Not just about the music...

January 13, 2012

One of the many aspects of co-producing the Off-Air Events for WBEZ is the reprise events - events that are so unique and offer such incredible experiences for our audience that Breeze, Jessica and I simply have to bring them back.  We're closing in on our fifth year of presenting the Global Activism Expo at the UIC Forum in April; next month is the second year of presenting the extraordinary Oba William King and Justin Roberts in our family-oriented So Many Ways to Tell a Story event at the Chicago Children's Museum; and this month is the Fourth Annual Winter Block Party for Chicago's Hip Hop Arts.

The Block Party is a celebration of all that is Hip Hop - not only the music but the dancing, the haircuts, the poetry, the film and the amazing visual artistry inspired by all that embodies Hip Hop.

For the past three years, under the artistic direction of local legend Kevin Coval, we have presented original artwork by a huge number of local artists in a DIY Gallery format.  This year, with extensive help from Chris Silva of Chicago's Believe Inn, we present the work of 25 different artists with over 100 separate pieces of Hip Hop inspired art in the upstairs balcony of the Metro.

Why is this cool?  Because it's the only place in Chicago that you will see such a large and diverse collection of paintings, sculpture, and graffiti in one setting - and it's FREE. 

With art from Krista Franklin, Stephen Flemister, Dustin Harris and a live mural painting by Rubin Aguirre plus many more, the 12PM - 6PM open house serves as an inspiration and tipping point into getting a hard look at the cutting edge of contemporary Hip Hop art.  Add to that a free screening of The People Speak produced by Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Chris Moore, Anthony Arnove, and Howard Zinn and The Public Square's Word Across Generations with Roger Bonaire Agard AND an MC Olympics AND a Hip Hop Barber AND free Intelligentsia Coffee AND THIS THING IS EPIC!

Check out the video from two years ago and know that it just keeps getting bigger!

From a personal standpoint, I am a huge fan of street art - not just the kind made famous by Banksy but local, homegrown art created by artists without access to studios or institutes but are compelled to create works that resonate politically, personally and aesthetically with the neighborhoods they come from.  It's beyond exciting to feature a handful of these incredibly talented and off-the-beaten-path visionaries.  I'm always a bit amazed and enthralled by the art we display at the various block parties and, while I'm certain the evening event (Legends of the BodyRock) is going to be out of this world, I can't encourage you enough to take the time out of your Saturday and swing by the Metro for FREE and check it out.

For more info (as if you needed it), go to our Events Page.