My campaign for alderman has given me incredible opportunities to learn more about our neighborhoods and the incredible people who make up our vibrant ward. Our community includes some of Chicago’s most successful artists, businesses, and leaders who have created some truly unique communities, programs, and institutions. One of my favorite homegrown 47th ward initiatives is the OpenWall Chicago art exhibit.
Soon after he was elected alderman almost eight years ago, Ameya Pawar broached the OpenWall idea with Patricia Larkin Green, a well-known artist in the 47th ward. Ameya explained that he wanted his office to be a place where people felt welcome to come in and interact, and he knew that featuring local art on the office walls would accomplish that.
“I think the 47th ward embraces artists because Ameya and all of the people working in the alderman’s office understand the power of art,” says Tam Dillman, OpenWall’s current director.
Each new OpenWall exhibit is launched with an opening reception where 47th ward residents and artists come together to mingle, break bread, and talk about the art, leading to other conversations and connections. At the same time, OpenWall works its magic on a daily basis, making the 47th Ward office something more than just a local government hub.
“It’s such a positive and engaging space for the people who work there and for the residents who stop by,” Tam said.
These events are truly unique. Our ward offices actually encourage you to participate in local activities through this initiative. Rather than just a place to pick up parking stickers, the 47th Ward welcomes residents with open arms. For Tam, she hopes to see that welcoming nature continue.
“I hope the next alderman continues the OpenWall initiative and the openness and transparency that it represents.”
I couldn’t agree more, Tam. The next exhibit, and the last under Alderman Pawar, is called- Our Kind of Town: A Celebration of Chicago. The show, which just opened on March 2, shines a light on everything we love about our fair city: the architecture, the lakefront, the food, the people, the sports, and the neighborhoods. It’s free to the public, and will be open through April 26.
I had a chance to join the festivities on opening night, I couldn’t help but think that the real highlight of our great city wasn’t just on the walls, but standing right beside me. What I love most about our hometown isn’t just what we have built, but the incredible people who had the guts to build it. People like Alderman Pawar, and Tam, and all of the artists who have the guts to put their work on display for all of the 47th Ward to enjoy.