In 2016, Amy Krouse Rosenthal envisioned a different kind of beauty salon: a forum where artists, authors, musicians, and others would convene to talk about and work on the beautiful things they were making. This exhibition is the first iteration of the concept. The gallery will reflect several spaces the prolific author frequented, inviting visitors to sit and read, write, and/or engage in interactive initiatives presented on the gallery walls. Never-before-seen drawings, notebooks and other inspirational materials will also be on view. Extensive programming featuring her many collaborators will highlight / extend this author’s life work.
All of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s (AKR) work had a profound simplicity to it. Whether it was her children’s books, adult books, visual art, happenings, musical events, videos, radio segments, or performances, she made the ordinary into something extraordinary. Her focus on the magic in seemingly small, mundane things cultivated a sense of community and universality. AKR: A Beauty Salon will be an amalgam of experiences designed to encourage visitors to experience and participate in the generous creative energy that AKR represented and offered.
The gallery will present a series of environments designed to encourage the exploration of the intertwined facets of AKR’s creative energies. One area will be a re-creation a coffee shop (specifically Filter Cafe in Wicker Park, Chicago), which was one of AKR’s favorite places to sit and think. This will include sofas, coffee tables, and free coffee. A second area contains a selection of AKR’s notebooks and ephemera. Visitors can interact with a gumball machine that will dispense missions conceived by AKR. In another area, there will be two bookshelves of AKR titles, where visitors—especially children—are invited to relax on beanbags and peruse. One dedicated wall in the gallery will invite visitors to make their own mark in response to prompts based on AKR’s work.
Over the course of AKR: A Beauty Salon, there will be a variety of events, lectures, and salons revolving around AKR’s ideas that reflect her passion for collaboration. In addition to several pop-up events including yoga classes and a temporary tattoo parlor, there will be a concentrated day of events on August 9th – also officially known as Amy Krouse Rosenthal Day in Chicago. Participants will include filmmaker Steve Delahoyde, advertiser David Jones, illustrator Tom Lichtenheld, musician Nick Gage and additional surprise guests. Details and additional events will be posted on the gallery website at www.secristgallery.com.
AKR: A Beauty Salon is guest-curated by Ruby Western in collaboration with Carrie Secrist, Merrill Smith, and Brooke Hummer. Special thanks to Stephanie D’Allesandro, Ben Hanisch, The Book Cellar, Jason Rosenthal, Paris Rosenthal, Miles Rosenthal, Justin Rosenthal and others.
“Though we attended the same high school in the suburbs of Chicago 30+ years ago and moved within the same creative circles for the decades to follow, our paths first collided/aligned in the summer of 2015. During a visit to my vegetable garden, we became fast friends and creative inspirations for each other. There was a shared wish to collaborate on a project that combined our respective passions for the visual and written word and would celebrate our shared mindset. Over the months that followed, we realized the answer: this very exhibit.” – Carrie Secrist
Amy Krouse Rosenthal (b. 1965, Chicago – d. 2017, Chicago) was a person who liked to make things. She wrote both adult and children’s books, created tiny films, and worked with TED and NPR as a collaborator and speaker. Rosenthal graduated from Tufts University and built a career in advertising before she published her first children’s book, Little Pea, in 2005. Over the next 12 years, she wrote more than 30 children’s books including I Wish You More, Uni the Unicorn, Duck! Rabbit!, Exclamation Mark, and many other New York Times bestsellers. She penned groundbreaking memoirs including Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Her best-known film project is The Beckoning of Lovely.
In February 2017, Amy wrote an essay entitled “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” which was published in The New York Times. Within one week, it had been read by over four million people and featured on many national news outlets. She and her husband Jason raised their three children on a tree-lined street in Chicago.