Imagine your high school parking lot. Now picture 4 small white tents with your favorite teachers posted underneath. Cue the most popular high school rappers and throw in their wanna be best friends. That is what the Humboldt Park Arts Festival looked like. Fortunately, they have so much room to grow. Sponsored by Grafitti Zone a non-profit community arts studio that caters to the youth, the Humboldt Park Arts Festival addresses the lack of cultural and creative enrichment necessary to educating and molding our young people. We all know how important it is for today’s youth to have a safe place to express themselves and Graffiti Zone serves as that safe haven. Yet, they have a bit of work to do when it comes to the event planning.
They did a great job of centrally locating the event at the boathouse. This served as a great space with the mild rain that introduced the morning. It was also right near the Sabor Latino café (the smell of the alcapurrias was tantalizing), which was good for Puerto Rican eats. CJ’s Eatery was also a vendor there. They used the steps of the boathouse as a stage and placed the second stage’s space right down the hill. The poets and film competitors used the space inside the other side of the boathouse. Vendors occupied the space right in-between the boathouse steps and the parking lot. And….that was it.
All of the City of Chicago parks are fantastic, but Humboldt Park is one of the standouts. Humboldt Park takes up 207 acres on Chicago’s west side. Across the street from the boathouse is the beach and rest of the park. It has luscious bike paths that wind through from North Ave to practically Chicago Ave. It has a lagoon wrapped in a wildlife sanctuary that is home to migratory birds, not the usual Chicago pigeon. There is also a winding lagoon with many rocks placed to chill and bridges erected to pose. Designed by Jen Jensen of the Garfield Park Conservatory fame, Humboldt Park is to be enjoyed. If only Grafitti Zone had taken advantage of all of that wonderful space.
For the 4th annual Humboldt Park Arts Festival Graffiti Zone should spread out. This will be best accomplished with more artist ready to use the grass. I think it would be great to put performers in the grass as well or on a baseball diamond where the audience could use the bleachers, which would probably encourage festival- goers to hangout longer. I say they continue to use the boathouse for the film competition and poets of course and maybe the second stage. I do not think the boat house steps bode well for a main stage because not only must it be standing room only, but the standing room is the main parking lot which is not safe for families with small children.
The Art’s Festival could also stand for a bit more publicity. I think it would be great to get the high schools involved. Allow, the students to sell their artwork made in class in a tent. Allow the rest of the students to get volunteer hours by cleaning up, directing traffic or sitting at information booths. Next, have those same students tell their friends and do their things on the social networking sites. Lastly, make some connections with the media and radio connections; a quick mention of the event on air shouldn’t cost a thing.
Overall, the Arts Festival is a good kick-off for Humboldt’s Park summer fun. I wouldn’t be surprised if the City of Chicago stopped them from using the rest of the park and with just their 3rd year in, I’m sure they will learn more as they go. I look forward to next year.