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Celebrate Art in Action 2010!

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Fourth-year Hallie Trauger and graduate student in philosophy Mark Hopwood say you don't want to miss Art in Action 2010. Here's why:

What is it?

Art in Action is an annual event, now in its fifth year, that brings together a diverse group of students and local residents to plan a day-long celebration of art, music, and community. Last year the event was hosted by First Presbyterian Church in Woodlawn, and over 400 people attended. The founding ideal of AiA is that art itself can be a form of activism: one that breaks down barriers, forms relationships and raises consciousness. The event is completely free, and has in the past included a huge diversity of musical acts, art projects, political discussions and children's activities.

Who runs it?

AiA is planned and run by a team of volunteers drawn from the communities of Hyde Park, Woodlawn, Kenwood, and the broader southside. AiA was started as a collaboration between two organizations - the Southside Solidarity Network (SSN), a student group at the University of Chicago, and Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP), a Woodlawn-based community-organizing group - but in recent years the planning committee has included a wide range of members from a variety of different backgrounds. AiA is based on the principle that diversity is something to be celebrated, so anyone and everyone is welcome to get involved.

What happens on the day?

Last year's AiA featured music from rapper HB Sol, local blues star Queen Portia, rock band Lifestyle Choices, and a variety of other musical styles including gospel, folk, jazz, and belly-dancing. The popular group discussions focused on the themes of policing, the Olympic Games, and urban development, and the arts and crafts tables gave both adults and children the chance to cut, stick, color, and have their faces painted. All around the outside of the field, a ring of tables offered religious and political materials, free BBQ, and the chance to browse the work of local artists and artisans. This year's event will feature a similar array of activities, but it's likely to be bigger and better than ever before.

When is it?

AiA is held every year on Memorial Day weekend. The date of this year's event will be Saturday May 29th.

Where can I find out more?

For more information on this year's event, visit our website at:

For general inquiries, email:

Divya Sundar (408) 406 1280

"Now in its third year, the event has blossomed into a full day of music, hands-on art, and community discussions ... at least for this day there were attempts to breach the wall that often separates the campus from the rest of the neighborhood."

--The Chicago Weekly (05/28/08)

The night before First Week, and much is stirring

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by Kat Li

The night before classes were to officially start at the University of Chicago, when the rest of the college was tucked in bed and preparing for the onslaught, several fellow students and I found ourselves hours away from our dormitories in a packed venue on the north side of Chicago. It was the second consecutive performance of Grizzly Bear and Beach House at Metro, an intimately worn, two-story concert hall that caters to the independent scene, often featuring acts on the cusp of mainstream acknowledgment.

Like on any Monday night, the city had seemingly gone to sleep, but the concert hall was sold out and alive with young, dancing Chicagoans. The sound was incredible - balanced and substantial. Beach House, known for their quaint, waspy feel on recordings, played that night with a beat and bass that filled and surprised the room. The band sounded off an hour-long set with Gila, a popular single off their second album, Devotion.

beachhouse1.2.jpgBeach House performs with their unique stage set-up. The Sunday night show saw a lot of toppling triangle structures...

As the crowd waited for the headlining band to start, chatting with the friendly show-goers crowded close, overpriced beers in hand, the set was transformed. The color and shapes show given by Beach House was replaced by hanging jar lights and an array of unusual instruments. The members of Grizzly Bear themselves came out to tune their instruments and sound check the microphones. Each time playing a measure of this song or that, giving the crowd a little taste of good things to come.

Finally, wordlessly, the whole of Grizzly Bear came on and began to play. The earthy, peculiar feel of their music rose and rose, along with our hands and the heavy air of warming bodies in from the cold. Every song hit the hall with full recognition and groove, to the pleased surprise of the band members. My friends and I leaned against the balcony railings, overlooking a crowd compelled by rhythm and collective experience.

After the show, the crowd migrated from the venue to the Addison stop on the Red Line. Huddling separately in the cold and hiding our soft grins, we waited as strangers for the El to come and take us to our homes, still basking in the radiation of something seen and shared.


chris taylor.jpg
Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, known to perform bass, woodwinds, electronics and vocals

There's something ineffably worthwhile and genuine about the humility of self-directed musicians, the weathered venues in which they perform, and most of all the appreciative people who appear at their shows regardless of the hours of travel by CTA and especially of the piles of work to come.

Kat Li is a second-year in the College, and a contributor to the Blog that Works