A Closer Look at Critically Acclaimed ‘Nevermore Park’ In Pilsen, ChicagoArtist Replete
On October 24th renowned Chicago artist, Hebru Brantley opened the doors to Nevermore Park. His most impressive exhibition to date. As opposed to collaborating with a gallery or museum, every aspect of the show was curated by the artist… even the building.
“About a two year process of putting it all on paper and creating the world. The process of creating the actual environment, it was about a year — starting in a two-dimensional space with my terrible renderings to some decent renderings to the official renderings to what we have now. We’ve had a nice amount of time to sort of cultivate this thing and try to bring it altogether.”
Nevermore is located on West 16th Street in Pilsen, Chicago. In an area known for it’s strong display of street art. It’s as if Brantley gives his audience a jolt of artistic inspiration while on route to the show. Looking from the outside, the space currently looks vibrant and modern. Months earlier the building appeared mysterious (possibly abandoned).
Pilsen has a deep history with the artist. Just six blocks away is Lacuna Lofts. A home to all sorts of Chicago creatives and entrepreneurs alike. Before the fame and fortune, Lacuna was where many of Hebru’s most captivating ideas took shape. So it seems very fitting this area of Chicago was chosen, considering it’s less than a mile from the artists old stomping grounds.
A quick glance at Hebru Brantley’s 2011 studio through it’s most recent inhabitant Arthur J. Williams Jr.
THE MAIN ATTRACTION
The experience at Nevermore begins gradually in a traditional gallery like setting. A collection of newer canvas and sketch work sits next to an all white sculpture impossible to miss. The introduction may seem familiar at first. However, that feeling quickly subsides, once you discover the large portal like hole at the end of the room. This becomes the moment when you’re teleported into the mind of the artist. As Brantley puts it “Flyboy has crashed through.”
Once inside, an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia sinks in. A vast array of sights and sounds present themselves as you wander deeper into the 6,000 square foot space. Walking back to the same area twice you seem to notice even more. The level of detail put into the experience is remarkable to say the least. Even the bathroom sign was taken into account with Brantley’s signature flyboy and Lil Mama characters.
Hebru takes you into the world that inspired him. Often times, everyday objects become a source of inspiration for creative minds. A newsstand, a subway cart, a room filled with plants. All of these familiar things brought back to life in a new way. When you’re a hungry young artist growing up, you work with the surroundings given. Nevermore is about traveling in the past while looking into the future. During the experience, another artist appears. This raises the question: Why would Hebru Brantley feature another talent? The short answer: out of respect.
Enter Max Sansing. A long time friend and assistant to Brantley. It’s been said while building his empire, Hebru found Max over a decade ago. Since then, the two of them have collaborated on hundreds if not thousands of projects. The phenomenon of assistants in the art world is not new. Michalengelo had an assistant to help him paint the sistine Chapel. Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Kaws all have worked with assistants. After all, a company is only as good as those that work there. How much creative involvement do assistants have? It varies, but in this situation we’ll keep that answer behind closed doors. We will say the work of the assistant is a contributing factor to the success of the artist. Which is why Hebru’s right hand man is being highlighted within the exhibition.
With so many relevant topics covered, even those that have little interest in art may find enjoyment in the exhibit. One could say this show is for anyone open to experiencing something new. Whether it’s reliving childhood memories or exploring a world of fantasy. It’s difficult not to find something that you can relate to within the exhibition.