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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, April 13

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Art Wed Dec 24 2008

Find the Piñata Factory

underpass pinatas chicago

The overpass at Grand Avenue and the underpasses at North Avenue, Sacramento Boulevard and Logan Boulevard and 90-94 have some new residents: dozens of piñatas stuffed with emergency blankets. They're part of "a one-time community based sculptural installation organized in collaboration with arts organizations throughout Chicago, a high school art classroom on the South Side, and a number of Chicago artists."

It aims to draw attention to the issue of homelessness in Chicago and the spaces that used to act as shelter before they were fenced off/in. The piñatas are the output but are far less important than the community and awareness brought about by the process of manufacturing. Over 60 Chicago area youth, more than 30 community members, and numerous artist volunteers provide a large scale and social context.


The piñatas are made of materials reclaimed from the Center for Green Technologies dumpsters and trash piles alike throughout Chicago. The paper mache pinatas are %100 biodegradable and are stuffed with emergency space blankets in case some of the underpasses are inhabited. Production began at the factory nearly two years ago in a makeshift workshop on Chicago's West Side. Demand increased as the fences went up and now we are out of space.

In this collapsing economy the factory could no longer afford the high cost of storing the piñatas or feeding the volunteers. Labor conditions also began to deteriorate as temperatures fell and it became evident that it was time to release these recycled beasts to the streets from which they came. So come on down to your nearest underpass to see if the menagerie is in your neighborhood (bring a plastic bat and a ladder if you need a blanket).

More photos of the piñatas' construction and installation here.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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