ART AND SOCIAL JUSTICE: Let Us Examine the State of Our Environment.”

"Art is Business "

The Overton 3619 South State Street - 

INSTALLATIONS BEGINS October 29, 30, 31 - 
OPENS NOVEMBER 1, 2018   4- 8pm

ART AND SOCIAL JUSTICE:  Examining the State of Our Environment in this installation, the Phantom Gallery Chicago chief curator Alpha Bruton invited artists, curators,  and collaborating galleries: 

Renee Baker, "Cabaret of Racist Purchased Identity: Banking on History in Lightning"

Felicia Grant Preston, "Shogun" "Shotgun" means "God's House." Duane Preston, Renard Preston, and Jihad El Amin

Paola Aguirre Serrano, "Creative Grounds & The Future of Social Infrastructure"

Paula Robinson, "Black Men Missing: Missing Black Men"
Michael "Koto" Thomas, Walter Freeman, Larissa Johnson, Rhonda Hardy, Toussaint Werner, 

The specific question I want to press is what are some ways we as artists examine the state of our environment, and what is the intersection of art and social justice, as seen in the practice of each artist?

We engage in a discussion not only about race and gender but about societal attitudes about race and gender, using racism as a consumer commodity. So why does racism still count as one of the world's largest commodities?

Through "Art Talks," the Phantom Gallery Chicago explores issues of interest and concern to artists and the art community, including political, environmental, moral, social, global, or personal ones. Let Us Examine the State of Our Environment is a featured program as part of the Phantom Gallery Chicago "Creative Conversation." Join us as we examine each curator's point of view and the issues they address in their installation.

Renee Baker, "Cabaret of Racist Purchased Identity: Banking on History in Lightning"

Using racism as a consumer commodity, Birth of A Nation (1915) spurred the resurgence of NAACP membership, the KKK, and Hollywood drastically and had a stunning impact on real-world history. From newly found justification to harassment to the openly positive endorsement of then-president Woodrow Wilson, the revival of the KKK, lightning struck with the release of Birth of A Nation in 1915. In 2018, have we debunked the lower form of life" myth propagated in film history for blacks? Does society still hold racist states of mind, all the while giving a "thumbs up to continued violence and devaluation of people of color? Why does racism still count as one of the world's largest commodities?

Felicia Grant Preston:

"Shotguns," is considered by some critics to be a black "American Gothic," with its strong themes about the role of women as the center of cultural continuity, and the houses as the center of living. 

 Duane Preston

 "Shogun" means "God's House." "Shotguns,"


In Chicago, the shotgun is a corruption of the word. Felicia Grant Preston, Duane Preston, Renard Preston,  Ciera L Preston, and Jihad El Amin will focus on issues each feels strongly about. This installation will include a clothesline and other visual and auditory effects. Research indicates that this architectural style came to New Orleans from West Africa via Haiti. In Haiti, enslaved Africans took the architectural form common to their homeland and, using local materials, built narrow buildings with gabled entrances, stucco walls, thatched roofs, and shuttered windows to enjoy the only privacy allowed to them. They also wrote African motifs into the exterior framing of their homes.

A "shotgun house" is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than 12 feet wide, with rooms arranged behind each other and doors at each end of the house. It was the most popular house style in the Southern United States from the end of the American Civil War through the 1920s." Creative Grounds & The Future of Social Infrastructure"

Paola Aguirre Serrano "Creative Grounds & The Future of Social Infrastructure"

Our democracy lives and breathes in our social spaces. Creative Grounds is an installation that invites us to think spatially and geographically, utilizing maps and places as visuals to reflect on the cityscape and quality of our social infrastructure – parks, schools, community centers, and libraries. And more as tools for visualization of distribution and concentration, this installation contrasts and compares the location of closed public schools in Chicago from 2013 – the most significant school closings in the history of the United States – to raise questions about investment and disinvestment, social equity, and justice. 


Black Men Missing: Missing Black Men
Our Team:
Toussaint Werner: Artist
Paula Robinson:  Project Manager
Michael "Koto" Thomas: Program, Manager, Activation 
Walter Freeman: Design, Production & Installation
Larissa Johnson: Program Engagement
Rhonda Hardy: Program Administration

This project is partially sponsored by the Phantom Gallery Chicago Network, FG Commerical Realtor Lauren Lowery,  The Davis Group, Bronzeville Art District, and the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project. 

Sponsorship & Supporters (Invited)
Woods Foundation, Illinois Tech Community Affairs Department, PNC Bank/Bronzeville
Alderman Pat Dowell, Rehab Construction Systems Inc,  Leroy Kennedy

Creative Grounds - Overton Business and Technology Incubator.

"Art is Business" reposted for

What happened to the closed school in your neighborhood?

Anthony Overton Elementary School was closed in 2013. In 2015, the Washington Park Development Group purchased the school and will soon be redeveloped as the Overton Business and Technology Incubator. The school was designed and built by prominent Chicago architects Perkins & Will in 1963; Overton represented a modern and progressive approach to education reform and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. 

This summer, Creative Grounds hosted monthly activation days and networking events to bring life into the former Anthony Overton Elementary School – and invited teams to work collaboratively to create design installations as part of 8x3: Art + Architecture
Activation Days @ Anthony Overton
All summer, Chicago creatives gathered at the former Overton Elementary to work on 8x3 to activate classrooms with art, design, and architecture. Architects, designers, artists, and Bronzeville residents have responded to 8x3's prompt with site-specific installations exploring Overton's past, present, and future. Installations will open to the public at Celebrate Anthony Overton Day on Saturday, September 22 – hope to see you there!
    Celebrate Anthony Overton > GoFundMe
    Join us on Saturday, September 22 (4-9pm) for Celebrate Anthony Overton Day!, an evening of food, music, and culture honoring the legacy of Anthony Overton, the first African American conglomerate owner.

    We want this celebration to become an example of how closed Chicago Public Schools can serve as community beacons of public life, art, design, and culture – even in their shuttered state.

    Help us reach our goal!
    Creative Grounds Online Store Now Live
    Creative Grounds Threadless online store now lives selling custom t-shirts of all 43 public schools that closed in 2013. 50% of your purchase supports Creative Grounds programs and activations. 

    Order Now!

    Thank you, Volunteers and Partners!
    Creative Grounds would not be possible without all the enthusiasm and support of all our volunteers and partners – THANK YOU for your time, energy, and resources invested in helping our purpose:

    Building awareness, enabling open dialogues, and sparking collective imagination about the future of social infrastructure in our city.

    Would you like to volunteer with us? Send us a message!

    Celebrate Overton with us on Sept 22nd

    Creative Grounds is an initiative led by BORDERLESS to explore school sites' community and urban role after the largest Public Schools Closure in Chicago's history. 

    One school at the time.

    Learn more about this research and design initiative:
    Send us a message:

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    "Art is Business"


    September 19th - October 13, 2018, by Appointment


    Friday, September 21, 2018, 6-9PM

    FEATURING  THE WORKS OF   Phantom Gallery Chicago Network artists.  

    Artwork, small work on display, purchase $100 and under, or make an offer for larger work on display.

    "ART ON FIRE SALE" from the collection:

    Alpha Bruton - various original art on paper
    Caryl Henry- Creative Currency Posters
    Dail Chambers - framed print
    Elaine Crossley - original canvas archival
    Kortez - small prints
    Makeba Kedeem DuBois- original
    Mariana Buchwald - IAG 
    Hans U. Buchwald- prints
    Shonna McDaniels - prints
    William G. Hill - photography prints

    "ART FIRE SALE" of various prints donation $5 - $10-$15-$20. 
    Grab a bag and see what you have purchased. Your guess is as good as mines. All donations go to the Phantom Gallery Chicago Network. 

    EXHIBITION- Featured Artists


    Alpha Bruton, Chief Curator Phantom Gallery Chicago Network, PopUp Researcher Blog Talk Radio

    Spirit Keeper "Quietest Moment Before the Dawn," Alpha Bruton, Acrylic on Paper


    A Treatment original works by Nicholas Conlon, PUR


    Dailey Worker, Cesar Conde, PUR

    Clafoutis Bleue, Renée Baker 5x7ft, Paper, acrylic
    NFS, Renee Baker, PUR
     "As I Am", Liz Gomez, PUR

    Collaborating Galleries Partners:

    Times change and so does our art practice.

    "Art is Business" reposted for Dail Chambers

    Times change and so does our art practice.
    Times change and so does our art practice.

    This summer has been powerful. As I move deeper into my mobile practice and renew my studio practice, I am still learning. My work is still evolving. The autumn is almost here and I am excited to update and redefine my work.

    From Allied Media Conference to Commonbound, the "Sustainable Sisterhood" workshops presented to powerful sisters from across the nation in a conference-style presentation. We reviewed the connection between motherhood, a working friendship and the development and sustaining the practice of Cowry Collective and Yeyo Arts Collective. We began a collaborative campaign "Mothers Perform Miracles Daily." We have a few screens printed, medium sized tote bags for twenty dollars. To purchase, email

    The visual art is re-emerging. I am planning a liquidation sale on Tuesday, September 11th at Yeyo Arts Collective. In the past year, my work has expanded to clothing and household accessories, too. The dress in this email is a tip of the iceberg to my fiber arts and fashion design expansion. Yeyo Arts Collective is located at 2907 S. Jefferson Ave STL Mo 63118. Please stop by between 6-9pm.

    It is important for me to announce that I am reclaiming Black Lotus Mobile Healing Arts. After some time I am intending to get the mobile portion of my practice up and running in a practical and sustainable way for my family and practice. I currently serve humanity in Saint Louis, Chicago, Memphis, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. I look forward to transporting my healing supply and providing "pop up" style support to others. You may have heard on social media that there will be a name change. Although this is true, the mission and focus are still the same. 

    The planning stages of the Fannie Lou Hamer House are in movement. Named after a well-known organizer from Mississippi, we offer retreat space to professional activists and artists. The Black Skillet, a regular Southern meal fundraiser for black artists in the Saint Louis region supported three artists in our quaint and comfortable space. In partnership with Treasure Shields Redmond, the house will continue to serve folks in unique ways. Expect more updates throughout the fall.

    Working with youth has been a strong part of my social art practice for over twelve years. This summer was like no other. Working with Bread and Roses youth summer camp program was in spirit, transformational. I learned so much from the youth and collaborative mentor, Joan Suarez. This fall we are planning a youth-based exhibition, highlighting our project of eight years.

    Not only has Bread and Roses been in the Saint Louis area for eight years, so has Yeyo Arts Collective. AS the founding collective member, I can say that I am full of love and gratitude to those who have left their mark on our organization. This summer we launched our collective compilation book and we are accepting orders. Email for more details. We are supporting an artist to go to their homeland or place of ancestry and their story can be followed on the blog. 

    One of the highlights of this summer was working with the Pulitzer Art Museum. We worked with mindfulness and meditation to transform trauma into joy. Sitting with the work of Mona Hatoum was powerful and amazing. The folks who joined in were diverse and unique. Our private workshop with Norman Ross was directed towards Ancient African History as the basis for the necessity of healing modalities in the arts culture.

    As I grow into my practice the "social" part of the deeply interwoven "social art practice" that I engage in continues to be an inspiration to my studio practice. This winter as I explore my installations collate ephemera and present new works I feel a sense of optimism about the legacy of artists of African descent. I also feel a special sunkissed from my ancestors who were crafters, cooks, gardeners, sharecroppers and migrant people. Their life story informs so much of the content of the work. 

    Thank you for getting to know what is going on in my studio and utopia. I hope to share my artwork on more online platforms and I am glad that you are interested. Have a great autumn.

    Artist in Resident- Renee Baker 2018

    "Art is Business" Renee Baker as Guest- Artist in Residency -2018-2019


    The Phantom Gallery Chicago Network is proud to announce Renee Baker as a guest- artist in residency. Her residency will take place between September  1st– December 31, 2018. She will be working directly with Phantom Gallery Chicago’s chief curator Alpha Bruton. The Phantom Gallery Chicago will provide AIR with technical and administrative support, support for the creation of new work and the exploration of new ideas with a two-month installation that concludes in November 2018.

    Open studio during my artist residency at Phantom Gallery Chicago Network. Much research, collecting and recontextualizing coming up..
    "So honored to be a newcomer to the Bronzeville legacy and it's commitment to the arts. Andre and Frances Guichard and Gallery Guichard are keepers of that flame and are dedicated to activating and promoting excellence in the arts."

    Thank you Alpha M. Bruton, and Phantom Gallery Chicago Network for the gift of time and space to create...

    Current Installation " ACCESS: ADJUNCTION" Sculpture Bias Installation See/Hear/Eye/Touch

    Renee' Baker is a founding music director and conductor of the internationally acclaimed Chicago Modern Orchestra Project (CMOP), a polystylistic organization that grew from the plums of classical music as well as jazz. A member of the world-renown collective Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.

    Critical acclaim for her graphic scores novels has come from performances in Berlin, Poland, London, Scotland and as far-reaching as Vietnam.

    As a disruptive composer and visual artist, there are few barriers to the creative turns of this composer, conductor, artist, and instrumentalist. As a featured ensemble, CMOP has been chosen to work with NewMusicUSA and the EarShot program of the American Composers Orchestra. 
    An expert at ensemble development and training, Renee’ developed the Mantra Blue Free Orchestra (Chicago), PEK' Contemporary Project (Berlin), the progenitor of Bleueblue Walkers/Bass Kollektief, Twilight Struggles (Berlin) as well as being involved in starting over 20 cutting-edge new music ensembles. Among them: TUNTUI, Wrinkled Linen, Chocolate Chitlin' Caucus, Red Chai Watch, FAQtet, Project 6, Renee' Baker's AWAKENING, Baker ArTet, a Butoh ensemble BODY STRATA, and Strings Attached.

     Ms. Baker has performed globally from Bimhuis (Amsterdam) to Symphony Center (Chicago) and was a founding member as well as Principal Violist of Chicago Sinfonietta for 26 years
    Ms. Baker has composed over two thousand works for ensembles ranging from pieces for solo instruments, ballet, opera to large orchestral works that bridge the classical, jazz and creative music genres. Her ability to embrace various creative parameters in her work has led to commissions for the Chicago Sinfonietta, Berlin International Brass, PEK’ Contemporary Project, and DanceWright Project, among others.

    As a disruptive force in composition, Ms. Baker’s eclectic visual score compositions led her to create a gestured conducting language she calls CCL/FLOW (Cipher Conduit Linguistics), which she employs when working with numerous cutting-edge groups in Cologne, Berlin, Netherlands, London, Chicago, Portland (OR), and other ensembles around the world. 

    A further aspect of her composition skills is the development of her painted score exploratorium pieces for ensembles of variable sizes. Ms. Baker is also in demand as a lecturer and expert in nontraditional composition techniques, as well as large ensemble “comprovisation”/ improvisation development.

    Aspects of the art world permeate Ms. Baker’s work. Her performance artwork SUNYATA: TOWARDS ABSOLUTE EMPTINESS will premiere at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA, Chicago) in May 2015, and her tactile score sculpture works were featured at the MCA Chicago as part of the Sunyata premiere.

    Ms. Baker is the composer of four operas. Currently, she is working as a film score composer, having composed and released a new score for Oscar Micheaux's “race film” masterpiece BODY AND SOUL (1925) with the music performed by her Chicago Modern Orchestra Project ensemble.
    Called the latest AACM visionary by Downbeat Magazine, Ms. Baker is one of the brightest and most fertile minds inactive in composition today.

    Renee' C. Baker, Conductor/Composer
    Chicago Modern Orchestra Project /PEK' Contemporary Project

    For more information: *



    Phantom Gallery Chicago realizes artists need to keep creating and inventing at their personal best, that they need time to reflect and time to work seriously, or just for the fun of it. We believe the journey to becoming a skilled and accomplished artist is lifelong. When you invest in your talent, you can reinvigorate your passion for making art. But, an important part of the process is building into your schedule a time for renewal, for new experiences, and for a different perspective. Self-directed artist residency’s, “artist vacations” are not taken just to get away from their work, but rather to find ways to inspire their work with new exuberance and energy.

    The goal is to give artists a space in which to imagine new ways to work. The residency is followed by a two-month exhibition of the project created, which is fully documented and accompanied by a full-color exhibition brochure. All art made during the residency belongs to the artist. Artist is encouraged to share their ideas, complete a visual diary of drawings, collage, video or photography. This visual journal will reflect the on-site experience, employing themes, contemporary narratives, personal or historical regarding the course, or discourse of their work.

    While artist residencies have traditionally provided opportunities for artists to work in solitude, many residency programs today are designed specifically around artists engaging the local community. Increasingly, organizations still primarily offering retreat-style residencies are expanding into community-engaged work as well, and looking for best-practices from peers.

    In response to these significant shifts in the residency field, we began this discovery project with two guiding questions:
    1) How can artist residencies be a platform for engaging communities in meaningful and responsible ways? 
    2) What do artists need to succeed in community-engaged work, and how best can residency programs serve those needs.