(From Gapers Block) http://gapersblock.com/ac/2011/04/29/when-art-meets-hops/
By Britt Julious
If Chicago is a beer city, then our status is one that is in a state of flux. Although our selection is on par with other cities of similar size, our mass breweries are far outpaced by towns with more-established emerging and DIY breweries. However, the number of smaller breweries continues to grow with each year and home brewing has increasingly expanded as an option for the individual or groups more deeply invested in a hands-on and locally sourced means of food production.
For his latest community-oriented project, artist Christopher Tourre aims to bring the culture of the home brewery to the masses. Entitled PUBLIC BREWERY, Tourre organized a temporary and experimental brewery that includes a series of workshops and gatherings at the Spoke's Residency Project Space that will allow guests to brew their own beer or soda using either their own ingredients or locally produced food items such as cherries, honey, and crabapple blossom syrup.
Tourre considers himself to be a "social aggregator," a role that combines his artistic background (MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago) with a desire to create and facilitate artistic projects around the idea of community and social gathering. In a recent collaborative project at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago as part of Unit 2 Collective, Tourre used the discarded scraps of discarded scraps of torn down homes in Chicago from The Rebuilding Exchange to create objects. The gallery space was then constructed as an open studio forum for people to design and build furniture.
For his latest project, Tourre's goal was to take, "disparate groups of people that have similar thought processes but don't necessarily run in the same social circles," and bring them together. Beer is a communal and social drink with an extensive history behind its production and popularity throughout the world.
Tourre's interests began in wine production but were steered towards beer brewing, in part, because of its communicable status. Tourre's interest in beer as a material for art production and idea creation also stems from the drink's presence at openings. "You go to an art event and there's beer but what about an art event where the beer is the art?" Tourre asked. He purchased a home brewing kit from Bev Art (also a sponsor for PUBLIC BREWERY) and began experimenting in brewing. After first testing brews made from water collected from a nature reserve in Wisconsin at assorted local events, Tourre then began hosting workshops out of his home. The workshops were more of an experiential process rather than a hands-on project as guests were allowed to see and ask questions about the brewing process in an informal setting.
During the workshops, Tourre learned that the ingredients in the brews were very important to the guests and this knowledge will affect the workshops for PUBLIC BREWERY. Ingredients to be used for the beer and soda include cherries picked from a Humboldt Park resident, malted honey and local honey from beekeeper Donna Oppolo of the Pilsen Beekeepers Association, and crabapple blossom syrup donated by the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP) in Logan Square. In addition to creating their brews and sodas, guests have the chance to speak with some of the food growers who will be providing their items to the workshops. Participants can also bring their own ingredients to be used in the creation of their own brews. Tourre says that a small amount, about one pound per gallon, should be fine and guests have the option of working on a smaller level. Although every brew will not be completed during the scheduled workshops, guests can schedule a time to work together with Tourre to receive their finished brews.
A final exhibition (TBD) at the end of the month will not only display the "development and accumulation of artifacts, materials, documentation, and research" that went into the brewery, it will also be a change for workshop participants to taste the fruits of the labor.
Spoke Residency Project Space is located at 119 North Peoria, #3D.
List of workshops:
Saturday, April 30th, 3-8pm
Humboldt Park Cherry Pale Ale
21+, $5 entry fee
Saturday, May 7, 3-8pm
Pilsen Beekeeper's Ale
21+, $5 entry fee
Saturday, May 21, 12-3pm
Crabapple Blossom Soda
This workshop is open to all ages and families with children are strongly encouraged to attend. $5 per family/group
In addition to the workshops, members of the public may stop by the Spoke Residency Project Space to chat with artist Christopher Tourre to learn more about the brewing process as he brews specialty batches of beer.
Open studio brewing:
Friday, May 6th, 6-10pm
Friday, May 20th, 6-10pm