the national museum of mexican art in pilsen

In the heart of #Pilsen–on 19th Street between Wood and Wolcott–rests the National Museum of Mexican Art. If you’re a curious sort (I am) and love museums (I do), I would put this one on your map. It has permanent collections featuring ephemera, folk art, paintings, sculptures, prints, and textiles. Some items have significant age, dating back to periods from ancient Mexico. Others are more contemporary, and these captured my full attention this afternoon.

Santos Motoapohua de la Torre de Santiago created a large (10 feet wide by 8 feet tall) mural consisting of arranged chaquira beads in wax on plywood. Intricate design and bright colors. Love.

Chicago Illinois National Museum of Mexican Art Santos Motoapohua de la Torre de Santiago

Rocío Caballero’s works are more figurative and symbolic. There is Leccion 19: La case de entomologia.

Chicago Illinois National Museum of Mexican Art Rocío Caballero Leccion 19: La case de entomologia

And also ¡ Yuppy Yuppy !

Chicago Illinois National Museum of Mexican Art Rocío Caballero Yuppy Yuppy

Painter Alfredo Arreguin accomplishes amazing layers and details with his oil paintings. There’s this 2009 canvas titled Adelita.

Chicago Illinois National Museum of Mexican Art Alfredo Arreguin Adelita

pilsen: a prelude

My last seven years as a Chicagoan were spent in the Near West and #Pilsen neighborhoods–at roughly 15th and Blue Island and 16th and Halsted. I loved living there so much. Prior to moving to Pilsen, a neighborhood called Logan Square was home for nine years, and it was quickly gentrifying to the point where I didn’t recognize Logan for Logan. I knew I had to leave. When I was looking for a place to buy in 2009, I remembered going to an arts district event at 18th and Halsted and really liking my experience. I didn’t know anyone who lived in Pilsen and all of my friends were North Siders, but I thought, Why not move to Pilsen. It was something new. And in the process I fell in love with Chicago again, which kind of shocked me. I had been out of love with Chicago for quite awhile.

La vida Pilsen was great. It had its fair share of challenges (crime, some neglected buildings, and so on). But the benefits far outweighed the challenges. There were restaurants and coffee shops (really miss the family-run coffee shop, Kristoffer’s on Halsted, sniff). There was the Mexican Museum of Art. There were the sweet abuelas, tias, and tios who swept the sidewalks outside their homes.

There was the annual Slow & Low Lowrider Festival (I absolutely loved this):

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And then there were murals, created by artists from all over the world:

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I guess Pilsen was a prelude to moving to Jackson, Mississippi. I like living in places that are kind of foreign to me because it forces me to learn and adapt. Here’s to preludes and living in places unfamiliar.

the kentucky shelter dog that hit the jackpot: this guy (not guy the beagle)

Guy the now royal-by-way-of-Kentucky beagle. What a hardluck-hit-the-jackpot story. I have a rescue dog of my own (Nickel Short), but this story isn’t about Nickel. It’s about this beautiful Kentucky hound called Zeus.

It was August 2013, I think. My friend Nobu Hata had posted a photo of a terrified dog in a Kentucky shelter that was days away from being euthanized. He needed a foster and then a loving home. I was in the midst of getting my condo ready for sale but thought I might be able to help. Foster a dog? Never done it before but submitted my application. Done.

If you’ve never fostered a pet before and can, you should. It’s quite an experience. The Naperville rescue group (I forget the name) partners with KRRA–Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter in Hazard, Kentucky. Naperville volunteers drive down to Hazard and then haul rescued/abandoned dogs in massive vans back to Greater Chicago. It was a hot morning and I arrived at a church to pick up Zeus. This boy was exhausted and looked like broken goods. I couldn’t help but cry.

Two volunteers helped me put Zeus on a cart and a used crate and then I folded him and the crate into my little car.

I honestly don’t remember how I got Zeus into my 4th floor condo. He was difficult to move. I got him into my condo, and my Cavalier spaniel was not amused. Whatever. I got Zeus into the bathtub and gave him a warm bath. Actually four baths since his coat was crusty with all sorts of stuff. Pretty gross.

I took him for a walk in my neighborhood (#Pilsen) and passed two abuelas who gasped upon seeing Zeus. He looked rough, I won’t lie. I greeted the abuelas, and Zeus and I kept walking. Over the following days, Zeus blossomed. What a dog. I adored him but knew I needed to find a home for him because otherwise I would adopt him. And I knew I couldn’t afford another dog.

Zeus after 2

(I particularly love this photo of Zeus and Penny. Look at Penny. What a drama queen.)

Zeus after1

A few weekends later I headed to a backyard BBQ/get together on the North Side. I remember thinking, Bring Zeus. Maybe I’ll meet someone who wants to adopt him. And that, dear readers, is exactly what happened. I couldn’t believe my dumb luck. Or Zeus’s for that matter. Zeus sniffed and greeted a few of the party goers. Two of them, a married couple, mentioned that they were looking to adopt a dog. I extolled Zeus’s benefits, which were many (fully housebroken, great on a leash, doesn’t bark). I connected them with the Naperville rescue group, and they submitted their application. Their application was approved, and the day of the hand-off arrived. I drove Zeus to his new North Side home. Zeus’s new humans and I took him for a walk. At a moment that seemed good to me and when Zeus wasn’t looking, I slipped away and drove home. Again crying, but the good kind of tears.

You’ll be glad to know that Zeus’s new humans gave him a better life than I ever could have in Chicago. They have a beautiful home with a backyard where, I understand, he likes to run around and also lounge. In the winters, he likes to wear snuggly sweaters. His humans are devoted to him, and he to them. Heart, heart, heart them all, all darn day long.