Development | Visual Arts

Between Two Chinatowns

Incorporating elements of feng shui, a new Chinatown library seeks to unite new and old

Julie Wu

It’s one of the city’s busiest library branches with over 21,000 visitors each month, and for years residents have complained of overcrowding and outdated technology.


Skepticism in the 7th

Zelda Galewsky

Sometimes I can drive through one area of my ward and feel like I’m in a third-world country and that ain’t right. It’s just not fair to have a block that has five boarded up homes and no one seems to care,” said Lashonda “Shonnie” Curry, a 7th Ward aldermanic candidate to an auditorium of University of Chicago student activists at a People’s Lobby event in early January. One of Curry’s plans as alderman is to create an ordinance that holds banks accountable for maintaining the upkeep of foreclosed properties in the ward. Continue reading


Home Histories: Woodlawn Park

Seonhyung Kim

In 2007, nearly twenty percent of the 504 Section 8 apartments that made up Woodlawn’s Grove Parc Plaza sat vacant due to damages that landlords decided weren’t worth remedying: broken windows, fire burns, collapsed roofs. In 2006, a federal inspection gave the project a dismal score of eleven out of one hundred points. Roaches and mice colonized the apartments, and the remaining residents cited robberies and malfunctioning appliances as everyday occurrences. Built in the 1960s as a privately owned alternative to public housing projects, by the 1990s Grove Parc Plaza had become emblematic of the failings that result when federal subsidies end up in the pockets of stingy property management companies instead of being funneled into property improvements.  Continue reading

Bronzeville | Visual Arts

Don’t Be Misled

“Perception/Reality” at Blanc Gallery

Lauren Gurley

This fountain is a satirical look at the big myth of a post-racial America,” said Raymond Thomas as we looked at one of his sculpture installations, a sleek, copper water fountain labeled “Post Blacks Only.” This piece, along with thirteen other aesthetically beautiful but thematically horrific sculptures, paintings, and assemblages, is part of Thomas’s most recent multimedia exhibition, “PERCEPTION/REALITY (In the Age of Deception),” currently showing at the Blanc Gallery in Bronzeville. Continue reading


Lit & Luz Fest at Co-Pro

There is no place I hate more than Mexico City, and there is no place I love more than Mexico City. But writing away from Mexico City lets me love her more,” said Mexico City resident and writer Álvaro Enrigue to an audience of hip, bookish Chicagoans at the Co-Prosperity Sphere in Bridgeport. It was Saturday night, and two-dozen writers, poets, and visual artists from Chicago and Mexico City had gathered to celebrate the end of the inaugural Lit & Luz Fest with live performances, an artist’s talk, red wine, and churros. Continue reading


Bob Fioretti Is Running for Mayor

The 2nd Ward Alderman makes a bid, though his voter base is hard to find

According to a September 12 Tribune article, four out of five Chicagoans claim to have no opinion on his campaign. In other words, Bob Fioretti’s name is little known outside his horseshoe-shaped ward. But with a dismal thirty-five percent of Chicagoans approving of Rahm Emanuel’s actions and policies as mayor, a dearth of other serious contenders in the race, and fewer than 150 days until the election, “Fioretti” could very well be the next buzzword at dinner tables across the City of Chicago.

Best of the South Side 2014 | Pilsen



Cafe Jumping Bean, on the 18th Street main drag in Pilsen, is a microcosm of the eclectic neighborhood. On any day of the week, you can find large Mexican families, UIC students, and disheveled artists caffeinating and chatting over hearty paninis and freshly baked pastries. Although the Jumping Bean has served as a nucleus of the neighborhood for two decades—“in the nineties, it was the only place of its kind,” one artist said—recent history has seen the opening of many new coffee shops and cafés, not to mention monthly art events like 2nd Fridays Gallery Nights, hip eateries like Dusek’s and Nightwood, a burgeoning Sunday farmer’s market, and the newly renovated Thalia Hall. Continue reading

Food | Pilsen

The Jumping Bean

Cafe Jumping Bean celebrates twenty years in Pilsen



It’s Saturday morning at Cafe Jumping Bean, on 18th Street in Pilsen. A middle-aged man in a wool sweater reads from a book called “La Posibilidad de Cambio,”  (“The Possibility of Change”) – as he slurps down a bowl of bean soup. Continue reading

Housing | Politics

Public Eye

An interview with Todd Palmer, interim director of the National Public Housing Museum

The animal sculpture garden outside the Jane Addams Homes. Addams was vacated in 2002; the only building still standing will soon house the National Public Housing Museum.

The animal sculpture garden outside the Jane Addams Homes. Addams was vacated in 2002; the only building still standing will soon house the National Public Housing Museum.

Since the 1990s, over eighty public housing high-rises in Chicago have been razed to the ground. In the aftermath of these events, the country’s first National Public Housing Museum is in the works, at the last remaining building of the demolished Jane Addams Homes on the West Side. The museum’s planners hope to commemorate the untold stories of these displaced communities and address the future of public housing. Continue reading


In His Image

An interview with Joshua Robinson of After Real Truth



For Chicago artist Joshua Robinson, After Real Truth—his  clothing, toy, and comic book company—is a more than a job. It’s a futuristic spiritual world and a way of life. A Chatham native, Robinson, who also goes by the alias “J. Bot,” started After Real Truth as a hobby in 2005 after graduating from Westwood College with a degree in computer animation. It has since exploded into what Robinson describes as a community-wide “movement” toward spiritual enlightenment.  Continue reading