All posts tagged: Pilsen

In House: Pilsen Community Books with Mary Gibbons

This is the first interview of “In House,” an oral history series entering the places that house books across Chicago. Sections of this interview have been edited for length and clarity.   I first heard the rumor from a fellow reader who in turn heard it from another reader (word travels fast amongst readers): Pilsen Community Books was for sale. On July 19, the owners of the three-year-old bookstore broke the news to devotees, explaining their decision to focus on their other bookstore, The Dial, and also announcing prospects of a buyer. The future, however, was uncertain.   When Mary Gibbons and Aaron Lippelt opened Pilsen Community Books (PCB) in February 2016 at 1102 W. 18th St., they filled a need on the Lower West Side not only for a bookstore but for a place to host literary events and local publications, a place to connect. In a “triple-secret unofficial” email correspondence from PCB employee Manuel Morales y Méndez, Méndez celebrated one such connection between a young writer and artist whose meeting at PCB led …

Inga: Spacemaking Through and Around Books

Bookshops have often functioned as meeting points for peer discussion, an opportunity to find added resources, and a place to showcase newly discovered titles and remarkable projects in print and publishing. They frequently rely on the collective strength of their supporters, near and far. In August, the new bookshop Inga joined the Pilsen storefront space of the popular cine-club filmfront, already well-known for building community around its film screenings and events. Co-founders Malia Haines-Stewart and Alan Medina — along with their long-time friend and Chicago-based graphic designer Jacob Lindgren — opened Inga to expand upon their ongoing collaborations as an imprint and distribute self-published and independent titles. Throughout their years directing and programming events and screenings for filmfront, Haines-Stewart and Medina have developed an active and reciprocal connection across art and film communities in Chicago, building a reputation that has required a sincere effort in time and dedication. With the new addition of Inga and having Lindgren as a founding member, there is great momentum to broaden an already active community of supporters and enthusiasts …

Intimate Justice: Oscar Chavez

 “Intimate Justice” looks at the intersection of art and sex and how these actions intertwine to serve as a form of resistance, activism, and dialogue in the Chicago community. For this installment, we talked to Oscar Chavez in Pilsen about internet trends, the body as a commodity, and tube tops.  This interview was edited for length and clarity.  S. Nicole Lane: Where are you originally from and how did you get to Chicago? Oscar Chavez: Born and raised in Chicago actually. I am from the South Side. So, I grew up in the South Side. I definitely don’t wanna stay in Chicago. But I think being a young artist in Chicago is amazing and there are so many benefits that you can work with. SNL : How has Pilsen community contributed to your practice? OC: I mean, I just moved here so I am still exploring. I moved a block from Textile Discount Outlet which has really been turning me up. I am there every morning and have been sewing so much. So that’s been a huge effect …

‘The Artist as a Catalyst of Social Change?’ Part 1: Nicole Marroquin

As many contemporary artists, arts organizations, and other cultural laborers continue a decades-long trajectory of reorienting their practices more deliberately towards and within the social world, forms and approaches have morphed through a collective re-imagining of the production, dissemination, and sociopolitical potential of art. These modes have sought to broaden access and participation in the arts, transform relationships between people, forge practices rooted in ethics as much as in aesthetics, and other similar gestures toward aligning art with notions of social justice and reform. Yet amidst this grappling, a number of unresolved riddles remain regarding art’s place in daily life: who is art’s “community,” and what exactly do we mean by “community”? What is art’s relationship to democracy? Can increased access to the arts also advance civic participation more broadly? What is the role of the artist in society? Can art and artists be catalysts for social change — and should they? Such issues and questions reverberate through the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum’s current exhibition Participatory Arts: Crafting Social Change, which explores the influence that Addams …

City Visions: Urban Space, Daily Life, and the Camera

Treated with fumes and mercury vapor, the silver-polished metal plate is exposed to the light of a sunny Parisian day and reveals a latent image on its mirror-like surface: the curve of a cobblestone street leads the eye down rows of various-sized structures, toward a far-off vanishing point in the cityscape. Legible in the foreground, out in front of what appears to be a residential building, we see two figures miniaturized within the sweeping panorama. Captured by Louis Daguerre, inventor of the eponymous daguerreotype technique, this 1838 photograph, titled Boulevard du Temple, is believed to be the first picture ever created of city space and daily urban life. With its elevated perspective looking down and across this vista, Daguerre’s photo situates the viewer as an observer who is simultaneously in the city but also looking at it from some remove, as if through a window. The wide angle and sense of distance allow the viewer to consider the scene aesthetically: the contrast and quality of light, the atmosphere, the architectural forms. At the same time, …

Unwavering Motivation: Victoria Martinez’s Mark on Chicago

Victoria Martinez is on a mission: to catalyze and foster change by making art in the neighborhood where she grew up in, Pilsen. Over the last eight years, she has evolved her making and teaching work into a deliberate community-based practice that encourages empowerment through material exploration and collaboration. The mixed media and installation artist sees her next step as building an artistic practice that is not only creatively rigorous but also financially sustainable to continue investing in the Mexican folks of Pilsen, whose home is being whitewashed by gentrification. Now, after grappling with the question of graduate school for years, she departs for Yale School of Art this fall to pursue an MFA in painting, embarking on a new chapter in her practice and temporarily leaving Chicago. “My work in Pilsen and in Chicago isn’t done,” she asserts as we share a meal at Currency Exchange Cafe, right next door to her studio at the Arts Incubator. As a working-class artist grounded in community, her decision to attend graduate school comes at a time …

Intimate Justice: Amanda Joy Calobrisi

“Intimate Justice” looks at the intersection of art and sex and how these actions intertwine to serve as a form of resistance, activism, and dialogue in the Chicago community. For this installment, we talked to Amanda Joy Calobrisi about the confrontation of a body, ending war by lifting skirts, and Boudoir photographs in Amanda’s Pilsen apartment over donuts.  This interview has been edited for length and clarity. S. Nicole Lane: What brought you to Chicago? Amanda Joy Calobrisi: I went to SAIC for graduate school. So Charlie and I moved out here for that. It was a big move. It’s scary, to move states. It’s really intense, there’s something of course exciting about it but it’s also kind of scary. And my mom—I grew up with a single parent—so it also felt like I was abandoning my family. That was kind of huge. But once we got here, we were pretty excited to be out of Boston. I don’t think we realized how settled we were there, not because we wanted to be but because it was comfortable. SNL: Yeah, and the …

Review: I want to be pretty until I die at Baby Blue Gallery

The child is grown, and puts away childish things. Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies. – Edna St. Vincent Millay And the artists at Baby Blue Gallery, Traci Fowler, Alex Bach, and Carmen Chaparro are immortalizing feelings of youthful desires and fleeting moments in our memory. Baby Blue Gallery is run by Caleb Beck and located in a warehouse space in the Pilsen neighborhood. With early beginnings in his apartment, Beck highlights young emerging artists rather than focusing on a profit-motivated commercial gallery. When Beck first saw Carmen Chaparro’s work, he knew that he wanted to exhibit her work in a show at Baby Blue. Including Alex Bach and Traci Fowler, the exhibition, “I want to be pretty until i die” features the three-person show of  paintings, sculptures, and assemblage pieces that touch on themes of nostalgia, humor, kitsch, and summer. The shows intention opened at the beginning of Chicago’s warm weather, when paintings like Chaparro’s pink pool toys were a soon-to-be reality for many of us who braved another cold winter. Chaparro is originally from …

Intimate Justice: GLAMHAG

“Intimate Justice” looks at the intersection of art and sex and how these actions intertwine to serve as a form of resistance, activism, and dialogue in the Chicago community. For this installment, we talked to GLAMHAG (née Molly Hewitt) in the Pilsen neighborhood about compulsions, empowerment through a chosen identity, and queer sexual narratives.  S. Nicole Lane: What does performance mean to you? Are you always in character? Who are you right now? GLAMHAG: I guess I’ve always been compelled to perform in my work, whether that’s live performance or in my video work. I think it’s really a compulsion. I do feel that with the kind work I’m making, communicating with my body when it’s so much about my body—other bodies—and sexuality, using my body makes the most sense. I do definitely have a compulsion to perform. And then I also do things that come along with a lot of other performers too, I definitely have exhibitionist tendencies. I like attention. SNL: Where are you from originally? GH: I’m from England originally, I was born in London. …

Counter-Media: Live with the Hoodoisie

“Ladies and gentleman, gender non-conforming and trans deities, welcome to another episode of the Hoodoisie!” It was a Saturday night, and we sat packed-in on plastic chairs in the Chicago Art Department, a Pilsen gallery. Technical issues with the sound got things off to a late start, but no one seemed to mind as they excitedly chatted with each other, embracing friends and sipping from plastic cups. When Ricardo Gamboa made the introduction, everyone cheered. The Hoodoisie [hoo-dwa-zee, think hood plus bourgeoisie] is a live talk show that merges art, activism, and academia from what it calls  “block-optic and radical perspectives.” Now in its second year, it takes place at a different cultural space in a gentrifying neighborhood in Chicago every two weeks. Each episode begins with a round table discussion of current events, called “Teatime,” followed by a more in-depth breakdown on a specific issue and an interview with a featured guest, interspersed by a musical performance. On February 3rd the featured guest was activist and educator Page May of Assata’s Daughters. A team of videographers …

Without, Within the World: The Dojo

Call them DIY, alternative, radical, or safe, Chicago’s independent art spaces create a world without money and borders within a world defined by both. They function as community hubs and communal living spaces, providing free and affordable entertainment, hosting activism workshops and food drives, and building connections among young, emerging, and marginalized artists. “Without, Within the World” is a series of interviews that asks curators and administrators about building utopia while maintaining viable spaces.      The first to be profiled is the Dojo, an underground performance venue and gallery in Pilsen. Though the Dojo has its roots in the DIY music scene, their curation constantly skirts the boundaries between genres and communities. Established in 2015 by Alex Palma, Mykele Deville, and Daniel Kyri (DK), who all lived in Pilsen at the time, the Dojo is now run by Palma and Calie Ramone, who work with a variety of outside curators and “Dojo Homies,” who put together diverse music and art shows two or three times a week. When I meet Palma at his Pilsen apartment (he …

Snapshot: Pilsen Days by Akito Tsuda

Snapshot is a Sixty column that takes a quick look at art history as it happens in Chicago. We send artists and organizers six short and sweet questions to tell us about what they are doing right at this moment. We sent questions to Japanese artist Akito Tsuda, whose photo exhibit Pilsen Days showcases images of the neighborhood he took in the early 1990s while he was a student at Columbia College. Pilsen Days is currently on view at La Catrina Cafe. The non-profit Cultura in Pilsen fundraised to  organize a limited edition printing of Tsuda’s photos and to cover the travel costs to bring the artist from his home in Osaka, Japan to Chicago for the first time in over 20 years. Tsuda will be in conversation with Sebastian Hidalgo at La Catrina Cafe on November 5, 2017 from 2 – 5 pm for Pilsen Days Artist Talk and Farewell Reception.   Sixty Inches From Center: What got you interested in photographing Pilsen and what was the experience like? Akito Tsuda: I was attracted to the fact that in Pilsen …

We Just Wanna Make Crazy Weird Stuff!

  Carlos Matallana is a Bogotá-born and Chicago-based visual artist, a teacher, and a New Tech Curriculum developer. He has taught graphic design, web design, and comics in different after-school programs around Chicago since 2005. Currently he is working in his comic book Manual of Violence, which will be released by Mid 2015 http://manualofviolence.org/

EXPO CHICAGO // An Interview with Tony Karman

This week, the art world’s glitterati will descend upon Chicago for a new contemporary art fair: Expo Chicago, The International Exposition of Contemporary/Modern Art & Design. Occupying Navy Pier’s colossal Festival Hall, the fair showcases a selection of top tier galleries—capped at 100—from around the globe. Also included are EXPOSURE, a section comprising younger galleries; IN/SITU, a presentation of large-scale installations and site-specific and performative works; the conclusion of /Dialogues, a series of panel discussions and conversations; and a VIP Program. Designed by the architecture studio of luminary Jeanne Gang, the fair’s floor plan mimics Chicago’s grid system, boasting gallery-lined streets that allow visitors to view everything in sequence without losing their way, as well as a diagonal avenue on which visitors can view select exhibits and installations. Hanging from the hall’s high ceilings are mammoth mirrored cones. While many may be curious as to whether Chicago can live up to the challenge of hosting such an event, some involved in the lively local art scene have a separate concern: Can the fair get out-of-town …

All for Art: An Interview with Robin Rios, PART II

Balancing the integrity of an artist with the acumen of a businessperson, distinguishing between Pilsen and Bridgeport, and telling misguided young artists that their work is mediocre at best… no topic is off limits for the owner of 4Art Inc. Gallery. What follows is the second part of my conversation with Robin Rios in anticipation of her gallery opening on Friday, March 18, from 7-10pm. Read PART I here. Jenny Lam: As an artist and a gallery owner, you’re able to see both ends of a spectrum. How do you strike a balance between being a businessperson and an artist? Robin Rios: It’s hard. It’s hard not just because of the business aspect of it. It’s hard because I feel like a lot of artists just aren’t as excited as I am about what we do, creating art. Sometimes artists are way too hard on themselves. They’re not enjoying art anymore; in fact, they’re tortured by it. Art is an emotional thing, and I think when people meet me, their first instinct is that I’m …

"Frontispiece // The Uncanny Imagination": An Interview with Becket Flannery and Grant Ray, PART II

After wandering through Pilsen, Becket Flannery and I returned to ACRE Projects, where Grant Ray had finished hanging his work for The Uncanny Imagination. As Becket installed his collages for Frontispiece, Grant explained to me his interest in using the photographic medium as a means of documentation, of using scientific processes to present seemingly mundane information and consequently create a social, cultural dialogue. The following conversation proceeds from that explanation and is the second part of my interview with the two artists as they prepared for their exhibition opening. Read PART I here. Jenny Lam: How and when did you first become interested in this kind of documentation? Grant Ray: About a year after my undergraduate studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York, I was really influenced by Gregory Crewdson and Jeff Wall. I came from a street photography background in which I took photographs of things as they existed, and I got not bored with it, but interested in how I could use photography to tell a story that didn’t necessarily …

"Frontispiece // The Uncanny Imagination": An Interview with Becket Flannery and Grant Ray, PART I

Frontispiece and The Uncanny Imagination are projects by Becket Flannery and Grant Ray, respectively, that constitute a two-person exhibition at ACRE Projects. Part of ACRE’s year-long series of shows by 2010 summer residents, their work finds common ground not only through the photographic medium, but also through their exploration of the narrative and the dynamic between images and narratives, often social in derivation. As the artists began installing their exhibition on March 8, I spent the afternoon with them discussing, among other topics, political theorists, hoaxes, New York nostalgia, and late-night woodshop dance parties. Frontispiece and The Uncanny Imagination opened on Sunday, March 13, and will be on view through Monday, March 14, from 12-4pm. Becket Flannery: Thank you so much. Basically, I just took a week off from work and flew out here yesterday. Jenny Lam: What do you do for work? BF: I work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, which is a wonderful organization in Philadelphia outside of UPenn. It’s actually a really incredible organization. They’ve been around for forty, fifty odd …