1500 W. 17th



Behind the striped awnings and ketchup red ironwork you’ll find a white box of a space filled with arty products ranging from highbrow to dirt-ass: a thick catalog, on creamy matte stock, from a Swiss art show on symbols of spiritual physics; a spiral-bound cookbook of real and invented celebrity recipes by local artist Lauren Anderson; Danielle Aubert’s limited-edition volume of drawings made in Excel; all the records on LA now-punk label Teenage Teardrops; Luke Fishbeck’s hand-painted stickers; trinket jewelry by Dramastically Cute Treasures. The eclectic collection is heavily curated but loosely organized–zines of motivational-text art are grouped with batiked T-shirts and seven-inches from a suburban noise label, for example.

Golden Age is relaxed and browser friendly: “At specialty bookstores people often feel like they can’t buy anything without already knowing about it,” says Martine Syms, who runs the shop with fellow recent School of the Art Institute grad Marco Kane. “Here you’re free to ask questions and discover stuff–you don’t have to already be familiar with some weird Finnish noise band.”

They both still have other jobs–she’s a gallery assistant at Rowley Kennerk, he hand-finishes new custom cabinets to make them look old and European–and say they don’t plan on making wads of cash off this venture. They estimate their average sale to be about $25; nothing so far costs more than $50. Though the shop itself is cozy, the space is pretty big, and in the back and the basement six of Syms and Kane’s friends have set up studio space for painting, sewing, and printmaking; Golden Age sells some of their output. Twenty-five percent of the store’s content is locally made; the rest comes from all over the world. Kane likes showing Chicagoans’ work in an international context: “It shows people that we don’t have an inferiority complex.”

This Saturday from 5 to 9 PM Golden Age is throwing a grand-opening party; members of the local band Killer Whales DJ and the band Outpost plays. –Liz Armstrong

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Marco Kane, Martine Syms photo by Hayley Murphy.