Second Story is a gay dive bar that is easy to miss. Tucked behind the gigantic Gap on Ohio and Michigan, Second Story is exactly the type of Chicago venue memorialized in Edie Fake’s drawings, some of which are on view in his first Chicago solo exhibition Memory Palaces at Thomas Robertello Gallery. Fake’s drawings refresh the facades of Chicago’s historic gay and lesbian meeting places—mostly bars and nightclubs—as vibrant, stylized mausoleums.
“The drawings are love letters to queer culture,” says Fake, who met me at Second Story after working the nightshift at Quimby’s. At 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night, Michigan Avenue was empty like some godforsaken place, but Second Story was afire with club music, Christmas lights, and barflies. Fake and I settled in to a corner with gin-and-tonics poured with a (very) heavy hand.
Fake is one of those very rare crossover artists that happily inhabits several genres. His drawings are always highly anticipated in the local art world and he’s also beloved in the comics and ‘zine scene. Fake calls it his “split personality” because he won’t display his screenprinted comics on a gallery wall, nor will he print them in limited editions like fine art objects. Fresh from polishing his new series of drawings for the recently opened exhibition, Fake is now arm deep in co-organizing the second annual Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE), which opens mid-June at the Center on Halsted.
The Chicago native moved around the country a lot and wrote a handful of break-up letters to various cities before finally returning. Lately, Chicago has been incredibly good to Fake—“It’s obscene!” he says in jest of his recent success. At turns Fake trades tongue-in-cheek for thoughtfulness. We chatted about the revival of risograph printing and the future of print media (only books that rise to the level of fetish objects will survive, we agreed), and then lingered on his collection of anthropomorphic hotdogs that he’s readying for a collection to be titled Lil’ Buddies. Fake’s new year’s resolution is to “get back on the Internet,” though with his upcoming stint at the LA Art Book Fair Fake will more likely spend his time screenprinting and drawing than surfing the Web. When the disco ball turned on overhead, Fake joked, “We’ve made it!” and we retreated into the chill night.
Memory Palaces is on view at Thomas Robertello Gallery (27 N. Morgan) through 2/16.
Photograph: Jason Foumberg