Artists and their neighborhoods / by JW Harrington

The Guardian recently published an article about Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates and his serial renewal of buildings in South Side Chicago.  He uses proceeds from the sale of his art works, and then opens the renovated buildings to public uses.  

Though short, the article invites comparison to a book-length study of another Chicago district transformed by artists and art worlds, Richard Lloyd's Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City (Routledge, sec.ed. 2010).  Lloyd reports his sociological study of the Wicker Park district of Chicago, 1993-2003 (with later follow-up for the second edition).  Lloyd’s primary questions are:  What constitutes “bohemia” at the end of the 20th century?  What are the economic relationships that support the development of a “bohemian” neighborhood?  What economic relationships drive neighborhood change (wealth to poverty to gritty arts enclave to corporatized artsy and art-industry)?  

Each is worth a read -- I'll provide more comments in a later post.