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Twenty years ago, a talking seasponge in trousers hit Nickelodeon’s airwaves, bringing unfettered joy to kids around the globe. And now, for five days, fans in Chicago can visit him at a gallery in Bucktown.

To celebrate two decades of Spongebob Squarepants, Nickelodeon is partnering with Chicago artist Louis De Guzman and reggaeton musician J Balvin on a pop-up art installation at 1714 North Damen Avenue. Among the Spongbob-themed goodies available to browse are t-shirts, skateboard decks, furniture, dishware, and more, all adorned with Guzman and Balvin’s electric designs.

“Nickelodeon for our generation was like, have fun, see what you see,” De Guzman says. “But how can you reimagine something and bring it to life?” Nickelodeon encouraged De Guzman to harbor that same creative spirit in reimagining Bikini Bottom, giving him the free rein to incorporate his and Balvin’s love of street culture and art into a fresh take on the cartoon.

“We were able to incorporate [Balvin’s] aesthetic with the colorway aspect of the neon colors and vibrancy of the space,” De Guzman said. His own personal style, meanwhile, is evident in the linework and geometric abstraction of each piece.

The true star of the show stands six feet tall in the center of the gallery: an imposing,  human-size sculpture of Spongbob, the largest piece De Guzman has ever crafted. 

“You see this kind of [exhibition] in LA or New York, but I don’t think you see this kind of thing in Chicago as much,” De Guzman says. “So I’m very honored to have brought this energy, this collaboration to where I’m from and give our city some love.”

The opening reception was last night, but local goofy goobers can check out the F.U.N. through Saturday, November 16, between 12 and 7 p.m. RSVP here.

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