Chicago Artists and Businesses Owners Unite In Edgewater

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By: Jess Dominguez, Dominick Pechous, and Abby Utley 

Local artists in partnership with the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce and other independent art programs are displaying a collection of meaningful pieces through October to promote neighborhood commerce during a period where businesses are struggling to survive.

This year will stand as a time in history when the world as we know it was turned upside down. Much of the conflict within our country specifically was ensued by people’s exposure and response to systematic injustice. Among the citizens who have come face-to-face with the harsh barrier between themselves and the leaders responsible for making change, many have decided to take innovative action within their reach.

The diverse Edgewater community in Chicago exemplified this by cherishing art as an

The art outside Francesca’s by Ryan Tova Katz

expression of empowerment during a year of limitations. Throughout the rest of October, the outdoor exhibition Reflections: An Edgewater Experience is bringing together local artists and small businesses in hopes of elevating the community during a year plagued by disaster.  

Through their pieces, artists were free to use their unique style, leaving Edgewater with a range of colors and images in front of their businesses. Each piece promotes the artists by referring to their background and contact information. 

The power of art is that it brings together the unique voices of the community,” Executive Director Christina Pfitzinger said, “We wanted to create a program that brought people outdoors to explore Edgewater in a new way.”

Reflections allows visitors to enjoy Edgewater’s local retail stores and restaurants while connecting with the community that built them. 

“We hope that participants,” Pfitzinger added, “will discover places they may have overlooked and take a moment to reflect.”

One of the artists, Ryan Katz, painted a piece in front of Ethiopian Diamond restaurant where she got to know the owners and enjoyed, “the best Ethiopian food [she’s] ever had!”

“Ethiopian Diamond was the most welcoming environment/ restaurant I’ve ever worked for. The whole staff came out after their shift and asked to stay with me until I completed the

Barrett Brand created art outside of the Edgewater location of Fix Your Kicks

mural so they could assure my safety.”

In front of Independent Spirits, a high end spirits and wine shop, is a silhouette painting of Breonna Taylor.

Owner Scott Crestodina believes in the importance of keeping Breonna’s name and story “fresh in everyone’s minds,” as the piece displays her name eight times. “A wide variety of people have given us emotional and positive feedback voicing support,” Crestodina said.

Artist Barrett Brand displays his art in front of store Fix your Kicks, a leather repair shop. His work aims to help his community on the south side of Chicago.

Brand said that his piece “contributes a different perspective and representation of someone that comes from a different community.” The Chicago artist puts an emphasis on how “dialogue is the first step to communication.” He aims for his art to create a dialogue in the Edgewater community in efforts for everyone to understand each other, especially in these trying times. 

Although the art is temporary, the messages are there to stay. Art programs like Urban Art Restart and Paint the City actively work to promote independent artists and the fluidity of their messages. The Paint the City initiative formed this year as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement by creating art in front of boarded-up buildings. The public displays are portrayals of how the world is currently responding to systematic and racial oppression.

“The city will never be the same,” PTC said, “There is now an experience we all share from this point moving forward. An experience that is rooted in pain but is sprouting with hope and unity.”

You will find more storefront art in front of businesses like Fix Your Kicks, Jackalope Theater, and Francesca’s restaurant. Supporting local businesses is one of the best ways to keep a community alive, and Reflections aims to highlight those that may have previously been overlooked in the past. Similarly, the art shows us that all persons are essential and can no longer be invisible.

 For more information on Edgewater community resources and how to support them, visit https://www.edgewater.org/programs/shopedgewater/.

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