“I move and install art for my job,” says Dave Deany, “and quite often I end up in very wealthy art collectors’ homes. I see their collections and how the art functions as a commodity–it decorates their living rooms. I hear, ‘It’s important that we get this piece here in time for the dinner party tomorrow,’ and I resent what the ultimate function of this art is.”

So Deany created his own environment–a bed-and-breakfast at the Better Weimaraner Gallery. The bed–headboard and footboard designed by Deany–sits in the middle of a room surrounded by his paintings and sculptures; the breakfast is also by Deany.

Vince Darmody and his girlfriend, both artists, were the B and B’s first two customers. “It was one of the nicest experiences I’ve ever had with visual art,” says Darmody, a friend of Deany’s, “because I was able to fully interpret the work at my own speed.” He says Deany unlocked the gallery and let the couple in. “We took our shoes off and popped into bed in our street clothes. He tucked us in and gave each of us a big goodnight kiss. As soon as Dave left it was really interesting. I told my girlfriend everything I knew about him. We were both a little drunk, but not so drunk that we couldn’t have actual discourse about the work. I really feel like I got to know the work in an intimate way. I immediately realized how dark Dave’s work actually is. First it creeps up on you and says, ‘Oh, I’m very pretty, love me,’ the way a Fisher-Price toy would. But then that family portrait became almost like a fascist dictator’s portrait.” He adds, “Dave and I have a lot in common–we’re both from similar dysfunctional backgrounds.”

Darmody says the footboard reminded him of a tombstone, a connection Deany was aware of when he was working on it. It partially blocks the view of a large abstract painting titled Horizon. “No matter where you would sit on the bed, even upright, it would still obstruct the painting–almost like a shark fin,” says Darmody. “It moves as you move. It activates the picture plane.”

In the morning Deany brought the couple the Sunday New York Times, then set up a hot plate next to the bed and made coffee and banana pancakes. Darmody says the pancakes were “amazing.”

Reservations are available for Friday and Saturday nights only through March 21 at the gallery, 910 N. Damen. The rate is $21.50 a night for one, $7.50 for each additional person. Call 773-772-5138 or 773-645-0097.

–Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Randy Tunnell.