133 - Theaster Gates Keeping the South Side
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The kitchen sisters present the Astra Gates keeping keeping the south side when we want to revisit the past and immerse ourselves in a time long gone you can bed or probably at the museum on discount Wednesday Wednesday waiting through each and every exhibit aimlessly but those curator moments are chosen intend not to reflect the person who admires it let alone alone the place. It resides but Potter Visual Artists Archivists and neighborhood visionary the Astor Gates believes that there are different different ways culture keep it. Why can't the neighborhood that raised me be kept and preserved by me using abandoned buildings and found objects the asser gates and his team of artists? Show US what it takes to keep Chicago history in Dorchester projects. Oh who am I my name. Name is Leah Renee Gates in collaboration with the kitchen sisters and I will be your reporter for today so sit back. Relax and enjoy the smooth move. Sounds of the south side. I'm a potter. which seems like a fairly humble vocation I spent about fifteen years making them one of the things that really excites me artistic practice? Is that as you are very quickly. Learn how to make great things out of nothing. I was been kind of turned on to lots of different kinds of materials and buy studio grew a lot because I thought yeah. Well it's not really about the material. It's about our capacity to shape the neighborhood that I live in Grand Crossing neighborhood that has seen better days. There's lots of abandonment. And so I thought. Is there a way that I can start to think about these buildings as an extension when expansion of bioterroristic practice that if I was thinking along with other creatives architects engineers real estate finance people that US together might be able. It's kind of think in more complicated ways about the reshaping of cities and so I bought a building them off and band and we are on the south side of Chicago in the Grand Crossing neighborhood on the corner of sixty nine night then Dorchester Avenue Fan back back back back. I'm actually originally from Detroit Michigan once I left Detroit to go to empower university and then I ended up getting a job in marketing and then after about seven or eight years of doing that but at the same time I was kind of if you will as an artist and and I decided I didn't want to have that five to nine anymore. Quit my job. Bedlam owned visited different art schools around the country and it brought him back to Chicago now. The acid gates was a professor of mine when I was in Grad school and we hit it off right away and I've always been around thinking about the program the program thinking about the kind of connections that could happen between one house and another between one neighbor in another and we always tried suggest that not only is creating a beautiful vessel important but the contents of what happens in those buildings also very important. This building became what we call the listening house now. The Listening House looks very much like a corner store that kind of sits in the middle of a residential block where we are now as currently acting as an extension of the studio used to be a space where we all kinds of gathering. Listen to music and you can see plenty of records here to our right to my right. Your left and these records have been source of many different places so one of the spaces being Dr Wax which was a very well known vinyl record store. He's in high park. No thank you kind of step in and said Hey wall if you're stores closing. I think there's a lot of good things that are happening here. Could I purchase some of these records or the remaining stock. As you can't that you cannot sell it. Move lift so the as kind kind of ended up acquiring the kind of remaining records that were there was also record here from his own personal collection purchase over time and then be. I thought it was important that just kind of choir just some of the tax the object of the sounds of what was kind of filling those spaces also being kind of an important part to gooding library kind of understanding space. I was actually just wanting to activate these buildings as much as I could with whatever and whoever would join me. Think the answers ideas not to just be the only person that owns uh-huh and is operating and has division. His his hope is that maybe people see that I can own and I can't operate and I can't imagine that you can do the same as well you know. I think the project visual fail if he's the only one that's doing the visionary uh we've also started to collect memorabilia from American history from people who who live or have lived in that neighborhood where better than a neighborhood with young people who are constantly asking themselves about their identity to talk about some of the complexities of race and class. That one of the archives that will have their Johnson Publishing Corporation. The other side of the wall of records of the wall of Vinyl is kind of collection of books. A lot of them are overstock of parts of the Johnson Publishing Companies Library that were given to the astor as well so a lot of the red red leather bound books in the blue. The bound books are bound copies of jet life. Negro Digress Hugh Magazine Tan magazine Ebony Ebony Ebony I would like to thank you personally for your article. Mother's daughter over the years Ebony magazine has. JPC did an amazing job of kind of creating a space for black people to understand themselves. You know they they kind of create a sense of normalcy around what it might be like. It is opened up a book or look at a movie on the radio and kind of see hear and understand images or sounds that we all breath. When you're with for a long time I think the very much interested in Johnson publishing company kind of visit as another demonstration world building all one eight hundred five ninety five hundred today and give your family advantage? I am really looking forward to try that brown sugar pound cake. Thanks fun rich and our lives in in so many ways you want to open up one of these. We should definitely open so right now. The says Ebony Tame five November nineteen forty nine to October one thousand nine hundred fifty. It's a pitcher Joe. Louis says why I quit jump. Marvin's marvelous was the wife. And Joe. Lewis Dan you end up like everybody else devoted and affectionate the Marvin Lewis kisses passive husband chills. One is return to Chicago from fight. Victory three trips to divorce court march fourteen in years a bit. Topsy Turvy Romance for the heavyweight champ and ex stenographer. Domestic trouble stemmed from Joe's long absences from the house and lack like a private life for me and my head. Everybody has always been there and I thought it. We'll be and so that then the idea that it might not be there didn't really cross my mind but then I remember my pops tried to do his part by buying lying. Everybody subscription SOGETI magazine. He bought the entire family. Like you've been inside the same house so he made sure everybody has magazines. ooh Now during the asser trying to do my part you know as well and maybe didn't have the same relationship to gender Ebony POPs theater theater that my grandparents did but maybe this is my part in hoping to continue that tradition of caretaking that. I think that I was introduced to remember my parents when people see this. They always ask you know why doesn't another larger institution kind of have their hands on these things. How an artist properly? I don't care for them and I think the beauty of an artist is that we don't have the same sort of like rules and obligations to the objects and so we understand objects differently because important that so you kind of come inside the listening housing these books and sit with the books kind of smell the age or the history of the Wilderness on these pages. We were slowly starting to reshape. How people imagined the south side of the city? One House turned into a few houses and we found that building on my block. We now referred to the block Dorchester projects that in a way. That building became a kind of gathering site for lots of different kinds of activity. We turn the building into what we call now. The Archive Archive House is actually a single family home. That has been kind of converted into this workspace or this will sack overstock library. I'm also kind of imagine the importance of this are kind living existing in this neighborhood. A certain kind of library institutional library like this exists. I have to go to the library of Congress kind of see these things but then you're assuming again we're talking about this idea of worlds in the world of Lebron Congress's not my world. This is my world in this banks that we call the bank. It was in pretty bad shape. It was a difficult project to finance because banks weren't interested in the neighborhood because people weren't interested in the neighborhood because nothing nothing had happened. Bare dirt was nothing. It was nowhere. The Arts thing was built as a bank in one thousand nine hundred twenty two and at that a time. This neighborhood was primarily Irish Jewish was a thriving fairly affluent neighborhood in the bank. Was the cornerstone of Commercial Block of hotels tells in restaurants in twenty twelve. The terra cotta on the outside of the building started falling down and the city decided at that time they would demolish and you can see. This building building has marble three stories. High its neoclassical revival designed. It's a big imposing structure and it would cost a lot of money to demolish so that's white stood vacant for so long. The astor lives around the corner at Sixty Eighth Dorchester. He went to the city and asked if he could buy the bank and they said sure you can buy right for a dollar however you have to saving on week my name is Julie Joost. I'm the director of public programming. Rebuild Foundation in we are at our cultural cultural institution called the Stony Island Arts Bank here on the south side of Chicago at sixty eighth in Stony Island. Now that the rumor of my block has spread and lots of people are starting to visit. We've found that the bank can now be a center for Exhibition Archives Music Performance. And it's all about about providing free arts and cultural programming to the community and the fact that space is in this neighborhood the fact that is so beautiful it can be the source of pride in the fact that everything we do. It's free. There's no entry fee. There's no there's no barriers for people coming in here and participating in what we have to offer something that's very unique and important one thing the astor says a lot is that beauty is a service. Why can't neighborhood like this beautiful things? there's probably two big ideas governing me. One is like my Momma's Christianity which words like Salvation and redemption. They were very important. Words very important metaphors for what happens. Happens when a person dies. Can they be redeemed. Could they be resurrected. And if resurrected what does that do for people around right and I think that when you take spaces that have been abandoned for a long time. You don't tear the building down. You Redeem the building you demonstrate in plain view. That thing could be something better than it had. And that when people witnessed that redemption people feel like a small miracle may have just happened. I realized that somebody had to kind of protect in order for me to kind of guess have access to it if somebody wasn't in the business of being a keeper deeper than all might have been lost and I may not have had the opportunity to say. Well now. It's my turn. Now be the keeper. But I think it's important that that kind of work continues so that hopefully hopefully once my time is then as a keeper that there's somebody else maybe it's maybe it's my neighbor. Maybe it's the the ten year old boy that Remembers Devon. You know from being in the arts banker walking into the the arts banker listening to the dollar store that he then understands that I wanna be keeper to and so now it becomes his job their job to to protect and be thoughtful of the things that protect. Aw The astor gates. Keeping the south side was produced by Leeann Renee. Yates in collaboration with the kitchen. Sisters David Nelson and Nikki Silva with Nathan Dalton and Brandy Hill special. Thanks to the extra gates Devon May Julie Joost and the Rebuild Foundation and a shoutout to Ted talk for providing archival tape of the kitchen. Sisters present is part of Radio Tovia from P. R. X. A curated network of extraordinary cutting edge podcast casts created by independent producers. Find out about all of our radio. Tokyo shows at Radio Tokyo Dot. FM and find out more about the kitchen. Sisters are stories workshops internship possibilities and are fantastic t-shirt visit kitchen sisters dot org. Thanks for listening you too ex.