Highlights from the Bush Innovation Project Institute #2

Highlights from the Bush Innovation Project Institute #2


Highlights from the Arts on Chicago – Bush Innovation Project Institute #2, June 19 – 20, 2015.

Live the questions now.” –Rainer Maria Rilke



Interpretive Text Snapshot from an art talk and discussion led by public artist and curator Seitu Jones on June 19, 2015 at the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association. The art talk touched on Mr. Jones career as an artist and thinker, and highlighted Create: The Community Meal, a public art event held in Saint Paul on September 14, 2014, at which 2,000 people gathered at a half-mile long table in the middle of Saint Paul’s Victoria Street for a civic dinner table conversation about Food Access, Food Justice, and Healthy Eating.

Food is the first proverb. Love

without power is ineffectual,

power without love rots.

My grandfather was a runaway slave,

come up on the Mississippi.

With some art, you have to knock

on doors because certain people

don’t know they’re invited.

Cultural nationalism is a song

in my art. The Black

Panther Party served breakfasts

to hungry children. I choose

to work in a public realm, to inform

and inspire. My people

still breathe this air we all live in.

The names for everything beloved

live secretly, half in the soil.


Textual Snapshot from an art talk and discussion led by Xavier Tavera on June 20, 2015 at the Pillsbury House Theatre:  

Stories make us human. But

which has the greater value: one story told eight million times,

or eight million stories? My project will explore

a relevant history of South Minneapolis.

What is missing and how to proceed?

It will have references to events,

places, characters and ideas of the past and how

they are viewed today. How important

is it to understand the history of a place?

It will reflect on the present

as a way to inform the community of this history.

Who are the residents of the Southside that we don’t know about?

In 1931, the first black family moved in on 4600 Columbus Avenue.

Here is what you’re building on. The findings

will be published in a newsprint publication

to be distributed throughout the community

with a possible performance component.

Gentrification is inevitable. Art

can serve to share the history of this place

with newcomers. Who was

once welcome? Who is

welcome now?


Textual Snapshot from an art talk and discussion led by Rachel Jendrzejewski on June 20, 2015 at the Pillsbury House Theatre:

I’m thinking a lot about how to engage
people in the community who are less likely
to come to events
or find words
in big group settings. As an introvert,
I know that I struggle in large group settings – to find words
amidst trying to listen, to find space
to speak
when other people are speaking in rapid succession.
I don’t like interrupting,
and yet
in those settings, if you don’t, you may wind up not sharing anything at all.
I’ve started thinking
about who else feels that way in this community, and how
to meaningfully engage them – the people who may not come
out to big public events, who might be overwhelmed
by large group conversations, but who might
happily respond
for a chance to write down their ideas and/or be part of a more intimate dialogue.
This also directly relates to people
with certain disabilities, such as many on the Autism spectrum, who experience a lot
of sensory overload in daily life.
After sharing this general context, group writing/drawing exercises are then a good
way to understand
who’s at the table, and what kind
of project
would be appropriate for reaching out to those not at the table.
Describe home. How long
have you lived or worked in the neighborhood?
If/how long have you felt at home in the neighborhood?
Do you have good memories
in the neighborhood?
In which physical spaces in the neighborhood do you feel uncomfortable or unwelcoming, and why? One
idea I’ve been pushing around is the prospect of mailing (or dropping off)
something to every household in the Arts on Chicago project area
with a brief prompt
to which people respond through writing/drawing, and then
those responses become
an installation
in the neighborhood.
that installation also becomes
a gathering space
for continued conversations of various sizes, possibly
also small performance
events, readings, happenings.

Interpretive Text Snapshot from an art talk and discussion led by Alejandra Tobar Alatriz on June 20, 2015 at the Pillsbury House Theatre:


And ask: Who is here,

who would like to be welcomed?

Who is missing?

What does it look like in your body?

What is powerfully unique

about our communities? If joints

equal points of relationship,

where do things get stuck?

We don’t know what we don’t know.

What do we really notice?

I hold play sacred.

What is the difference that makes us

different? What three things

do you need right now

to inhabit a space that is

and isn’t

comfortable like an amphibian
in a monsoon?

Interpretive Text Snapshot from an art talk and discussion led by Eduardo Cardenas on June 20, 2015 at the Pillsbury House Theatre:

“Invisible” things to see in space:       History,


Aesthetics.        How

do you make the spirit feel


Choose an object

to represent how you feel powerful.

Hand out different kinds of equity.

Inspire people

to build

and think

of structures in new ways.

Fill space

with things you want to say.

Make the money part

experimental. Everything

is woodwork, everything is sculpture.

Impressions from an art talk and discussion led by Dylan Fresco on June 20, 2015 at the Pillsbury House Theatre:


Then a collaborative musical expression. . .
Then the question: What is community vitality?

Oranges and bananas

are different neighborhoods.

Give me the name of a street you lived on.

I live on Vitality Avenue. Hunger

should be shared. Compost

is a metaphor. Decomposition

is collective and creative redistribution. Be

the nutrients to allow plants

to be what they are.

Connect, explore, reflect.

All memory is shared like birdsong.

Listen to the beautiful chatter.

How do we define fullness?

How do we translate the poetic

compost into: action,

development, direction

in ways to guide our future?

How do we not perpetuate

the narrative that poor communities of color

are the “negative” that need

to be “fixed” or reminded?

How do we talk about suppressed positivity

and beauty

then embrace it by the roots?

Two canvases, sky blue.


with this imaginary magic wand,


paint, draw, write out

whatever will make our city

of dreams a truth.


Interpretive Text Snapshot from an art talk and discussion led by Sam Ero-Phillips on June 20, 2015 at the Pillsbury House Theatre:

The intersection of 38th and Chicago

could be a portal to the future.

What does a neighborhood need

to fulfill a neighborhood’s needs?

In reality, isn’t what everyone wants:

togetherness, shared

space, intentional

space, opportunities

for resourcefulness. The intersection

of 38th and Chicago

is so many Midwestern cities,

and beyond. A cradle

in transition, a poem

with a million stories and possibilities

in search of concrete




Artist Cohort: Xavier Tavera, Rachel Jendrzejewski, Sam Ero-Phillips, Dylan Fresco, Eduardo Cardenas, Alejandra Tobar.

Arts on Chicago Leadership Team: Elizabeth Glidden, Sara Lopez, Natasha Pestich, Wing Young Huie, Becky Timm, Julie Guidry, Corrie Zoll, Faye Price, Noel Raymond, Mike Hoyt

CAC Members: Evette McCarthy, Brianna Alexander, Rebecca Rayman, Andy Hestness, Verlena Matey-Keke, Nancy St Germaine, Mayela De La Rosa, Dulce De La Rosa Mariano Marquez, Nelly Miramon, Fardowsa Omar, Molly Van Avery, Fernanda Sequeiros, Anna Meyer, Roxanne Anderson, Miski Noor, Sylvia Perez, Katie Burges, Lindsey Samples, Andre Samples, Andrea Jenkins, Malik Holt-Shabazz, Greta McClain, Jessica Lopez Lyman.

Web and Documentation: Kelsye Gould, Ed Bok Lee.