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Art Wed Mar 10 2010

Humboldt Cultural Center in a Bind


photos by Jhonathan F. Gómez

Quennect 4 just started out as a space, nothing more. Just a place on North Avenue in Humboldt Park for people to use for concerts and parties. And that's what it was. But over time, somewhat serendipitously, it became something more-- not only a venue for art and music but for communication, harmony, and activism.

One of the many revelatory occasions that contributed to this transformation happened recently, during a benefit at Quennect 4 for the well-known taggers Evol and Afro, who died in a car accident on the highway last April. The circumstances surrounding their death were infuriating--a (probably) drunk cop was involved--so the attendance was immense. The large space was full and they had to stop letting people in at 10:30.

"It should go down in history," said one of the guys who runs Quennect 4, who asked to remain anonymous when I interviewed the crew of volunteers there in February. "Every tagging crew in the city was here. On the streets they're at war with each other but in here they all got along. You could feel the energy in the room. It was very tense. We were all nervous, but nothing happened."

Q43.pngOver the past few years, since their inception in 2005, Quennect 4 has organized a variety of artistic/socio/cultural events and programs from open mics to a monthly world music concert series to dance lessons, some events complete with a shakedown street-style food market. Their world music series, Global Rythyms, has been particularly successful, compensating for the blow that international music programming in Chicago took when HotHouse lost their space.

Now, unfortunately, Quennect 4 has lost their space, too.

They had always aimed to stay just under the radar, because like dozens of similar DIY spaces around the city, they didn't have the proper licenses to be a legit event space. This winter, though, their hard work promoting their events backfired when the city handed them a cease and desist order--with printouts of flyers from their website in hand.

Now they're raising funds to pay off their tickets, get their PPA license, apply for non-profit status as a community cultural center, and relocate to a new space that is properly zoned to house their eclectic programming. Their (totally doable) goal of $3600 dollars must be hit by May 13, or else they'll have to go back to the drawing board.


Although they're still feeling out their future, Quennect 4 has already brought a lot to Humboldt Park and has the potential to be an invaluable cultural resource for Chicagoans. They have already succeeded in not only bringing underrepresented art and music to people but bringing the people themselves together and encouraging healthy community pride in Humboldt Park residents. Even though they told me they'll keep pressing on no matter what--nothing can stop them--they could really use some support from a city that is built on cultural centers like Quennect 4.

Click here to pledge what you can to their cause.
Click here to see videos of events at Quennect 4.
Click here to see their Flickr page.
And last, but not least, friend them on Facebook to stay up to date on their news and events.

All photos in this article are of events at Quennect 4 and were taken by Jhonathan F. Gómez


Samuel Allen / March 15, 2010 1:29 PM

I'll have to check the place out. Thanks for the heads up!

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