Tag Archives: Pilsen

Q&A: Len Dominguez on “Carlos and Dominguez Art Gallery”

Ever since opening 18 years ago, “Carlos & Dominguez  Fine Art Gallery”  has served as an open space for a diverse artistic community where they can express their emotions through different mediums.

Carlos Dominguez and one of his favorite pieces from “Puntadas del Alma / Stitches of the Soul “  (photo by Juan Latapi,2013)
Carlos Dominguez and one of his favorite pieces from “Puntadas del Alma / Stitches of the Soul “ (photo by Juan Latapi,2013)

Sitting in the middle of the gallery located at the intersection of Cullerton and Ashland in Pilsen, Len Dominguez, art collector, former art magazine editor, retired board of education member, and owner of the gallery, proudly discusses his gallery’s involvement in the community while showcasing his latest exhibit “Puntadas del Alma / Stitches of the Soul “ which was created for the Pilsen’s Open Studios event earlier in October this year.



Q: How does your gallery fit in the Pilsen/Chicago art scene?

Well, we’re a pretty well known community-art gallery. We often try to have a good mix of lot of veteran artists, and young upcoming artists.  We do a lot of first time exhibitions for photography, sculpture and of course regular plastic arts. It’s not about money, but helping and supporting arts and artists will know that and appreciate it.  The community of artists knows we’re here, everybody supports each other, and it’s a pretty tight community. We will occasionally do art auctions to help artists that are ill or that are recently defunct to help with the families with the different costs. This exhibit in particular was for the Open Studios event that just passed and it is possible thanks to women that work in the back rooms of The National Mexican museum of Art and it involves them telling their stories through quilts. When we proposed to them the idea of doing an exhibit, they were immediately excited to do it and it has a received a good response form the community so far.

Q: You mentioned Open Studios, do you think that these kind of events help to support the artistic community?

Yes, it’s been going on for ten years now and it’s something that most everyone participates… it increases the sense of community and forces artists to go out and see different art while creating a support network.

Q: Since we’re talking bout Pilsen being a tight community, what role do you think it plays in the art world as a whole?

Pilsen artists are well known around the world.  Thanks to modern technology, once something is posted online, we’ll have people from places like Germany contacting us when visiting to make sure they come see the pieces. A lot of the pieces have been exhibited in places like Berlin and Paris. I think it’s only going to grow because of multimedia elements like twitter and blogs, I just started myself and I’m enjoying it because I can get more information from different sources about art.

Q:  Do you think besides technology and media, are there other factors that are changing the way artists express themselves now at days?

Ever since I started in the 1970s, I always knew that artists are very sensitive to stuff going on around them. They’re sensitive to politics to culture, they are open and they way they absorb information and translate into art mediums. They illustrate the essence of their stories; I call them the soul and conscience of society. They often think about where is society going. That will affect their delivery and message. Unfortunately you see more violent images, because society and the world is a mess and that affects everyone especially artists and you cant put your finger on it but they are able to react to everything going on out there in their neighborhood, city, etc. more effectively. I think that’s always been the case and now they can get information more quickly now through technology. The standards of how much we can push issues like sexuality and violence are rising as well and that changes a lot of the imagery.

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Carlos & Dominguez Art Gallery

1538 W. Cullerton St. Chicago, IL 60608




Owners of newly restored Thalia Hall in Pilsen hope it will become one of Chicago’s hottest live venues

CHICAGO–The owners of the newly restored historic Thalia Hall in Pilsen hope that it will become one of Chicago’s hottest performance venues while putting the neighborhood on the live scene map.

Located on the intersection of 18th Street and Allport, the long abandoned performance space built in 1892 by Czech architect John Dusek is quickly being restored by the new owners (Craig Golden and Bruce Finkelman from The Empty Bottle) and it will “reopen in 2014 and again serve its community, hosting music, festivals, films and performance.”

Speaking to a small crowd inside the theatre during the Chicago Architectural Foundation’s Open House event, Will Duncan, one of the project organizers/ manager of the John Dusek tavern located right below the hall,and former Longman and Eagle commander said, “everyone is behind the project and we’re moving quickly to restore the venue to its original working state.”

The venue is part of the Thalia Hall complex, named for the Greek Muse of comedy, is part of a work/performing living space designed by John Dusek in 1892. The architecture of the building mimics some of the most famous buildings in the Czech Republic and the theatre itself is a smaller replica of the Plzen Theatre, from the city which the neighborhood was named after by Czech immigrants in the 19th century.

After several changes in ownership, the building fell into a state of disrepair in the 1960s, and was turned into residential units, leaving the theatre largely abandoned until 2013 when it was bought out by Golden and Finkelman.

The venue will provide a much-needed film and musical performance space in a community that until now has mostly consisted of Mexican bars and nightclubs.

Ramon Gutierrez, 34, a long time Pilsen resident and artist said that “(he’s) glad to see that the neighborhood is becoming more diverse,” Gutierrez said. “We have plenty of art galleries but a big performance space like this could be a game changer.”

One of the most recent events that was held at Talia Hall was the alternative film festival “Dinca Vision Quest” in August 2012.  Although  the event will take place in some another venue this year due to construction, the newly restored Thalia Hall should provide a new home for such events starting in 2014.

Back when the festival was presented last year, Andrew Rosinski the organizer of the event expressed “the excitement that a venue would give the opportunity to such an alternative art, something that most of Chicago is lacking.”

It is amazing what a new attitude and management can do. Back when Dinca Vision Quest was presented, the performance space was still in a great state of disrepair, with the paint from the walls rotting away and the neo-classic gold fixtures of the wall hanging by a thread.

Now, as Duncan speaks to the crowd, one can see a noticeable difference, especially with the new hardwood floors, the restored fixtures, and the cleaned up balcony section which almost brings the venue back to life.

The restored venue will be able to hold up to 4,000 people and is expected to start holding events in the summer of 2014 in hopes that the venue will revive the live performance scene in Pilsen.

“There is still a lot to do,” Duncan pointed out while speaking in front of a video being projected onto the wall that showed some of the progress made so far, “but we are well on our way.”

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Can Women Have It All?

By Juan Latapi

Chicago–Women can’t have it all, and how could they? They’re only human.

As times move forward, more and more women are making the argument that it is indeed possible to create the perfect balance between career and home life.

However, 66% of women still say it’s impossible to have it all. Continue reading Can Women Have It All?

Pilsen: Yesterday and Today in Black and White

Photo essay by Juan Latapi

Pilsen is one of the most colorful communities in the City of Chicago. Its diverse population make it a blend of many different colors, sounds, smells , and sounds. Formed in the 19th century by Czech immigrants and now inhabited a by a large Mexican population, Pilsen is now known as the heart of Chicago. In 2006 Pilsen became a National Historic Register District, and this essay attempts to show its vivid history from yesterday and today.