Picket Signs and Polaroids: ROYGBIV @ MCA


“Is this a meat market or a museum atrium?” – Anonymous

Over 1,000 creatives and culture connoisseurs gathered for a night of nosh, music, art and crafting under the posh roof of the MCA lounge on Chicago’s lakefront on April 5th, 2013. Complicated drink system aside, the highlights included a miniature gummy bear exhibition, interactive art, and flashback fun. ROYGBIV’s attendees ranged the whole spectrum of art snobs to singles on the hunt; all were under the guise of visiting a museum. Although the event was 21+, age became irrelevant as everyone mixed and mingled amongst the live music.

Plenty of people admitted that ROYGBIV had popped their First Friday cherry. Others, like Chicago Public School system physics teacher Jason Grey, were seasoned veterans with nostalgia for better food at some of the past events. “I miss the stuffed mushrooms. They had them three years ago, but this time there were so many people that they must’ve had to downgrade,” said Jason.

Plastered from head to toe in fake flowers, Mothergirl whispered sweet little nothings in the ears of brave participants who chose to sit in between the duo. Each person’s prize was two polaroid photos with a secret message attached to the images. Thanks to these flowery femmes, now I can see what I look like to other people from the left side as well as the right. Good to know if I ever get self-conscious while getting my mugshot taken.

For some, First Fridays are about the thrill of the chase. For others, thrills are just frills, and time ticks like a pendulum between fine art and its subsequent discussion. But no matter how you spin it, nothing will beat the basic pleasure of hearing a DJ in the spacious atrium of an art museum.

DJ Mass Transit (né Chris Neergard) played down-to-earth soul-funk tracks alongside DJ Shade that meshed well with the DIY wedding altar on the 4th floor gallery. Shredded, simple, and attractive for anyone that appreciates a community effort, Mass Transit’s mixes gave a welcomed change of pace from the Beatles ballads belted by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. “I was really happy with the crowd dancing and vibing with me the final hour because I have been there before when dancing was minimal,” said Mass Transit. He and DJ Shade, who was also at the event, hope to be at a few other First Fridays this year.

Aldo Bucheri, a sharp-witted Italian architect, mused on the musical alternation: “It set the tone for a night of open-sourced art.” Straight from Rome, Aldo (not like the shoe store) compared the DIY crafting project table on the 3rd floor to the situationist commune in Paris. What was then socialistic art is now an anti-corporate mentality.

Jason Lazarus’s latest installation at the Education Center entrance, Phase 1/Live Archive, echoes this revamped flower child sentiment. With protest signs and banners adorning the walls from floor to high ceiling, Lazur’s oeuvre invites the public to brandish the posters throughout the museum. Lazarus’s hope is to change the relationship between the way historical value becomes attached to the ever-shifting public and private spheres.

The exhibit speaks to those that are trying to overturn the cycle of destruction and creation. Some say that revolutions seek to replace the existing hierarchies with ones of their own. That would be a valid point if it were not for the difference in values between both systems. With so many people dissatisfied with the consumerist economy, DIY culture has pervaded countless business owners, released restless souls from the corporate confines to become the bright entrepreneurs their ambitions are compelling them to be.

Humans are constantly learning how to reconnect with old acquaintances and meet new people. ROYGBIV was a springtime celebration for young and old, inviting them to (in the words of John Lennon) “Come together / right now / over me”.

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