Friday, May 30, 2008

Jacob's School Kids Gardening Project

Jacob Beidler Elementary School Community garden just got a generous donations from Open Lands, so that the children in Pre K - 3rd grade could plant flowers in their container gardens. The teachers scheduled a work day with their class. Each class filled large containers with dirt that was delivered on Tuesday, and came out on Thursday morning to plant the flowers into the large Terra cotta planters.

The children were excited, and loved how beautiful they were able to make their school. The same children participated in a "Saturday Clean UP Day", were they picked up trash around the school, planted tulip bulbs that were donated by the Garfield Park Conservatory bulb giveaway.

The master gardener/consultants at City escape garden center & design studio helped make decisions on the arrangements.
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The Plans of Chicago -- Past, Present, & Future

Nearly 150 years ago, the Great Chicago Fire brought this city to its knees. Soon thereafter, a team of visionaries, led by Daniel Burnham, crafted The Plan of Chicago, which was part of The City Beautiful Movement. Some aspects of the Plan were realized, but others didn't make it. Among the many excellent aspects of the plan which were realized include completion of Chicago's Boulevard System (also called Chicago's "Emerald Necklace"), downtown Chicago's Museum Campus, and Lake Shore Drive. One idea in the Plan that didn't make it was the Civic Center, illustrated by Jules Guerin; the illustration looks like Plastic Man stretched the U.S. Capitol Building.

Artists, activists, and people of different walks of life have worked individually and collectively to help realize a vision of Chicago as as great city. Jane Addams is an amazing Chicagoan who helped to make this city great and more livable for its people. Many artists working in a range of media have lived in Chicago, and many art groups have been founded / developed in Chicago, including Sun Ra, the AACM, Gwendolyn Brooks, Saul Bellow, Nelson Algren, Lorraine Hansberry, the Chicago Surrealists, the Chicago Imagists, and others.

There are lots of plans for Chicago's future, including those being organized by Chicago Metropolis 2020, the Chicago Plan Commission, Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Olympics, and a campaign to raise money to build a weather-shielding dome over Chicago. What other plans are being envisioned and implemented? What can we do to ensure that the right visions direct what happens to our neighborhoods, rather than allowing wrongheaded political and real estate decisions to take our neighborhoods in bad directions? What roles do artists, educators, grass roots organizers, and other leaders in the community have -- to ensure that our city keeps getting better, more exciting, and more livable?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Farm Dreams

Farm Dreams, June 7, 11am-3pm
Chicago Center for Green Technology, 445 N Sacramento

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own farm? This interactive course is designed to help you explore whether a farming business is the right choice for you. We'll learn about real farm business examples and discuss market opportunities in the Chicago region. You'll get a chance to ask questions about the development of successful local farms with our presenters: Tim Wilson, manager of City Farm, and Sheri Doyel, farm forager for the City of Chicago and Green City Market. We're excited to offer this class in the Center for Green Technology's new Resource Center!


Light refreshments will be provided. All attendees should bring a lunch.

2008 Committee on Special Events and Cultural Affairs

The Committee on Special Events and Cultural Affairs shall have jurisdiction over all special events and related programs of the City, including parades, fests, tastes, community and neighborhood fairs. The Committee shall also have jurisdiction over those matters which affect the cultural growth of the City and its cultural institutions including matters generally affecting the Cultural Center of the Chicago Public Library.

Chairman: Walter Barnett
Vice-Chairmen: Thomas Tunney
Members: Flores, Fioretti, Hairston, Harris, Thomas, Lane, Brookins,Dixon, Waguespack, Colon, Daley, Levar

When's the last time you checked the voting record of this committee? Participate in a DGAP working group. This working group is empowered with creating the second edition of the DGAP Report Card and instituting a systematic planning process for each report to be released bi-annually. The group will explore best practice methods for ensuring substantive community input into the report's development, as well as seek to create new opportunities to utilize the report card as a community organizing


PHANTOM GALLERY CHICAGO NETWORK featured artists(John Song, DN Miller, Gabe Patti, Ferrari Sheppard, Laura Gilmore, Fred Owens)

Saturday October 17– 19, 2008 1-5pm Market Place

Environmental art can explore and strengthen the relationship between people, art and landscape, is emerging as an effective community-strengthening tool. Art creates a framework for interpreting this connection using the cultural or environmental history of a particular piece of land as the catalyst. By building broad public support for a project and the landscape on which it sits, art can also play an important role in promoting the benefits of community living.

The artists installations will give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership, which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

Installation artists will converge at the East Garfield Park Conservatory Market Place during the summer of 2008, completed sculptures will be on display during Chicago Artist Month. If interested in partnering with a featured artist, or building your own installation, forward a prospectus to

Monday, May 26, 2008

Special Events and Cultural Affairs

Committee: Special Events and Cultural Affairs
Activism has resulted in many victories over the decades, even, for a time, beating back the Chicago "machine" in the 1980s. But the death of Mayor Harold Washington was a debilitating blow to citywide coalition action, as the temporarily dormant machine rose to fill the power void by reinstituting the patronage system and by ceding ward control to individual aldermen, thus consolidating control over major city issues.

In 2006, the DGAP sent out a citywide survey to each of Chicago's 50 aldermen. The survey asked a series of questions, that focused on seven critical areas in Chicago (Housing, Education, Economic Development and Jobs, Transportation, Environment, Criminal Justice, and Ethics and Corruption) to better understand how aldermen incorporated community interests into their decision-making; how they makes themselves available to their constituents; and what programs, policies and sevices the aldermen provide in their wards. No questions were framed concerning issues that impact cultural affairs or special events, no voting records from this committee were made available, but are public record. I'm concerned of course how this impacts cultural arts and special event planning on the West Side of Chicago.

2007 Chair: Walter Burnnett: Ward 27
2006 City Council Committee appointed aldermen
Manny Flores: Ward 1
Madeline Haithcock: Ward 2
Leslie Hairston: Ward 5
Todd Stroger: Ward 8 Did not respond to request for public information
Anthony Beale: Ward 9
John Pope: Ward 10
Theodore Thomas: Ward 15
Latasha Thomas: Ward 17
Howard Brookins Jr: Ward 21
Issac S. Carothers: Ward 29
Vi Daley: Ward 43
Thomas M. Tunney: Ward 44
Patrik J. Levar: Ward 45

Although we are reporting on individual representatives, we encourage Chicagoans to ask questions of their aldermen and their challengers that address these issues.

Developing Government Accountability to the People (DGAP

I attended the Government Accountability Conference on November 16, 2007. I'm attending a "Report Card Working Group ", so that we can put all of our fabulous minds toward creating an amazing, effective, and accessible 2009 report card (aka mid-term report). Where does the arts fall into this survey? What pressing concerns do you have for the Chicago City Council Standing Committee Special Events and Cultural Arts? The working group meets again on May 28th, send me your issue.

Who We Are
Developing Government Accountability to the People is a dynamic network comprised of a diverse group of community organizations, academic institutions, policy institutions, unions, and private foundations and concerned individuals. DGAP is building a comprehensive, just agenda to create participatory democracy in Chicago. As a collaborative effort of organizations and individuals, we hold local government accountable and seek a voice in decision making for all who are affected by the issues and problems that face our city.

What We Do
The DGAP network is building a comprehensive people’s agenda to create and preserve a participatory democratic society. We are concerned about such issues as low income housing, police accountability, education, public transportation, economic development, environment, health care, ethics, and other such social justice topics.

Together as a network we have come together to highlight these issues and identify and combat the root causes — the problems of pay-to-play politics, and the extent that patronage, financial strength, and corruption can influence the decision-making in Chicago’s neighborhoods, regardless of the desire of the neighborhood residents. Further, we are working to utilize a government accountability analysis to help in local organizing campaigns.

I Sued the City (and Won)

Who says you can't fight city hall? Not a group of north side neighbors who sued the Chicago Park District, the city of Chicago and the Latin School of Chicago over a private artificial turf soccer field being built in the heart of Lincoln Park. This facility would've given four acres of lake front over to the exclusive use to one of the wealthiest private schools in the country. We formed a group, Protect Our Parks, and raised money and hired a lawyer and raised hell. The courts agreed and the secret sweetheart deal was canceled. "Amazing victory" said the Skyline paper.

Is the park District messing with your local park? Do you live near or use Washington Park? If so - the city has promised up that park - and others across the city - to the 2016 Olympics. Putting on the Olympics would cost us a fortune and only benefit hotel owners, downtown restaurants and the construction companies who will build venues to house the over-priced events (that most of us would never be able to afford, anyhow). Take a look at the website
Field of Schemes to see how subsidies for sports stadiums is a massive rip-off and check out
2010 Watch which has been fighting and monitoring the Vancouver games for years.
Stop the privatization of our public spaces. No more back room deals that rip off the tax payer and shower freebies on private businesses!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Chicago Artists' Coalition's annual Paint-a-Thon



Contact: Olga Stefan, Chicago Artists’ Coalition Executive Director, 312-781-0040

David Schmitz, Chicago Artists’ Coalition Special Events Coordinator, 312-781-0040

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Artists’ Coalition (CAC), the Midwest’s premier visual arts service organization, will hold its second annual Paint-a-Thon and Live Auction at Peter Jones Gallery and the Chicago Mosaic School, 1806 W. Cuyler, on Sunday, June 1 from 1-6 pm.

The 2008 Paint-a-Thon will feature eight distinguished guest artists and ten emerging artists creating original works of art before the general public from 1-4 pm. A live auction, led by auctioneer Andrew Lick of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, Chicago, follows from 4-6 pm. All artwork created during the event will be available for purchase in the live auction.

This year’s sponsored artists have raised a minimum of $250 each in pledges on behalf of the CAC, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit arts service organization. But, while some fundraisers ask artists to donate all the proceeds to the organization, or their work entirely, the CAC will give back 25% to the artists as a symbol of the organization’s gratitude for their support.

This year’s invited artists include:

Brian Bonebrake is a Chicago native and proprietor of Red Trike Art Company. Bonebrake’s colorful and meticulous still-life paintings were recently featured in
the Chicago Reader.

Terry Dixon is a native of Washington D.C. and a graduate of the Atlanta College of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dixon’s paintings reflect the influence of African art, abstract expressionism, and jazz music and were recently featured in BusinessWeek magazine. Most recently, Dixon was named a “Chicago Artist to Watch,” a program initiated by the Chicago Artists’ Coalition.

David Gista studied classical fine arts at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and is part of a new generation of avant-garde French painters. Gista’s oil and acrylic paintings on traditional and bright colored cloth canvas offer a running commentary on modernity and contemporary life. Gista is represented by Darthea Speyer Gallery, which also represents legendary Chicago artists Ed Pashke and Leon Goleb.

Robert Johnson was Director of the Bureau of Art for the Chicago Public Schools and taught art at the Chicago Public Schools for more than thirty years. He has also instructed at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Johnson has exhibited at Xavier University, Loyola University Crown Center Gallery, The Beverly Art Center, and the John Blank Center for the Arts, among other venues.

Karena A. Karras is a Chicago native and a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has also studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, The Naguib School of Sculpture, and the Vogue School of Design. Primarily a painter, Karena's work also incorporates box constructions, collage and sculpture.

Didier Nolet studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts Paris and has earned a national reputation as a pastel and oil painter. Nolet’s landscape works have been featured in one-person exhibitions at the Elmhurst Art Museum, Perimeter Gallery, Ann Nathan Gallery, and Concordia University, among other venues. The artist’s workshop, Didier Nolet Studio, offers instruction in pastel and oil painting techniques.

Sandra Perlow earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her colorful abstractions have been presented in solo exhibitions at Elmhurst College, the Chicago Cultural Center, and Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago. The artist has recently shown in group exhibitions at the Museum of New Art, Detroit, and the Indianapolis Art Center and is represented by Alfedena Gallery, Chicago.

Eleanor Spiess-Ferris has exhibited extensively throughout the Midwest and the United States. Spiess-Ferris studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of New Mexico and has been the recipient of Illinois Arts Council grants and an Arts Midwest Fellowship.

Sponsored Paint-a-Thon artists include: Nancy Bechtol, Gabriel Garcia-Fraire, David Geary, Scott Johnson, Alex Lee, Kathleen Letts, Bert Leveille, Julia Katz, Nancie King Mertz, and Julio Villagomez.

One-of-a-kind CAC T-shirts, created onsite by participating artists, will be available for sale during the event for $35 each. The CAC will also offer gift certificates towards purchase of artwork just in time for graduation and the June weddings.

The Paint-a-Thon and Live Auction are free and open to the public. Donations to the CAC will be accepted.

Please visit for more information about the event and participating artists.

Olga Stefan
Executive Director
Chicago Artists' Coalition

Friday, May 23, 2008

farmers markets & healthy living

Chicago has lots of awesome farmers markets. The North Lawndale Youth Green Farm runs a farmer’s market, from 7 a.m. – 10 a.m. every Wednesday outside of the Community Bank of Lawndale (1111 S. Homan Ave. in Chicago). The Farm-City Market Basket, which is at the Garfield Market Place, is open on Saturdays & Sundays (11 am – 5 pm) from May 26 till October 28. On a related note, you can explore an interactive map to find out what's in season at your grocery store.

A number of publications about healthy living can be found in Chicago, and Conscious Choice is an excellent magazine which can be found in stores around Chicago.

The Dill Pickle Food Co-Op is a member-owned grocery store forming in Logan Square. Their website says, "We offer healthy food choices and the benefits of cooperative practice to build a vibrant local community and more sustainable world."

The Chicago Honey Co-Op is located in the North Lawndale neighborhood. Their website says, "Our purpose is simple, to provide job training opportunities for the under-employed while operating a small business model that is dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices and aims for the highest product quality standards. Owned by our members, our Chicago bee farm is home to over 100 hives."

community gardens on the West Side

Chicago is home to many community gardens. You can download a map of West Community Gardens (which includes Austin, East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Lower West Side, Near West Side, North Lawndale, South Lawndale, West Garfield Park, and West Town). Every year GreenNet offers Green Chicago Mini-Grants, which assist "urban gardeners working in publicly accessible green spaces with grants that fund gardening materials, supplies, and activities."

The Garfield Park Conservatory offers lots of classes throughout the year, including composting demos. GPC's next composting demo happens on Saturday, June 21 (1-3 p.m.).

bike culture in Chicago

Chicago is a pretty bike-friendly city, overall. Chicago has a lot of bike lanes around the city. Active Transit Alliance is a great organization, and Chicago is one of many cities nationwide which hosts Critical Mass events. Chicago Critical Mass' next event happens next Friday, May 30.

With gas prices going through the roof, more awareness about the importance of green culture and environmental protection, and more people becoming aware of healthy lifestyles, it seems that more and more people are biking. Chicago's "Bike the Drive," when bicyclists take over Lake Shore Drive, is happening this Sunday, May 25. Several months ago, I went to an event called "Pedestrian Hell," which included a screening of a film called "Ciclovia." Bogota, Colombia has designated one day a week on which which over 70 miles of city streets are closed to traffic. I've heard that some people are trying to bring Ciclovia to Chicago, but I don't know when/if that initiative will go through here.

Chicago has a lot of good bicycle shops, including several places where you can go to fix and make your own bike. The Chicago Community Bike Project, in collaboration with West Town Bikes, offers classes where you can fix or build your own bike. In Hyde Park, the Blackstone Bicycle Works offers classes. Their website says BBW is "a not-for-profit after school and summer program aimed at providing local youth with a safe space to learn practical skills about bikes and the basics of entrepreneurial success."

There are still dangers to bicycling. Ghost bikes are memorials for bikers who have been killed on the road. Yesterday The Chicago Tribune ran a story about ghost bikes. Ghost bikes are roadside memorials for bicyclists who have died in car accidents. Two years ago The City of Chicago started "Safe Streets Chicago," which is an excellent initiative.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Murphy Hill Gallery

2nd Annual Flower, Nature and Landscape
May 22 - June 28, 2008

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that Murphy Hill Gallery
is presenting its 2nd Annual Flower, Nature and Landscape Show.
This Expo Event will start May 22 thru June 28,2008 M-W by Appointment &
Th-Sa 10am -5pm. Our opening reception is Saturday, May 24, 2008 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

We are conveniently located on the 3rd floor of the Historic Sears and Roebuck's building, 3333 W. Arthington Ave (Homan Square) Chicago, IL 60624. Location is four blocks south of the Eisenhower (290 W) on Homan parallel to Garfield Park Conservatory. Gallery space is 10,000 square feet.

Monday, May 19, 2008

KO (Knock Off) Enterprises

Carol Frances Lung is currently the guest artist for the Phantom Gallery Chicago Network.

KO (knock off) Enterprises is a multi-national organization for the efforts to stop shopping, start sewing! The subsidiary companies of KO Enterprises are Sewing Rebellion, KO Manufacturing and the Synchronized Sewing Squad. Frau Fiber, CEO uses this Labor Formula: Labor (X) Geographical Location's Wage Scale (China, Mexico, Taiwan) (=) Cost of White-Collar Uniform.

KO Enterprises is supported by Gallery 400's At the Edge: innovative art in Chicago series, which commissions four new projects from Chicago area artists annually. Carol Lung's project is supported by At the Edge, which develops experimental projects that might not find support elsewhere. Gallery 400 is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago, and a grant from the Illinois Arts council, a state agency; and Daryl Gerber Stokois and Jeff Stokois Voices Series. Carol Lung is also supported by an Emergency Grant from The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Three Walls, Phantom Gallery, 1315 N. Western LLC, and Living Room Realty.

Sunday, May 18, 12-4 pm: KO Enterprises' White-collar shirt knock off instruction @ the Sewing Rebellion at Mess Hall, 6932 North Glenwood Ave., Chicago.

KO Enterprise Productions Sites:
Monday, May 19, 9 am – 4:30 pm: Disassembly Manufacturing Location 3: Unite at Uniform Pants (333 South Ashland Ave., Chicago).

Tuesday, May 20 - Thursday, May 22, 8am-7pm: Disassembly Manufacturing Location 2: Suit Pants and Jacket (1513 N. Western @ North, #102, Chicago).

DON'T MISS THIS OPPORTUNNITY TO TRY ON THE WHITE COLLAR UNIFORM AT THE MANUFACTURER'S SAMPLE SALE! The white-collar uniforms will be for sale priced on a geographical sliding scale.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Fast, March and Pray" events this summer

"Fast, March and Pray" events will be happening in North Lawndale on the second and fourth Saturdays, this summer. Participating organizations are Hope House Ministry, CeaseFire, CAPS, LCDC, Celestial Ministries, local churches and organizations, area block clubs, and the people of the Lawndale community. Fast, March and Pray is intended to let the community know that the aforementioned organizations and the people in the community are committed to praying and standing up against the violence in North Lawndale.

Fast, March and Pray will begin at these locations, beginning at 1 p.m. on the following dates:
May 24th - Lawndale Community Church
June 14th – Lawndale Christian Reform Church
June 28th - Greater Galilee M.B. Church
July 12th - St. Agatha’s
July 26th - Brotherly Love M.B. Church
August 9th – Greater Progressive M.B.
August 23rd - location TBA
September 13th - location TBA

For more info, please call Hope House Ministry (3827 W. Ogden Ave.) at 773.762.6387.

I Know What You Did

Anthony Irons is an actor/playwright who lives in East Garfield Park. Currently he is in a production called "I Know What You Did Last Election," which is running at Second City.

The show was conceived, directed, and 90% written by Anthony Irons, and the performers are Nichole Green, Crystal Hallendy, Scott Morehead and Anthony Irons. It pokes fun at the current presidential race, but also weaves in some very pointed and controversial topics, rarely (if ever) put onstage. Imagine Public Enemy doing SNL and you're pretty close to I Know What You Did Last Election.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Switching Station Artist Lofts

Switching Station Artist Lofts is where several dozen artists live. SSAL is at the southeast corner of Madison & Homan Avenues, in East Garfield Park. SSAL hosts several art gallery openings and other events throughout the year. SSAL even has its own myspace page.

Chicago has a lot of artist living & studio spaces, and the City of Chicago hosts an annual Creative Chicago Expo. Artspace USA created SSAL, and it continues to provide funding for SSAL. There are close to two dozen Artspace properties nationwide, and about a dozen more are under construction.

arts projects in gardens

Over the past several years a number of arts projects have appeared in gardens throughout Chicago. The Chicago Park District has a web page that highlights some art-themed shows that could be seen in gardens. That page was posted back in 2004, so some more recent installations can be found out in Chicagoland.

Here's a good article about the "Niki in the Garden" show that happened at the Garfield Park Conservatory show last year.

Further out in the Chicagoland burbs / north side, the Morton Arboretum and the Chicago Botanic Garden always have some kind of art mixed in with their foliage & flowers -- sculptures & installations. Last year the Morton Arboretum had a Patrick Dougherty installation called "Xanadu," which was pretty funky and quirky. Although it was called "Xanadu," it felt / looked more like a twigs & branches Hobbit mansion.

Suzanne Hanney's article entitled "Chicago West-Siders Work Toward Dream" provides a good overview of some history related to West Side property, and some projects that people are working on.

Back in Chicago proper, "100 Projects for Peace / Lot(s): Maypole Garden" is an interesting initiative which is one of many initiatives geared toward beautifying Chicago neighborhoods.

Alpha Bruton is a talented artist / educator / curator who lives in Chicago's West Side. Among her many creative projects are art installations in urban gardens. One trademark element of these projects are "Vibration Keys." She has directed projects that can be found in the Switching Station Artist Lofts backyard, at Jacob Beidler School/Community Garden, and other locations.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Last year the Garfield Park Conservatory had a number of excellent events, including jazz & blues concerts. It looks like they have lined up more great events for this summer.

Phantom Gallery Chicago Network

The Phantom Gallery Chicago are temporary art exhibits in vacant storefronts. They provide opportunities for artists to exhibit their artwork while fostering economic development. The Phantom Gallery Chicago Creative Alliances: A Continuum explores how artists work together, create community and develop partnerships and collaborations to accomplish their goals.