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The Order of Oddfish

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Odd-Fish Art Show at Hegeler Carus mansion

April 13, 2011

ALERT! I’m introducing the mighty Neil Gaiman (!!!) when he speaks at the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago tonight (4/13) at 7 pm. It’s free!

On April 2, I partnered with the marvelous folks at the Hegeler Carus mansion in La Salle, Illinois to put on another Order of Odd-Fish fan art gallery show. Followers of the blog might remember the last time we did an Odd-Fish fan art show, it was also a ludicrous unhinged costumed battle-dancing party. This event was more restrained (the floors of the crumbling, eccentric, thoroughly delightful 57-room Hegeler Carus mansion would probably collapse under dancing) but still wonderful!

Unfamiliar with the weirdness of the Hegeler Carus mansion, one of Illinois’ best-kept secrets? Before you read on, check out my earlier post, which is a super-abbreviated tour of the place (a dusty, broken-down 19th century gymnasium in the basement! A stuffed baby alligator in a drawer! Basically, it’s the lodge of the Odd-Fish come to glorious life).

Back already? OK. We had some Odd-Fish writing workshops in the morning, but the real action was that night, a gallery reception and book reading. About 70 people were there, and some daytrippers even dropped in, not knowing what the event was about. I admire their bravery. The mansion looks rather forbiddingly creepy at dusk:

Many of the artists attended! Katey Vesco drove in 8 hours from Ohio, with new art in hand, which we immediately put up next to her great art we already had (scroll down); Britnee Berman came (here’s her beautiful picture of Jo); Mike Bricis (here’s his splendid cavalcade of scenes); Megin Wardle (who made the light-up scale model of Korsakov’s digestion); Freya Trefonides (my protégée and creator of much great Odd-Fish art); and Kathleen Spale (here’s her own quietly awesome portrait of Jo).

Here’s Katey, Freya, Megin, Britnee, and Kathleen:

The wine drinking and cheese eating (wait, was there cheese? I don’t even remember) was followed by some dramatic readings of Odd-Fish:

The show wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless help up Kelly Klobucher (executive director of the Hegeler Carus Foundation), Tricia Kelly (tour guide, bon vivant, and the one who introduced me to the mansion), Max Trefonides (my brother-in-law, who pretty much hung up all the art), Chad Brokaw, Heather Wallace, Mary Helen, and many others. And of course a big, big thanks to the Hegeler Carus Foundation itself. Thank you for keeping this beautiful house up, and opening it for strange events.

Here’s Tricia, Max, and me imitating the poses of Hailey McLaughlin’s Odd-Fish masterpiece, which features both young and old versions of Aunt Lily, Colonel Korsakov, and Commissioner Olvershaw:

I could go on and on about how much fun the night was, but pictures are probably more interesting. Unfortunately I took most of my pictures before the crowds arrived—here’s the gallery (check out the intriguingly distressed walls in the background!), Mary Helen dressed as Dame Isabel, Amanda Baylie’s Apology Gun, more of the gallery, Megin Wardle’s light-up Korsakov digestion, and more:

Thanks again, everyone, for an unforgettable evening! To wrap up, here’s La Salle’s local newspaper’s coverage of the event (the article doesn’t seem to be available online):

P.S. It’s also worth it to linger on the “beautiful-ruin” feel of the mansion: