On Friday the 13th, Rootwork Gallery, an arts space in east Pilsen, felt inviting and meditative as people arrived for the artists’ talk of “A Tender Power: A Black Womanist Visual Manifesto.” Soft music played as the founding curator of Rootwork, Tracie D. Hall, greeted attendees, answered questions, and served portions from an epic vegan lasagna to early arrivals.
A March afternoon in Chicago where sunlight pools in from all directions and warms the city’s cold concrete is rare, and the vibe in Little Village matched the day’s warm atmosphere. The building where Yollocalli Arts Reach hosts an artistic safe haven for primarily Latinx high school students is just as vibrant: a vintage building covered in graffiti art with colors like mustard yellow and bubblegum pink. This space, which partners with the Little Village Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, has the kind of energy that only youth can have.
You won’t catch Nikko Washington storytelling through the mic like his Savemoney crew members.
After one of Katherine Davis’s tours at the Smart Museum, she gathered her group of two dozen students around Emmanuel Pratt’s wooden art installation outside of the main gallery. To evoke a connection between blues music and the art in the museum, Davis led a call-and-response rendition of “Let the Good Times Roll.” It worked. The whole group clapped, sang, and even danced along. Between Davis’s rich voice and her vibrant energy, this was not your ordinary docent-led museum tour.
In the past few years, H.L. Anderson has exhibited work at several galleries throughout the South Side and beyond, from the Bridgeport Art Center to Rootwork in Pilsen to the Chicago Cultural Center. But, her latest endeavor is closer to home—her own H.L. Anderson Arts & Culture Studio in her home base, Washington Heights. She opened the studio in September 2017 with the exhibition “An Angel Called Junebug,” and with the studio, she’s also started conversations about what an arts community in Washington Heights can look like. One of those conversations has resulted in vision boards that she’s set up around the studio.
Alexander Tadlock, an artist born in California and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, was commissioned by the Mexican National Electoral Institute (INE) to paint a mural in Little Village. Located on 26th Street and Troy Street near the iconic Little Village Arch, Tadlock’s mural serves to persuade Mexican immigrants living in Chicago that if they register as voters in Mexico, their votes will be crucial in Mexico’s general elections that begin this July.
On Fridays after school, seventh-grade student Imani Lamb takes the short walk from Andrew Carnegie Elementary School to Blackstone Bicycle Works (BBW), located in the Experimental Station. She meets up with friends, snacks on the provided fresh fruit, and heads upstairs to the classroom overlooking the community bike shop. It’s time for the Friday art workshop, and program leader Tita Thomas has a project for her students: design your dream bicycle helmet.
Kristiana Rae Colón is a poet, playwright, educator, and one of the founders of the #LetUsBreathe Collective
Do Not Resist?,” For the People Artists Collective’s 2018 exhibition closed last Friday, February 9 after nearly a month of interdisciplinary generative installations and events across the city. From a training in the basics of cop watching to panels about topics including the abolition ofolf the prison industrial complex and reporting on police violence, the programming engaged thousands of Chicagoans in a conversation about the history of police violence in the city and alternatives to policing in Chicago.
Larry Redmond: My name is Larry Redmond. My nom de plume is Obi. So when people see the exhibit at the gallery people will see a little O-B-I on each of them, which would be me.