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The EXPO Collective

October 4, 2013 Leave a comment
Save the Date

Save the Date

What is the EXPO Collective? People have been asking for some time. Actually, since we started putting it out there. The EXPO Collective started because a trio of us decided that we could put on events in Pilsen and organize artists for quarterly events with our partners over at BLUE 1647, located at 1647 South Blue Island.

What we want to do is integrate the community in a new and progressive way of looking at art. Though the beauty comes from the visual aesthetic, what we want to do is create a hodgepodge of different art that works together. Yes, we could be considered, simply enough, party planners. But the entirety of the event is meant to give a well-rounded and sensory experience, full of sound and insight into new art work.

This is our goal. We will be working toward this as we continue to put the events together. The neighborhood will be involved, and its residents, artistic and full of life will be the creators.

Among other things, the EXPO Collective plans on being a portal; a way to find new artists to bring into the community and a way to expose neighborhood artists to the rest of the city.

Yes, we have big plans and it will only work with the support of our friends and artists. Your support is very much appreciated. Currently, a main supporter of ours is Arte y Vida Chicago, who has been a supporter of the arts in Chicago, and more, Hispanic art and culture, for six years publicly and going strong.

If you know of artists who would like to get involved, please let us know by filling out the form below or finding us one of the following ways:

You can follow each of us on Twitter: @Kiki416 @RohoArte @NACOArt

Follow us on Tumblr:

Like us on Facebook:

Use the hash tag: #EXPOCollective

Email us at: expo.collectivo (at) gmail (dot) com

“Celebrating the Establishment” Applauds South Side Mexican Culture

June 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Jasso, Naco, MSilva Exhibit Cultural Art at Little Village’s Prosper Skate Shop


In an effort to share in the cultural celebration of Chicago’s “Capital of the Mexican Midwest,” three artists
known for their street art and illustrations will be exhibiting their work Friday, July 5, 2013 at Prosper skate shop located at 2620 S. Central Park, from 6 to 10 p.m. in the heart of La Villita.

The exhibit titled “Celebrating the Establishment,” honors the 40-year foundation of Mexican culture on the city’s Southwest Side.


The Little Village corridor has proven its worth and wealth and is only second to the Magnificent Mile in annual revenue. To increase the worth of the culture, these individuals hope that this exhibit encourages the creative stimulation of art within the Little Village boundaries.

Naco, Jasso and MSilva have worked together in different capacities in the past years lending a visually artistic hand to communal efforts and educational art programming on the South Side. Their next conjoined effort will go toward the development and execution of a mural, located in Little Village community, meant to spread peace, prosperity and to share in the celebration of culture. Fundraising efforts for this endeavor will begin the night of the exhibit.


Naco and Jasso have been known for their street art in the form of murals and wheat pastes along the 26th street corridor, while MSilva has leant a hand to the creation of posters, signs and banners for community events and organizations.

About the Artists:

Naco: With a BFA in Illustration from the American Academy of Art, Naco has experience in teaching and decorating underserviced communities that lack exposure to art.

MSilva:  MSilva graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in graphic design. He also works with various mediums such as screen printing, illustration, wood carving and paper making.

Jasso:  Known for his wheat pasting and street art, Jasso works with mediums such as acrylic, spray paint and on various surfaces including canvas and fabrics.

Please RSVP to the even on Facebook!

Categories: Art, articles, Events

[Chicago Artists] An Artist of the Senses: Roho

June 11, 2013 Leave a comment

My first love is between art and fútbol. Art is life. Vida es mi arte, I like to say. So it can be, at times, rough around the edges or it can be fine, depending on the moment. –Erick “Roho” Garcia

The wall located on 18th Place and Throop in the Pilsen neighborhood outside the beauty salon was bare for quite some time. The brown brick had room for a story, a vision and a message and Erick “Roho” Garcia wanted to bring it to life.

As soon as he had gained permission from the building owner to put up a mural, he designed it a couple of days later.  Having done pieces like this one before, the design and composition of the wall piece fell into the style of a series he has been developing on a smaller scale. The series captures women’s faces over a graffiti-style, 3D lettering behind them. The most recognizable, thus far, is of Marilyn Monroe with the word “Amor” behind her.

964809_4353930585534_1362398731_oThis wall also has a woman’s face, but with the word “Sky” next to her, based on the title of the piece, “Sky’s the Limit.”

Residents will stop to find out who he is, who the face of the woman is and to express their gratitude of the additional art beautifying the community. “That alone, is payment,” Garcia says.

As a resident of Pilsen, you may have seen him working on the wall described above, lost in music, focused on the paint. However, painting isn’t his only method of self-expression. In fact, Garcia doesn’t even call himself a painter, but an artist—an artist of the senses, more like it.

If you know anything about Garcia, you know him as a creative being and as a lover of fútbol; he usually only says it in Spanish. As a young man, Garcia threw himself into the two entities he fell in love with which have followed him as he has grown into the artist that he is.

A native of Joliet, Ill., Garcia immersed himself in graffiti and Hip-Hop, break dancing, and hanging out with his crew– The Envious Crew. Come high school, Garcia’s punishment for getting caught spray painting by his father resulted in being sent to Providence Catholic High School; away from friends, away from his life. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a blessing. It was there that he was introduced to fine art, involved himself in playing the “beautiful game” of fútbol and dabbled in theater.

His outlets and inspiration then and now are vast in variation. Keen on the beauty of creation, Garcia’s combinations show him to be unique in his collaborative mediums. From spray painting to acting on stage, mixing music for friends to dancing, Garcia surrounds himself with ways to be expressive.

His pieces of work are vibrant and lively. Filled with a mixture of blues, greens and yellows, Garcia implements what he knows onto the canvas, paper or wall he has to work with. “I’m an artist who paints on walls,” he says.

The feeling is urban, the look is imaginative. In a forward movement of experimenting and creating, Garcia carries his foundation in graffiti and love of indigenous Mexican cultures with him. It’s inevitably in all pieces, mixed with detailed human figures and faces. This is his own form of art that he’s called it “Graffiti Fine Art.”

Staring at pieces and looking at the movement, details and colors, there are almost hidden eccentricities to be discovered if you let your imagination run away with it.

In the past few years, the 28-year-old has been recognized for his soccer pieces; his attempt of capturing players in motion, depicting the essence of the moment, whether versus an opponent or oneself.

“I feel at peace when I’m integrating both. I present all that fútbol is,” he explains. “I loved it so much and I will always love it. It’s a perfect mix for me.” IMG_0352

Graffiti based over an explosion of color, Garcia’s skills have helped him develop a knack for motion. Working on large-scale pieces, solely because he felt limited by smaller canvases, Garcia created five-foot-tall images of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Ronaldo “Ronaldinho” de Assis Moreira and Lionel Messi—some of the greatest in the game.

As a student at the American Academy of Art, Garcia took a chance on himself and his love for fútbol and tried out for the Chicago Storm, a team in the Ultimate Soccer League.

“I made the cut and it was during finals weeks at the academy and that was tricky,” he says. “My art took a little damage in terms of not spending enough time on it.”

Choosing between his love for art and his love for soccer may have resulted in a sign that he should stick to art.  The Storm didn’t return to the league the following year.

During late nights, it’s common to find Garcia mixing music, painting or writing, gathering focus in a whirlwind of motivating stimulation. Lights on, a movie on the muted television, classical music playing in the kitchen and up-beat music playing in the living room is a consistent atmosphere for his creations.

Working on his own pieces, the After School Matters instructor also works on pieces for class, developing a curriculum and method of teaching best for either his high school or elementary school students.

For Garcia, being an artist is a lifestyle full of passion and life. Whether he is acting as DJ, painter, writer or futbolista, he surrounds himself with creative energy and art.

“An artist should experiment with all types of mediums. I always keep myself really busy,” he says. “I’m an artist. Art is life, that’s the simplest explanation I can give.”

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[Chicago Artists] The Street Art Revolutionary: Jay Jasso

June 6, 2013 1 comment

I met people, made mistakes and tried to make better by doing what I love. Every artist is trying to do what they want to do and express themselves. –Jay Jasso

Walk down 18th street in Pilsen and the walls come to life. You’ll see murals and unique cutouts pasted to the exposed brick walls or on wooden boards keeping squatters out of foreclosed businesses. Look up and see a female face wearing black sunglasses and bunny ears. Glance across the street and see Emiliano Zapata, celebrated Mexican revolutionary, with a light saber straight out of Star Wars.


Sitting on the ground with her back against the wall, you’ll find Frida Kahlo, famed painter, with her legs crossed in a skirt wearing fashionable red sunglasses and a Hello Kitty decoration in her bun– A firm example of iconic, contemporary symbolism in the streets.

The reaction from many is laughter—a smile at the very least—upon seeing something that speaks to them culturally with some sort of modern twist; mixing the pot, blurring the lines and defining a culture that lives in Chicago. Another example of these wheat pastes is Subcomandante Marcos with a Captain America shield.

The question is: Who has been revolutionizing the revolutionaries?

Known best in the community by his last name, the 23-year-old Jay Jasso (said Hasso) has been creating these forms of public art and posting them around Chicago’s south side for only two years. Not nearly as long as other street artists who have been leaving their mark for triple the time Jasso has. Yet, it is this young Banksy-comparison who has been turning heads, initiating a conversation and informing the public about something he’s very well-versed in.

Without any “formal” training, Jasso started with spray paint, tagging graffiti-style in the middle of the night. Eventually, watching graffiti videos and learning the art of wheat pasting – glue made from water and flour to paste paper to walls—Jasso found himself creating just to create and wanting to make a statement.

Upon meeting Ricardo González, who goes by “Naco” on his wheat pastes, the exchange of capabilities and ideas seeped into each other’s creations. González began on his wheat pasting adventures, while Jasso learned from González’s illustration and fine arts background.

“A lot of what I learned about painting, came from him,” he said.  “I had a lot of great classes just by watching and [the artists] don’t even know it.”

The street artist moved into developing his knack for the fine arts and abstract style, using paint and brushes on canvas or any other material that absorbed his paint—bed sheets, synthetic leather, fabrics.  During the week, Jasso not only paints in solitude, but builds his own canvases, heavier and sturdier than anything on the shelves of Blick or Michael’s.

While a student at Farragut High School, Jasso took art classes, though focused more on his graffiti work. After graduating high school and heading into the National Guard for three years, relief of tension came through art, leaving soccer in a distant past—another tension reliever for Jasso as a teenager.

Growing up in Little Village, the now Southwest Side artist grew up with expanded insight and education into the Mexican culture.

“I started posting in Little Village because I was from there,” he explained. “With time, I wanted to do stuff and relate it to the people that live there.”

Surrounded by Mexican education about those who made an impact for the people, Jasso absorbed every little piece of it. Spending time in Mexico, he grew to feel a connection to the country and felt the need for its exhibition now more than ever.

“I want to teach them a little bit. I’m not a teacher but I know my culture–at least the basics and everyone should know it,” he said. “I guess I try to connect with people. Nieces, sisters, brothers, nephews, those are the people I want to connect to.”

For example, Jasso’s most popular pieces don’t necessarily have a message but carry an idea. Taking on the Jedi Zapata was the creation of “a modern revolution for an old cause that’s still going on,” he said. Taking the image of Zapata who represents revolution and mixing it with the Star Wars light saber representing a futuristic fight for freedom, Jasso’s image represents the contemporary battles over the issue of immigration.

303064_522350381134370_1157627241_n The popular Frida Kahlo image that has been reproduced in different ways for decades was reproduced by Jasso in order to educate his nieces after realizing that they weren’t getting the same education about historic Mexican artists he did as a young man. He had gauged their interest after adding a Hello Kitty logo to her.

“Culture is very strong when I do my art. I do cultural or pop art culture,” said Jasso. “I create strong figures from Mexico or here and I mix them with a Pokéball so that the older generations can see it and say, ‘Oh, that’s cool’ and relate and then the younger generation can say, ‘Hey look, a freakin’ Pokéball. Why is it next to that dude with the bigote?’ So they investigate and find out who he is.”

However, once his art goes public it becomes a way to talk to the masses. The reason why pop art works is because it captures everyone’s attention regardless of ethnic culture; taking the images and making them relevant to society.

“I appreciate people who appreciate our art. I try not to make art for one group of people. I try to make it for everyone,” he explained.

Choosing the locations for his wheat pastes is a sticky endeavor. From experience, Jasso already knows where his art is welcome or not, whether it will get torn down or whether it’ll stick at all. Nonetheless, cruising around Little Village and Pilsen are common when on the prowl for an instant street gallery.

Although many have yet to put a face to the public art displays, community residents are starting to find out who Jasso is more and more. From meeting him at street festivals and piecing together the imagery with what they have seen on neighborhood edifices, or following his work on Instagram or Facebook, the public is becoming curious as to who the hand is behind the brush.

“If you can communicate with the audience then people are going to value your work. In a way, I force people to see it because it’s out there. It’s public art,” he explains. “The exposure that I’m getting from putting it out there, works. People are going to start questioning it and wanting to know more.”

Fortunately, they already are.

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[Chicago Artists] The Educator: Naco

June 4, 2013 1 comment

I take a lot of influence from a lot of artists around this neighborhood and Little Village. I’m always getting new inspiration from people.
— Ricardo “Naco” González

Wearing a blue-grayish hooded sweatshirt, Ricardo González’s nose was red from the cold. He stood next to his table of pieces of artwork as people walked by, glancing and admiring the work.

“Are you the one that puts up those pieces on 26th street?” one woman asked.

The people who walked through Mole de Mayo on an unusually cold day in May in Pilsen already knew González for his work without knowing who he was. Among the various pieces wheat pasted to the exposed brick in Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods were giant paletas, cupcakes, a Ninja Turtle and ice cream cones all signed by the artist “Naco.” Clones of the pieces made by hand are put up every few weeks, whenever the weather gets nice enough to walk around the neighborhood.

However, that’s somewhat typical of González’s character. He’s the guy that is always there, commenting on art, talking to artists, smiling and being a lively, positive figure to be around. Then the question comes: “So, what do you do?”

People have met him not knowing that he is the one brushing glue onto cupcakes in the middle of sunny afternoons, the same ones they admire on their daily route to work.

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González, a native of suburban Blue Island, didn’t start as a wheat paster. In fact, his wheat pasting work was inspired by another street artist who goes by the name of Jay Jasso. No, instead González carries the capacity and desire for murals; telling stories, educating a community through art and making an impact. Small acrylic pieces, like those sold at street festivals, are only a small sample of the large-scale pieces this artist has exhibited throughout Chicago’s South Side.

A thorough communicator when it comes to art, González has been teaching classes right out of college. From water-color classes for adults, to murals with the After School Matters program, the thought behind his process and explanation without a doubt comes from the formal training. With a BFA in Illustration from the American Academy of Art, the broad pieces that this artist creates come with extensive amount of admirable detail.

Though quiet and always welcoming, the ambition to move projects is innate. However quickly he is known to work on particular art pieces, González takes his time to make sure the research for the pieces are accurate, representative of the community, rooted in culture and open to interpretation of the audience at hand. Maintaining and respecting the community is of utmost importance to him, as is the cultural significance behind canvas, murals and even his wheat pastes.

However, a few of his wheat pastes are just for fun like an ice cream cone with a bomb or a Ninja Turtle.

“You put that up?” asked another passerby at the Mole de Mayo festival, while pointing at the grimacing turtle head. González nodded.

“Check this out,” he said. He lifted his iPhone and unlocked it to reveal a photo of González’s wheat past as his background.

“Oh, cool,” González said smiling and nodding, in his own way appreciative each time someone acknowledges his art, especially in such a personal way.

Growing up, the 29-year-old artist wasn’t surrounded by his Mexican culture. Art pieces as a child were drawing cartoons even before he could speak. Yet, as he explored the Chicago area more and more, he found the Mexican neighborhoods on the South Side that he grew to love: Pilsen and Little Village.

“For the majority of the work that I’ve made, I’ve specifically created Latino or Mexican imagery and concepts. I speak to that audience just out of a service,” he explained. “I feel responsible. If I’m making artwork, I should make it something that matters to people of my culture.”

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Photo images by Israel Reza

Deciding that he wanted to go to art school wasn’t hard. Unlike those who may take two years to choose a major or second guess their college education, González was never confused on what he was going to do.

“I needed to figure out for myself as to what I wanted to do with it, but I never felt that I was wrong for it,” he said.

While exploring the city, González met many other artists, building his network around Chicago and making a name for himself as a hardworking and talented creator.

Additionally, González decided to take it upon himself to collaborate with various artists with different capacities. Creating a mural with Erick “Roho” Garcia and working with photographer Israel Reza for wheat pasting materials are only a few of the collaborations in which González has immersed himself. Challenging himself with new projects, (for example, teaching students to create public service announcements for a journalism class) is part of his repertoire.

Over time, González has fallen deeper into his work with creativity, following a path that has been laid for him. Regardless of the recognition that González has received for his street art, his large paintings and murals, he has kept a humble and distinctive personality, which he claims, came from his life in art.

“For me, it has guided my life. For each era of my life, I’ve been able to tie it down to artwork or things I was creating at that time,” he said. “Most of my lifestyle comes through that or with that. I feel that it’s guided me toward positive place. I’m still putting things together like anyone else.”

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American Premiere of Ken Carl’s Photography Exhibit: Joy Possible

April 29, 2013 Leave a comment

“In India people with disabilities, who constitute almost four to eight percent of the population are still fighting to get equal access to healthcare, education, employment and inclusion in society. Despite the magnitude of the issue, both awareness of and scientific information on disability issues are lacking.”

Award-winning freelance photographer Ken Carl will be displaying various photographs from a spiritually-altering trip to India where he was sent to capture the essence of the Latika Roy Foundation, a resource center for children and young adults with special needs. Calumet Photographic, 1111 N. Cherry Ave., will host the display from May 9 to June 2, 2013.

20102201_carl_india_00649-EditThrough an opportunity with Momenta, an international journalistic based organization focused on creating unique opportunities for photographers and non-governmental organizations throughout the world, Carl’s goal was to expand his knowledge and horizon, capturing a glimpse of life in a part of the world with which he wasn’t familiar. In the end, Carl obtained much more of this venture.

Regardless of Carl’s years of experience and expertise, the project came with challenges. “After two days I just felt a sense of failure and it was really hard,” said Carl. Going through the initial photographs, Carl didn’t feel as though he was capturing what was necessary. “I thought, ‘I’ve been given this amazing opportunity and I can’t get an image out of it.’”

Latika Roy FoundationWith that, Carl took advantage of the days he had left. Along with integrating himself even more at the foundation, he asked for permission from the executive director of Latika Roy Jo McGowan to visit students at home and photograph them along with their families.

During his visits, Carl was able to capture nothing short of amazingly true images that exhibited the struggles and realities of families with their special needs children.

“These children have disabilities yet that fact is not a barrier to being a positive light,” said Carl. “The human spirit can never be disabled.”

Two years later, with photographs full of color, emotion and joy, Carl is ready to give people outside of India insight into the school in Dehradun and bring awareness of those with special needs.

“This trip brought and heightened awareness in my photography,” he said. “I want to share the message that joy is possible through sharing, caring and treating each other well.”

Dates of Exhibition: May 9, 2013 – June 2, 2013

Reception: May 9, 2013 from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Location: Calumet Photographic Chicago, 1111 North Cherry Ave.

Information on the event can also be found on Facebook

Categories: articles, Events

Latinos hit 50 million but still lack in the workplace

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

In case you missed it, the United States is swarming with Latinos. Everywhere you look—Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta—Latinos are there. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Latinos account for approximately 50.5 million people. However, even though Latinos have made their impact on the population, they are still less likely to hold a position in managerial, professional or related occupations as compared to Whites or Asians, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

When Martin Castro, 48, was applying for college, he went to his high school counselor for help but instead the teenager was told that he should work in the steel mills like his father and grandfather. Although, this was a common decision being made by young Latinos at the time, Castro took the step toward education.

He explains that he learned the application process on his own because his parents, Mexican immigrants, couldn’t help him. Castro went on to finish his law degree and years later chose to co-found New Futuro, a new bilingual initiative to get Latino students into college and beyond. Although Castro was told not to attempt a college degree, Latino students today find themselves in a bind when it comes to either investing in their futures or helping their family monetarily; choosing between college and a job.

“It’s important for our community to understand the importance of education in the long-term,” he says. “It’s a difference between making $100 a week or $100,000 a year. And I think we have to communicate that there’s a long-term investment that we have to make in ourselves.”

The growth of the Latino population is phenomenal and exponential; just ask any marketer or businessman. With over a trillion dollars in spending power and a steep incline of Latino college enrollment (a 24 percent growth from 2009-2010), Latinos are undoubtedly desired clients but the issue at hand is that many companies attempting to cater to the market just don’t know how, almost ignoring Latinos and performing at the bare minimum for a large segment of the population.

“I think a lot of the general market sees the potential but they don’t know how to tap into that market,” says Castro. “We’re a very diverse community… We’re a very complex community and most folks outside of the community don’t understand that.”

There are programs and organizations to help Latino advancement.  In addition to New Futuro, Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) is a nation-wide non-profit that unites those professional, tech-savvy, college-educated Latinos and has given an outlet to voice opinions and talk about issues affecting Latinos.

Made up of many professionals in the communication world, LATISM has become a credible site where non-Latinos have turned to learn about the community.  The organization was recognized by the White House for its work and members were asked to attend sessions to help resolve Latino issues.

“Having a strong sense of their place in this country and within their own culture, [young Latinos] have found the inner strength to own their voices: they have no qualms about speaking their mind on the issues that affect our community,” says Elianne Ramos, vice chair of communications and public relations for Latinos In Social Media. “As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if the high affinity and strong representation of young Latinos in the social media arena may partially be a consequence of their desire to have their voices heard.”

Elma Placeres Dieppa, experienced marketing consultant, says that in order to be noticed and understood, the Latino community has to demand better. Latinos, she says, have to realize the importance that they hold and act accordingly, not just as spenders but as vital resources in the workforce, something that Castro also agrees with.

“Latinos in the workforce are extremely important from a number of different perspectives. Just from the sheer volume of the number of Latinos out there now and the growing number of us, it’s important for any workforce to integrate Latinos into it,” says Castro.

Hiring those who know the Latino community is vital, especially if employers wish to tap into the Latino market. Those who know the community are typically those who are personally involved.

“There are those companies who realize that they want to understand the market, they want to be able to sell to the market, they want to be able to reflect the market; it’s incumbent on them to find Latinos who understand those issues and to be able to build those relationships with the community,” says Castro. “Not that non-Latinos can’t build those relationships, but they can be done more effectively with better understanding and knowledge by folks who are part of and intimately familiar with their community.”