Local artists host ‘collective feeling’-inspired gallery during Evanston Made’s First Saturday event

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Zoe Malin/Daily Senior Staffer

“No F—ks Given” was an art show held by Ben Blount, Melissa Blount and Joanna Kramer on Nov. 2. It was a part of Evanston Made’s First Saturday event.

Zoe Malin, Reporter

After President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, Joanna Kramer, a local ceramics artist, said only one word came to her mind: “F—k.”

Frustrated and angry, she turned to pottery to express her emotions and made a collection of mugs featuring the expletive. The art that arose from Kramer’s “devastation” about the election was more than just political. She said the mugs sold out each time she made a batch because they resonated with “anyone having a hard time.”

“No F—ks Given,” an art show on Nov. 2 featuring pieces by Kramer, Ben Blount and Melissa Blount, expanded Kramer’s political reaction to a universal feeling. The show was held at MAKE, Ben Blount’s studio on Florence Avenue.

Ben Blount said after seeing customers’ desire for Kramer’s mugs since 2016, and talking about the topic as friends, he and his fellow artists needed to further “dive into the topic.”

“It was time to give the people what they want: a ‘F—k it’ show,” said Ben Blount. “It seems to encapsulate how people feel right now, both politically and personally.”

During the show, the Blounts and Kramer showcased pieces representing the show’s theme. Ben Blount created prints with different messages, Melissa Blount created fabric and embroidery works and Kramer had her mugs and a line of ornaments on display. Those who attended the show laughed about the phrases on the artists’ works, and many purchased multiple pieces.

“There is a sense of community around this collective feeling,” said Kramer. “We’re in it together, so let’s laugh about it.”

“No F—ks Given” was only one of many art shows on Nov. 2, functioning as part of Evanston Made’s First Saturday event. On the first Saturday of every month, Evanston Made sponsors a series of artist talks, gallery openings and pop-up shows from noon to 9 p.m. Some galleries participate in First Saturday every month — like Alley Gallery and 1100 Florence — while other artists are featured when they choose to be, like Kramer and the Blounts.

Evanston Made established First Saturday in January 2019. Lisa Degliantoni, executive director of Evanston Made and owner of 1100 Florence, said local galleries were struggling to draw large audiences to their openings since they were typically held on Friday nights. This competed with Chicago’s First Friday program, during which museums and independent artists host gallery openings or art events throughout the city. To amend the problem, Evanston Made established First Saturday.

“Our goal is to get people to see the art made in Evanston, and understand that the city has a growing contemporary art scene,” said Degliantoni. “We want residents to know that they can walk or bike to beautiful exhibits by their neighbors every month.”

First Saturday also gives local artists a platform to sell their work. Evanston Made encourages residents to collect local art, and contribute to the hashtag #CollectEvanstonArt when they purchase a new piece. Degliantoni said building a community of Evanston art collectors on social media further supports creators.

Ben Blount, who, like Kramer, is a member of Evanston Made, said having a date for art events in Evanston is a “great opportunity” for artists to collaborate and residents to gather. Overall, he said attendees’ reactions to their pieces reflected the show’s theme.

“Life is hard,” said Blount. “And sometimes, you just need to say, ‘Eff it.’”

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