I’ve been quite interested in Theaster Gates and Dorchester Projects ever since reading about it in the local Chicago press this year. Theaster is a sculptor, urban planner, and musician who is based on the South Side of Chicago just south of my neighborhood of Hyde Park. If you haven’t heard of it, I’d highly recommend checking out Dorchester Projects, which is Gates’ initiative at spawning a cultural renaissance in the Grand Crossing neighborhood of Chicago.
I find Dorchester Projects to be a really interesting and bold attempt to revitalize an economically distressed neighborhood of South Side Chicago. Their Tumblr blog is filled with photos of the structure and videos featuring the musical offerings at Dorchester Projects, including the articulate and charming Ayana Contreras spinning old soul records (if you happen to visit her site on an iPhone, or even better, an iPad, you’ll see a beautifully formatted site from Ayana–the iPad-formatted version is ridiculously cool). Check out this New York Times feature on Dorchester Projects for more background on the project.
Musically speaking, Gates has worked in a group called the Black Monks of Mississippi, which combines chanting, jazz, blues, and spoken word in what I find to be an interesting musical mixture. Check out a collaboration between the Black Monks of Mississippi and a group of Dutch monks. This multinational group rehearsed for three days (documented in the following video) and then performed at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.