Night of the Emerging Artists

On the last Saturday of February, Chicago’s unseasonably warm weather was bullied and laid to rest. The winner of this epic battle was a cold front that turned our beautiful 65 degree temperatures into a glacial 26 degrees.

After taking a moment of silence for our spring weather, I decided to break out my grown woman and deal with my cold reality. Why? Because, that’s what grown women do in these Chicago streets. Plus, I really wanted to rock some cute gear and check out Pancakes and Booze, an art show featuring emerging painters, photographers and musicians. So, I dug in the closet for a cute, multicolored sweater dress, Spanx tights — because, you know, I gotta fake it until I make it since I’m not working a Beyonce Lemonade body — and a pair of sensible ankle boots. Yeah I said sensible — I ain’t trying to rock stilettoes and end up wobbling because my feet hurt — I know you’ve seen women do that. I’m here to tell you — it’s not a cute look. At all.

After parking about a quarter mile away, sending up a prayer that I don’t get ticketed or towed and thanking God and my mama for giving me the good sense to wear cushy boots, I walked up to Reggie’s Music Joint, an unimposing storefront in the South Loop. I paid $5 and stepped into the event — in what I thought was — fashionably late. With hundreds of shoulder-to-shoulder people inching from room to room, I quickly realized that despite being fashionable, I was just hella late.

Reggie’s Music Joint has an entire room dedicated to vinyl. As a hip hop head, I was thrilled to see Ghostface Killah — on vinyl, no less! This makes me want to invest in a record player. Photo ©Pashen Black

I’ll admit it — the event was pretty dope from start to finish. Chicago-based artists did their thing for the show. Artistic styles ranged from goth jewelry and figurines made from wires to acrylic paintings featuring graffiti, thought-provoking pieces and serene scenes painted on wood as well as photography of Chicago’s transit system from the most interesting angles. The event was spread across two levels, with art and photos plastered on walls in six different rooms. Most of the art was reasonably priced — originals ranged from $100 — $500 while prints hovered around $50.

Over the course of the night, a ton of people were munching on the free pancakes as they mixed and mingled. Since I’m was there for the art, I decided to pass on the pancakes. What I didn’t pass on were two amazing artists — a surrealist painter name Leilani B’Smith and a photographer named Daniel Delgado.

Leilani’s art is the first one that literally stopped me in my tracks. This woman has amazing talent — I was instantly smitten with her work. A lifelong painter, Leilani told me that she’s committed to pouring an incredible amount of beautiful detail into her work. She had a few pieces on display, but my favorite was “Life is a Masquerade,” which she painted a few days before the show.

Life is a Masquerade by Leilani B’Smith
 Source: @leila_designs on Instagram

I love how this painting represents what many of us strive for in our relationships — complete nakedness. The painting is a powerful statement — if we are able to take off our masks — or humble ourselves enough to trust our partners to unveil who we really are, not the person we want them to see, we could have unions built on mutual respect, admiration and unconditional love. Amazing!

There is two words to describe Daniel: Gifted Storyteller. His camera is definitely his version of a pen that he uses to uncover people’s truths. As a photography student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and former intern for a newspaper, Daniel has the awesome ability able to craft an entire story with just the click of his shutter. He displayed some wonderful art of recent protests in Chicago of 45’s administration.

Photographer: Daniel Delgado
 Source: @RicanFx on Instagram

Since he had limited work on display, I decided to check out his Instagram account for more of his work and came across some dope pictures. One of my favorites was from the Women’s March that took place on Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration. He captured in one picture that although we are more than four decades removed from Roe v. Wade, women and men are still fighting for women’s reproductive rights in the country. Powerful!

This was an amazing night to celebrate art and photography. At the end of the night, the hawk made me rush back to my car, which was parked in the exact place that I left it without a ticket. It was a great night indeed!