You May Say I’m a Dreamer
“No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in
the world that we become what we are.”
I grew up in Uptown Chicago during the 70’s and the 80’s, it was an amazing time to be a part of this electric neighborhood of many flavors, unique places and spaces like the Green Mill, Sharon’sHillbilly Heaven, the Aragon, and the Rainbow Roller Rink (where I had my first date). Uptown was a mixture of Whites, African Americans,
Africans, Latinx, Asians, Native Americans and a huge influx of Appalachian families and Vietnamese refugees–it truly was a melting pot of cultures, classes, and good food. Growing up in a community infused with so many cultures taught me understanding, acceptance, respect, cultural traditions and various forms of art.
My father constantly listened to music, my mom sang songs all the time, my brothers Vince and Hugo took to the drums and guitar respectively. My sister Rose introduced me to the theater, movies and the opera, and my sister Diana was my trusty companion in what was to become a lifelong journey through the arts. Diana and I made discovery together that would impact the rest of my musical lives––wediscovered Prince (#FeliciaHolman) and immediately fell in love. Prince embodied a lot of the experiences we were going through in Uptown at that period of time, he was multi-cultural, multi-sexual, spiritual, and so damn funky! My brother Incarnation was a performance artist during this era and in the late 80’s he introduced
me to Links Hall.
All these experiences help to form my belief in the arts, social justice, and humanity. It is my belief that the arts have the power to heal, communicate with others and make life worth living. It is why we need to ensure artistic practices in our every day lives.
“The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which ‘one’ is being educated.”
– James Baldwin
In 1992 I met Inigo Manglano-Ovalle and we began a journey that combined the arts and social justice when we created Street-LevelVideo. It was our vision to bring art and technology to low-income communities and youth that were disenfranchised by other institutions in an attempt to bridge the haves and have nots. Seeing the digitization of our art-making process, the conversion of our artistic tools and the inevitable cost associated with those tools it became even more important to try and make arts accessible to all and not just the privileged few. Unfortunately the deeper I became involved in the arts I found that there is much segregation involved with the people in the arts, much like our city. The arts are an integral part of our existence and should be made available to all.
Randolph St Gallery (RSG) was a primary and vital sponsor of Street-Level. An amazing organization that championed the arts for all, RSG provided a venue for artists to incubate and explore their craft and they did so with an all are welcome philosophy. RSG had a huge impact on the formation of the various artistic communities in Chicago and was the catalyst for many artists and organizations, it is the predecessor to Links Hall, Co-Prosperity Sphere, and DFBRL8R. It is sorely missed.
Chicago is rich with history in the arts. We have great museums, public art, and a wealth of non-profit organizations in the arts. Funding arts organizations have always been an arduous task, but over the recent years, it has become increasingly more difficult to fundraise. We have seen great organizations like Redmoon Theater, Beyondmedia, Video Machete, and Randolph St. Gallery close up shop. It is imperative now that we continue to support the arts in any way possible, and I thank you all for the love and support you have given Links Hall.
Full circle: I joined the board of Links Hall two years ago and now serve as the Board President. I love being a part of an organization that believes in treating artists with respect, believes in the multiculturalism of our programming and our audience, and strives to dream big. I am ecstatic to be a part of the Links family of creatives and it truly feels like home.
Please join me at Links Hall in the near future for some fantastic art!
“You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.”
– John Lennon