Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Art in Other Forms: Music (part 1)

It goes without saying that the term "Art" is not just limited to paintbrushes and sculpting clay. In the last few weeks alone, the Pilsen Project has profiled artists who use everything from cardboard to live-action sports to children's games as part of art.  And now, we will look at art that is pleasing not to the eye, but to the ear: music!

Pilsen is no stranger to music. Take a walk down any street through the neighborhood's center and chances are you will hear it drifting out of any one of the establishments that line the sidewalk. It's an interesting blend of sound and culture: the myriad lyrical sounds of Pilsen's Mexican heritage mixed with the punk and jazz of present-day Chicago. It is a sound that embraces old and new, tradition and the modern.

In October of last year, during Chicago Artist's Month, WBEZ's Catalina Maria Johnson wrote a profile on Pilsen's vibrant and thriving indie music scene, which was prominently featured in Pilsen's ninth annual 18th Street Pilsen Open Studios. Open Studios got its start in 2004 as an artist-run series of events which showcased artists and musicians from the Pilsen area and beyond.

In the article, Johnson's interviewees--including musicians, producers, singers, and art gallery curators--credited the neighborhood's willingness to come together, as well as their openness to newcomers, with the success of the indie music scene (and indeed the arts in general) in Pilsen. 

Visual artists and musicians often work together to promote each others work, whether sharing space for shows or collaborating on combined visual/audio projects. Music has grown up alongside visual art in Pilsen and, in many ways, the two have influenced each other.

One artist and musician, Victor Montañez, said it to Johnson best: “Pilsen is not a geographic location, it’s a state of mind, it’s a state of heart, it’s a state of art."

Katherine H.

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