Once the home of Ebony and Jet magazines, the historic Johnson Publishing Building on South Michigan Avenue is currently being transformed into rental apartments. Meanwhile, the building’s iconic interior fixtures are being shipped out across the city to keep the Black publishing house’s legacy alive.
From the traditional dances to the colorful murals, Little Village is all about art, says Omar Magana. The self-taught sculptor has long been a figure in the neighborhood’s art community. His building on 22nd and Sacramento was home to the grassroots art collective Expresiones Artisticas from 2004 until a fire burnt down the building in 2008. Today, he runs the OPEN Center for the Arts, a space where artists can come together to showcase, refine, and develop their talents. Magana took some time to speak to 90 Days, 90 Voices about the art of La Villita.
The home movie clip shown at the beginning of “South Side Sisterhood” was simple. A toddler waddled around in a diaper; his siblings smiled and made faces at the camera. The trio were doing what many siblings do: simply being together.
On Wednesday, June 13, the 8th grade class from Philip D. Armour Elementary gathered in the backroom of Bridgeport Coffee, five blocks north on Morgan Street from their school building, to celebrate the maps they had created of Bridgeport. For eight weeks, in collaboration with the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the students had perused archival collections of Bridgeport and other neighborhoods and learned about the ways in which maps represent communities. “Mapping the Neighborhood,” the name of their exhibition, featured maps of varying scale, focus, and artistic style in an attempt to answer a question: how is Bridgeport changing?
When L. Anton Seals, Jr. was growing up in South Shore, he and his family would often spend weekend nights camped out in Chicago’s public parks. Back then, he said, his family and friends took the Chicago Park District’s 11pm closing time as a suggestion, not a rule: “[We were like], how the park gon’ close at 11 o’clock?… Who gives you the right to close the earth?”
We step off the porch, and come through the stepping stones,” sculptor Margot McMahon said, leading an impromptu tour for the Weekly of her new installation commemorating revered South Side poet Gwendolyn Brooks at her namesake Kenwood park last week. Starting in front of a small porch structure—representing the Bronzeville porch on which Brooks wrote her first poetry as a child—the flagstones meander in a curved line, etched with excerpts from Brooks’s book-length poem Annie Allen. The poem follows the story of a young girl growing into a woman in Bronzeville; it resulted in Brooks becoming the first Black writer to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Garden for a Changing Climate,” the traveling public art project by artist Jenny Kendler, has grown as organically as one of its mobile planters.
Last week, the Experimental Station in Woodlawn hosted the opening of the second annual “Bike Shop Art Show,” featuring work created by participants and volunteers of Blackstone Bicycle Works—which, like the Weekly, is housed within the Experimental Station—and organized by Experimental Station assistant director Matthew Searle. Blackstone’s youth arts program is coordinated by Experimental Station lead teaching artist Tita Thomas in partnership with the University of Chicago’s South Side in Focus program.
This week on SSW Radio we heard about summer plans for a beloved hot dog stand, a candid intergenerational conversation on domestic violence, and a harrowing story about a trip to Beverly.