Pilsen Artists’ Open House

A little over a month of living in Chicago, and I’m finding a trend in my exploration patterns. Whenever I’m tired from running around and doing homework all day, and would rather not go out to whatever event it is that’s happening that night – it’s probably worth it to just go.

By the time a Friday or Saturday night comes around, I’m usually exhausted from the week and always consider just staying in, as the growing laundry pile in my room haunts me (I’m getting around to that laundry, by the way). And every time I somehow manage to run to Brownstones, grab a large drip coffee, and get on the train to go to whatever event my friends have convinced me to attend that night.

Last Friday night, as the same exhaustion was setting in, some friends and I were considering going to the Pilsen Artists’ Open House. But Pilsen is somewhat far away from where we live in Lincoln Park, and I had already walked around the neighborhood once before with my Discover Chicago class. I didn’t really know anything about the event, just that I saw a plug for it in a random newspaper I picked up in a diner the night before.

And yet again, my friend reminds me that we should definitely go.

So we get on the bus, and we go.

Like I said, I had visited the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago once before; but this turned out to be an extremely different experience. Pilsen is known as a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood but is also known for being a rapidly changing, up and coming artist or “hipster” neighborhood.

The event we attended was called the 45th Annual Pilsen East Artists’ Open House, and it was an absolutely spectacular experience. As my friend Andrew put it, it was a “productive night, human-wise.”

We saw people dancing in steampunk costumes and children dressed as if they were in a fairytale. We walked through wealthy studio apartments that functioned as galleries and the secret gardens behind their walls. We met blacksmiths and DJs and all sorts of people just living their lives. We browsed high end fashion boutiques, and raised our heads to look at psychedelic art videos on the ceiling. We saw paintings of Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus next to paintings of Muhammad Ali. And we saw all of this without ever turning off one street.

The streets were filled with people who all wanted to be there. As different as everyone was, they were all brought together by this desire to see what others in the community can create.

One person even opened up their apartment for people to gather, with a sign outside stating they were not part of the art walk, but just a community spot for others to stop in and share their experiences from the night. There was a notebook left out on the table for people to leave their contact information, with a note on the side that said “strangers become friends.”

So while I didn’t stay in or get a ton of rest that night, and I didn’t yet take care of the daunting laundry pile in my room, I still had by far one of the most productive nights I’ve had in awhile, human-wise.

Below are some photos I took from the night on a Samsung Galaxy S6, all edited with VSCO. There is also a video of a carnival-themed dance performance put on by POSTERCHILD.

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