When the idea to approach Willye B White Park about our Gallery Initiative came up, IPaintMyMind’s Board of Directors was extremely excited to launch the public portion of the program in our very own neighborhood. Howard Ave has its share of stories, trials and tribulations, almost school closings, and too many instances of violence. That being said, there’s a lot of great change happening on the block too. New curbs and sidewalks, a great park building and facility, Sol Cafe, and an influx of good energy. This being the case, IPMM was intent on curating an exhibition that added color and life to the building, while speaking to the people who enjoy the park every day.
Willye B. White Park (1610 W. Howard St.) will be exhibiting IPMM’s permanent collection, featuring work by Favianna Rodriguez and Rogers Park resident Steve Walters. Walters has created an art print to commemorate Olympic champion and namesake of the park Willye B. White. Because the park is a public space, IPMM curates the collection at no charge to the city.
We felt that Favianna would be a great artist to feature, both because of her colorful and vibrant artwork which truly transforms any space it’s in, but also because of her dedication to urban youth, working class struggles, and the fact that she grew up in a community much like Rogers Park. Since 2008, the Willye B White Park building has served as a hub for our community, and Willye’s message of positivity, empowerment and beauty are a perfect fit for the great things happening in North Rogers Park. Willye proved that athletics have the power to elevate, as the quote from the poster created by Steve Walters suggests. “Sports gave me an escape, it kept me off the street.” We at IPMM hope the art curated into the park district building not only opens eyes, but engages our youth as to their own possibilities through engagement with their community, whether in the arts or athletics.
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