"Without an ounce of sarcasm, art and music saved our lives. I know it's sort of cliché, but we're really sincere about that," says Jessee Rose Crane, musing on the title of her art exhibit now showing at the Kranzberg Arts Center through February 4. "This Could Save Your Life" brings a culmination of music and art -- two worlds that Crane says go hand in hand.
"My experiences as a band on the road fuel a lot of artwork that I do," she says. For the past five years, Crane and partner Philip Lesicko have toured and performed as the Funs, a two-piece rock band that reflects the couple's close relationship through dense, inclusive songs. The duo's swarming guitar plays Twister on the listener's ears while sharp beats propel the blissed-out sound into outer space. It's noisy indie-rock for the ADHD generation.
The band's lo-fi approach can be heard in full effect on Still Smoking, a five-song cassette released this past December through the Chicago label Athletic Tapes. The Funs have strong ties to the Windy City, owing in part to Crane's time at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The pair now resides in a 142-year-old building in New Douglas, Illinois -- a house they restored with little help from others.
"Basically, Philip's grandfather had abandoned this old farmhouse. It sort of became a burden on the family. They were going to have to tear it down eventually," Crane says. Building one space for artists and musicians to stay and work was a mutual pipe dream, a common landing pad for late-night conversations between the two.
"I think if we had known what we were getting into, we wouldn't have done it," Crane recalls. "We were naive and positive enough. But it was almost like a bomb had gone off and we came into it." They trudged through a lifetime of hoarded junk -- faded packs of gum, bent silverware and hundreds of white T-shirts sat in bloated cardboard boxes. Everything was moldy or corroded, partly due to the giant hole in the roof.
The Funs worked between tours to reclaim the space taken over by time. Once a museum of lost things, the house now stands as a recording studio and general workspace for art. Much of the imagery Crane encountered through this renovation served as direct inspiration for the pieces found in "This Could Save Your Life."
"As an artist I'm already a pack rat and a hoarder, and this has really taught me to use things, recycle them or pass them on," Crane explains. "It's given me perspective on what I buy. I consume less, I buy less. After looking at a lifetime of memories, I take that into account."
Continue to page two for more.