When beer-o-philes’ thoughts turn to creating a separate drinking space, let’s say a basement bar, they also think about how to decorate that bar. Beer signs and other breweriana are always a favorite choice. And here’s a locally-produced bit of artwork that should fit right in (You can tell I used to write editorial filler for advertising sections, can’t you?).
Local artist Phil Thompson is a beer lover who has visited many of the Windy City’s finer watering holes with his girlfriend, Katie Lauffenburger. The two currently make and sell artistic ceramic incense “smokers” through WaywardSmokers.com.
Phil decided he’d like to capture some of the architecture and ambiance of the town’s beer bars. The result was an art print called “Chicago’s Beer Bars,” drawn in pen and ink by Phil and colored by Katie. It shows exterior views of 14 bars, around a hand-drawn map of the city with their locations.
“My girlfriend and I love architecture–I had considered becoming an architect growing up,” Thompson explained. “With this project, we were fascinated by the details, the little flourishes on each of the bars’ exteriors. You get pretty intimately familiar with the buildings when you draw them; places as beautiful as Sheffield’s make you nostalgic for the old craftsmanship.”
Phil notes that Liz Garibay of the Chicago History Museum, “who writes about the histories of Chicago’s bars, including some of ours, provided a lot of context and fascinating back-stories for us.”
The print is 24 x 32 inches, and is sold through www.chicagobeermap.com/ for $38 signed, plus delivery. Bars depicted are the Clark Street Ale House, Delilah’s, Edgewater Lounge, The Globe Pub, Goose Island’s Clybourn brewpub, Hopleaf, Laschet’s Inn, Local Option, The Long Room, The Map Room, Quenchers, Resi’s Bierstube, Sheffield’s and Small Bar – Division.
I asked Phil about the artistic inspiration for his poster, since to me it recalled photo collages like “Pub Doors of Ireland:”
“I hadn’t seen that one, actually. My main influences, I’d say, are the few illustrated Chicago neighborhood maps that show the city’s patchwork of neighborhoods. Unlike those, however, I tried to make the bars the star of the show rather than the city itself.”
MM: How did the managers at the bars you drew react to the poster?
PT: “We wanted the managers/owners to be aware of this, so 1-2 months before we had the final version in hand, we visited every one of the bars to drop off a mock-up of the print and give a short intro. Most of them were very enthusiastic about the idea, some wanted to hang it up. Overall, I think they were happy to be a part.”
MM: Your drawings are all of the bars’ exteriors, and you captured a nice variety of historical commercial building styles. Are you a student of architecture?
PT: “My girlfriend and I love architecture — I had considered becoming an architect growing up. With this project, we were fascinated by the details, the little flourishes on each of the bars’ exteriors. You get pretty intimately familiar with the buildings when you draw them; places as beautiful as Sheffield’s make you nostalgic for the old craftsmanship.”
MM: Do you hope to produce another map or similar project?
PT: “We’d love to. We’d love to do other cities’ beer bars. I’m originally from around Philadelphia, another great beer town. Or maybe we’ll do Chicago’s historic breweries, or its Schlitz buildings. There are lots of possibilities. But we’ll see how this map develops before we jump headfirst into another project.”