for a piece of bread

“For a piece of bread, you can hear God sing,” Chicago artist Tony Fitzpatrick’s grandmother once told him. That bread? A piece of toast (with jelly) chopped up into pieces. That singing? The music of local birds–blackbirds, finches and warblers, according to a 2014 interview with Chicago Magazine.

Birds have long inspired Fitzpatrick’s work, which is currently on display at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art in Glen Ellyn. Fitzpatrick combines drawing, collage, watercolor, ink, gouache and glued bits of ephemera (think clippings from old baseball cards, matchbooks, program covers) to summon birds in nocturnal, deeply urban settings. The prints are heavy–pregnant even–with symbolism and ritual.

To wit:

For some works, Fitzpatrick incorporates his poetry for white-hot effect.

Fitzpatrick’s exhibition–Jesus of Western Avenue–is on display through January 31, 2022 at the CCMA. Tickets are free, but reservations are required.