Chamber of Commerce Collaborates To Create More Public Murals In The Community
BY KATHERINE NEWMAN
Over the summer, the Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce has been partnering with AB Productions to host an ongoing series of artistic community-based events called Xsite. The events acted as a point of engagement for the community and small businesses in the area and also showcased several new public murals.
Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that serves the Calumet Heights and Avalon Park neighborhoods by supporting investment and development within the community.
“Our tagline is that we are where commerce meets community and because of that, we’re always trying to find community-based events that we can then funnel through to the small businesses and create opportunities for engagement to make Calumet Heights and Avalon Park a destination both for living and for small business,” said Frankye Payne, executive director of the Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce.
The Xsite events that took place over the summer and the new public murals are just one way that the Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce created experiences to get people excited to be out and about in the neighborhood.
As a young adult in Chicago, Payne said she knew public art was something that would attract other young adults to the area and motivate community members to get out of their homes. “Public art is great for branding and it’s also great for place-making which is one thing that, in our pocket of Avalon Park and Calumet Heights, we don’t necessarily have.
Payne said the communities served by the Southeast Chicago Chamber of Commerce are often lumped in with the larger communities in the area and these events and the new murals were created to help Calumet Heights and Avalon Park stand out on the south side.
“We kind of get shuffled between South Shore, or maybe Chatham, and we’re not quite south east enough to be Indiana, so we’re just in this pocket that has Stony Island Avenue, which is basically an expressway, running right through it. You have to give people a reason to stop and engage and these different community events are points of engagement,” said Payne.
For their latest endeavor, AB Productions curated and facilitated a pair of collaborative murals by artists Max Sansing and Kayla Mahaffey. The mural project consists of two large scale artworks that face one another across an abandoned lot on 79th Street.
“We have picked over five different spaces in the last three years to add public art to and what’s great about these spaces is that they’re directly connected to a small business. So now, we get to advocate for a small business and their generosity for donating their building to be an art space as well as introduce community members to what’s actually in their community,” said Payne.