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Chic Chicago

21/09/2006 - par Mark Tungate

The Wicker Park neighbour­hood of Chicago, which I visited the other day, has a lot in common with the East End of London. Not so long ago, both areas were poor and marginal, with a reputation for street crime. But, like the East End, Wicker Park benefited from the insatiable need of artists for cheap spaces in which to paint. And when artists move into your neighbourhood, other creative types follow. By the time the advertising agencies have arrived, the place has usually become too expensive for the bohemian pioneers.

Despite the fact that it has smartened up, Wicker Park retains some of its original flavour. This is mostly thanks to a community association called Around the Coyote - named after a labyrinthine art gallery at the heart of the district (aroundthecoyote.org). ATC, as it is known, organises two massive art fairs a year, throwing the area's galleries open to visitors so they can sip wine and meet artists. And that's where I found ­myself last Saturday night, chatting to a photographer named Pat Dorsey (­patdorseyphoto.­com) and an artist named Liz ­Tuckwell (liztuckwell.com).

Everyone agreed that the area had benefited not only from ATC's organisational skills, but also from media coverage of the event, which made people (like me) who would never have visited Wicker Park curious to see the area. Every­one benefited : restaurants, shops, stores, and of course the artists themselves. When art, media and marketing meet, it's a wonderful thing.

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Chic Chicago

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