on diasappointment-a conversation in the beast with Simon Critchley and Bart Schultz

on disappointment-a conversation in the beast with Simon Critchley and Bart Schultz


learning to sculpt with felt

learning to sculpt with felt

"belly" being organized

“belly” being organized

HPAC youth arts board-responsible for some programming happening in the Beast.

HPAC youth arts board-responsible for some programming happening in the Beast.

final day of installation

final day of installation

Article in the Reader

Screen shot 2014-02-25 at 8.54.03 PM

Available as a limited edition screen print for $25, or as a gift for $25 contribution to the Kickstarter

Exhibition opens April 13th.  Performance by New Material (Mikel Avery, Leroy Bach, Tadd Cowen, John Preus, with special guests Matt Lux, and Gillian Lisee)

beast drawing small

<p><a href=”″>Model of the Beast-Preus Solo Exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center, 2014</a> from <a href=”″>john preus</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>



Media Contacts:

Mia DiMeo/Nick Harkin
Carol Fox & Associates 773.327.3830 x 101/103

Opening Reception:

Sunday, April 13, 3-5 pm

For a complete list of upcoming companion programming, visit


Beast Structure Will House Companion Event Series

Chicago—Intertwining spectacle and site, John Preus’ “The Beast,” becomes a new space for cultural inquiry, public dialogue and creative production within the Hyde Park Art Center, April 13 – August 3. Fabricating a large structure from harvested materials including upholstery leather and discarded wood and furniture from recently closed Chicago Public Schools, Preus will transform the gallery’s interior with a complex architectural framework inspired by the form of a dead steer, emblematic of violence and sacrifice. The gallery will exist as an artist-run space throughout the span of the exhibition, and will be activated through corresponding performances, discussions and educational offerings programmed by Preus and various collaborators.

Best known for his work as the lead fabricator for Theaster Gates, and as the principal designer and builder of the Dorchester Projects’ Archive House, Preus founded Dilettante Studios in 2010, which designs and builds cabinets, furniture, and residential and commercial spaces, relying almost exclusively on second-hand materials. He also co-founded SHOP (Southside Hub of Production), a collective of artists, educators, and local civic organizations with curator Laura Schaeffer, and has collaborated with countless others on projects that make up his multifaceted practice as an artist, builder, writer, and musician. “The Beast” is the culmination of Preus’ yearlong participation in the Jackman Goldwasser Residency at Hyde Park Art Center, and is his first major solo exhibition.

“Preus has a strong aesthetic. He moves the conversation past adaptive reuse through his practice of harvesting discarded building materials,” said Allison Peters Quinn, Director of Exhibitions & Residency Programs at Hyde Park Art Center. “Out of the carcass of ‘The Beast’ grows a hopeful forum of ideas, turning negativity into a constructive force that the whole community can take part in.”

In “The Beast,” Preus’ skill in adaptive design and architecture meets with his interest in creative placemaking, and draws heavily on his new and longstanding relationships with creative groups and individuals. The large-scale, two-floor intervention responds to the Art Center’s experimental architecture, and echoes its mission to engage the community through participation in the arts. The belly of “The Beast,” which will resemble the skeletal structure of a cathedral interior and will open to the Art Center’s outdoor plaza, will serve as a site for storytelling, live music, sermons, panel discussions, dinners, and more. The diverse programming schedule seeks to raise questions about the use and social value of public space, and how collective experience can encourage the development of a better city.

“John Preus has been a leader in the artistic community on the South Side for many years, known for being part of powerful collaborative projects,” said Kate Lorenz, Hyde Park Art Center’s Executive Director. “We are extremely proud to have the opportunity to present his first major solo show in our 75th year, as his project reflects and critiques some of the core concepts at play when we ask the question of what purpose an art center should serve today.”

In celebration of “The Beast” and concurrent exhibitions on view at the Hyde Park Art Center, a public reception will be held April 13 from 3-5pm with special remarks by Lorenz. Preus will be available for interviews leading up to the opening, and will participate in many of the events listed below.

All programming is intended to be responsive to the community, and will develop throughout the course of the exhibition. For an up-to-date schedule of conversations, performances and other programming happening inside of “The Beast,” visit

The Beast: Program Highlights

Ongoing events taking place within “The Beast” will include the Colin Ward Memorial Potluck Conversation Series, held every Thursday at 6 pm, and the Beastly Discussion Series, conversations led by activists, academics and cultural producers. Discussions will include a wide range of topics that inspired the artist’s creation of “The Beast” and were inspired by the structure taking shape inside of the Hyde Park Art Center.

On Disappointment:
John Preus, Bart Schultz and Simon Critchley in Dialogue April 16, 6-8 pm

Critchley is Chair and Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York and Professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Schultz is Senior Lecturer in Humanities, Special Programs Coordinator for the Graham School of General Studies, and Director of the Humanities Division’s Civic Knowledge Project at the University of Chicago. The discussion will expand on the philosophy of religious and political disappointment in American class structures, and how the sensibility of disappointment motivates individuals to recreate meaning through the arts.

Story Slams

April 22, 6-7:30 pm, other dates TBD

In the vein of NPR’s “The Moth,” ten volunteers whose names will be randomly pulled from a hat will each tell a five-minute true story about a given topic, without the help of notes or props. A panel of judges and audience volunteers will score the storytellers and award prizes, including a screen print of “The Beast.” In the first session, storyteller, producer, and teacher Judith Heineman alongside SHOP Director and Co-Founder Laura Shaeffer will curate the slams based around the theme “Heart of the Beast.”

Spectrum of Immersion

May 2-May 4
Part opera, part lecture, part musical improvisation, this hour-long operetta will explore death and redemption, collective trauma and transformation. Produced from an original score composed by Leroy Bach and adapted from essays by Preus, “Spectrum of Immersion” will feature soprano Sarah Lawrence (formerly Christine Daae in the third national tour of “Phantom of the Opera”), and Calland Metts. Performed on instruments created from found materials by Preus, the score will be played by New Material, an experimental music group made up of artist Mikel Avery (Everypeople Workshop, Black Monks of Mississippi, Josh Abrams); Leroy Bach (Wilco, Low Tide, Iron and Wine, Beth Orton, Liz Phair, Black Monks of Mississippi) and artist and builder Tadd Cowen.

What the Hell Happened to Main Street: Public Space and the Built Environment

June 21-22
Held during the annual American Institute of Architects conference, the exploratory series aims to complement discourse about urban architecture by concentrating on public space, who controls it, who has access to it, and how its governance shapes the socio-economic environment we inhabit. Taking place in venues around Chicago including MAS Studios, the Graham Foundation, Dorchester Projects and Hyde Park Art Center, the series is organized in two parts, “Owning the Streets,” focusing on the stewardship of public space today, and “Reclaiming the Streets,” forcing new ideas about the future of architecture and public space.

“The Beast” project is partially supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation, Patricia Kay Swanson, Theaster Gates and The Chuck Fund.

The Jackman Goldwasser Residency at Hyde Park Art Center positions Chicago as a worldwide destination for visual art by bringing local and global artists together to work side by side in our studios, deepening engagement between local, national, and international contemporary art practices.


stack of Chicago Public School furniture salvaged from the 50 closed schools

Possible future elaborations

rogers park firehouse