The nonprofit Rogers Park Business Alliance (RPBA) is proud to announce the vacant storefront activation project for Howard Street between the CTA Red Line station east and Sheridan Road, from November 2022 to February 2023. Enabled by a grant of over $99,000 received from the City of Chicago’s Small Business Storefront Activations program last month, the new initiative will see art installations in vacant storefront windows, and a pop-up Howard Street Makers Studio with free public art programming. For more information, go to www.howardstreetchicago.com/makersstudio.
Howard Street Makers Studio, at 1609 W. Howard St, will be activated at a minimum of 4 days per week by artists-in-residence, who will facilitate movement classes, community art workshops, spoken word/open mic, and open art studio time for all community members free of charge. A Ribbon Cutting will take place on Saturday, December 3 at 12:30 p.m. with representatives from offices of the 49th Ward, State Senator Mike Simmons, State Representative Kelly Cassidy, and RPBA, followed by an Open House till 5 p.m. with artist demos, food and drinks. Artists include and are not limited to: Barrett Keithley of Crown B Studio, Jessica Juarez of Kindred Open Studio at Praxis Institute, Andrew Sacarpelli of ChiTown Bio, and Greg Mowery of Chicago Neon CoOp.
Chicago artist Barrett Keithly will paint the windows at vacant commercial properties at 1531, 1609, and 1631 W. Howard St., between November and December 2022. A multi-disciplined artist, creative performer, and activist from the South Side, Keithly is well renowned for his murals throughout the city, creates works that speak to the story of his upbringing on the South Side, and brings resources for the community.
Sandi Price, Executive Director of Rogers Park Business Alliance, shares the goal of the project: “We hope to boost foot traffic to existing Howard Street businesses during the holiday season while also drawing attention and interest to the many available storefronts along this corridor, which was especially hard-hit by business closures due to the pandemic and rising crime. The City of Chicago has designated 2022 the year of healing, and we hope to give the surrounding community a positive outlet for community and healing through the enjoyment and creation of art.”
Rogers Park Business Alliance (RPBA) is a nonprofit organization that has served Chicago’s diverse Rogers Park neighborhood for 29 years. RPBA works to cultivate and sustain a thriving economic environment in Rogers Park, serving businesses and residents with a variety of public events and business initiatives. RPBA programs include the GROW/PROGRESANDO entrepreneurial training program, the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Rogers Park Business Alliance, annual Best of Rogers Park awards, Chalk Howard Street Festival, Taste of Clark Street Crawl, and the Glenwood Sunday Market farmers market. For more information, visit RPBA.org.