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


Negro on the 2010 Census form hmmmm?

7 01 2010

Image from News Daily Story

When I first got word of this, I wasn’t sure how to feel so before I took a side, I wanted to get a view of Americas  prospective on the term. Here’s what I found.
Negro {Ne•gro}- – Anthropology. a member of the peoples traditionally classified as the Negro race, esp. those who originate in sub-Saharan Africa: no longer in technical use.
Webster Dictionary -” sometimes offensive”

When I Google Search Negro images I see a Monkey, Porn, Man in Black Face, even a Man being hung alive!

I posted “Negro on 2010 Census..#fail?” on my twitter and a respected colleague of mine had this to say….
“no it is not a “fail.” It’s on there because there are still folks who are alive (read: grandparents and great grand parents ) that will not answer to African American and they think that “black” is too political. So to ensure that all bases are covered the word “negro” is still on the form. But if you don’t like any of the boxes then you can always… See More check some other race and then write in what you are. it’s the first time in the history of the Census that you are able to tell them who and what you are”

Without further ado.. my weigh in…

This Is Some Bull Shit!  The Year is 2010, 50 years since the term “Negro” was in its Glory and ruffly 150 since slavery ended…so what better time to add it to the U.S Census form!? I do understand that people Do Not want to be referred to as Afro-American, I’m not too fond of that term myself but geesh.. White southerners are often referred to (and even refer to themselves) as Red Necks…Is there a check box for that??? No,  because its a derogatory term and regardless of its popularity in no way shape or form is it OK for the Government to disrespect an entire people even if a small sector of the people are in limbo on the topic at hand.

Also, there are a TON of social issues that need reforming. Our people rally everyday for better schooling, Police brutality , radio & tv programming and many more issues…. adding the name Negro on the census IS NOT one of our social issues that needs the Governments  2cent.

Tho blatantly disrespectful its not surprising…



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

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.

Music Monday #1 :: Mos Def :: The Ecstatic

15 06 2009

Mos Def :: The Ecstatic

It seems as if Mos has always been living to the max beginning with his first independent album, “Black on Both Sides,” in 1999 and he did not pump the breaks for his third independent effort “The Ecstatic.” With 16 short tracks that top off at 4:35, it is a fast 45 minutes of strong music. The Ecstatic is a body of work, uncommon in today’s hip-hop efforts. You won’t find the template party track or the R&B hook and sing songy bars (Roses featuring Georgia Ann Muldrow barely comes close), you will instead find an artist simply creating music. He does not work to hit you over the head with a message but he does manage to create a cohesive body of work with an underlying theme of intelligence. “The Ecstatic” is full of worthwhile listens produced by innovative producers like Chad Hugo (Twillite Speedball) Mad Lib (Auditorium featuring Slick Rick, Wahid, Pretty Dancer) and of course J Dilla (History featuring Talib Kweli). You might skip The Embassy, a nearly 3 minute commentary on the state of flying post-terrorist attacked America the second time you give it spin but you will be forced to allow your ears to dissect the varying layers weaved between his rapping, singing on all the tracks.

Speaking of singing, you know that Mos is going to give you a run per song. On Workers Comp,. he comes out the gate singing but again with tracks on the shorter side, he does not get to hold notes long enough to get on your nerves. As far as comparisons go, it is not quite accessible as his first release “Black on Both Sides” and of course, he also has your familiarity with this style working against him with this third release. Yet in still, it is a strong effort that quiets the whispers about his inconsistency and answers the questions of rather or not he can create music for the listeners without Kweli.

Favorite track: Roses bcuz the message
Dark Horse: Casa Bey, one of the longest tracks that didn’t catch me the first time but now rounds up the piece nicely.
Banger: History– featuring Kweli and Dilla, the stats sound like it should be a winner and it is!

3rd Annual Humboldt Park Arts Festival Wrap-Up

14 06 2009

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.

“Through the eyes of our children-Something beautiful”

31 05 2009

“Through the Eyes of Our Children presents photographs made by students from five schools in the South Dallas/Fair Park area of the Dallas Independent School District. Inspired to follow personal journeys of discovery through their photographs, these students convey their perceptions and ideas about the neighborhoods—and even the broader community—in which they live.”
The Dallas Museum of Art is on the right track cultivating art, creativity and personal perspective in its children. This exhibit runs from June 1-August 23, 2009 on the second Mezzanine it is definitely worth supporting.


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