The Artist, The Good Neighbour

TheasterGates1 Theaster Gates is an artist, an activist, a community instigator and organizer, a repairman, a homeowner, and a believer in the importance of a neighbourhood. His art practice, which sits somewhere between and amongst all of those titles all at once has led to him buying an old candy store in Chicago's South Side and beginning to renovate it into a home and a cultural anchor. TheasterGates2 At the corner of 69th and Dorchester, Gates' home / workspace became a hub for neighbourhood activity. He says that, "As the neighbors grew more interested, I decided to allow them to assist, when possible and have given classes, workshops, public dinners and even exhibitions in the space. Dorchester has been an informal lab for social and community experiment." His decision to stay and work in his city has become a catalyst for other activity, and a reason for other people to stay as well. So, I can't help but feel that we probably need to find even more ways to turn the BCL HQ into a hub of even more activity before something else in the balance collapses and we lose the space. Maybe we need to have weekly sleepovers? [via Art21]
3 Responses to “The Artist, The Good Neighbour”
  1. samantha says:

    i’m a fan of weekly sleepovers! it sucks when your travel time is greater than the time spent at an event, so the longer i’m at my destination, the better : )

    i was in the library the other day browsing medical and social science books, and i found this one book from the 80s called City Safaris. it’s geared toward parents who want to help their children explore their city around them, so some ideas are pretty basic, but others are great and would probably be relevant for future walking tours/scavenger hunts and helpful for discovering the history of windsor better. the book also has some silly/somewhat non-pc vocabulary that is fun to read. it talks about “foreigners” and “oldtimers” a lot.

    there’s one section of questions to ask yourself when you’re on a bus (ie how many foreigners are there? can you hear anything that isn’t english? what are most of the people doing: sleeping, singing, listening to the radio, eating, smoking? SMOKING? ON A BUS? that was pretty weird to read, but it was a different time back then, i guess, lol.)

    anyway, i figured you and the group might like to look at this book, so i checked it out and i’d be happy to share it : )

    • Justin says:


      It’d be AWESOME to get to see this City Safaris book!! Is it illustrated?

      Is there any place that’s more convinient for you to meet rather than at BCL HQ? Or are there any days that you’re already going to be around that we might be able to catch up?

      Michelle, great to catch up with you the other day, looking forward to seeing what you do with the micro-residency!

  2. “So, I can’t help but feel that we probably need to find even more ways to turn the BCL HQ into a hub of even more activity before something else in the balance collapses and we lose the space.”
    As if I wasn’t pumped enough RE my micro-residency! If successful, I’d hope that the environment I create – even temporarily – could be an inspirational space in this very spirit; an attraction, however fleeting, to spur on action.

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