Thursday, November 6, 2008

Emerging Arts in Little Village

Rather like siblings, the adjoining communities of Little Village and Pilsen are sometimes pigeonholed. With bustling 26th Street at its heart, Little Village is all business; neighboring Pilsen's National Museum of Mexican Art and wealth of galleries make it the artsy one.

Also like siblings, sometimes neighborhoods have to break out of those neat little boxes. A new artists' collective, Villarte, is doing just that by showcasing the vibrant emerging arts scene in Little Village. They got a big boost during the Little Village Arts Fest, held the third weekend in October, when storefronts and apartments around the neighborhood hung giant banners to welcome visitors. One storefront owner along 25th Street is even donating the use of his space for an entire year as a gallery. It's pictured above.

On opening night at Cafe Catedral, the festival's hub, young patrons sporting tattoos and piercings mingled with older folks and children. While visual arts were prominent, spoken word, theater, a book signing and even skateboarding were among the weekend's highlights.

It was fun walking the streets and finding the stop-sign banners everywhere from Cafe Catedral to Henry Cervantes' walk-up apartment, where he showed off some of his paintings to family and friends on Saturday night.

Arts for a cause also played a role. Photos of the megamarches to support immigrant and worker rights filled up a wall of the cafe. On Saturday, Victor Cort├ęs signed copies of his new book, La Marcha, which also chronicled the movement. Throughout the weekend, members of the Colectivo la UVA. sold handcrafted jewelry and displayed photography of their neighborhood.

Best of all, lots of young people got to show off their talents, like graffiti artist and stenciler, "Blis," shown here creating her trademark tag.

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