Blackstone Bicycle Works is an offshoot of the creative incubator known at the Experimental Station (located at 61st and Blackstone). Recent recipients of Seattle’s Best Coffee’s Brew-lanthropy Award, the Bicycle Works has been teaching local youth Bike Mechanic skills as well as healthy life lessons since 1994. They offer reasonable bike repairs and sell refurbished bikes in the space starting at $90.
The program is just one cog amidst all the good things going on at the Experimental Station…
What do you get when you mix a maverick artist with strong community ties and an Urban Planner? For one thing, Theaster Gates. For another, the Dorchester Projects, pictured above. Theaster has been purchasing properties in the Woodlawn/Grand Crossing neighborhood for a few years now, and has quietly acquired the stock of the former Dr. Wax record store as well as the now defunct Prairie Avenue Bookstore (both businesses were revered in their respective collector communities). He created a home for glass lantern slides that depict the canon of Western Fine Art. Using reclaimed materials, he is turning his properties into cultural community hubs, featuring curators and programming that reflects the collections and the community.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll be curating the record collection in May and June of 2011, culminating in a series of talks on Chicago Music History (details to follow) and a couple of good, old-fashioned dance parties starring local-born music.
On Friday, April 10 at 6 pm, at the Experimental Station, Lee Ann Norman and Theaster Gates (below) will be presenting the next happening in their year-long series entitled “Representations: A series on Culture, Politics and Aesthetics.” Please join Lee Ann and Theaster at the Experimental Station for “A Letter, an Essay, and Five Questions” featuring Hamza Walker, Director of Education and Curator at the Renaissance Society.
About the Experimental Station: Taking its name from a speech given by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1901 (“The Art and Craft of the Machine”), the Experimental Station exceeds even Wright’s dream of a place where art and technology would embrace one another under the same roof, where such an encounter would lead to new ideas and innovative designs and practices. Please click on the book at left for more information.
NOTE: the Experimental Station’s 61st Street Farmers Market Opens SATURDAY, MAY 16! More info to come.
Black youngsters cool off with fire hydrant water on Chicago’s South Side in the Woodlawn community… June 1973
“…The kids don’t go to the city beaches and use the fire hydrants to cool off instead. It’s a tradition in the community, comprised of very low income people. The area has high crime and fire records. From 1960 to 1970 the percentage of Chicago blacks with income of $7,000 or more jumped from 26% to 58%.”* caption by John H. White.
* according to Paul Louis Street’s Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis, the median income for Blacks in Chicago in 2000 was “more than $6,000 less than the Economic Policy Institute’s “basic family budget”…for even a small family of one parent and two children ($35,307). On the flip of this, the median white income in the city was $11,000 more than the that basic family budget.
from the National Archives website:
From June through October 1973 and briefly during the spring of 1974, John H. White, a 28-year-old photographer with the Chicago Daily News, worked for the federal government photographing Chicago, especially the city’s African American community. As White reflected recently, he saw his assignment as “an opportunity to capture a slice of life, to capture history.”
Today, John White is a staff photographer with the Chicago Sun-Times. He has won hundreds of awards, and his work has been exhibited and published widely. In 1982 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.
I am a big fan of John H. White’s photography. He has that magic ability to tell a whole story with one frame. click here for his website
taken from the National Archives and Records Administration Website
A convergence of African-American and Japanese cultures and sounds is happening tonight on the South Side of Chicago….
from the Experimental Station’s website:
Please join the Experimental Station, Columbia College, and Theaster Gates in presenting “Blue Sky Black Monk,” Japan’s Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club and Chicago’s Black Monks of Mississippi.
During the last three months, Sennichimae and the Black Monks have used the Internet as a means of exchanging musical and body movements inspired by their cultural and artistic roots. The Sennichimae Blue Sky Dance Club, an all-female butoh-influenced Japanese company, is devoted to uncovering original physical expression with a pop sensibility. The Black Monks of Mississippi is a music and performance ensemble interesed in the relationship between black music, eastern philosophy and ritual aesthetics. In Chicago, the two will meet for the first time at the Experimental Station for “Blue Sky Black Monk,” a raw and extraordinary multicultural collaboration of body and sound. The event begins at 6:30pm and is FREE and open to the public.
Monkey Hustle is a blaxploitation film shot in Chicago in the 70s (a rarity, in that regard), around the same time as Cooley High. Mainly shot around 63rd Street, East of the Dan Ryan (the Woodlawn Neighborhood), and various West Side locations, the city figures prominently in the overall vibe of the film. Starring in Monkey Hustle are (among others): Yaphet Kotto as a small-time hustler/love interest of the lovely Rosalind Cash, and a very young Debbi Morgan as Cash’s daughter.
Cash runs the local teenage hangout. As the neighborhood hero/big-time hustler, we have Rudy Ray Moore (who is also Cash’s alternate love interest). The other major character is Win, Debbi Morgan’s love interest who, despite showing promise for bigger things, dips deeper and deeper into the “Monkey Hustle” with Kotto.
The overlying plot is fairly pointed: The city government is pushing ahead on plans to construct an expressway on land currently occupied by the neighborhood (which was actually happening in real-life Chicago… remember the plans for that “Crosstown Expressway“?). Ultimately the set-up becomes ‘the hustle must go on to save the community (by any means necessary)’. Overall, a message movie with too many competing angles. But fun for the shots of Chicago (and the girl fight).