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Art on Track

Four Chicago graphic designers — LaurRafsMariSqueri ErikGalvez Elizabeth Rosenberg — comprise group CMYKittens. The collective takes their show rails for

Four Chicago graphic designers — Laura Rafson, Maria Squeri, Erika Galvez and Elizabeth Rosenberg — comprise the group CMYKittens. The collective takes their show to the rails for Art on Track. | CMYKittens photos

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Updated: October 23, 2012 6:05AM

Don’t be taken aback if the Blue Line looks a little different tonight. Now in its fifth year, Art on Track, the world’s largest mobile art exhibit, operates from 5 to 10 p.m. today on the Blue Line from Logan Square to the UIC-Halsted stops.

“The movement of the train, the space and the physicality of the event itself all lend to a unique experience,” Art on Track founder Tristen Hummel said of what attracts people to the popular event. “Unlike a museum or gallery, you can’t just walk out. Being stuck on the car creates a temporal mode where you have to analyze the art — at least until the next station.”

Six groups have been selected to participate in this year’s traveling exhibit, including a few returning participants.

“When curating the exhibit, I always look for groups that exhibit a strong desire to advance the arts in the city and not just themselves,” Hummel said.

Each group is given a complete car, with some restrictions. The art cannot glorify violence or graffiti, be overtly political in tone or feature nudity. Because the cars are in motion, for passenger safety anything with sharp or pointy edges is also out. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit and this year’s group of artists once again demonstratesthat there is still much creative freedom.

In the case of Noisivelvet, art truly imitates life.

“We’ve partnered with the Waltzing Mechanics to present an excerpt of their play “EL Stories,” said Noisivelvet founder Joe Baldwin. “People will be watching the play, but they also will be extras in it.”

Normally an hour long, the dramatic documentary performance has been truncated to a 20-minute performance art piece.

“We have curated the best of the best from the script and
this should have a very real and organic feel to it,” Baldwin said.

Custom clothing designer Frog Greishaw of House of Frog said she returns because it’s both a great way to give back to the community and she loves the challenge.

“It’s such a cool way to exhibit art and I really enjoy the challenge of using the train as the medium for artistic expression,” Greishaw said

Her exhibit this year was inspired in part by the Mike Teavee scene from 1971’s “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” At the entrance of the car, House of Frog will collect email addresses and have participants don lab coats and join in on a futuristic photo shoot with models and photographers. Participants receive a link to the online photo gallery after the event. Tanner Woodford, director of the Chicago Design Museum, has partnered with Architectural Artifacts and will be exhibiting pieces of Chicago’s design history that have been rescued from empty storefronts and warehouses.

“We’ve done pop-up museum exhibits like this before, said Tanner Woodford, director of the Chicago Design Museum. “The opportunity to take iconic pieces of design that were formally in the Chicago landscape and put them back in the public’s hands where they will find new use for them was immediately appealing.”

Signage once viewed by patrons on a passing train now will ride alongside passengers.

“Riders will have free reign to spell things out,” Woodford said. “We’re encouraging people to take these abandoned design artifacts that are a part of local history and make sense of them any way you can.”

Misha Davenport is a local free-lance writer.

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