Art of Julie Murphy and Hopeful Hopeless

On my lunch break this week, I had the opportunity to stop by the art show at the Historic Water Tower. It’s pretty neat that they use the space for free art shows. This show was “Escape into Absurdity” by Julie Murphy. It was breathtakingly good. The premise behind the entire show is that we go to meetings at our day jobs. These meetings tend to go on about topics that we really don’t care about. For Julie Murphy, she finds an “escape hatch.”

Julie Murphy uses all sorts of office materials, like manila folders and post-it notes, to create these incredible sketches. They are incredibly detailed surrealist drawings with creatures and people in a cityscape. There are a lot of animals in her works but they’ll have mechanical legs or human legs, or other unusual protuberances. One of her reoccurring works is “Undiscovered Creatures,” (there were several by a similar name) where she draws all sorts of amazing beasts. There was a lady made of scissors, a boot man, and many more bizarre creatures. I have always loved depictions and descriptions of fantastical creatures. Another piece was a taxonomy of bats including the Cheney bat (with a shotgun), and more. I also love how she incorporates city features like the EL train or simply the density of buildings in her pieces. Her worlds are beautiful, bizarre places that really are pockets of escape from office drudgery. As someone who habitually doodles in meetings, her works have special resonance to me.

She really takes the office theme to heart in her work. Several works directly reference the office, whether its featuring the Administrative Assistant, or general types of coworkers. She even stitches together manila folders to create larger tableaus. Her post-it note collage is breathtaking; each note is a different portrait. Stunning. There are occasionally stamps from the office setting, like COMPLETED or AIRMAIL, that a reminder of the mundane workplace.

One of her pieces had a wonderful ode to the 147 bus. My favorite line was “But only late night riders of the 147 bus (“the drunk bus”) witness its transformation into New Year’s dragon roller coaster.”

So head to the Historic Water Tower before April 20th when the show closes. It’s really the bees knees.


Quick note: I saw Hopeful Hopeless or La Espera Desespera  last night at the Chicago Latino Film Festival. It was wonderful. It’s a Puerto Rican film written and directed by a woman, Coraly Santaliz. It’s a heist movie (which is A + in my book) and a movie that switches point of view. It’s funny, sweet, and well done. Go see it if you can.

That’s all.



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