WBEZ | murals http://www.wbez.org/tags/murals Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Mural restoration heartens Puerto Ricans http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/mural-2_WBEZ_Chip-Mitchell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>One of the country’s oldest outdoor murals covers a storefront on Chicago’s Northwest Side. People who care about the 40-year-old painting are finishing a facelift. The mural restoration is doing more than brightening up a gritty stretch of North Avenue. It’s got Puerto Ricans in the Humboldt Park neighborhood talking about their heritage.</p><p>MITCHELL: A celebration of the restoration included music with roots in Puerto Rican slave plantations.&nbsp;José López of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center recalled the artists who painted the mural in 1971.</p><p>LOPEZ: Young Puerto Ricans from the street — people who were marginalized — decided to give us a legacy for our historical memory.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural covers the side of 2423 W. North Ave. and includes portraits of nine Puerto Ricans who struggled for abolition and the island’s independence from Spain and, later, the United States. Three of them are on crosses. Those three all served long U.S. prison terms in the mid-20th century. The artists, led by Mario Galán, named the mural “La Crucifixión de Don Pedro Albizu Campos” after a Puerto Rican Nationalist Party founder. They put him on the biggest cross. López said the mural has special meaning in a part of Chicago where many Puerto Ricans can no longer afford to live.</p><p>LOPEZ: Gentrification means, many times, the writing away of people’s history.</p><p>MITCHELL: Restoring the mural took a decade. Neighborhood leader Eduardo Arocho attributes that to a developer who owned a vacant lot in front of the work.</p><p>AROCHO: His plans were to develop a three-story condo unit. We tried negotiating with him for several months, even at one point offering him several lots in exchange. And he refused and he just started to build the wall, covering the mural intentionally. And so that’s when we grabbed our picket signs and started to protest.</p><p>MITCHELL: The city finally won control of the lot and helped turn it into a small park to keep the mural visible.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: It’s remarkable that this mural has survived.</p><p>MITCHELL: John Pitman Weber is a professor at Elmhurst College in DuPage County. He has studied and created public art for more than four decades. And he provided consulting for this mural’s restoration, carried out by Humboldt Park artist John Vergara.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Its content is unique, not only in Chicago but nationally.</p><p>MITCHELL: And aesthetics? Pitman Weber calls the mural formal and stark.</p><p>PITMAN WEBER: Kind of Byzantine, in a way, quasi-naïve -- executed by some very, very young artists. The style possibly even adds clarity.</p><p>MITCHELL: Not all Puerto Ricans appreciate the artwork or the idea of the island breaking from the U.S. But when I ask the ones who walk by, most have strong attachments to the mural.</p><p>WOMAN 1: My mom used to go to St. Aloysius. My parents did and so...</p><p>MITCHELL: That’s a church right here.</p><p>WOMAN 1: It’s a church down the street. I used to go there when I was a little girl. And my mom would drive us to church and that’s how I knew we were getting close is when I’d see the mural almost every Sunday.</p><p>MAN 1: I see Don Pedro on the cross being crucified for what he believed in. Crucified the same way as Jesus!</p><p>WOMAN 2: I used to get up every morning and look at this mural.</p><p>MAN 2: I went to prison. I was 17 years old and I went to prison for 20 years. And, during those 20 years, when I used to think about home and I used to think about Humboldt Park, it was this mural that I used to think about.</p><p>MITCHELL: Why is that?</p><p>MAN 2: I remember when I was first looking at it, I think I was maybe 9 or 10 when I first noticed it, I didn’t know anything about Puerto Rican history. To me it was just a painting that was up there. I didn’t understand who was up there, what it was about. But when I went to prison I learned about my culture, I learned about who I was. I even got this guy on my arm. Two of these guys are on my arm.</p><p>MITCHELL: Tattoos.</p><p>MAN 2: Yeah, Pedro Albizu Campos on my right arm and I got Ramón Emeterio Betances on my left arm. And I think I can attribute that to this mural, man.</p><p>MITCHELL: The mural restoration will be complete with the addition of calligraphy this fall.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/mural-restoration-heartens-puerto-ricans-92248 Revision Street: Jose Guerrero (II) http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-jose-guerrero-ii <p><p><i>Jose Guerrero does make art in his Pilsen studio. In fact, he&rsquo;s getting ready for a show as we speak. But mostly, Gerrero gives tours of all the murals around the Pilsen neighborhood. It&rsquo;s because of this that he calls himself an amateur anthropologist. <o:p></o:p></i></p><!--StartFragment--> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>Amateur anthropologist? I repeat. Seems to me like you&rsquo;re a pretty well-established anthropologist.<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>Jose Guerrero laughs hard for a minute, slapping the table in front of him.<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">I&rsquo;m glad you said that, <i>he says.</i><span style="font-style: normal;"> Did you hear that, Margaret? I&rsquo;m an established anthropologist. </span><i>He turns back to me. </i><span style="font-style: normal;">I hope you write that down in your article, </span><i>he says</i><span style="font-style: normal;">. Established anthropologist.<o:p></o:p></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>So you&rsquo;ve watched Pilsen and Humboldt Park change since 1964. Do you think art has impacted the sense of community in Pilsen, and have you seen anything similar happening in Humboldt Park over the last 40 years?<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Well, in Humboldt Park, they do have art. All communities appreciate art. The thing is that the people arriving there were not appreciating it. It&rsquo;s slum art, it&rsquo;s viaduct art, they say. But now, it&rsquo;s accepted. A lot of people got different opinions about art. Even the artists themselves talk, and they say this. When I hear people talking too much, it seems like they want to get high class or something, you understand? I think art is very important, and the highest form of art, for me, has been going on for a couple of million years. The cave people, you know? What&rsquo;s political about that? A cave painting? It&rsquo;s economics, primitive economics.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Art has always been, in my case, very important. &lsquo;Cause I&rsquo;ve learned a lot of from watching. There&rsquo;s a fellow, named Damian Garcia, 1980 he went to the Alamo. The Alamo is when, in 1836, they actually stole Mexico, and killed as many Mexicans as they could kill. And yet they call them heroes. When I was a kid, I thought they were heroes. I didn&rsquo;t know no better. When they had stage plays, I wanted to be Davy Crockett. Stupid. You don&rsquo;t want to be Davy Crockett&mdash;he&rsquo;s the one who killed your grandpa! But as the years go by, you learn. This fellow, Damian Garcia, went over and climbed the Alamo. And it was him and about two girls, maybe about your age. They got up there, they tore the Texas flag down&mdash;boom&mdash;cut it and sent it flying to the ground. And put up a red flag. Then the guy got up there and the women, with a megaphone: The Alamo is a symbol of white supremacy! It&rsquo;s an insult to the Mexican people. They stole their land. And right now they&rsquo;re stealing their culture, they&rsquo;re stealing their minds.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">That is true, you know. Now they got this farm in Texas, where people can assimilate. We don&rsquo;t use the word white. Here, white is a political word. Italians are white, Arabs are white. Mexicans are minorities, even though you might have blue eyes and blond hair, you&rsquo;re a minority. So it&rsquo;s just a political word. And in Texas, New Left organizations fought for the right for us to be called white, so we could be accepted in schools. When it said, For Whites Only, well, we were there too, because we&rsquo;re white too. It gets adopted, and next thing I&rsquo;m white. So it&rsquo;s a political word, see?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The Mexican people got so traumatized that they Anglofied themselves. They don&rsquo;t speak Spanish. They speak English all the time, or their children are called Ericson, or Tommy. No more Panchito, Panchitas, it&rsquo;s more like Tiffany and Brittany. But the culture is always important. It&rsquo;s how people satisfy themselves or introduce what they have done, or celebrate their achievements. Culture is very important. This is what we see here in Pilsen.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">A lot of people say, That happened a long time ago man. Forget it, drop it. I mean, this is history. Well, we&rsquo;re still being affected by it. There&rsquo;s still people who say that we shouldn&rsquo;t be here, just like people in Arizona. I&rsquo;ve seen pictures of people in Arizona crying, and I compare it to the Jewish pictures&mdash;it&rsquo;s the same thing. There&rsquo;s a guy standing there pointing a stick and saying, Let me see your papers. If you say this is democracy, I know different. This is fascism. When they act like that, this has nothing to do with democracy.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>Do you think that art and mural-making are effective combatants against fascism?<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Now I say that, see, and not everybody agrees. From my point of view, art can be used as propaganda. Because propaganda means you take a certain situation and blow it up. For instance, with all this oil spilling, you&rsquo;ve seen on the TV where it&rsquo;s just like clouds of it under the water. There was a good picture, good illustration, because look at the millions and millions of dollars just going up. Millions and millions. How come people are starving in Haiti? Why can&rsquo;t they just have a little crumb of that, they&rsquo;d be OK. They&rsquo;d have hospitals, they&rsquo;d have schools. They&rsquo;d be a hundred percent better, just from part of that spill&mdash;not all of it. But that&rsquo;s not the game, that&rsquo;s not what they do. They want to dominate. Domination is what they want. And we&rsquo;re still in the same situation as we were a long time ago. We haven&rsquo;t advanced that far. Maybe we&rsquo;ve move a little bit, but we need full emancipation.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>So art and murals promote emancipation?<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Murals promote you bettering yourself, and having self-respect, and not being ashamed of who you are. I come here and see portraits of Pancho Villa, portraits of Che Guevara, portraits of Emiliano, portraits of Frida Kahlo. So people can say, Whoa, we&rsquo;re not as bad as I thought we were. We got intellect.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Like when I went to Mexico for the first time, a long time ago, in the '50s. I was a teenager. I&rsquo;d never seen middle-class Mexicans. It was the first time I&rsquo;d seen them because in Texas most people work in factories. Middle class, I had seen in comic books. Archie and them, the house they lived in. I would watch the comic books on Sundays, or even the cartoons where Tom and Jerry were walking around, and yet you could see the maid was black, you know, her legs. So that&rsquo;s art, and it influences people.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">So of course, to me it&rsquo;s important. Some people say it&rsquo;s not, but to me it is. I see murals, and I say that&rsquo;s a great thing. Like Hector Duartes has got one over there on Gulliver&rsquo;s Travels. Gulliver, and why is he tied down with wires? Because he&rsquo;s talking about the border and Gulliver was a traveler who had no papers either. He was mistreated. If he did something they appreciated, they said, He&rsquo;s OK, he benefits. Otherwise they tied him down. It says a lot, you know.</p> <!--EndFragment--> <p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 19 Nov 2010 21:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-jose-guerrero-ii Revision Street: Jose Guerrero, 72 http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-jose-guerrero-72-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/altar-revisionstreet.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2010-November/2010-11-17/ALTAR.jpg" title="The altar at Jose and Margaret Guerrero's studio" alt="Copyright Anne Elizabeth Moore" style="width: 449px; height: 597px;" /></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>Jose Guerrero is from San Antonio. His nifty wife Margaret, who doesn&rsquo;t want to talk, is from Tennessee. She sits in the corner, laughing at our jokes. I&rsquo;m not sure they&rsquo;re all that funny, but she&rsquo;s a good-humored woman, and probably doesn&rsquo;t need the prompting. Directly in front of her&mdash;so behind Jose and I&mdash;is an altar. There&rsquo;s a massive beautiful quilt she&rsquo;s made, tiny little totems to the figures, family members, and objects that make up a good life. Spread in front of the quilt are photographs. Of historical figures, more family members, musicians. It&rsquo;s the perfect backdrop to our conversation.<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>Guerrero has lived in Chicago since 1964.<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>What brought you here?<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Nothing in particular. At that time I was drifting around. That&rsquo;s what I like doing, but I can&rsquo;t do that now. She won&rsquo;t let me. [<i>He gestures back toward his wife, who laughs in response.</i><span style="font-style: normal;">] I came to Chicago and started working at a factory. 47<sup>th</sup> and Central Avenue, Something like that. I said, I&rsquo;ll stay here a couple years, and those years went by so fast. And then I met her, and that&rsquo;s it. [</span><i>He gestures back toward her again, and she smiles shyly</i><span style="font-style: normal;">.]</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>What was the city like then?<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">For one thing, things were cheaper here. And this neighborhood, Pilsen, didn&rsquo;t have the museum, didn&rsquo;t have no clinics, didn&rsquo;t have no high school, didn&rsquo;t have you name it&mdash;any assistance to human people, they did not have it. Seemed to me like a slum at that time. But one thing they did have was Mexican restaurants. So we were like 25, 24, and Little Village didn&rsquo;t have restaurants&mdash;mostly Czechs&mdash;so where would you come to eat Mexican food and play pool and drink beer? Here, in Pilsen, &lsquo;cause they had the taverns and good restaurants. And then, as years went by, way back in the &lsquo;70s, &lsquo;80s, the art people started doing stuff here. And I was involved in it.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>Were you living in Pilsen at the time?<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">No, I never lived here. I was living on 26<sup>th</sup> Street, and then in Humboldt, close to Humboldt. Eventually we got a studio here, and Pilsen is a struggling community, all the time struggling. Pilsen has always seemed foreign to other people: Oh, that&rsquo;s where the Mexicans live. But that&rsquo;s not true, because there&rsquo;s a lot of younger people here. And people appreciate that, you know.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>So when did the art people start doing their stuff here?<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">I&rsquo;d say the late &lsquo;60s, maybe. Mario Castillo was one of the first to do a mural, and then other people came along, Marcos Raya. Those are my inspiration, those are the people I admire.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">I always thought culture was very important&mdash;it&rsquo;s a message in art and it&rsquo;s how people find expression for their experiences. Here in Pilsen, the Mexican people have&mdash;look, they&rsquo;re <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content-categories/56256">fighting for a library over there</a>. Everything that the people have, they fought for. Nothing has been given to them. And I would say&mdash;we do tours, you know, we do mural tours&mdash;and we tell people, we are the new Jews here. We are the new Jews because they want to say, Let me see your papers. The people in Arizona, they want to make the people wear IDs. And the Germans told the Jews, We&rsquo;re gonna un-German you! You&rsquo;re not a German here! I was born here, sir. No! We don&rsquo;t give a rat&rsquo;s ass&mdash;you&rsquo;re not Aryan, you don&rsquo;t belong here, you&rsquo;re causing unemployment, you&rsquo;re causing diseases.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It&rsquo;s like when they had that swine flu, Oh, it came from Mexico. The Mexicans are bringing over that. The drugs, they&rsquo;re coming from Mexico. But they don&rsquo;t tell you that the biggest supply of drugs come here to the U.S. Who launders the money? Who&rsquo;s gonna launder forty million a week? Mom and pops cannot do it. It&rsquo;s gotta be the big banks, you know. About a year ago, they post in <i>Fortune</i><span style="font-style: normal;"> magazine, that one of the richest men in the world was one of the biggest drug dealers in Mexico.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>Isn&rsquo;t he the one that&rsquo;s also in telecommunications?<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">He says, How can you call me a drug dealer? Like saying, What are you? But working class people have always been in this position, because first, during the depression, who got it the most? Who got it harder? And yet people survived. The regular folks is just going to walk around, just continue living. This is not true? You don&rsquo;t see them saying, I&rsquo;m going to kill myself. For what? What makes you want to kill yourself? That guy says, I lost ten million, I got a reason.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>I never had ten million. I&rsquo;m not too bummed about it.<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">If I had ten grand I&rsquo;d be doing pretty good these days. So it&rsquo;s politics, and as I always explain to the tours, Oh that means the way you look at things. How individuals constantly struggle to uplift their economic interests. The ruling class does that, the politicians do that, and we do that too, because we&rsquo;re trying to alleviate our economic interests. It&rsquo;s like class struggle, that&rsquo;s what it is. They got their fight going, and we got ours. &lsquo;Cause we say, We just want housing, we just want to make it better for our children, want a school like Orozco. We want artists like Alejandro Romero, like Hector Duarte, we want artists like that. We&rsquo;re not asking for too much.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And they say, No. We want like the whole state of Arizona. We want all you Mexicans to get out of here. They&rsquo;re a bunch of hypocrites because the Mexicans are the ones that do the work that they don&rsquo;t want to do no more. Yesterday I was on the bus, remember the guy yesterday, Margaret? [<i>She nods</i><span style="font-style: normal;">.] He was coming up from Michigan, real depressed. I said, What&rsquo;s wrong? He said, I worked in the restaurant for a month, </span><i>a month</i><span style="font-style: normal;">, and I only got four hundred dollars. He worked twelve hours a day. And he was upset because he had lost the money. But he had to go back and get through another month so he could get another four or five hundred dollars. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><i>This had to be under the table.<o:p></o:p></i></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Oh yes. Everybody gets racial for cheap labor.</p> <!--EndFragment--> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 18 Nov 2010 09:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/anne-elizabeth-moore/revision-street-jose-guerrero-72-0 Chicago's 49th Ward tries participatory budgeting http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/chicagos-49th-ward-tries-participatory-budgeting <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2010-November/2010-11-02/49th Ward.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Tuesday millions of Americans will practice democracy as they take to the polls and cast their ballots. But residents of Chicago&rsquo;s 49th Ward recently got the chance to exercise their democratic bent in a different way. Last April members of the community decided how to spend over $1 million of the ward&rsquo;s annual budget. It&rsquo;s a process called participatory budgeting. Though implemented worldwide, Chicago&rsquo;s 49th Ward is the first municipality to try it. <br /><br />Joe Moore is the Alderman of the 49th Ward and he explained why the Ward adopted this process. And <a href="http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Sociology/faculty/gbaiocch/index.html" target="_blank">Gianpaolo Baiocchi</a> explained how participatory budgeting works elsewhere. He&rsquo;s a Professor of Comparative Political Sociology at Brown University.</p></p> Tue, 02 Nov 2010 13:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/chicagos-49th-ward-tries-participatory-budgeting