Children of the Playhouse

April 16 - May 8, 2016
Opening reception: Saturday, April 16, 6 - 9 pm
Hosted by PRESENT

2101 W. Cullerton Street, Chicago, IL 60608

Children of the Playhouse presents work by 25 artists whose work embodies the color, pattern, humor, and zaniness of the television show Pee-wee’sPlayhouse, which aired on CBS from 1986 to 1990. Their work ranges in medium from ceramics and textiles, to illustrations, comics and zines, as well as multimedia sculptures and installations. The organizers of this show, and many of the artists presented in it, are of the generation, or have children of the generation, whose formative years roughly coincide with the airing of the program. The production design of the Playhouse itself reflects the creative team’s nostalgia for their childhood experience of midcentury American design and popular culture. Likewise, the younger artists of Children of the Playhouse have drawn inspiration from their own childhood in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a return to the squiggle- the pattern that permeated their childhood.

Chicago is an appropriate location for this exhibition as a center for appreciation of so-called outsider art, as well as being home to the Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagist movement whose influence can be seen throughout the Playhouse’s design. The artists in this exhibition continue the tradition of art that is not afraid to be representational, decorative and graphic, irreverent and playful and to embrace materiality and craft. Every object becomes an opportunity to celebrate its existence, to be the most version of that object, luxuriating in the extremes of color and form. These artists continue to work in the spirit of the Playhouse and the surreal, uninhibited creativity it represents.


-Companion publication featuring texts, illustrations by Playhouse artists and an interview in limited edition Risograph print available at the exhibition.
-Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists film screening at ACRE 4/28
-Playhouse Supper Club at Present 5/5

Children of the Playhouse is organized by Stella Brown, Harry Kuttner and Emily Sher. It features works by Virginia Aberle, Ana Benaroya, Heather Benjamin, Molly Anne Bishop, Gretchen Brown, Alex Bradley Cohen, Paul Erschen, Flloyd Gomf, Clay Hickson, Linda Hoffhines, Sarah Hotchkiss, Lili Huston-Herterich, Burt Isenstein, Manal Kara, LAZY MOM, Ben Marcus, Moira Quinn O'Neil, Micah Schippa, Alex Schmidt, Will Sheldon, Hiromi Ueyoshi, Jesse Ward, Leah Wishnia and Crystal Zapata

Stella Brown (b. 1986 Chicago), Harry Kuttner (b. 1992 Chicago) and Emily Sher (b. 1990 Chicago) worked collaboratively to organize this exhibition. Stella is an artist, curator, hostess and set decorator for film in Chicago, Illinois. Harry Kuttner is an artist, geologist, naturalist and art handler living in Baltimore, Maryland, and Emily Sher is a ceramicist, gourmand and Pee-Wee aficionado in Chicago, Illinois.

Shoot the Lobster is a project gallery that has presented shows in Los Angeles, Luxembourg, Miami, Dusseldorf, Marseilles, Milwaukee, and Toronto among others. Its headquarters are located in New York’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Present serves as an interdisciplinary space focused on experimental modes of showing and supporting artists located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. It is run by artist Virginia Aberle who, alongside Brian Gallagher, hosts a quarterly conceptual supper club-as-art exhibition called Balsam at Present.

Children of the Playhouse will be on view at Present, 2101 W. Cullerton St, Chicago, IL 60608 Saturday, April 16th through Sunday, May 8th 2016 on Saturday afternoons 12-4pm. An opening reception will take place on Saturday, April 16th from 6-9pm. For more information please contact Stella Brown at 773-870-0103 or email at, or you may contact Shoot the Lobster at