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The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

Art to Live Without

A regretful reporter reflects on missed opportunity during the Smart Museum’s Art to Live With event.
Students+spend+the+night+camping+outside+the+Smart+Museum+to+be+first+on+line+for+the+Art+to+Live+with+program.
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Students spend the night camping outside the Smart Museum to be first on line for the Art to Live with program.

Broods of cicadas chirped loudly with excitement. Lone mayflies circled lamp posts in anticipation. Squirrels peered down curiously from their leafy perches. Though humans are few and far between at 4:30 in the morning, the entire natural world was watching my roommate and my every move with bated breath. We trudged forward across the Main Quadrangle with a single goal in mind: We were going to steal a painting.

The definition of the word “steal” is, of course, highly subjective. In this case, the reader should interpret it to mean waiting in line for “the unique opportunity to borrow original works of art to display in [our] dorm rooms”—i.e., the Smart Museum’s annual Art Match.

For three days leading up to the Art Match, I had been plotting. I would arrive well before the harsh crack of dawn and ally myself with the other weary sojourners, waiting around the doors of the Smart Museum, sharing my humble offering of protein bars. Then, when the museum’s doors opened at 8 a.m., I would betray my acquaintances and seize Picasso’s Dream and Lie of Franco II, better known as “the Picasso with fewer naked people”. It was the perfect piece to put between my Barbie and Radiohead posters, and I had the perfect plan.

Upperclassmen and Smart Museum staff alike had reassured me: “Hardly anyone camps out.” “If you get there before 8 a.m. you’ll certainly get a piece.” “My friend got a Picasso last year and he showed up at 9 a.m.” Etc., etc. But when I arrived, mentally and physically exhausted after 20 minutes of sprints away from random cars, clutching on to my pepper spray for dear life, there were already at least 30 people waiting.

Though confused and slightly deterred, I soldiered on, directed toward a sign-in sheet by one of the more seasoned campers. At once, I realized my intelligence had been flawed: despite my early arrival, I was 170th in line for a collection with only 140 pieces.

Disappointment. Sadness. Resentment. I experienced all these as I scribbled my name onto the list. And yet, I still waited for a staff member to arrive for the 7 a.m. check-in. He, of course, confirmed my dreadful suspicions, and though he tried to comfort the 20 of us who had woken up at 4 a.m. for nothing, we were inconsolable. Especially since most of us hadn’t heard anything about the existence of a sign-in sheet to begin with.

Moving forward, I firmly believe that the specifics of the “Art to Live With” event need better marketing. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to provide said marketing. Check-ins begin at 6 p.m. the night before the Art Match and continue every two hours until midnight, with a final check-in at 7 a.m. the day of, allowing a seven-hour window for participants to sleep. Technically, you should attend all four check-ins, but the staff will give you some leeway for missing just one.

If you want to give yourself the best chance at a successful art heist, learn from my mistakes. Complete the three check-ins from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the night before, skip the 12 a.m. check-in, and be back by 7 a.m. for coffee and donuts. At the very least, I’ll be using this strategy as a jumping off point in preparation for next year’s Art Match. Oh, and I suppose you could use it too. Just don’t take my Picasso.

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About the Contributor
Anika Krishnaswamy, Grey City Reporter
Anika Krishnaswamy is a first-year in the College planning to major in economics and computer science. She has been interested in journalism since high school and enjoys writing in-depth feature stories. In her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to Laufey (and other music), and scrolling on Reddit.
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    Shannon / Nov 9, 2023 at 12:47 pm

    Lovely article; can’t wait to read more content from such an illustrious writer!

    Reply