Chicago Avenue has a King. Westside Health Authority is caretaker of the ‘The Chieftain’ a 10 foot bronze statue depicting Martin Luther King as a Nigerian warrior. That landmark is located just 2 blocks away in the Austin Justice and Peace Plaza (Chicago + Mandela Road). Today was all about The Queen’s arrival on The Ave.
Sculpture Artist, Keith Brownlee was commissioned for the piece that will overlook a newly created garden at 4922 W. Chicago Ave. Keith is a lifelong Chicagoan whose family owned Abe + Tommie’s Carryout Restaurant across the street. He’s a certified fiberglass technician that has worked on 100s of sculptures and public art murals worldwide.
Queen Pharaoh is a tribute to the Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin. The sculpture is made from dichroic glass, a component that changes color in certain lighting conditions. Expect bright, radiant symbols creating 3D effect on a 30ft garden wall.
Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Quiwana Bell led the program with a poignant speech that spotlighted the theme of the event. “Black people need to understand that our history didn’t begin with slavery. Recognizing, identifying, promoting that we’ve been kings and queens for a long time is the reason we are here today.”
Ms. Bell’s Good Neighbor Campaign is an apparatus that allows WHA to connect and empower everyday citizens to be the change they want to see.
GNC seeks to dispel the myth that our neighborhood is deficient. In our areas there is an abundance of both is talent and resources but often in our areas they are disconnected. Giving your gifts and talents to build a better community is the goal of the campaign.
The Young Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow were presented with their first ever contract at the event. YET is a group of 7 young men (1 woman) that recently launched a creative mobile retail cooperative in Austin. They will provide business, marketing and promotions services along the AV72 Chicago Corridor.
There are more 14-24 year olds in Austin than any other neighborhood in the entire state of Illinois. There’s so much power that has yet to be harnessed. Uplifting and investing in their talent puts us in the best position for a greener, safer neighborhood.
Yemisi Dinkins, AV 72 Director was recognized as her passion for artistic expression and economic development is the driving force within the corridor. This is phase one of the ‘Queen Pharaoh’. When completed, a mural filled with symbols that translate to Community & Prosperity will surround the centerpiece. The mural painting will reflect off the sculpture’s face on the 30-foot wall.
When you look down Chicago Ave and see those Red, Black + Green street banners for Austin Village, it creates a sense of pride. Having an identity marker for us in our neighborhood by artists that look the way we do is important for civic engagement.
-40 Acres Fresh Market (fresh fruits + vegetables) have local summer popups scheduled and are looking for a permanent Chicago Avenue home.
-Chicago Sub 4805 W. Chicago Ave
-Entertainment provided by Windy Indie Violinist + Spoken Word by B’Rael Ali Thunder
-Volunteers from Black Workers Matter Chicago where in attendance. Back in 2016 they helped workers at Ferrara Pan in Oak Park receive a settlement of $1.5M in a class action discriminatory lawsuit by workers who lived in Austin.
-Artist, Keith Greenlee first saw his art displayed in an museum when he was 10. Queen Pharaoh is a stark contrast to the restrained, balance, minimalism of the Fire Department art display next door. Keith installed the frog outside Rainforest Café. Theme Construction is his profession. Phase two of the Pharaoh project is to “make her look more like Aretha than Fred Sanford.. we’re not done with her yet.”
-CEO Morris Reed reminded us, although it’s a historic moment we must hold the new black mayor accountable for the crisis in Austin.
Residents need to make money in Chicago since we live in Chicago. We need local living wages. Currently there are Austin residents that travel as far as Batavia (41 miles away) for factory work.
It was announced that Westside Health Authority has acquired the Robert Emmet Elementary School at Central + Madison. A decision that focuses on the Austin Quality Of Life Plan. Action items that center on the needs of current residents who already live here. Back in 2014 the school serving 450 kids was closed by CPS. It has been coveted as a space for a potential health care campus since a townhall proposal meeting back in 2016.
For more scenes from A Queen Finds A Home be sure to check out our FB page.