Pilsen’s Hope and Inspiration

By Jorge Ramos

Jose Sandoval a.k.a. “El Primo” started his love for art at a young age, asking people in the Pilsen neighborhood if he could paint murals.

Now 39, Sandoval is the manager of Sabina’s Tortillas and a watchful viewer of the next generation of artist.

“I don’t mind it at all,” Jose Sandoval said. “It’s better then having them vandalizing the streets.”

Located in the Lower West Side of Chicago, Pilsen and its 43,000 residents, all seem moved by the great potential in the art community.

Whether it be the young and the wreckless or the elderly and wise, the people of Pilsen seem felicitous to have such talented neighbors.

The art in this beautiful area, whose parameters stretch from 16th street, Cermak Road, Halsted Street, and Western Avenue, does not restrain itself in any way.

Art is represented from train stations, to city streets, and the typical back alley all done in a well thought-out perspective.

Daniel Gutierrez Jr., 42, owner of the well-known restaurant, Nuevo Leon, shares his understanding of the art in Pilsen and how he helps contribute to it.

“The murals are painted by local artist and recently more like them have been entering the city for the cheap rent,” Gutierrez said, “Artsy crafts it’s cool the more the better. Most of the art in the restaurant are gifts brought in from customers or employers. So as a token of appreciation we hang them around the building. In fact most of the murals are all painted by these famed local artist.”

Daniel Gutierrez wasn’t the only one who thought highly of the art in the community, in fact former board of education member, Mary Jane Gutierrez, 69, believed it could go farther.

“I love the art. It’s great inspiration for the youth here. There should be an institute for those students who look to this activity,” said Mary Jane Gutierrez.

The community of Pilsen has a long history behind it as well as a traditional reputation.

Jose Sandoval hopes the progress keeps on going: “It’s nice and peaceful now that more gangs are leaving.”

Chinatown

Little India

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