Have you spent the last two weekends in a whirlwind of green beer, sloppy makeout sessions and short-lived Irish pride? Put it behind you; it's time to expand your artistic horizons. Why head to a museum when some of your favorite hangouts are serving up art alongside your alcohol? We've scouted a few spots clued in to culture so you can take in the sights as you take in the shots.
On the third Saturday of each month, this red-and-gold Wicker Park lounge pays tribute to its Flat Iron Building home and transforms into a painting studio for several of Chicago's talented artists. The night begins with three blank, window-facing canvases and ends with three finished pieces, if not more. Down a few drinks, nosh small plates like prosciutto-stuffed risotto balls, groove to ambient hip-hop and watch the creative process unfold. Fancy yourself an artist? Phone ahead for a chance to showcase your own talents. 10 p.m. Every third Saturday. No cover.
They say art imitates life, so why not watch it happen at this neighborhood lounge? Participating artists base each brush stroke on how the surrounding candle-lit ambience, DJ-spun house music and eclectic crowd strikes them. There's no telling what will inspire the end result. Relax in what feels like an artist studio (think exposed brick, minimalist decor and, uh, pretty small space) with a $10 Tango: orange rum, orange juice, raspberry liqueur, triple sec, and pineapple and cranberry juices. Looking for something fruitier? Try Apples and Oranges, made with Sour Apple Pucker, orange vodka and cranberry juice ($10). 9 p.m. Wednesdays. No cover.
For a change of pace and a sip of sophistication, head to Scoozi for the monthly Galleria Wine Down. Sample 30 wines from the spot's extensive collection of vintage bottles while nibbling passed apps like wood-roasted prosciutto and mozzarella. A rotating collection of paintings and photos trucked in from local galleries sets the mood. Next up: photography by Cassandra Stadnicki on March 28. Call ahead to save a spot; reservations are recommended. 6 p.m. Every fourth Tuesday. $25.
Whether this hang is in restaurant or bar mode, one thing (besides the space's resemblance to a "Design Within Reach" catalog) is constant: the large projection screen on the back wall. See it put to use at Locale Sundays, when rotating DJ/VJ teams mix beats to a selection of images, found film footage, original designs, abstract collages or even a live video feed. VJs are big on audience participation; those watching occasionally get to try their own hand at video manipulation. Trust us, this presentation is nothing like the film strips you watched in junior high science class; the event breathes a whole new meaning into A/V Club. While feasting your eyes on art, tuck in some Asian-infused bar fare like wasabi tempura fries and sake-marinated chicken yakitoro ($6 each). 10:30 p.m. Sundays. No cover.
Funky Buddha Lounge
Known as a place for getting down to jazz, hip-hop and house music, this plush lounge slows things down for Mental Graffiti, a weekly showcase filled with all sorts of artistic expression. Local, notable spoken word artists are invited to take the stage on Monday nights to try out experimental material and present finished pieces, plus a visual artist often paints or draws in support of the poetry. Anything goes artistically; it's not uncommon for a guest artist to drop in and paint, or to throw down for a poetry slam. Afterwards, it's back to the usual club atmosphere with dance party Mmm (as in Monday), which, after a few drinks, is a chance for you to perfect the art form of throwing shapes. 8 p.m. Mondays. $5.
[ Steve Heisler is a metromix special contributor. ]
email@example.comOriginally published March 17, 2006.