Encompassing an exhibition of 1910s-1920s hobohemian ephemera, an accompanying publication and an events series, Brains, Brilliancy, Bohemia connects Chicago’s long tradition of non-tradition with the work of contemporary artists and activists. The exhibition is the first known overview of visual culture produced during the hobohemian era, a precursor to present day cultural resistance.
Material from the exhibition draws heavily from the archives of the Newberry Library, whose collections chronicle Chicago’s legendary but ill-forgotten Dill Pickle Club. The Dill Pickle provided a forum for free speech and the meeting place for many of the city’s most famous authors, intellectuals and radicals, including Carl Sandburg, Sherwood Anderson, Floyd Dell, Clarence Darrow, Lucy Parsons, Ralph Chaplin, Ben Hecht, Harriet Monroe and Vachel Lindsay. Included in the exhibition are photocopy reproductions of letterpress and woodcut handbills, fliers and posters announcing and advertising numerous lectures, readings, parties, plays and other regular activities.