Sparkling conversation, clinking wine glasses, and the face-to-face exchange of questions, answers, and ideas (forget Facebook chat): this is what Chicago artist JC Steinbrunner (and this blogger’s significant other) had in mind last winter when he launched The Salon Series—a Sunday night art-and-dinner concept inspired by 17th century drawing-room gatherings—held in the rustic/chic back room of co-host Tom MacDonald’s The Bluebird in Bucktown.
Steinbrunner, who curates the lineup of artists whose work is shown and discussed, will expand the series’ focus this week when he debuts its first subject who makes things that are not only beautiful but functional. For The Salon Series dinners on October 17 and 24 ($40 per person includes a four-course passed dinner with wine and beer pairings) furniture designer Bladon Conner has crafted 12 custom tables laminated with his own architectural photographs. “Unlike the standard gallery setup, we’ll be sitting at, leaning on, and wiping crumbs off of the work under discussion,” says Steinbrunner.
Knowing the Salon dinners were approaching led Conner for the first time to make furniture that could be considered a collection rather than an assortment. “It pushed me to imagine my work not just as objects, but as an environment. These pieces reflect my aesthetic but in a more polished and dynamic way,” he says. Conner hopes the dialogue will lead to further exploration back in his studio. “It’ll be an opportunity to get real feedback, to better grasp how others view my work, and to hear people weigh in on my eternal, internal debate: conceptual versus commercial.”

Dinner photo by Cathy Sunu