Gapers Block has ceased publication.

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, July 20

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Street Art Wed Jan 26 2011

Packing Tape as a Vehicle for Change

A video about Piñata Factory

As awesome as Chicago is, we have our fair share of problems, from homelessness to gun violence. As much as many of us would like to ignore these problems, it is important that we don't. Luckily there are artists and activists who have taken it upon themselves to bring attention to these problems in creative, even playful ways, encouraging communities to take responsibility for them. One of these groups calls themselves Piñata Factory. Piñata Factory is an ongoing collaboration between Mike Bancroft, working with the youth he mentors in his organization Cooperative Image Group in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, and Bert Stabler, with the students he teaches at Bowen High School on the southeast side.

In 2008 Piñata Factory placed hundreds of home-made piñatas filled with emergency blankets in fenced-off areas under the Kennedy Expressway to call attention to increased marginalization of the city's homeless residents, and in 2009 they created memorial altars for young people slain in Chicago's underserved neighborhoods, and placed the altars at public sites in the relatively affluent suburbs of the North Shore.

The Piñata Factory is at it again this weekend with an installation they call the "Brownfield Tower", a single-site installation of fourteen translucent shapes cast in packing tape from 55-gallon drums, arranged in a pyramid and adorned with stuffed fabric innards, ceramic bones, and plaster hands, and lit from within by solar-powered LEDs. The piece will be installed this Saturday afternoon at 90th and Brandon near the South Chicago Art Center with their permissions (either in their garden or the adjacent lot). It was built as a monument to the de-industrialization of that area that left behind acres of toxic earth known as "brownfields", a factor in that area's history of chronic health issues.


Piñata Factory members constructing the Brownfield Tower

More photos of the making of the Brownfield Tower can be found 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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