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Tony Fitzpatrick Lollapalooza Poster Touts City's Boozy Musical Underbelly

By Mark Konkol | March 4, 2015 8:13am

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Last summer, Lollapalooza promoter Charlie Jones bumped into his wife’s favorite artist while sitting at the bar at the grand opening of James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano’s joint, River Roast, on the Chicago River.

“Tony says, ‘I want you to meet my friend Tony Fitzpatrick.’ And I said, ‘The artist?’” Jones said.

“We had a cool conversation. [Fitzpatrick] invited me over to his studio. My wife has been a huge fan of his work and has been looking for an original Fitzpatrick for a long time. I bought a few pieces and we became friends over the summer.”

At a Poetry Foundation showing of Fitzpatrick’s “Secret Birds” collection, Jones asked the Ukrainian Village artist if he’d consider making a Lollapalooza poster.

“Wanting to look cool in front of my kids, I said, ‘Yeah, of course I want to do it,' ” Fitzpatrick said. “Lollapalooza is a big thing for Chicago. I was thrilled to do it.”

So Fitzpatrick set out to make a signature collage for the annual Grant Park music festival that captured the “Chicago's beauty, mystery and a little bit of darkness that is rock ‘n’ roll.”

The poster features two “nuclear eternal moths powered by rock 'n' roll” that Fitzpatrick said symbolize “benevolent spirits of merriment that overlook the city."

“This city has always been chosen as a place to make merry,” Fitzpatrick said. “I wanted to do something that’s a testament to the beauty and the music in the bucolic setting of Chicago’s lakefront.”

Take a close look and you’ll see that Fitzpatrick embedded tiny artifacts and iconic Chicago images including old CTA transfers and pictures of old gas street lamp globes framed by cigar bands that the artist said is an “homage to politicians who have been looting this place for years.”

Each corner is marked with treasures plucked from historic haunts of Chicago's boozy musical underbelly.

Fitzpatrick included matchbook cover images from Ricardo’s — a watering hole frequented by Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, Roger Ebert and a host of writers, artists, musicians and epic drinkers — the Zebra Club and Ace of Clubs, long-gone jazz joints, and Ladner Brothers, the home of Cohasset Punch.

“Ladner Brothers was an old Loop gin mill. Writer Bill Granger used to drink there. And Cohasset Punch was this rotgut Kool-Aid moonshine, kind of like Night Train. You could buy it by the liter at the bar for a buck-and-a-half if you really wanted to flay yourself,” Fitzpatrick said.

“I wanted to create something that people could take home that included something of our city’s history so they remember that they came to Chicago and it’s a magical place.”

Jones, who has the original hanging up in his house, said it’s one of Lollapalooza’s best.

“I’m a little biased. I see it ever day,” Jones said. “Tony walked me through how it tells a little bit of musical history in Chicago connecting the dots from the early days to now with Lollapalooza. There’s a lot of heart and soul in that piece. It speaks of Chicago and it speaks of music.”

And you won’t have to wait five months to get one at the Festival. The poster is set to go up for sale on the Lollapalooza website when tickets become available later this spring, a festival spokesperson said.

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