Neighbors Unite Over Pozole and Sketches

Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together. – Psychological Sense of Community, McMillan & Chavis (1986)

December tends to exaggerate its enchantment in visuals of white and multi-colored sparkling lights, wafting clouds perfuming the air with winter flavors, and community-driven celebrations. Over the weekend in Chicago, Latino communities from Pilsen and surrounding neighborhoods came together for two such occasions.

At Pozolada, which took place at Local 399, you either stared in awe at the volume and craftsmanship of over 500 handmade bowls or stared in awe at the amount of ginormous pots holding more than 35 varieties of all-you-can-eat pozole. ElevArte Community Studio puts together this annual celebration as a fundraiser to help further develop and continue ElevArte Studio art programs for young people in Chicago.

“La Pozolada is a celebration of community. With 37 pozoles, hundreds of community-made bowls, countless volunteer hours and supporters, it’s a very collective effort,” said ElevArte’s Youth and Events’ Manager, Lizette Garza. “It sends a message to our youth that their art, futures and voices are valued and appreciated in our community.”

Courtesy of ElevArte Studio

Courtesy of ElevArte Studio

Thelma Uranga, ElevArte’s Communication and Development Coordinator, says Pozolada is tremendously important to ElevArte in reachiong their year-round fundraising goals that allow them to reach 6,000 individuals annually through free arts programs and cultural events. “Thanks to events like Pozolada, ElevArte is able to provide a creative safe space where at-promise youth can grow, thrive and prepare to be our future leaders,” she said.

This remarkable ‘pozole fiesta’ continues to grow as more people participate and donate to the Pilsen-based organization. When asked how the festivities have changed over the years, Uranga continued, “My first Pozolada was in 2011 and back then we had about 10 pozoles to serve. This year we had 37. This event has tripled in size since then. We continue to meet enthusiastic ElevArte supporters and folks who want to showcase their pozole.”

A recent addition is the Cuchara de Oro, a contest where guests vote for their favorite pozole and the winner takes home a cash prize sponsored by La Preferida. This year’s entertainment included performances by ElevArte’s kids’ circus, and music sessions with Son Monarcas, ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat, Guapachosos and the DJs Pablo Serrano, Sonorama, The Ponderers and Sound Culture.

At Pilsen Outpost, located a few steps from the Damen Pink Line, December’s first Friday was meant for #Sketchmas – an art challenge presented to 50 local artists who were asked to create a piece of art on the shop’s custom-made sketchbooks.

Courtesy of Antonio Martinez

Courtesy of Antonio Martinez

In Pilsen, the first Friday of the month usually means new exhibits in the neighborhood’s galleries.

This exhibit took spectators, as well as artists, on a journey through another human’s perspective, a raw glimpse, perhaps, into their daily life. As Pilsen Outpost noted in their Facebook invite, “We think this will give a glimpse into the complex and beautiful lives that all of our artists journey through.”

Among the 50 artists were sketchbooks by CHema Skandl!, Teresa Magaña and Hoofprint Studio, all of which displayed the individuals’ unique style, chosen themes, and creative freedom.

Courtesy of Noemi Martinez

Courtesy of Noemi Martinez

Since its inception a little over a year ago, Pilsen Outpost continues to provide educational art activities for groups of all ages while also serving as a retail art shop and gallery. Everything in the shop continues to be locally produced with special features on international guest artists. There’s a piece of art in every corner of the store and most items are reasonably priced, from custom-made jewelry and toys, to one-of-a-kind paintings and sculptures.

If you want to try your hand at art, make sure to visit ElevArte’s or Pilsen Outpost’s website for more information on participating, donating or simply becoming part of joyous, community-centered art.

Article by Sandra Trevino

Editor’s Note: The author of this article was a volunteer at Pozolada (as part of DJ duo The Ponderers) at the time of publication.

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