Commune-ique: July 24, 2005

It was a perfect day in Chicago–the type that keeps one going through those long dark winters.  Situated just south of Roosevelt Road and east of Ashland in the University Village neighborhood,  this section is similar to surrounding areas.  Entire blocks have been swept down to prevent squatting, abandoned buildings and urban blight. As the oldest section of the city, it also saw the first round of neglect as people left the neighborhood for better housing conditions or work opportunities.  Unfortunately, many of Chicago’s architectural history disappeared with the demise of these old neighborhoods.  The Landmarks Preservation Council attempted to halt demolition of many buildings suggesting alternative methods, but often to no avail.  At this location, on a Sunday afternoon, I assumed this would be a totally vacant space.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  An entire community had formed along the northwest quadrant of this space and more people were trickling in, walking across wide expanses of vacant lots from all over, to congregate around what appeared to be a food pantry.  In addition, some squatters had set up camp along the western portion of this lot in between the church and the food pantry.  Many people commented and asked questions about this mobile studio space.  Some walked up and touched the material and appreciated the fact that it was hand made.  The great thing about situating this structure in non-traditional spaces is that I interact with non-traditional people which makes it all the more fun as no one is afraid to speak their mind and interact with me.  It’s a great litmus test for studio practitioners who often miss out on the exchanges or dialogues that art can inspire.

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