Monday, October 17, 2011

Art Invasion

"The idea that art can be an economic engine is hardly new, and a walk through SoHo, Venice Beach or Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood shows it can work."

Elisabeth Currid-Halkett, "Where Do Bohemians Come From?" NYT, October 16, 2011.

This op-ed is quite cautionary about the arts and economic development. My argument, reflection, simmering anger is about the reference to "Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood" as an arts community. This reality is more than thirty years in the making and is as much a story of public neglect, art slumlords, and the expansion of University of Illinois. And I hope it's still just a beachhead. Pilsen is a Mexican American community with lots of local industry in different pockets. Any calculation of an "economic engine" would have to take into account the losses. And, in some sense, it's just been another version of gentrification by artists for sure but most those who like arty tone and old buildings.

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