So for those who still don't know, this year I've gotten involved with a brand-new arts organization based out of the far-south Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park; called the Southside Hub of Production, or SHoP for short, and founded by neighborhood entrepreneur Laura Shaeffer, it's essentially an extension of the "Op Shop" temporary cultural spaces she's been creating in Hyde Park for the last three years, in which every six months she would convince a local realtor to let her take over an empty storefront for 30, 60 or 90 days, then would program a whole series of live events and visual installations during her time there. In this case, however, she's managed to convince the local Unitarian church to give her an entire one-year lease on a literal 16-room Victorian mansion that they own, named the Fenn House in honor of William Wallace Fenn, a church reformer and the man who convinced the Unitarians to move their headquarters to Hyde Park in the first place. (The church's main Chicago parish is located right next door, first established in 1891 and with a gorgeous Gothic Revival facade going up in 1923; they acquired the house in the 1950s, specifically to turn into a classroom extension of the church, which is why it has all the modern code requirements needed for us to turn it into a public venue, such as lit exit signs and the like. For those who are curious, this is right across the street from the University of Chicago campus, and just one block away from Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Robie House.)
So now the house is a working cultural, crafts and community center, packed to the gills with all kinds of things -- three different art galleries, an active woodshop in the basement, a recording studio that is being built as we speak, a full-time thrift store, a storefront-theater-type performance space up in the attic, and with all the old servants quarters now turned into artist studios that can be rented by the month. I've come on as SHoP's literary events coordinator, and last night we finally held our very first event, in the beautiful wood-paneled library just off the main first-floor hallway; it was in fact a special Hyde Park edition of the queer literary showcase "All The Writers I Know," hosted by series founder Patrick Gill, and last night featuring performances by Dee Michel, Lindsey Dietzler, Adam Guerino, Mar Curran, and Rosy Phinick.
On top of everything else, we're actually recording all these events too; and I'm happy to announce that the CCLaP Podcast will be officially hosting these recordings, which will be known as the "SHoP Reading Series" when they come delivered to your iTunes or other subscription. (And speaking of which, you can click right here to subscribe to the CCLaP Podcast via iTunes, or here for the RSS feed, if you use a different service. Don't forget that that subscription will get you not only these SHoP events, but also the main bi-monthly interviews and music specials that CCLaP puts out, as well as our occasional "CCLaP After Dark" video reports on other live events going on around town.) Anyway, the "All The Writers I Know" reading will be getting posted here next week, for those who want to go ahead and get their subscription up and running; and then currently we have around one more event per week scheduled between now and the holidays, all of which will eventually be showing up here. My thanks again to Patrick and all the other great writers last night, for making our inaugural event such a big success.
By the way, we still have lots and lots of free evenings available at Fenn House; so if you're either an individual writer or literary group who would be interested in doing a showcase, reading or performance there, please just drop me a line at cclapcenter [at] gmail.com and let me know; or if you work in a different medium and would be interested in showcasing your work through one of the many other forums there, stop by the SHoP website for the latest information on the right person to contact. I look forward to presenting more and more of these podcast episodes as this fall, winter, and next spring progress.