Steve Krakow, aka Plastic Crimewave, is an artist, musician, and curator widely known for his info strip, The Secret History of Chicago Music, which runs every two weeks in the Chicago Reader, with a musical segment/show aired every second Sunday on the Nick Digilio show on WGN 720. Comprised of approximately a hundred 8 x 11 in. drawings that incorporate extensive research by the artist, The Secret History of Chicago Music has developed into an important study of the obscure blues, jazz, rock, funk, soul, folk, R&B, and punk musicians from Chicago’s rich and diverse musical history. As Krakow states, the series highlights “pivotal Chicago musicians that somehow have not gotten their just dues.”
Krakow hand-draws and writes each installment of the strip in a style that references such iconic comic artists as Robert Crumb, while the series itself continues a tradition pioneered by Folkways Records and Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music of documenting and disseminating America’s musical heritage.
For his UBS 12 x 12 exhibition, Krakow presents a selection of The Secret History of Chicago Music strip that dates from 2005 to the present. The exhibition also includes a series of Tuesday night performances by musicians who have been featured in The Secret History of Chicago Music. The performance series takes place in the UBS 12 x 12 Gallery.
In addition to The Secret History of Chicago Music, Krakow’s Galactic Zoo Dossier, a hand-drawn “psychedelic magazine” is published by the Chicago-based label Drag City, and his illustrations have been commissioned for numerous magazines, album covers, comic books, and promotional posters. Krakow is also a member of the psychedelic rock band Plastic Crimewave Sound, and curates the Million Tongues music festival at the Empty Bottle in Chicago.