip-hop."
New series at Elastic include Anagram, curated by saxophonist Nick Mazzarella, which will present collisions of diverse artists from the city's jazz and improvised-music scenes every Monday; and Pachanka (booked by Jaime Garza and Elastic board member Amor Montes de Oca), which on the first Friday of each month will host "independent musicians who promote social/political activism through Latin American art, music, and culture."
Music programming will be a little spotty at first, but ought to be in full swing by the end of April. Elastic's Vision Gallery will also be a more important part of its mission in the future, and to help that happen the organization has brought on visual-arts curator Jordan Martins.
In case you can't make it on Thursday or Friday to welcome back this invaluable fixture of Chicago's arts community, here are several more helpful photos from the Reader's Paige Wynne, taken at a preview party for the new Elastic space on Sat 2/28.