It's happening here
When the smoking ban dropped January 1, bargoers knew where all the smokers would end up: puffing outside in the cold. But what’s still unclear is the fate of all those bar ashtrays that the ban rendered useless. On Tuesday 19, we’ll get our first glimpse thanks to “Ashtrays to Art,” an exhibition of tray-based work organized by Susan Goss of the West Town Tavern and Tonya Pyatt of the nearby Architrouve gallery. In the hands of the two dozen artists involved, the some 500 ashtrays Goss solicited from local bars and restaurants transcend their initial intent as cigarette repositories. A hanging mobile of glass and ceramic ashtrays, photomontages of “martyred” smokers (pictured) and even a short film starring butt boxes are just some of the ways the artists have reimagined ashtrays as a medium. “I didn’t give them any boundaries,” Pyatt says. “The only thing I said was, ‘As long as you can fit your work through the door, it’s all right with me.’ I don’t care if someone grinds the ashtrays up and uses them to make an oil painting,” she says. “In fact, I’m actually kind of hoping they do.” “Ashtrays to Art” butts in Tuesday 19 through February 26 at the Architrouve (1433 W Chicago Ave, 312-563-0977) and West Town Tavern (1329 W Chicago Ave, 312-666-6175).