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One Holiday, Many Americas

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 4, 2007 12:00PM

This afternoon, gangs of Chicago artists are out to change the way you think about Independence Day, slaying sacred cows and cherished myths.

Myth #1: July 4 is a time to put politics aside and celebrate America.

For Feel Tank Chicago, the personal is political. And that includes how we celebrate The Fourth. Rather than marching lockstep with Team USA cheerleaders, loving their country right or wrong, the artistic collective has planned this afternoon’s Fifth International Parade of the Politically Depressed. This gathering of like-minded, pissed off folk bitching about the current administration, national politics, and the state of the world is a natural extension of Feel Tank’s Pathogeographies (Or, Other People's Baggage) at Gallery 400, an exhibition as political therapy. Maybe this is the revolution we’ve been hearing so much about.

Myth #2: Only native-born Americans can truly appreciate Independence Day.

You don’t really believe that, do you? The more than 35 artists showcased in I heart America & America hearts me weren't born here. But whether their journey was a few hours drive across the border or a few connecting flights across the globe, their path to The States and today's opening at Old Gold, a newish Humboldt Park basement gallery, is a little more deliberate.

Myth #3: John Fogerty is a real American hero.

rootsbeast_2006_07.jpgThe good people at Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center would like to remind you that Mr. Fogerty, the Californian best known for fronting Creedence Clearwater Revival, never actually visited a swamp or a bayou until his career took off. Sure, he made the South sound like an exotic and vaguely menacing place. And his solo hit “Centerfield” makes us sentiment for ballplayers we’ve only seen in film reels. But his safe distance from an authentic life is what America's all about. The 20 contributors to Brown River contemplate this strange irony with works about swamps and Fogerty. What’s the connection between a bog made out of Jell-O or a mechanically enhanced puddle and your old Creedence records? Find out at tonight's opening.

The Fifth International Parade of the Politically Depressed begins at Gallery 400, at 400 South Peoria St, around 2 p.m. More information here.

The opening reception for “I heart America & America hearts me” is at Old Gold, 2022 North Humboldt Blvd., from 2- 6 p.m. The exhibit continues there through July 27. More information here.

“Brown River” opens today at Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center, 1034 North Milwaukee Ave. from 4-8 p.m. and runs through July 17. More information here.

Image via Roots & Culture