Walking in to Stitch Gawd’s apartment is the closest thing to walking into a Chicago rap scene museum that I have experienced thus far. Everywhere you look there is art created by, for, or about Chicago Hip Hop. Art on the walls, art on the floor, even the in the bathroom (which is a shrine to Joseph Chilliams). She has hundreds of signed show posters, photos, paintings, flyers and everything else in between.
Standing in the middle of her living room she looked around and started pointing things out at a rapid pace. “That Max Sansing illustration is from Kevin Coval’s book, that’s an original Hebru Brantley,” she says before spotting something from photographer Bryan Allen Lamb (who has done multiple CS photos and docs). “That’s the first piece that Bryan Allen Lamb ever sold, I forced him to sell it to me. I was like, how much did it cost you to frame that, $350? Would you let me walk out of here with it for $450? Like, I Venmo you $450 and I leave with your art? And he said ‘Okay, for real?’ and I said, ‘go get it.’ So that was the first piece he sold, I made him sell it to me. That’s a Brandon Breau piece over there.”
Because she never sells her own work – creating customized clothing for her favorite artists – she has done a lot of trades. Over the years her continual presence within Chicago’s music scene has led to her meeting, and trading with, some of the most important artists in the city. But it wasn’t until this interview that she fully understood that she is in fact, an art collector.
“Oh my gosh, I’m an art collector! We’ve lowkey been talking about that the whole time… Wow I didn’t know that til right now. Oh my god I’m kinda blown actually,” she said. “Art is such a nebulous concept and because it’s so nebulous, we have a hard time giving ourselves the space to grant yes or no, we want to make sure we have everyone else’s opinion before we deem it art or not, but really we don’t have to do that. Wow, so I didn’t know I was an art collector.”
For this edition of [RH Collectors], we asked The Stitch Gawd about some of her favorite pieces. Below you will find a handful of the 160+ works of art and some of the stories behind them. Check back for our full in-depth interview with Stitch Gawd dropping soon.
That’s my guy. I bought that on coloring day, I named him Carlos and I thought it was 8 x 11 and in my 600 square foot apartment it was HUGE. I did not have room for him.
Ricardo Cavolo Tarot Cards
Do you know Ricardo Cavolo? Kaytranada’s artist. Because I did that Kaytranada jacket, it was amazing and he was shocked. He’s the nicest guy, Kevin’s the best.
Max Sansing Portrait of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
My favorite book ever was Chicago: City on the Make by Nelson Algren, but then I really really love Kevin Coval’s last book A People’s History of Chicago. Max Sansing, who is an incredible artist did this portrait of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, a Haitian guy, the first legit resident of Chicago, guess what? Not remembered all that well in the history books, he has like, one street. Anyway, so Max Sansing did this illustration. I went to the art show for Kevin’s book, and I walked in and just had to get it. I’ve always wanted a Max Sansing piece, he almost never does stuff this small or black and white, he does a lot of mural work, he did the Fred Hampton piece at YCA recently. That’s kind of the scale he does. The chance to have a Max Sansing piece, especially of such a pivotal character to Chicago in my home was unmissable for me. I wasn’t in a great financial situation to go around buying art like that, but I had to have it, I stretched myself to get it and I’m so glad I did because it’s one of my favorites.
Hebru had a pop-up across the street from Lollapalooza the first year that Chance played, and Red Bull had gotten me a free wristband to Lollapalooza. I went to this pop-up and, on my first credit card, this was the most expensive thing that I had ever bought. I was not an extravagant person, this was the early days at the coupon factory, so I fucking stretched myself. I think I spent like $275 on that. But you can’t do that now… he made it.
I used to manage this artist who did large scale portraiture, she’s Canadian, her name is Lori Dell. She’s done sittings with Javier Bardem, Uma Thurman and Anthony Hopkins. She actually had art in that Tim Meadows movie, “The Ladies Man”… I was categorizing her art because a lot of management things in the art world is translating between the commerce side of things and the art, so I was helping her out, but then I had to get out of Toronto. I kind of had a situation with her son. He was an amateur photographer, this may or may not be a picture that was taken of me while the rest of me was as god intended you feel me? So imagine my surprise when I was called over to the house and Lori was like, “I have a going away present for you.” So I walk into her studio, and lo and behold there’s this massive oil painting of my face from that picture, I know what fucking picture it is, and it is a picture of just my face, but I know what the context is, so I was like, ‘how dare you give that picture to your mother for her to paint this glorious oil panting?!?’ All of my guy friends have told me you can not put that in your bedroom, that is far too much pressure, especially because my bedroom is bright pink.
Michael Jordan Sketch
This is a really good one actually. There’s this basketball blog where they do basketball art, and this guy did this picture of Joakim Noah and I love Joakim Noah so I asked him to print me a print and he did but he also sent me some of his sketches and I think that’s Michael Jordan.
This is this artist from Indiana named R64. He had this giant piece and it said Daddy’s Girl at the top and she was weeping, it was much bigger. It was like $400. I was like, listen, I can’t afford that but I love this piece so much. I stitch, can I stitch you something for that? And he was like, no, I’m not really interested in your stitching but here’s what’s up. I’ll make a mini version of it and I’ll charge you like $75 for it and I said bet, let’s go. So I stretched myself again, so this was one of my first real ones. It’s an original, a tiny original, but an original you know? That’s the exciting part of it. The adventure in art collecting is having a piece of someone’s work that you really love. I’ve never thought of it as a way to monetize, I just want the art that I want in my home.
The Hebru Wall
These are all Red Bull Sound Select. When Hebru wasn’t nearly as poppin’ he used to do all of Andrew’s posters for him because they were homeboys. Andrew and I were neighbors, we lived like two blocks from each other so we used to see each other in the neighborhood. This one, this guy at Red Bull was trying to make me think that he was cool so he gave me a signed Hebru print, I’m like, you’re so dumb, but I’ll take it. I used to get in line hours before shows because I really wanted the prints.
Langston Allston Print
This is Langston Allston from the show that I did with him.
Runsy is the fucking coldest. When I and bought this print from the show they were trying to give me a bogus copy and she had words with them and was like “No, she gets one of the good prints”
Vic Mensa Poster
I greened out at this show, I almost threw up on Alex Wiley. Anyway, I was standing in line and he was like, “you look familiar.” I was like, “Vic, we’ve met like ten times.” Tenth times the charm… “Light it up Emma Watson”.