by Cathy Beres
It’s not every day you come face to face with an unusual, massive art installation at your neighborhood yoga studio. But that is exactly what you’ll find at the 105F Bikram yoga studio in Wicker Park.
Eleven enormous panels, each measuring 4 feet by 8 feet, were painted by the late Colin Lambides in 2001. Lambides was a fixture in Wicker Park at the time, a young, free-spirited, world- traveling artist often called “The Pied Piper Of Wicker Park” for his friendly and outgoing personality and connection to the neighborhood community.
The panels were drawn and painted by Lambides as a way to advertise the opening of 105F, Chicago’s first hot yoga studio. Without an advertising budget, owner John Marcoux had to find an untraditional way to get the word out about the new studio. A nearby empty building offered Marcoux their windows, all 21 of them, as advertising space. Marcoux immediately thought of Lambides to fill this blank canvas.
Lambides envisioned telling a story comic-strip style across the tall windows. He chose to depict a story he remembered learning in Sunday School at the Temple of Kriya, Chicago, where he spent much of his childhood. In the story, the gods have retrieved the nectar of immortality and want to hide it from man. They knew that man could climb the highest mountains, take a ship to the bottom of the sea or shoot a rocket to the moon to find immortality, so the gods consulted Brahma for advice. He said to place the nectar where man would never think to look: in the human heart.
Lambides used bright tempura paints to bring his drawings to life. The overall effect is visually arresting and graphically stunning. In the original configuration, the drawings were followed by several panels with words that directed passersby to the studio, which was down the street.
Despite the story of everlasting life depicted in his work of art, Lambides passed away several years after the opening of 105F, at the age of 29. The paintings pay tribute to the enduring power and spirituality of yoga and to Lambides’ memory in the Wicker Park community.
The panels are now on display at 105F, 1344 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. Learn more about the studio at 105F.com.