BY SARAH TEREZ-ROSENBLUM
I’m thinking of a cultural object: Bigger than a breadbox and founded by Caroline Picard, The Green Lantern harkens to Chicago’s grassroots literary history and DIY philosophy.
Despite coincidental Trekkie and comic book connotations, The Green Lantern has nothing to do with GenCon and everything to do with art. Simultaneously a non-profit paperback press and gallery, GL publishes and distributes emerging and/or little-known works.
Additionally, as a venue, it showcases emerging and mid-career artists of all media. Begun out of Executive Director Picard’s Wicker Park apartment, GL was recently shut down for lack of a business license due to improper zoning. Now, however, the ambitious and newly relocated GL is back with a parade of upcoming projects and Gallery Director Abby Satinsky on board. Picard took a seat in the captain’s chair (ba-dum-bum) to discuss her multifaceted brainchild.
Our Town: What inspired you to start Green Lantern?
Caroline Picard: I went to a small liberal arts college where I studied the classics; most of what I read stopped at 1940. After school I got a job at a gallery and my boss mocked me for not knowing who Cy Twombly was. When I moved to Chicago to go to The School of the Art Institute, I got really excited to learn about the contemporary world, the modernists and where performance art comes from. My non-art background made me want to facilitate a space where ignorance wasn't mocked [which is] actually my greatest pet peeve. The ones [in the] know should make the process of sharing their knowledge as enjoyable as possible.
OT: Why both a small press and a gallery?
CP: I have this pet theory that cultural media, and especially independent media, is often influenced and inspires in complementary directions. In one sense, GL is an experiment to see how that might be true. In another, books and art are simply two of my deep loves. I [also] love seeing what happens when different communities start to overlap. It’s easy to be secularized within our mediums; performance artists don't always hang with painters, and writers are in their own world entirely, just as musicians are. What happens when those different worlds become aware of one another? Or, at the very least, frequent the same physical space?
OT: What are you excited about this season?
CP: This incredible team of artists – Zach Dodson, Abby and Devin King – working together as administrators and curators [enabling Green Lantern] to explore different questions, like, how can artists sustain themselves if their work isn't directly compatible with the commercial gallery system? Or how to think about our organization as a space that fosters ecology. Not to mention some of the exhibits and books that are forthcoming. Abby curated a show opening in October called "Futershock" based around a popular book in the 70s of the same name. I put together a show for November based on a Green Lantern book from last year called “The North Georgia Gazette.”
OT: What advice would you give others looking to start a small press?
CP: Patience and proof reading!
Anxious to see what GL has to offer? Stop by tonight for a Parlor reading with Gina Frangello, 7-9:30 pm at The Green Lantern Gallery, 2542 Chicago Ave. And take off that cape. I told you, this has nothing to do with super heroes.
More info here
Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts twice a week.