Art show celebrates strangeness with masks, one-of-a-kind items


Courtesy Angel Onofre

The Halloween art show at the Sideshow Gallery, 2219 N. Western Ave., will feature work created by Angel Onofre, who relies on themes of horror for his art. 

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Halloween and mask art are the focus of an upcoming art show and masquerade curated by a combination oddities shop and art space. 

Chicago’s Sideshow Gallery, 2219 N. Western Ave., will host the event Oct. 22. The shop sells items such as prayer candles with images of David Bowie, decks of tarot cards and jewelry made of animal bones.

Anne Katrin Elliott, co-owner of Sideshow Gallery, said the shop’s unique collections offered her and fellow co-owner Cheri Basak the opportunity to create a Halloween art show without the typical cliches of the season. 

“We try to make each show different,” Elliott said. “Halloween is sort of our time, and we’re hoping to have something that is a little more original and a little bit more exciting than your regular Halloween art show with pictures of witches and bats and monsters.”

Angel Onofre, a local artist whose work will be displayed in the show, said he is excited the exhibition will be focused on the theme of  Halloween. 

“It is probably one of my favorite time of the year,” Onofre said. “All my art is horror-based. Every art show [Sideshow] throws is cool, but Halloween is always going to be awesome.”

According to Elliott, the anonymity and mystery behind wearing a mask led to the idea of a masquerade becoming part of the theme of the art show. 

“Just the idea of the mask—putting on this mask and being able to be someone else—I just love that idea,” Elliott said. “There’s such a great history of mask—wearing and stepping outside yourself. Plus, they’re just great sculptural forms.”

Onofre said he thinks the theme of masks is appropriate for the Sideshow Gallery. 

“[It’s] really fitting with the whole theme Sideshow has,” Onofre added. “Every piece that I’m going to have there has a mask incorporated into it one way or another.”

Adam Rust, the co-owner of another Chicago oddities shop, Woolly Mammoth, 1513 W. Foster Ave., said interest in the odd is human nature.

“People are naturally fascinated to see the abject, or the fringe, or things that lay on the edge of the mainstream,” Rust said. “It’s always been that way.”

Although there is no definitive reason why patrons are interested in the contents of oddity shops, Onofre said he had no reservations about contributing his art to the Sideshow Gallery’s Halloween show because of his admiration for the shop. 

“I’m a really big fan of the shop and the whole vibe they’ve got going for it,” Onofre said. “When they asked me to be a part of it, I just kind of jumped on it.”

Because of the unique and odd qualities of Sideshow’s items for sale, Elliott said she has thought about why patrons are interested in the shop’s collection and decided it reflects how the culture of collecting has changed through the years. 

“People actually made things and kept things [in past centuries], and [now] we have a sort of throw-away culture,” Elliott said. “People are fascinated with the past. It’s kind of comforting to see these old, weird things. We’ve amassed this weird collection of old and new things that give people a look into the past and a look into the beyond.”