July 12 - August 5, 2018
at the Chicago Athletic Association

Johalla Projects partnered with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Athletic Association hotel, and Land and Sea Dept. to present Dear Carmencita, a Gilded Age-inspired pop-up bar located in the hotel’s ground floor Tank space (formerly the Chicago Athletic Association’s pool).

Following several iterations of the Chicago Athletic Association hotel’s ‘mini-bar’ series, Dear Carmencita celebrated the Art Institute’s exhibition John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age. Presenting a range of Sargent's work—including his beloved portraits—John Singer Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age chronicles the story of the celebrated American artist, tracing his Chicago connections and illuminating the city’s art scene at the turn of the 20th century.

The pop-up included interiors by Johalla Projects in collaboration with local designer Marina Kozak, offering a glimpse at what the parlor of a Sargent’s benefactor might have looked like. Hints of Sargent’s work filled the space, while the design kept loyal to the landmarked historical elements found throughout the hotel. Originally built in 1893 during Chicago’s World’s Fair, the Chicago Athletic Association hotel celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018.

Curated by Land and Sea Dept. beverage director Paul McGee, Dear Carmencita's menu of cocktails was similarly inspired by Sargent's work. The pop-up also featured nightly interactive programming, including talks from museum curators, interactive painting workshops, and flamenco-dance demonstrations.

Sargent (1856–1925) was the most sought-after portraitist of his generation on both sides of the Atlantic. Born in Italy to American parents, he traveled in search of subjects and worked professionally for more than 50 years creating vibrant, lively paintings.

His portrait of Carmen Dauset, for which the pop-up was named, commanded the attention of critics and museumgoers when it was displayed at the Art Institute in 1890, effectively helping put Chicago on the map as a center for contemporary art and culture.


Time Out Chicago

Chicago magazine