Here in Chicago, finding a place to rent can mean a fun few weeks of sitting on craigslist hitting refresh every 20 seconds. Who wants to get swindled with an overpriced apt. when you can live down the block for much less? James, Jer, Seth and I are fortunate to have a great place that is (REALLY) cheap, huge, and close to the lake. Last night we all chatted about what we should do when the record is released... will we be here enough to justify renting a place? I guess that depends on whether people even like the record, but still. If we move out, our place will be rented in a heartbeat and it's likely that - round two - we'll never again be handed such a jem from the lords of craigslist. Maybe we should move down to Pilsen...

Ok, now things are really getting complicated. This post won't make much sense or difference to those of you who don't call that toddling town your home. You might be wondering, what is Pilsen? Pilsen is a neighborhood which borders Cermak Ave. (2200 S.) to 16th ST and Canal St. (500 W.) to Western Ave. (2400 W.). For more than 150 years, the Pilsen neighborhood has been a port of entry for immigrants from the mid 1850s Bohemian (Czech) influx to the early 1950s Mexican beginings. However, as of late, the neighborhood has become home to a slew of artist-types due to its wide open spaces, abundance of old and large loft-style spaces, low cost, lack of annoying chain-stores, and relative annonymity. Even if you do live in the city and don't see your part in this whole thing, let us all take note of our call to civic virtue (I can hear my 12th grade government teacher squealing with delight right now). We're responsible with how our world developes.

Enter Podmajersky, the axis of East Pilsen developement. The write-up for tonight's opening (ad posted above) states the following:

In an unofficial collaboration with the 'Pisen East Artists Open House', the Plaines Project proudly presents the first annual "Podmajersky Show". For several decades the Podmajersky family (East Pilsens most powerful landlords and coordinators of the open house event) have largely been responsible for the social and economic changes that have occured in East Pilsen. Though there are many who praise the Podmajersky family for cultivating a community that is centered around the arts, the Podmajerskies have also been widely criticized for displacing the predominantly working class residents of the neighborhood by capitalizing off of real estate that is marketed exclusively to middle class artists. Currently operating under the slogan of "building Soho in Chicago", the Podmajerskies as a social force provoke many questions of the use (or abuse) of artists as catalysts of for such forms of urban development.

In this exhibition, The Plaines Project seeks to use the Podmajerskies as a point of departure for a broader investigation of gentrification as a phenomenon that is conditioned by global capitalism, and to pose challenging questions regarding what role artists, as a social category, tend to play in this process.

This exhibition includes solo and collaborative installations by Amanda Gutierrez, Andreas Warisz, Polvo Collective, and Soni-Gram, as well as a presentation from guest lecturer Laura Schmidt.

Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to attend due to this thing called mixing(???) whatever.


Derek said...

Pilsen is pretty great. there is a graffiti mural of the movie THE WARRIORS on the side of a panderia. plus eating out is like 4 dollars. what more can you ask for?

Kristin Brownsword said...

some thoughtful questions... at what cost should neighborhood development happen? does the end justify the means? do the pros of gentrification outweigh the cons? do quick (and perhaps pat) answers provide lasting impacts to long-standing urban issues? what alternatives are there? etc etc.

Kristin Brownsword said...

ps - keep the apartment. sublet it if you need.