John Preus and Kevin Reiswig at Red Flags
Artists John Preus (left) and Kevin Reiswig at Red Flags. Launch the photo gallery for a tour of the rest of the house.

Don’t be fooled by the football game playing on the TV above the bar at Red Flags, an intimate new gathering spot inside the Southside Hub of Production (a.k.a. SHOP, a community art center launched last October in Hyde Park—see the photo gallery for a tour of the rest of the house). Part of a site-specific video installation, the game is actually a long-ago broadcast. Who wins or loses is totally irrelevant—and key to Red Flags’ founding principle: Sports may bring people together, but so does good conversation. The local artist and builder John Preus conceived the tiny pub—just 8 feet by 12 feet, with seating for nine—as a place for face-to-face encounters. On any given night, you might find chef Iccha Devi Ra hosting a discussion on faith and spirituality while serving exotic herbal teas, SHOP’s cofounder Laura Shaeffer leading a group storytelling session, or artist Kevin Reiswig manning an open mic. Anyone is welcome to show up, donate a few bucks for beer, and join the proceedings. More ramshackle clubhouse than elegant salon, the room itself is an ongoing art project. Fixtures include a faux stained-glass ceiling that nods to Red Flags’ landlord, the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, while playfully framing the pub as another sort of sacred space. “Ideally every neighborhood should have something like this,” Preus says. Amen, Brother John.

GO For upcoming events at Red Flags, visit


Photograph: Anthony Tahlier