Chicago Artists Are Turning Galleries Into Art(isanal) Breweries

Jeff Koons may have his art on a wine bottle label, but a half-dozen Chicago artists are brewing their own beer to serve at Windy City galleries. In a preemptive trend piece, Chicago Mag notes that two local galleries are currently working with artists whose practice involves brewing: Small Ass Brewing (or SmAB) at Slow Gallery, and Marissa Lee Benedict at the Chicago Artists’ Coalition.

At Slow, which is run out of artist Paul Hopkin‘s apartment, he and the four other members of SmAB — Benjamin Bellas, C.C. Ann Chen, Jeffrey Grauel, and Brent Garbowski — brew about 50 bottles’ worth of small batch beer for each exhibition. Their current roster of offerings, which is available through February 2, 2013, includes a nostalgia-tinged peanut butter and jelly brew, a beet rye, and a blueberry- and white tea-flavored stout. “It’s nice to drink a good beer,” Hopkin told Chicago Mag. “It’s nice to look at a beautiful painting.”

Meanwhile, at the Chicago Artists’ Coalition, Benedict has turned the gallery into a mini brewery with her mead-growing installation “The universe is formed by a series of feedbacks, positive and negative” (2012). Visitors whose mouths begin to water while wandering the exhibition, which is on view through January 3, 2013, can reserve a bottle of mead for $10. Hurry, though, she’s already sold some 80 percent of her brew.

As an extension of Rirkrit Tiravanija-style, comestible goods-exchanged-based relational aesthetics, beer art seems like a surefire crowd-pleaser — perhaps even more so than Rob Pruitt‘s “Cocaine Buffet Grand Prix.”

— Benjamin Sutton

(Image: Detail of Édouard Manet’s “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère,” 1882.)