Artists Design the Future Creatives Develop SPACES!

"Art is Business"

You are Invited!
I am hosting an Info Session with artists to discuss how artists + creatives might design, own, and manage art space. The Bloomingdale Arts Building is an example of condo ownership, and we will open a discussion about various models.

Laura Weathered

Urban Juncture Foundation Wins $1 Million Grant

"Art is Business"  Contact: Sandria Washington,, P: 773.891.4159

Urban Juncture Foundation Wins $1 Million Grant from
the Mellon Foundation for New Arts Spaces in The Forum

Creative Complex at The Forum will establish locally-owned hospitality, entertainment, and cultural spaces in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, Credit: Adrian Walker

CHICAGO (March 28, 2022) - Urban Juncture Foundation (UJF) announced today it was recently awarded $1,000,000 of capital grant funding by the Mellon Foundation Humanities in Place program to support the development of new arts and cultural heritage spaces within The Forum, one of the last landmarks of Chicago’s golden Black Metropolis era. The grant will significantly advance a portion of The Forum’s multi-million dollar rehabilitation and Urban Juncture’s mission to restore it as a hub of culture, creativity, and community by establishing The Creative Complex at The Forum.

“We are delighted to partner with the Mellon Foundation to move our iconic structure and historic community forward,” said UJF President Bernard Loyd. “This grant lets us take the next big step towards fully revitalizing The Forum, as it enters its 125th year and celebrating Bronzeville stories.”
Built-in 1897, The Forum anchored Chicago’s vibrant Bronzeville neighborhood as the epicenter of civic, social, commercial, and cultural Black life for over 75 years.

Since its closing in the 1970s, the 32,000 sq. ft. complex has stood equally resilient and defiant at the 43rd Street Green Line train station as both a past and hopeful future home to some of the city’s - and the nation’s - richest stories of Black life as told through music, cuisine, art, film and photography, dance and the infinite imagination that is Black culture.

What amazing stories would The Forum’s neighbors tell or create given the space and opportunity today? The Creative Complex at The Forum marks the present-day intersection that bridges The Forum’s legacy and future and helps the community to live, tell, enjoy and preserve those stories.
The Creative Complex at The Forum will occupy the three double-level storefront spaces at 318 - 322 East 43rd Street comprising The Forum’s “West Annex” and includes the buildout of four arts-based spaces:

● Creative Incubator (318 E. 43rd): The organizational and hospitality heart of the Creative Complex, featuring an aground floor cafe, shared office, and multi-media production space in the basement, among an array of support services designed to help local creatives “eat off their art.”

● Metropolis Gallery (320 E. 43rd): Will celebrate the Black experience in Bronzeville through an ever-changing set of art and historical exhibitions highlighting the work of local artists, historians, archivists, and other storytellers

● Hansberry Studio (322 E. 43rd): A unique community theater (first floor) and multi-use wellness lab (basement level) celebrating Lorraine Hansberry by providing high-quality learning, performance, and wellness opportunities to Black girls and women
● West Facade: The expansive rooftop covering the storefront spaces will feature “Train of Thoughts,” a year-round video storytelling initiative utilizing a 15 x 20 ft. screen on the facade
Urban Juncture is excited to collaborate with mission-aligned partners and local entrepreneurs like Gumbo Media, a Chicago-based media, community, and storytelling enterprise, to fully activate each space, bring the community together and support storytelling across mediums.

“We’re invigorated by the opportunity to establish a physical community presence through our new and first headquarters in The Forum’s Metropolis Gallery. As community builders and storytellers, particularly for Black people and communities, nothing feels more fitting than having an office that functions as a narrative bridge between Chicago’s vibrant past and a bold, revitalized future,” said Matthew Manning, Gumbo Media’s Co-Founder and Creative Director.

“But this won’t just be our office,” added Manning. “We’re calling this space the “Metropolis Gallery,” making it a home for community, expression, and storytelling that honors the past, catalyzes the present, and reimagines the future of Black Chicago, doing our part to rebuild what once stood here as a Black Metropolis.”

Urban Juncture Foundation is honored to have the support of the Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities, for this project.

“By centering Chicago’s Black heritage and culture, the Creative Complex at The Forum will bring the presence and power of the African American community’s rich history, experiences, and creativity to help shape a more just community today and in the future,” said Mellon Foundation Humanities in Place program officer Justin Garrett Moore. “This investment on Chicago’s South Side joins other public, private, community, and philanthropic support and has the potential to elevate the
essential work of local artists, historians, archivists, storytellers, and entrepreneurs in conserving and enhancing their communities.”

To learn more about The Forum, participate in upcoming small group tours, or volunteer, please visit


About Urban Juncture Foundation
Urban Juncture advances the sustainable development of economically challenged urban neighborhoods. By bringing together community assets, particularly people, culture, and history, with like-minded external partners in a collaborative effort, Urban Juncture fosters local entrepreneurship, delivers needed products and services, beautifies the community, builds social capital, and facilitates economic mobility. Learn more at

Paola Aguirre Serrano Urban Designer- Common Ground

"Art is Business" reposted May19, 2022 

Person with shoulder-length dark hair wearing a black shirt and gray blazer, arms crossed.

THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2022
Americans for the Arts today announced that urban designer Paola Aguirre Serrano has been awarded the 2022 Jorge and Darlene Pérez Prize in Public Art & Civic Design. A first-of-its-kind national recognition program established by the Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation, the prize includes a cash stipend of $30,000 plus opportunities for Aguirre Serrano to participate in discussions about her work with national leaders in the arts and other allied fields.
Aguirre Serrano, a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, was trained as an architect in Mexico and an urban designer in the United States. She has practiced professionally for nearly 15 years, working with government agencies, academic institutions, private design offices, and community organizations. The foundation of her work comes from her earliest professional experiences in Chihuahua, working in an urban planning public agency with public officials, urban planners, social workers, and community organizers to design processes through which the end product could better connect with the communities being served.

In 2016, Aguirre Serrano founded Borderless Studio in Chicago and expanded in 2021 to San Antonio. The urban design and research practice is committed to connecting communities with design processes and envisioning creative ways to invest in spatial justice and equitable spaces. Borderless Studio is built on the values of generosity, empathy, and service and aims to create collaborative city design interventions that address the complexity of urban systems and social equity. Through their work, Aguirre Serrano and her team seek to bring visibility to the impact that segregation and racism have had on communities of color. Examples include projects like Creative Grounds, which explores the community and urban role of school grounds and was sparked by the closure of 45 public schools in Chicago over the past nine years, the largest closure of public schools in the city's history.

Aguirre Serrano is an active educator and has taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Sam Fox School of Design at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design in Columbus, Indiana. She has served as Commissioner of Chicago Landmarks and has sat on the Cultural Advisory Council of the City of Chicago. Aguirre Serrano currently serves on the Scholarly Advisory Committee for the National Museum of the American Latino.

Nolen V. Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, commented, "Paola Aguirre Serrano's work adds a deep and meaningful dimension to our human experience of the built environment. She believes that confronting the complex issues facing communities today requires an understanding of architecture, urbanism, landscape design, planning, and civic participatory processes, and her impact on communities has been tremendous, particularly in how she prioritizes working with organizations and groups that are working with or located in communities of color. I congratulate Paola for this well-deserved recognition."

"Supporting programs that improve access to the arts in underserved communities and empower creatives to pursue their artistry on a broader scale is at the core of our mission," said Jorge M. Pérez, a globally recognized collector and philanthropist and one of the nation's top real estate developers. "Paola has demonstrated an extraordinary dedication to bolstering art in various communities to inspire positive change across key social issues. We're excited that this award will allow her to continue making an impact."

The generous gift of $250,000 from The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation established the Pérez Prize in Public Art & Civic Design program, which bears the names of internationally recognized philanthropists Jorge M. Pérez and his wife, Darlene Boytell-Pérez. The program is designed to empower all stakeholders in the public art process and to create a platform to develop greater national visibility and appreciation of the unique role that the arts play in shaping our experience of the built environment. It also seeks to celebrate and highlight the work and contributions of artists, public art administrators, and representatives from the civic design field who support, develop, and manage the incorporation of art into the design of places and spaces across the United States.


Americans for the Arts is a nonprofit organization that advances the arts and arts education advocacy in America. Based in Washington, D.C., it has a record of more than 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for everyone to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at

The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation at The Miami Foundation fulfills the philanthropic vision of Jorge M. Pérez, chairman and CEO of The Related Group, and his family to develop South Florida as an exemplary world-class urban center. The family foundation promotes sustainable, inclusive, and just communities by supporting programs and organizations focused on arts and culture, health and well-being, education, environment, and economic development – with a particular preference for programs and organizations that could serve as models for other urban centers. For more information, please visit

Tactical Urbanism in the Horizontal Landscape Experimental Film Series

"Art is Business"

Historic PALM TAVERN in the Heart of Bronzeville Art District

"Art is Business"  

While not as well-known as the Harlem Renaissance in some circles, the Chicago Renaissance of the 1920s, fueled by the Great Migration, profoundly impacted the development of local and national cultural arts.  All is reflected in the creation of visual and performing arts, literature, and music.  Chicago was at the forefront of gospel music, the rise of urban blues, and the progenitors of great jazz musicians.  In 1933 Bronzeville businessman James Knight, a former Pullman car porter opened the Palm Tavern.  In 1956, Knight sold the business to Geri Oliver and her husband.  The marquee entertainers who frequented the Palm Tavern were Quincy Jones, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, Muddy Waters, Count Basie, James Brown, and Dinah Washington.

In 2020, I started working with Andre and Frances Guichard, owners of Gallery Guichard (, to organize a series of outdoor concerts called Palm Sunday to honor and build on the legacy of the Palm Tavern.  

Sunday, July 17th, from 2-5:00 p.m., with performances by 
The Kahil El'Zabar Quartet features 
Kahil El'Zabar, Isiah Collier, Corey Wilkes, and Justin Dillard.  
General admission is $5 and a limited number of VIP tickets, including a buffet, are $45.

Look at the attached for more information.  You can find additional information and purchase tickets at  Since 2016, the Building Community Foundation, a 501c3 organization that supports the arts, has donated over $40,000 to Bronzeville area organizations that support youth, focusing on at-risk youth and helping keep the skills.  Proceeds from these events will be used to continue that work.

Lastly, Kahil and I were interviewed this morning by Darryl Dennard, V103's Chicago Speaks host.  The interview will air this coming Sunday, July 10th, at 6:30 a.m. CST.  You can listen live at


Hope to see you Sunday, July 17th!
Joseph M. Harrington
President/CEO, The Mojo Group, LTD
 Change one thing! Change everything!

The Black Female Body

"Art is Business" 

Curator's Synopsis: Gifted and Naturally Made, "The Black Female Body."

DR. SAMELLA LEWIS  from the collection of Unity Lewis Estate "Bayou Woman, 2006".

 Dr. Samella Lewis Gallery at SOJO Museum

DR. SAMELLA LEWIS   "Bayou Woman, 2006"

10 African American female artists invited to exhibit at the Sojourner Truth African Heritage Museum have proved unafraid of provoking controversy. Through their artwork, these women confront the injustices of misrepresentation done to black women throughout history and disrupt the built-in prejudices they have faced. Importantly they also prove that the importance of black females' bodies runs more than just skin deep.

"Women's bodies have constantly stirred within society, especially from the seeming contradiction between female sexuality and motherhood. 

Often called the “Madonna and whore dichotomy,” this ambivalence makes the site of the female body a contentious spectacle for men and women alike. Add to this mixture the sight of a black female body and the racial context it elicits, and we find ourselves in the middle of a textured conversation about womanhood, race, and inevitably society’s opinions upon it.” Christabel Johanson is a writer and a curator from London.

Curator Talver Germany Miller: 

A native of Sacramento, California, I was educated like many other artists from grammar to graduate school. I received a BA degree in Studio Art, BA in Social Science/ Anthropology, and an MS. Degree in Counseling Education all from the California State University of Sacramento. I am an Associate Professor of Art at Folsom Lake College, a member of the Placerville Arts Association, San Francisco Fine Arts Museum, Sacramento African American Art Collection, Phantom Gallery Chicago Network on LinkedIn, and a member of the California Arts Association.