Chicago Alderman Project 50 Alderman/50 Artist

22 03 2010

If you’re looking at that headline and are always thinking about urban art, it’s difficult to deny the correlation. But boy did I try.

I have no respect for Chicago’s City Council. They do not deserve to be saluted through art. There I said it.

I can’t deny that some have made good moves. Former Alderman of the 24th ward, Michael Chandler did an outstanding job revitalizing North Lawndale. At one time the poverty stricken area had a Starbucks, with a drive-thru! It was also home to a movie theater that employed neighborhood youth, a Dominicks with a fresh produce section and newly built and rehabbed condominiums. Chandler was defeated in 2007. If you happen to ride down Roosevelt near Kedzie, you will a close dilapidated movie theater, a closed Starbucks and the other the economic effects as well, both in the store windows and the pothole ridden street. Chandler is the only city councilman of distinction who I can recall.

Conversely, there is  Issac Carothers formerly of the 29th ward who wore a wire tap during meetings with real estate developers for a year in order to create a plea bargain for when he was to be called to trial for his fraud and bribery charges.  His trial is set to begin this month. According to the May 29, 2009 online edition of the Chicago Sun-Times “Daley issued a carefully worded statement calling the charges against Carothers “sad and surprising news to those of us who have worked with him.”” Carothers was the second councilman to plead guilty to federal charges, following in the footsteps of his co-worker, former Ald. Arenda Troutman of the 20th ward who admitted to misconduct in 2008. According to the February 1, 2010 online edition of the Chicago Sun-Times, Troutman said that all Aldermen are hoes.

On Thursday, March 15, 2010, Deborah Graham was appointed to takes Carothers seat. Lets see how that goes. By the way, Carothers’ father, a former Alderman was also charged and convicted of fraud and bribery in 1983.

But back to the art.

Johalla Projects decided to get an even better look at our elected officials. Located at 1561 N. Milwaukee, “Johalla Projects was established in the fall of 2009 by Anna Cerniglia as a venue for emerging and mid-career artists,” says their blog at

50 Aldermen/50 Artists curated by Jeremy Scheuch and Lauri Apple runs Friday, March 19 – April 2, 2010. The gallery is open on Saturdays from 12-5pm or by appointment during the week. For more information, contact the good folks at Johalla Projects at V


Laser Graffiti

15 02 2010

I hadn’t heard about Laser Graffiti till I heard that Kid Static was scheduled to create it at the Mos & Doom show that was at the Congress Theatre on February 13th and now I’m enamored.

Laser Graffiti seems like a huge projector, projecting graffiti onto the sides of buildings. According to muonics, engineers of the one I’m going to show you below: “In its simplest form the Laser Tag system is a camera and laptop setup, tracking a green laser point across the face of a building and generating graphics based on the laser’s position which then get projected back onto the building with a high power projector.

They give you the recipe for creating one here. If you do make one, be sure to call me so that I can come and help you try it out. It seems that this system is mad politician friendly and just overall cool.

But really, I’m tired of typing about it. You watch the Graffiti Research Lab and Laser Graffiti in action. All I’ll say is that this is about as urban art as urban arts can get.


Angel Otero at Kavi Gupta AND Chicago Cultural Center

4 01 2010

It’s not often that an artist will have two exhibitions running simultaneously. So when one does, you better open your eyes and look. Angel Otero works will be showcased at Kavi Gupta Gallery until January 30, 2010 and the Chicago Cultural Center from January 23-March 28. You may want to do yourself a favor and stop by the Cultural Center on January 28 at 12:15 for his gallery talk. We’ll be there. To learn more about Otero visit his space at

We like Otero because he is only 28 years old and hails from Puerto Rico. He just recently finished his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and has already added to Chicago’s art experience.

Here is some information from the Chicago Cultural Center’s site. Also, have we mentioned how dope the Chicago Cultural Center is before? Just about all events are free and it’s a joy just to be in the building. So if you can’t make it to see Touch With Your Eyes: Recent Works by Angel Otero (although I can’t see how you wouldn’t) stop by as soon as you can. Ya Heard Me??!? V

“The deeply personal and passionate paintings of Angel Otero have made a mark on the cultural scene over the past few years. Otero, having just completed his MFA degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this spring, was one of only four awardees nationwide to receive the prestigious Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the visual arts this year, which will support his work over a two-year period in New York.

This exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center will be Otero’s largest solo show to date; it will bring together some 12-15 new works from the artist’s studio and private collections as evidence of his masterful use of materials, as well as revealing his ideas that stem from growing up in Puerto Rico and training in Chicago.”

Arts=Smarts Afterschool Program

19 10 2009

I used to drive by the Little Black Pearl weekly and was always bedazzled by the fine space. It was only when looking into rental space that I learned of the wonderful things going inside that architectural gem, making it a true community gem. With that being said….



They also have scholarships available for this program. If you have a little one or are an artist looking to give back, call them up.

A letter

8 10 2009

The Gotta E.a.T. Project is still here and we’re still pressing on. We feel like we’re under fire as there is a crisis going on in our city which has found its way into our classroom. Until we contribute to the solution we are still a part of the problem. Thus we are pressing on. We have a lot of outstanding efforts planned. We will contribute to the arts and education inside and outside the classroom. We can’t expect “them” to solve the problems for us. They only brought the chosen few into the discussion. We gotta do better for our people.

“It’s important to me that we give our students a reason to be excited to come to school everyday. The only way that happens is if children have the exposure to a broad range of activities, and music is a huge, huge piece of that. What worries me the most is that children who often need the most access often have the least.
–Arnie Duncan, US Education Secretary

“The arts must be at the heart of every child’s learning experience if…
they are to have a chance to dream and to create, to have beliefs, to carry a sense of cultural identity.”

–James D Wolfensohn, former chairman of The Kennedy Center

Yours in the struggle


My mission

I think about it all day every day

It ain’t at all sunny in Philadelphia

28 09 2009

braindrainWhat’s going on in Philadelphia?

It was about two weeks ago when the country found out that Philadelphia’s state senate voted to close the cities free libraries ( as so eloquently described in the Huffington Post here).

But today we have learned that they will also pose a 6% tax increase on the arts. How can you tax the arts you ask? I asked the same thing.  As reported by Peter Jackson of the Associated Press, (find the complete article here.) the state plans to hike up the price of admissions museums, historical sites, performing arts events, zoos and parks. That is how.

It seems to me that the state’s elected officials are trying to ensure that their constituents remain in the dark, become mindless drones who work everyday to pay taxes to line their pockets to ensure they stay in the office.

Here’s my math:

 No books = no new ideas. No arts = no self-expression. No after school programs = let the kids make play out of each other (as we have seen in Chicago.).  No access to the internet for low-income household = no means to look for a better paying job, learn about the world around them, hell download coupons for free chicken. No GED or ESL programs =  no future. Taxing the arts admissions prices is practically ensuring the non-profit organizations supporting the arts will shut their doors. They do not have profit in which to operate from when their patronage drop. They operate based on tickets sold at the door, based on healthy subscribers and benefactors. Philadelphia’s government is going to make a practically impossible task (trust me, the Gotta E.A.T. Project knows from experience) plain impossible.

All of this = brain drain and places Philadelphia and Pittsburgh right beside Detroit.

Btw, this is by no means a diss to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, that’s a separate blog post. 😉 VB

Artists as Government-Supported Activists?

21 09 2009

First, before I stand on my soapbox, find the original Fast Company article by Alissa Walker here. If you want another perspective, which I will most likely go IN on read the editorial by The Washington Times here. Lastly, read this letter to the editors of the Washington Times by Bob Lynch for Americas for the Arts here. And now….

For awhile now I’ve been thinking about the longevity of the urban arts. One hundred years from now when city walls have been blasted and niche galleries have closed their doors will the works of the urban artist remain? We know who the author’s of the history books are. We know the funding for the arts in schools of all levels is practically non existent, all of this ensuring our future leaders will have no interest in the arts. So when the National Endowment for the Arts former chairman, Rocco Landesman schedules a meeting with artist and arts organization it is a win for the arts. Not an attempt to put artist on the payroll.

Since this infamous teleconference, Rocco Landesman has stepped down and now holds another position in the NEA because anti-health care reform loud mouths has decided that the government held this meeting to pressure arts organizations to support health care reform. It has also been reported that these organizations and artist received large grants at one point.

Bob Lynch reports that no such meeting occurred and this teleconference is just another misrepresentation of the facts by Anti-Obamanites. I will have to agree with him.

If artist are easily persuaded by the government than that would be represented in their work. If they are not easily persuaded by the government, that too will be represented in their work. I think it’s belittling to artist for the Washington Times to suggest that artist can not come to their own decisions, could not support health care reform, could not depict President Barack Obama as a super hero without the pressuring of Landesman, without being paid.

Artist gaining the attention of the federal government is a win for the arts. Images of politicians and war live on. There is no question that Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster will stand right alongside Obama’s historic victory. I knew about the Daisy Ad used in 1964 by LBJ (seen below) against Senator Goldwater before I fully understand nuclear weapons in America.

If the government and the arts can get on the same page, it will be a plus for America. Maybe we need artists’ paint brushes and graphic designers to re-illustrate and repair America’s image in our global community instead of painting a conference call as an attempt to pimp and brainwash.