Unlike any neighborhood in Chicago. I’ve witnessed many neighborhoods grow, blossom, and even get exploited. In 2016, I was fortunate enough to experience the best of what Pilsen had to offer. Small shops, artisanal restaurants, galleries, art shows, and bodegas all make the Pilsen area unique.
If you’re a cat person, there is an abundant amount of ear-clipped street cats of which you can choose to become your compadre. (They’ll remember you and sneak up behind you as you bring home groceries then give you a wink). However, what most stood out are the people in the neighborhood; midwestern charm, colorful heritage, generations of persevered culture, and pure goodness.
As soon as I stepped foot south past the UIC/Taylor Street landmarks I could tell there was a certain something in the air…or perhaps it was just the fresh enchiladas being sold by the local abuela. Either way, it was something special. There is a distinct ambiance of this ‘hood’; fully equipped with pipe smoking porch dwellers, storefront art studios, street vendors and a damn good taco stand in front of a residential house on 19th and Miller Street.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings beware of the slightly overwhelming foot traffic on 18th street from customers as they shuffle in to pick up their meat order from Carnitas.
This is not a review, but a blurb meant to encourage the exploration of your own favorite place. Sometimes the best things in a neighborhood can only be experienced on foot.
I took flourishes and color scheme from Mexican Western fashion and Day of the Dead floral candy skeleton patterns. I started with details from churches in Pilsen and hand painted signs in the neighborhood. I mixed free hand black typography then began to refine and vectorize details from murals. The Mexican Art Museum creeped into my mind as I thought of how to achieve a mesh of traditional Mexican art and the contemporary graffiti along 16th Street.
The gothic lettering is derived from traditional style; executed with angles and edges along the baseline that possess some gritty charm. The pattern work inside the letters are a representation of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) skeleton candy.
I wanted to convey a traditional Gothic script that also has details of Mexico Day of the Dead in the flourishes. You can find similar artwork and murals you find in contemporary graffiti along 16th Street or the Mexican Art Museum located at 1852 W 19th Steet, Chicago, IL.