Following the success of the Pop-Up Art Loop Program and Edgewater Artists in Motion, I decided to stop by the North River Commission (an umbrella group that also includes the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce) here in Albany Park to see if they were engaging in a similar initiative. As luck would have it, they were, and in need of volunteers. I naturally offered to help (public art is one of my favorite things in life), and I spent a day walking along Montrose, the proposed site of Albany Park’s future art walk, documenting vacant storefronts.
How has Albany Park faired this recession, you might ask? There are approximately 25 vacant storefronts along Montrose (a 25 block strip), and that number does not include the burned building on Montrose and Monticello that photographers love shooting. If the NRC uses all of the vacant storefronts to display art, the Albany Park art walk will be more extensive than Edgewater’s, and would hopefully drive some much needed traffic on that avenue. On my walk I saw two empty diners with bored employees just standing around, and one store was boxing up their inventory under a “going out of business” sign.
If you’re interested in helping out with this initiative (or are a local artist that would be interested in displaying their artwork), please contact the North River Commission. UNITE Civic Association is also helping with this project, and go here to read about other neighborhoods in Chicago using vacant storefronts to display art.
Three teenagers were shot in the last 10 days in Albany Park. While the state slashes funding for various programs, including youth services, the local community is left to pick up the pieces. Our Lady of Mercy Church, The Albany Park Neighborhood Council and life-long resident Eric Criniere are leading the pack.