We at Sixty are trying out something and we’re super excited! We will be archiving Chicago art events that speak to our magazine theme – and our experiences as Sixty archive nerds – in column form. Hope you enjoy the mash up!
Sixty co-editor Reuben Westmaas and I were recently out looking for something to do when our friend, artist Nando Espinosa Herrera, who always knows what’s going on, invited us to a health related arts festival that fit perfectly with this month’s theme. We headed over to Pilsen for the O+ Festival Chicago and got to pick up this historic piece of ephemera for our collection:
The O+ Festival actually began in Kingston, NY and it is spreading out to other locations, bringing much needed health services to artists and much needed healing through the arts to the communities it touches. The O+ Festival is a three day celebration of art and community that connects participating artists with medical professionals volunteering their services. Community spaces and businesses host performances and exhibitions while doctors who love the arts offer care in exchange for you sharing your art with the world. It’s a beautiful barter system! And the care doesn’t end after the three day festival. Artists are also connected to community nonprofits and other programs who can offer ongoing support.
As a woman who once found herself receiving a dirt cheap, yet terribly botched, wisdom tooth extraction from someone who was most likely not an oral surgeon – on Halloween, no less, surrounded by people in devil costumes – I know how hard it is to be broke, in the arts, and to not be able to afford better. It can be really disheartening to put so much work into your craft and to feel like, not only are you not yet where you want to be professionally, but you can’t afford to take care of yourself in what feels like should be the most basic way. I feel like the O+ Festival is addressing a very much neglected need in the arts community.
Don’t worry if you missed out, though. The O+ Festival will be back again next year!
Jennifer Patiño Cervantes was born on the Southwest Side of Chicago and her family is from Mexico. She is a freelance writer, poet, essayist, and Director of Development for Sixty Inches From Center. She graduated from Columbia College with a degree in Art History and double minors in Poetry and Latino/Hispanic Studies. She is a lover of Chicago’s Visual Arts and Literary communities and lives to explore the links between them.