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Revive the HUG! @Ravenswood Art Walk 2013

September 5, 2013

October 6, noon-1pm

We were incredibly lucky to again be invited to participate in the Ravenswood Art Walk on Oct. 6 by Elizabeth Wenscott. Elizabeth will host us in her beautiful space, The Tai Chi Center of Chicago.

For this hug our intention is to get as many people to visit and participate as possible. We look forward to hugging you there!

Hug Us! HUG is an ongoing project organized by Aurora Tabar and Sara Zalek that encourages love and healing through touch.
In 2011 these artists and others hugged continuously in public locations around Chicago. On this day, we will revive the Hug to remind us how important is it to be present and willing to offer our bodies to each other in this way.


Reaching out to touch someone is a lasting symbol of what it means to be human and a universal sign of healing.
By doing so you will cultivate COMPASSION*PEACE*JOY FRIENDLINESS*HAPPINESS in yourself and all around you.

Group Hug @ Ravenswood Art Walk

October 11, 2011

October 2, 1-2 pm

We were incredibly lucky to be invited to participate in the Ravenswood Art Walk on Oct. 2 by Elizabeth Wenscott. Not only did Elizabeth host us in her beautiful space, The Tai Chi Center of Chicago, she photographed us, hugged us and made us feel completely and utterly welcome.

group hug

For this hug our intention was to get as many people to participate as possible. We wanted to see how many people would join in and hug on us for a giant group hug. We were on the 2nd floor of the building, so downstairs and outside we indicated with sandwich boards where the hug would be. We went the simple route; our sandwich boards simply said, “Group Hug” with an arrow in the appropriate direction. In the Tai Chi studio we had another sandwich board that said:

Hug Us!

HUG is an ongoing project organized by Aurora Tabar and Sara Zalek that encourages love and healing through touch.
For the past year these artists and others have hugged continuously in public locations around Chicago.

On the back we had our usual:

Reaching out to touch someone is a lasting symbol of what it means to be human and a universal sign of healing.
By doing so you will cultivate COMPASSION*PEACE*JOY FRIENDLINESS*HAPPINESS in yourself and all around you.

Several people came and hugged us, including Sara’s partner Chris and several friends from the Tai Chi studio. We were joined by Chloe and her friend, who created their own hug loop. Sometimes people hugged us and sometimes they hugged the other couple. Sometimes couples hugged near us.

The space felt expansive and fluid.
An hour passed in seconds
I returned to Sara’s embrace
Surrounded by love, support, and open arms.

I loved this group hug. I loved the space and breath and everyone who participated.

But I still wonder…how to accumulate a mass of huggers? I imagine a gigantic crowd (all hugging) in Daley Plaza. Or perhaps in front of the Federal Building with the Occupy Chicago crowd. Might a hug be an act of resistance?



Hug #52

September 30, 2011

Hug #52
August 21, 2011, 1-2 pm central time
Angora Sculptures in Chicago, the Brooklyn Bridge and beyond!

annie and sarah on the brooklyn bridge

group hug on the brooklyn bridge

A very belated thank you to all who came out to hug last month for our 52nd hug. A solid group turned out at the Angora Sculptures in Chicago. We also had friends hugging on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and received photos from other huggers all over the world. Thank you also to those of you who wanted to come or had us in your thoughts. Since the hug last month many people have told me they had wanted to participate but were not able. So perhaps this belated reflection is a good reminder that it is never too late! You can still participate in your own hug performance any time by following these simple instructions:

1. Find a partner
2. Find a place
3. HUG!

We like to hug continuously for an hour in different public locations, but feel free to adapt our hug performance to your liking.

Here is a little poem in honor of Hug #52…

proportions are skewed
as legs become hollow bodies
our bodies hollow and adapt, shape to inviting contours
we are a school
a tribe
a pack
a flight
a congregation
a swarm
we stand feet rooted but gently swaying in wind
with breath
Suddenly like viscous we melt onto concrete
Laterally we become the horizon
is this love?
ooh baby, is this love?
are we home?
Something here feels like healing,
like true genuine healing
like passionate, joyous healing
if we just slow down reach our arms around
and hug.

Hug #52

September 23, 2011
Chicago Huggers

Chicago Huggers

We Hugged it out for Ya’ll! 

This message comes extremely late from the date of Hugging due to moving on, moving on. This stuff is hard to express, and perhaps that is some cause for my delinquency. We have been planning new adventures for ourselves and for the world….I imagine that you might think of us when you Hug and that you may let that Hug last a little longer, with more breathing and more listening.

I wrote a poem that day, that perfect sun filled, heart felt day. Thank you to everyone that participated, lovelies, one and all!! Here goes my sappy love poem, the Ode to the Hug:

Huggers and young dancer

Huggers and young dancer

Perfect day for hugging.

Sweet and hot and breezy.

Jets consuming sky ways.

We are a few soft sculptures among hundreds of giant metal bodies, we are living, breathing, flowers. Our hugs are sparse, long, enduring.

We lean in and on and rest and sigh and hear the slowness of our nearest one, our partner, our friend, our lover. Should we have let you know the moment of our exhalation? Because I heard your breath. I did.

And your Hug sometimes it feels like a pressure. An urge to respond. Confronted by your strong support. How do I stay now? I keep asking. And it bears repeating. When the songs in my head get rusty and skip, you jossle the needle so that I may have more access for listening. And again breathing, softening, releasing.

Letting go, forgetting. A lapse in knowing, and do I see darkness or blinding light? A sharp turn up or down? In spirals, and then my arms circle yours, and your arms circle me, and in our arms we have stood and are standing.

We know Hugs.

And we know that you know Hugs. And the repetition, it bears repeating. It takes time for healing.

Hug #51

August 21, 2011

Hug #51
August 7, 1:30-2:30 pm
North Avenue Beach


This hug is dedicated to a friend who is not allowed to hug the person she wants to hug more than anyone else
This hug is dedicated to partners
This hug is dedicated to distance in hopes of proximity
This hug is dedicated to new chapters
This hug us dedicated to clarity, complexity, and depth
This hug is dedicated to supportive friends
This hug is dedicated to patience
This hug denounces bureaucracy
This hug respectfully disputes authority
This hug is dedicated to fun and summer
This hug loves to swim
This hug is cucumber and egg salad
This hug can’t imagine anything better than sunbathing on concrete with two incredible ladies
This hug is three hours of sunshine in the middle of a rainy day
This hug is my favorite day of summer yet


Hug #50

August 21, 2011

Hug #50
July 24, 11-noon
Lincoln Square

“It’s not right. It’s just not right.”

The hugs barely fit into my life these days, or rather, my schedule. They appear in the cracks, the spaces between obligations and sleep. I have not been giving the hugs what they deserve. Did I ever arrive at Hug #50? It’s hard to say now if I was really present or if I was writing my grocery list, planning my dinner, or fixating on all the things I needed to do in the coming week.

We stood in the center of Lincoln Square. In the Square, to be precise, near the fountain. It was Sunday morning and the area was rampant with young parents and their buoyant offspring. Toddlers ran back and forth on the cobblestone and peered over the fountain gate.

Rain and the smell of wet concrete.

We blended right in; few people seemed to notice us. A couple walked by with their little girl, perhaps three years old. “See, they like to hug just like you,” the man said to his daughter.

An old man crossed the street staring at us. When he got closer I could hear him saying, “It’s not right. It’s just not right. Not in this country. It’s a disgrace.” When I got a closer look at the man’s face I could see he was very angry. He passed by us and continued muttering insults under his breath. He continued down the street, but his eyes remained on us. He watched us for a while. I was amused but Sara seemed put off and perhaps scared. I have never seen anyone express so much blatant anger and hostility towards a hug.

He thought we were demonstrating about gay rights. Recently we have had a lot of similar responses and interpretations, much more so than when we started hugging a year ago. Perhaps it’s because the issue is a hot topic right now. I just heard on the radio this morning that a judge in Illinois ruled that Catholic church organizations can’t deny same sex couples the right to adopt a child under the new civil unions act. Take that Catholic church!

After our hug Sara and I sat on a bench and ate pastries and caught up on each other’s lives. We intended to discuss our project and come to some decisions about our final hug, but instead we talked about work, love, and gardening. First thing’s first.


Hug #49

August 18, 2011

Hug #49
July 10 12:30-1:30 pm
Washington Square Park, Walton St between Clark & Dearborn (across from the Newberry Library)

“This is my spot, sorry, but I am going to sleep here now.”

I remember now that I met a man there, a man that said he had been walking all night, and now he laid his head on the bible he carried with him. He said he had not been homeless long, but his home foreclosed. And he could have gone to his parents house, but he was too ashamed, and now he cant really get there from here. He just walks the weekend nights, because the police will chase him out of the park, but weekdays he sleeps here. And he has figured out his temporary survival, and he is praying, he says.
I hand him a plate with some blueberries and strawberries and ask him if he wants anything else. Part of the picnic I am guarding, waiting for Aurora to come back with our Gatorades. I have been sitting with our sign alone after the hug, maybe 15-20 minutes. Some men raise their eyebrows as they walk by, admiring the bright letters, HUG. Some snicker and ask if they can have one. I casually pretend I dont see them. This man, though, this man is more matter-of-fact. He asks me whats with the sign and I tell him about the Hugs. He says its nice, what we are doing.
Maybe you are an angel, he says. He closes his eyes, and is soon fast asleep.

Join us for Hug #52

August 11, 2011

This is it! The culmination of a year of hugs and fun…

Hug #52 will happen on Sunday, August 21 at 1 pm central time. We would like you to join us! We need as many huggers as humanly possible! If you reside in Chicago, you can meet us at the Angora Sculpture at Michigan Ave. and Roosevelt. If you live elsewhere, please follow these special instructions:

1. Find a partner
2. Find a time *
3. Find a public space
4. HUG!

*an hour or some part of an hour, preferably August 21 from 1-2 pm central time

We invite you to document your hug experience in some way, through photos, writing or video. Then post your documentation to our Facebook page, to share your hug experience with the world!

**if you or someone you know has documentation from a Hug you’ve seen, please share it with us

Please pass this along to others (close or far away) who might want to participate in our HUG!

Hug #49

August 5, 2011

Hug #49
July 10 12:30-1:30 pm
Washington Square Park, Walton St between Clark & Dearborn (across from the Newberry Library)

Several weeks have passed since this hug. I packed up my belongings and moved to a new home. I danced in front of an audience and cried. I biked many miles. I got sweaty—really really sweaty. I have been running from one commitment to the next, without leaving time for writing or reflection. The hugs have been one of my only opportunities to slow down.

Here is what I remember about Hug #49…

The park feels like a star
or rather a wheel
we embrace near the hub
we hear a bird sound but wait! It’s not a real bird, no, it’s the sound of a bird whistle
dogs, we are surrounded by dogs
a sea of white fluffy coats and high-pitched yelps
no one talks to us
in fact no one even makes eye contact
I am quiet and still
every part of my body in contact with Sara’s body perspires
my front becomes wet
cool breeze on my back

It’s like shivasana standing up
I am slightly anxious
standing here, standing still when I have so much to do
at the same time I don’t want to stop hugging
don’t want to face my life,
empty boxes longing to be filled
and stacks of paper from three years of living
Do I have to touch every one?
I want to hold on
or maybe I could be done with it all in one foul swoop
and just like that, an hour has passed
I journey to a nearby drugstore to use the bathroom
on my return I find Sara
with a new friend,
a man living in the park who recently lost his house
she offers him some food from our picnic
I admire her openness and generosity
we have a hurried picnic
and jump on our bikes
to resume the relentless grind







Hug Anytime

August 4, 2011


I ask you. What have our hugs become?

Commitment to each other, it’s a pact. A contract.

I stand by you, you stand by me.
And Why Not? our expectations are lost now that we’ve found our way, or are finding, I should say.

Rooted. Family. This new feeling, she’s my baby on the front looking out, and I see the world in fresh colors and smells, the dream, she returns with a memory telling of future.

Anticipating splatty raindrops
undulating cicadas, hot wind in trees,

birds clicking.
Darkening sky

Sneeze. Low hum, chirp, silence
Feeling my toes on the grass at sunset.


I long only for the other,
To feel as a part of one.