Sep 9th 2017

Neons & Quilts

@ Empty Bottle

1035 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Opening Saturday, September 9th, from 1PM - 2AM

Morgan Sims’ neon work features characters and imagery from line drawings, doodles, and freehand forms. Paying close attention to the effects of color and atmospheric glow, he creates disjointed narratives with pop culture symbols. Meant to be fun, but also to challenge convention, this work represents his efforts

Morgan Sims is a Chicago-based artist that works in neon, painting, and printmaking. He shows his work locally and nationally and has representation with Bert Green Fine Art in Chicago. His work was recently published in New American Paintings and Studio Visit Magazine. He teaches at Elmhurst College, Spudnik Press, and next year will teach at the University of Puget Sound. See more of his work at

“I have worked exclusively with mounted quilts for over thirty years now. The medium of dye paints was introduced to me by my ex-wife Marilyn Barajas (formerly Breverwyk) who used to dye on t-shirts, baby blankets, quilted pillows, and a handful of framed pictures to create some truly impressive pieces. I appreciated her quilt work above all else. The style was unlike anything I’d seen before it inspired me to create a unique take on what she was already doing.

My first series was done in Spring 1987 and was done satirically and titled Soft Gangsters, because the idea of hard-face, cold-blooded mobsters like Lucky Luciano portrayed in a medium commonly thought of as exclusive to old woman sewing circles cracked me up. As I worked on those early pieces their meaning took on something deeper to me. I can’t quite explain it but as I bled and toiled for the work it seemed to become a living part of me. History is what makes us what we are today and because of this I have made several historical series. The subjects include the famous and the infamous, the Native Americans, and the Great Pioneers of America. I have also focused on African American history and culture, which led me to Afro-Caribbean Voodoo culture.

Along the way I have done series about other personal interests such as Very Special People, in which I covered famous side-show freaks of times passed. Anarchy at LaMere was inspired by my time as a bouncers at the punk rock club LaMere Vipere and the Chicago Scene which took local indie-rock bands from the 1990s. But, I feel that my heart lays with the history of mankind and this is where I always return.

On a light note, I have done many pieces inspired by fairy tales and folklore. These are usually a combination of stories from mother Goose and The Brothers Grimm, mingled with American legends like John Henry and children’s book such as Mr. Toad and Peter Pan. These are mostly inspired by my children, of which I have six, like divided portions of my soul.

For almost as long as I have done art work I have worked in the bar business. As mentioned before I was a bouncer at LaMere Vipere in the late 1970’s, which led me to work at O’Banion’s and Club Neo during the early 1980s. It wasn’t until I started working at Rainbo Club in 1986 when I truly felt home, where I found something like a second family.

Chicago is in my blood like the sewage in Lake Michigan. Born, raised, and educated in the Windy City. i’ve seen the worst of sweltering summer days and bitter winter night. I’ve always embraced my city like a child embraces its mother. Sometimes I love her, sometimes I hate her, but she’s a part of me and I apart of her. To put it simply, I am because we are.” – Ken Ellis

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