Pilsen Open Studios Art Walk 2017
Title: El Abrazo (Phase 1)
Lead Muralists: Eric J. Garcia, Diana Solis, Katia Perez-Fuentes
Organizers: Paula and Antonio Acevedo
Apprentices sponsored by Country Financial: Jasmin Martinez, Natalie Alicea, Natalie Aparicio, Jocelyn Tlapa, Yazmin Jimenez
El Paseo Community Garden
944 W. 21st Street
This public art project titled “El Abrazo” was initiated by the directors of El Paseo Community Garden who envisioned a community-driven, colossal mural along El Paseo. Paula and Antonio Acevedo assembled the team of local Pilsen artists – Eric J. Garcia, Diana Solís , and Katia Pérez Fuentes. The artists were selected as recipients for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ (DCASE) 2017 Year of Public Art 50×50 Neighborhood Arts Project Grant with a matching grant from the 25th Ward. Five teenage apprentices were also hired to join the multi-generational mural team with additional funding from Country Financial (Jasmin Martinez, Natalie Alicea, Natalie Aparicio, Jocelyn Tlapa, Yazmin Jimenez).
The design process was community driven and included three open house style meetings with local residents. Neighbors offered the concepts of immigration, migration, borders, environment, agriculture, local histories (specifically the garden site), and lost murals of Pilsen. “El Abrazo”, translating to “The Embrace, was named with an overall three phase design in mind which would ultimately depict a mirrored outstretched arm embracing the garden’s portion of the El Paseo trail. The mural describes Pilsen’s story, depicting some of its significant buildings and honoring its fallen murals in the gold outlines on the arm. On a sunny day or before sunset is when you can see the gold outlines shimmering at their best.
The finalized design was presented at a project kick-off event hosted at the garden where documentaries about Pilsen were projected, including WTTW’s My Neighborhood: Pilsen. The painting process lasted three months and included a community paint day with over 100 volunteers of all ages. A dedication event was hosted in conjunction with El Paseo’s annual Harvest Festival as part of the 15th annual Pilsen Open Studios art walk. The community celebration included several dance performances and honored the collaborative efforts between artists and community members.