When I stumbled upon FOTA Open Mic and Iris launch party, I had no idea it was the FOTA Open Mic and Iris launch party. Inside the huge tent in the Hutch courtyard, the stage from the FOTA fashion show the previous Saturday was left over and people were crowding about it. There wasn’t anyone on stage and I was confused–is there something these people see that I don’t see? But as fate would have it, a table placed strategically to the side that said “IRIS LAUNCH PARTY 2007” told me that I was in the right place. The launch party was part of FOTA’s annual celebration of the many different artistic talents of anyone associated with the university. I soon noticed the neat piles of Glass Eyeball’s Iris magazine, a University of Chicago publication with photographs taken by UofC students. The photographers featured this year were Josh Ackerman, Avery Bell, Emmi Blum, Lucas Carmichael, Florence Choo, Pauline Fujita, Ingrid Goncalves, Anna Jackson, Cam Keitel, Michael Loh, Marco Mambelli, Arthur Matysik, Jennifer Reinhardt, Kelly Russell, Chris Salata, and Ryan Vass. These students could beat me in a photography shootout any day–flipping through the pages of Iris, I was pleasantly surprised by the content. We all remember that kid in high school who thought that taking pictures of himself in front of a bathroom mirror with his dyed black hair covering on eye was “artistic” and “creative.” Thankfully, however, the photographs in Iris were nothing like that.
Next to the Iris magazines was an abundance of Chinese buns. While a friend of mine mosied over to the Chinese buns, lured by their seductive smell, I saw someone sitting up on stage. It was the first performer of the open mic, Sawgrass. Sawgrass–whose real name is James Moore–attracted a good-sized crowd to the stage. His music seemed to be influenced by a grab-bag of a lot of different artists, including Elliott Smith and Neko Case. The crowd listened on as more and more people waltzed into the FOTA tent. It was an insanely cold night to have an outdoor event, but that did not detract from the overall atmosphere. At least we had the heat of the Chinese buns to keep us warm.