Culture

24 Pilsen Murals That Make Chicago A Walking Latinx Museum

We all know why the City of Chicago has made itself home to one of the largest Latino populations in the U.S. Well, now meet the Pilsen neighborhood, also known as Little Mexico.

In the late ’60s, artists like Mario Castillo, Ray Patlan and Marcos Raya started to paint the neighborhood with anti-Vietnam War murals and to inspire Mexican-American residents to be proud of their heritage.

In some ways, nothing has changed and it’s as obvious as painting on the walls.

1. Women are always watching.

CREDIT: @snsoroka / Instagram

The murals you find in Pilsen have historically been a blend of art and activism. Mural art goes back to Aztec and Mayan cultures, to the 1920s Mexican government-funded PSA projects. Today in Pilsen, many murals are funded by the National Museum for Mexican Art.

2. It’s pretty incredible, verdad?

CREDIT: @sharongaiettophotography / Instagram

Sixteenth Street is a hot spot for murals. You can find them stretching for miles and spanning decades. This is Saicker’s debut mural and we’re waiting impatiently for the next.

3. And sometimes creepy…

CREDIT: @kaleidostob / Instagram

Street artist ROA painted this two part mural of an oppossum. Don’t turn the page if you want to see the truth about this lil guy.

4. He’s dead. 🙁

CREDIT: @myriamt18 / Twitter

When you view this from a certain angle, the possum is all in one piece. Some people really hate this one, claiming it’s actually a rat. Comment with your opinion!

5. The Mexicano influence is real.

CREDIT: @snsoroka / Instagram

Seriously, Pilsen is like a concrete canvas for artists aiming to keep the vibrance of Mexican culture alive, and for good reason. Keep on…

6. Gentrification is also real.

CREDIT: @murphdawg49 / Instagram

The Pilsen neighborhood has lost over 10k Mexicans in the last year alone. While the Latino population has been growing in Chicago, it’s becoming more sprawling because of new storefronts moving in and rent going up.

7. It’s important to support local artists…

CREDIT: @monstrochika / Instagram

…who support local women. Many of the faces painted here are just women from the community, who happen to be activists, dancers, singers and whose faces belong in Pilsen.

8. Mother Mary is all over the city.

CREDIT: @monstrochika / Instagram

And Angel Gabriel, and el espiritú santo. The Catholic influence is inescapable, and it’s definitely a lot prettier here than it was in most of our childhoods!

9. “Weaving Cultures”

CREDIT: @handmeupresale / Instagram

Chicago artists Sam Kirk and Sandra Antongiorgi had all the intention of bringing visibility to underrepresented women in the neighborhood, including a transgender Latina.

Sam Kirk told Windy City Media Group, “”Members of the LGBT community live throughout the city, but often don’t feel comfortable being themselves in their communities. Public art has the ability to reach many people and we hope this mural will increase visibility for the women represented in our work.” We’re with you.

10. Stinkfish, 1005 W. 16th Street, 2013.

CREDIT: @latinactivista / Instagram

Stinkfish is a Colombian street artist who recreates photos into psychadelic themes. He was born in Mexico, but grew up in Colombia, and we only know his pen name. Rumor has it that he just takes photos of travelers and randomly chooses them. Travel wisely.

11. An incomplete Mary

CREDIT: @kevinoconnor_kevinoconnor / Instagram

These don’t happen overnight! If you visit Pilsen, you’re likely to run into a street artist working on their murals, slowly but surely. I’m waiting for the time-lapse video.

12. The art is up for your interpretation.

CREDIT: @kerlitos_way / Instagram

Caption: “Freedom of Speech is Dead…………..or Revived!”

Or is it that, we are the creations of another entity and mute ourselves to our own oppression? I mean, not *us* specifically. #FuckThePatriarchy

13. “Galeria del Barrio” by Aurelio Diaz, restored by Sam Kirk.

CREDIT: @xuxabelle / Instagram

This was the second ever mural painted by Mario Castillo, the very first muralist in Pilsen. Drawing inspo from William Walker’s 1967 “Wall of Respect,” he decided to show the fullest spectrum of diversity this wall allowed.

14. Sam Kirk’s work is everywhere.

CREDIT: @gisellafaggi / Instagram

Kirk was born and raised in the south side of Chicago, and aims to use her work to “celebrate people and to inspire pride and recognition for underrepresented communities.” She tries to keep the politics that generations before us have been fighting for alive.

15. Hebru Brantley, 1478 W. 16th Street, 2013.

CREDIT: @kaleidostob / Instagram

Hebru Brantley is world famous for his public works in London, Switzerland, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York. But he’s born and raised in Chicago, and some of his first works are still here.

16. Then there’s the tiled mosaic art.

CREDIT: @handmeupresale / Instagram

No air vent will go untouched by beauty and meaning in Pilsen. Seriously, you’ll find this kind of art on every door for a block straight.

17. What’d I say? Every. Door.

CREDIT: @glassesclasses / Instagram

This is what community is all about–educating those that come after you to navigate this world, and doing everything you can to protect them.

Read: “Shoot hoops, not guns.”

18. Brett Flannigan & Cannon Hill, 901 W. 16th Street, 2013.

CREDIT: @handmeupresale / Instagram

This due decided to combine abstract black and white depictions of the animal world in unison with bright semblances of the human world, seeming to wrap around and overcome the animal. Walk the full block to see their full work.

19. You might run into Hugo Chávez.

CREDIT: @turismoemchicago / Instagram

Venezuelan President Chávez was best known for launching a movement for better working conditions for low wage workers, especially those put at a disadvantage by the way the U.S. treats undocumented workers.

20. Murals commemorate the indigenous peoples who started them in the first place.

CREDIT: @chicagoldubs / Instagram

This mural depicts the worst horror in history: the sun setting on an entire civilization of native peoples after colonizers raped and destroyed them.

21. And the women who keep society going.

CREDIT: @chicagoismyboyfriend / Instagram

It’s really remarkable to see a community that so embraces Mexican culture, especially during a time when our country’s administration is so disdainful. #VivaLaMexicana

22. Plus, the men who started the Mexican Revolution.

CREDIT: @billycraven / Instagram

Zapata and Pancho Villa were peasants who joined Madero’s rebellion to help overthrow 30 year dictator Porfirio Díaz and bring us the Mexico we know today.

23. Pilsen honors the activists who paved the way for Latinos.

CREDIT: @arquitectos_chicago / Instagram

You can’t go too far without seeing an image of Cesar Chavez, Frida Kahlo or Che Guevara, and that’s the way we like it. Whatever’s behind that door better be incredible because my expectation is way high right now.

24. RAE, 1579 W. 16th Street, 2012.

CREDIT: @a_touch_of_b / Instagram

The message of the Pilsen community is to stay awake to war, to gentrification, and to our roots. It’s no secret that Pilsen is alive to the vibrance of Mexican art.

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If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

Culture

If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

Bettman Archives / Getty Images

So many of us have been moved the art of the late Frida Kahlo. Even in death she’s gone on to inspire entire generations with her Surrealist self-portraits, lush depictions of plant and animal life, and magical realist tableaux. Not to mention her incredible life story.

She also inspired future generations of artists, many of whom are alive today creating beautiful works of art. These are just a few of the artists who have similar techniques, subjects, and styles to Frida Kahlo that you’ll definitely love if you’re a fan of Frida Kahlo.

Maria Fragoso – Mexico City

Credit: Teach Me Sweet Things / Theirry Goldberg Gallery

Influenced by the style and narratives of Mexican surrealists and muralists, Maria Fragoso creates work that celebrates her Mexican culture, while also addressing notions of gender expression and queer identity. Her brightly colored canvases offer voyeuristic glimpses into intimate moments, with subjects engaging in acts that seem at once seductive and mischievous—often while gazing directly out at the viewer.

Recently featured in Forbes’s “30 Under 30” in the “Art and Style” category, the 25-year-old artist is quickly rising to prominence. Born and raised in Mexico City, Fragoso moved to Baltimore in 2015 to pursue her BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. While in school, Fragoso was the recipient of the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship at the Yale Norfolk School of Art. Since graduating, she has completed residencies at Palazzo Monti and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Nadia Waheed – Austin, Texas

Credit: Message from Janus / Mindy Solomon Gallery

Born in Saudi Arabia to Pakistani parents, Austin, Texas–based artist Nadia Waheed explores notions of relocation, displacement, and vulnerability in her work. Her life-size figurative paintings are both allegorical and autobiographical—the female figures represent her own lived experiences, as well as the multifaceted identities of all women.

Rodeo Tapaya – Philippines

Credit: Nowhere Man / A3 Art Agency

Rodel Tapaya paints dreamlike, narrative works based on myths and folklore from his native Philippines. Drawing parallels between age-old fables and current events, Tapaya reimagines mythical tales by incorporating fragments of the present. “In some way, I realize that old stories are not just metaphors. I can find connections with contemporary time,” Tapaya said in a 2017 interview with the National Gallery of Australia. “It’s like the myths are poetic narrations of the present.”

While the content of Tapaya’s work is inspired by Filipino culture, his style and literary-based practice is heavily influenced by Mexican muralists and Surrealist painters such as José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and, of course, Frida Kahlo. Often working at a large scale, Tapaya has been commissioned to create several site-specific murals, including one for Art Fair Philippines in February 2020.

Leonor Fini – Buenos Aires

Credit: Les Aveugles / Weinstein Gallery

Long overlooked in favor of male Surrealists, Leonor Fini, a contemporary of Kahlo, was a pioneering 20th-century force. Known for having lived boldly, Fini is recognized for her unconventional lifestyle, theatrical personality, and avant-garde fashion sense. Born in Buenos Aires in 1907, Fini was raised by her mother in Trieste, Italy. She taught herself to paint and first exhibited her work at the age of 17.

Fini had one of her first solo exhibitions at age 25 with a Parisian gallery directed by Christian Dior. Her work was then included in the groundbreaking exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism” at MoMA in 1936, while at the same time she had her first New York exhibition with Julien Levy Gallery. Today, Fini’s work is represented in many major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

Ramon Alejandro – Miami

Credit: Eternal Life / Latino Art Core

José Ramón Díaz Alejandro, better known as Ramon Alejandro, paints idyllic still lifes of tropical fruits set in ethereal landscapes. The surrealistic compositions have a similar spirit to Kahlo’s less iconic but equally masterful still-life works

Coming from a long lineage of artists, Alejandro grew up with the artworks of his great-grandfather, grandfather, and uncle adorning the walls of his childhood home. After growing up in Havana, Alejandro was sent to live in Argentina in 1960 amidst political turmoil in Cuba, and has continued to live in exile since then.

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Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

Culture

Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

mitocaya / Instagram

Undocumented communities are being left out of Covid relief plans. Chef Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya in Chicago is working to help undocumented restaurant worker in the time of Covid. Abuse of undocumented workers is rampant in certain industries and Chef Dávila hopes to offer some kind of help.

Mi Tocaya is a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square that wants to help the community.

Covid-19 has devastated the hospitality industry with restaurants being hit exceptionally hard. Restaurants have been forced to close their doors for good as the virus dragged on with no decent relief plan from the federal government. As several countries financially support citizens to avoid economic disaster, the U.S. government has given citizens $1,800 total to cover 10 months of isolating and business closures.

Namely, Mi Tocaya is working to help the undocumented community.

Mi Tocaya, a family-run restaurant, is teaming up with Chicago’s Top Chefs and local non-profits Dishroulette Kitchen and Logan Square Neighborhood Association. The goal is to highlight the issues facing the undocumented community during the pandemic.

The initiative called Todos Ponen, is all about uplifting members of our community in a time of severe need. The restaurant is creating healthy Mexican family meals for those in need.

”We asked ourselves; How can we keep our doors open, provide a true service to the community, maintain and create jobs, and keep the supply chain intact by supporting local farmers and vendors. This is the answer,” Chef Dávila said in a statement. “I confidently believe The TODOS PONEN Logan Square Project addresses all of the above and can very well be easily implemented in any community. Our goal is to bring awareness to the lack of resources available to the undocumented workforce- the backbone of our industry.”

The initiative starts in February.

Mi Tocaya is offering 1000 free meals for local farmers and undocumented restaurant workers. The meals are available for pickup Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647. to make this happen, Mi Tocaya also needs your help.

The restaurant has teamed up with two nonprofits to make sure that they can scale their operation to fulfill their commitment. They are also asking for donations to make sure they can do what they can to help undocumented restaurant workers.

According to Eater LA, 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off since the pandemic started. Some restaurants have had to lay off up to 91 percent of their staff because of Covid, about 10 percent of those are undocumented. In the cities, that number is as high as 40 percent of the laid-off restaurant staff are undocumented.

“People don’t want to talk about the undocumented workforce, but they’re part of our daily routine in most restaurants,” Jackson Flores, who manages the operations of Mi Tocaya, said in a statement. “They are in the toughest position in the whole economy because they’re an invisible part of it. Restaurant worker advocacy groups have added the creation of relief funds to their agendas, but there have yet to be long-term changes in protections for undocumented workers. Without access to unemployment benefits and other government resources, this group is especially vulnerable.”

READ: Hands-Free Cholula Dispensers Have Become a Thing In Restaurants Because of COVID-19

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