Artists in Conversation:

Micki LeSeuer

Enraptured and Intimidated: Building a Creative Community

Micki LeSueur, founder of Fictlicious, on running a reading series

Since no one hacked into my computer to read the stories I wasn’t submitting or peered through my living room window in the hopes of finding some insecure writer slugging it out with her laptop, the only way I was going to participate in a live reading series was if I bum-rushed the stage. Or started my own.

Deb R. Lewis

Tips for Queer Artists in Chicago

No tantrums, return the favor and ask for what you want

Your art may have a lot a meaning for the queer community. This is one kind of success. Just as queer folk don’t devour strictly queer fare, neither should your art feed only the queer set. You will get further, faster, if you have something to say to the broader audience.

Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant

One Part Plant

Using both brains: changing your diet to improve productivity

The gut contains more neurotransmitters than the brain. Food is information, not just calories. When I was feeding my gut with crappy Sour Patch Kids and Big Gulps, I was sending a message to my brain to feel like crap, too. When I started treating my belly with the same care as my brain, powerful productivity changes happened.

Singletrack: Charles Rumback - Drummer

"Convulsive" performed by Stirrup

When I wrote this piece, I was still making music with a band called Leaves. I always felt like the guys in Leaves played this song beautifully, but the band broke up before we had a chance to record it. Since then I recorded this song a few different times with a few different bands.

The Cast of "Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology"

Singletrack: Victoria Blade

"Let Hope Rise" from the stage production, Crime Scene: A Chicago Anthology

I wrote this song the night before an audition for a play addressing crime in Chicago. I was driving home and began to think about what to write. I didn’t know anything about crime in my city, so I began to pray and ask God His perspective on this seemingly hopeless issue.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Players. Photo by Andrew Spear.

Singletrack: John Dorhauer of Heisenberg Uncertainty Players

"Death & Taxes" from the album Emergency Postcards

“Death & Taxes” was originally written for Black Umbrella Brigade (a rock band I’m in). Our singer wanted a danceable, instrumental song, so I brought in this idea for an angular funk jam. It was too hip for the room, though, and we never performed it.


Singletrack: Rob Warmowski of Sirs

"Mira, Mira, Maribel" from the album High Minors

This song has the usual rock and roll theme: trying to get through to a woman. This song has a minor-key, quiet-loud-quiet flavor and some lyrics in Spanish. My mother's family is from Puerto Rico. Spanish phonology can be very forgiving when writing lyrics. Lots of attractive vowels.

John Cicora

Singletrack: John Cicora of Nootka Sound

"Lines and Creases" from the album A Man and His Ego/Evelyn

The hardest part about writing and arranging for a larger ensemble is deciding when to employ every instrument, which produces a huge sound, and when to value dynamics through the utilization of only a few instruments.

Singletrack: Frank Catalano

"Sona" from the album XXX

As a saxophonist, I have always loved the challenge of expressing moods, emotions and feelings with out using words. Bending the pitch of the notes, vibrato, false fingerings can all help shade the saxophone's notes, but heart and feeling is always king.

Markus Rutz

Singletrack: Markus Rutz

"I'll Remember November" from the album It's Cooler by the Lake

The initial elements of this tune came together my first Thanksgiving out of college; I was playing chords on an upright Kimball piano in my grandmother’s living room in Oak Park, Illinois. The title reflects that time of year when we were always in Chicago.

Phil Schurger

Phil Schurger: On Presence

Music as a conduit for mysticism

Music is an intention. It is thought directed toward manifesting the essence of an experience. Meditating upon music is like meditating on a symbol: it can often inspire other forms to arise in the mind and dip into a wealth of information associated with that symbol.

Bill MacKay of Darts & Arrows

Singletrack: Bill MacKay of Darts & Arrows

"Mystic" from the album Eyes of the Carnival

I'd been thinking about "Mystic" awhile before presenting it to the band. I wanted to record it while the song was very fresh, so its innocent and searching qualities remained intact. To this end we didn't perform it live until after it was recorded.

Samuel "Savoirfaire" Williams

Samuel "Saviorfaire" Williams - Jazz Violinist

Strike a Balance ... And Don't Give It Away

I believe that few people who consider themselves musicians are really interested in performing for a living. I attribute this to the pervasive myth that there is no value in music as a profession. Too often musicians will play for exposure or for free or for the price of admission without any guarantee.

Nick Keenan

Function and Form

Getting a website that works for you

Although his design work has made him one of the most sought-after sound designers in the city, Nick Keenan has also become something of a guru for arts organizations looking to expand or improve their web presence.

Lindsay Olson

How to Invent Your Own Residency

In 2008, a series of events unfolded that eventually led me to the artistic opportunity of a lifetime. I'm a teacher at Columbia College Chicago and until recently, the Artist in Residence at the Oak Park Police Department. Competition for traditional residencies is fierce and wanting to find meaningful work that interested me, I thought about how to use my art to contribute to my community.

Halfway There

Using the mid-year review to assess the state of your art

Well everyone it was a great and extremely hot summer, and unfortunately it’s coming to an end. Your band has played at a music fest or two, you’ve sold some art at a few craft fairs or your film premiered at a film festival, all and all it has been a very busy and very productive summer.

Cultivating Arts Partnerships with the Chicago Park District

Opportunities for Artists in Chicago's Parks and How You Can Get Involved

The Chicago Park District offers arts programming in two forms: cultural events and instructional programs. Carol J. Mayer discusses the CPD's Arts Partners in Residence Program as well as other opportunities for artists in Chicago's parks and explains how you can get involved.

Arts & Culture Promote Economic Development in Low-Wealth Communities

Highlights from The Grantmakers Concerned with Poverty and Arts & Culture Funders Group Panel

As cities and communities make plans for economic development and poverty alleviation in the aftermath of the Great Recession, there is growing interest in how public and private investments in the arts and cultural initiatives can develop human capital, promote economic development, and create vibrant communities, especially in low-wealth areas.

Jeremy Lemos

Follow Your Instincts: Q&A with a productive Chicago musician & recording engineer

Jeremy Lemos has established himself as a genuine creative force in both music-making, concert sound and recording over the last decade and more. He speaks with CAR Music Researcher Bill MacKay about the importance of doing quality work, making connections naturally, finding your voice as an artist, and following your instincts in pursuing your art practice.

Geof Bradfield

Five things people tried to tell me about writing music (that I stubbornly insisted on learning the hard way)

“Writing is, for the most part, laborious and slow. The mind travels faster than the pen; consequently, writing becomes a question of learning to take occasional wing shots, bringing down the bird of thought as it flashes by.