Today and tomorrow, Cream Co.’s plants are for a song – or a poem

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Staff Writer

Chicago-based artist collective Cream Co. will give out 2,000 tomato seedlings and 1,000 flowers in exchange for poems this week.

The exchange–which began today–will continue through tomorrow at the Logan Center, 915 E. 60th St. Participants are invited to read a poem in exchange for allium flowers and 14 varieties of heirloom tomato seedlings. But they can just share a written poem instead, according to Cream Co. co-founder Marie Krane.

“We just play it by ear,” said Krane, whose group hosted a tomato seedlings for poem exchange last summer at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5520 S. Hyde Park Blvd. “It’s a project that’s really aiming to be in the moment.”

There will also be poem writing stations on site and Cream Co. members will also be available to discuss how to grow tomatoes, according to Krane. She said the exchange will end on Wednesday when seedlings and plants run out or at dusk.

The project is part of Cream Co.’s six-year-old General Economy, Exquisite Exchange (G.E.E.E.) experiment that has swapped more than 10,000 plants and seedlings with the public, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Projects.

“The experiment asks, is the community essentially generous? And the answer has been the communities in Chicago and in Hyde park particularly, are essentially generous and open hearted,” Krane said.

But generosity is not required: according to Krane, visitors will be allowed to take plants without sharing poems, too.

“Ultimately, the project is accepting of human nature as it is, with the view toward hopefulness that art can make it better,” Krane said.

For more information, visit creamco.net or arts.uchicago.edu.