Pilsen Fest 2018

Press Release

One of the city’s most culturally rich neighborhoods will be on full display at the 8th annual Pilsen Fest, August 18th and 19th.  The popular arts and music festival located along four blocks of Blue Island reflects the unified spirit and creative talents of its eclectic community.  Pilsen Fest 2018 aims to expose its anticipated 60,000-plus attendees to the deep pool of cultural artistry and Latino heritage that exists in Pilsen and the surrounding area with a blend of award-winning live music, local cuisine, cutting-edge art, enlightening children’s activities, and handcrafted goods.  The outdoor street party also promotes cultural literacy and health and wellbeing through key partners like the bilingual magazine El BeiSMan and the Pilsen Community Market.

“Pilsen Fest carries a ‘one village, one sound’ philosophy,” said Pilsen Fest Director Esmirna Garcia.  “Our mission simply put is to embrace and celebrate diversity, solidarity and unity.”

The Music:

Pilsen Fest offers a vast array of musical genres and styles on three stages headlined annually by Grammy winning and Latin Grammy winning acts.  The 2018 edition also gives local singers, songwriters, bands, soloists – and now DJ’s – an opportunity to compete each week (at Simone’s) for a spot in the Pilsen Fest music lineup (registration forms for The Battle 2018 are available on pilsenfestchicago.com).  Today, organizers announced this year’s wave one headliners (more to be named in subsequent release. Contact grimaldipr@gmail.com for more bio info or photos on any of the acts below):

  • Hello Seahorse: Mexican alternative pop band that formed in 2005 gained quick recognition as one of the leading acts in Mexican Rock Pop.  
  • Bostich + Fussible – Nortec: the Grammy and Latin Grammy-nominated Bostich + Fussible perform a style of electronic music they invented called Nortec, a fusion of Norteño (“from the North”) and techno.
  • Sin Color: mixing their sound of Bossa Nova, Cumbia, and Disco through Indie Pop, which sparks a shimmering movement and dance experience for their audience.
  • Nani Castle: an eclectic mix of influences and sounds, from hard hitting bangers to trippy psychedelic jams
  • Lady Midnight: dedicating her life to using the arts as a power for change and healing; has recorded with internationally acclaimed icons Common, Moby, Andra Day, and Aloe Blacc – among others,
  • Sussie4 (DJ Set): Acid Cabaret, Paris Cuba, Electro Song, and other categories do not describe entirely the eclectic mix that Sussie 4 delivers. The term which best defines their sound is the one that gives title to their debut album, Música Moderna (modern music).
  • The Philharmonik: brings a revitalizing sense of urgency and musical depth to the shallows of the current mainstream Hip-Hop landscape.

The Art:

Inspired by the artistic zeal of Pilsen, one of Chicago’s most underappreciated art scenes, art is also a central focus at Pilsen Fest.  Like the music, the Art Pavilion is always one of the main attractions, featuring the artwork of some of the Pilsen area’s most prominent local visual artist.  In addition to over 40 local arts and crafts vendors, Pilsen Fest’s featured artists this year include (contact grimaldipr@gmail.com for more bio info on any of the artists below):

  • Sam Kirk: Pilsen Fest’s 2018 Fewrmín Revueltas Visual Arts Award Winner for contributing to the cultural richness of the neighborhood.  Kirk creates artwork to celebrate people and to inspire pride and recognition for underrepresented communities.  She has prominent murals around the world.
  • Alma Domínguez: explores the boundaries of reality, with a flare of surrealism. Her paintings seek to raise political, social and environmental awareness.
  • Karla Wong: pushes the limits and steers away traditional elements in favor of touches of surrealism, painting magical characters using emblematic symbols of Istmeña culture.
  • Verónica Martínez: uses portraiture as a means to celebrate difference and it’s many intanglements with class, taste, nostalgia, and history.
  • Lucie Šťastná: combines classic documentary drawing with non-traditional elements, techniques or methods in her murals.
  • Tomáš Staněk: paints on walls and canvases, graphic design, book binding, analogue photography, and rapping with his DBKL crew.
  • Josef Sedlák: graffiti and mural artist, co-founded the comic magazine XRXmag along with Tomáš Staněk
  • Carlos Barberena: runs the printmaking project: Bandolero Press & La Calaca Press.

The Food Vendors:

A taste of Pilsen’s thriving culinary arts scene is also among the many highlights at Pilsen Fest.  Such as will be the case at the Food & Spirits Pavilion. This year’s vendors include: La Casa del Pueblo, La Esperanza, El Milagro, Yvolina’s, La Cebollita, La Ciudad, Honky Tonk, Gaby’s Funnel Cakes, Ice Cream Las Fuentes, Slice Pizza Factory, La Jefa Food Truck, El Campeon Pina Coladas, Lagunitas, Banhez Mezcal and more (to be named in subsequent release).

The Spoken Word:

One of the ways Pilsen Fest promotes cultural literacy is through a live poetry exhibition called The Spoken Word.  Each night right before the headliner’s set, local accomplished writers take to the main stage to recite their profound works.  Saturday’s featured artist, who will be presented with Pilsen Fest’s 2018 José Revueltas Award for Literature, is Raúl Dorantes – a resident playwright of Colectvio El Pozo.  Dorantes is credited with nine original works presented by Colectivo El Pozo since 2009, staging Spanish-language original theater works that capture the reality of immigrants in Chicago.

On Sunday night, T (Tee Muñoz), non-binary, queer, brown, poet and visual artists, will take the stage. They use their art as a form of resistance and protest, and hope their work causes audiences to reflect on how the uncomfortable realities of marginalized people can be lived through it all.  According to T, while calling for action is essential, being able to be aware and breathe through pain is the first step.

The Kid’s Activities:

Empowering children to embrace their cultural identity in fun and artistic ways is one of Pilsen Fest’s main objectives.  There are many opportunities this year for kids to partake, including (contact grimaldipr@gmail.com for more info on any of the areas below):

Knight Moves Chess Club

Founded in 1989, the Knight Moves Chess Club has been nationally recognized as one of the Top Fifty Library Programs for Young Adults by the American Library Association.  The club, which meets every week at the Rudy Lozano Branch of the Chicago Public Library, has produced many city, state and national champions ranging in age from kindergarten to high school.  Knight Moves Chess Club members will be on hand at Pilsen Fest to take on all comers.

Creating Monarca Butterflies with Patricia Carlos Domínguez

For the last 20 years, as a writer, director, and producer, Patricia Carlos Dominguez has written and produced original works of Children’s Theater.  She also designs and presents numerous workshops, based on the culture and traditions of Mexico and Latin America, to children, teachers, and parents.  At Pilsen Fest, Patricia will host a special activity for kids based on the Monarch Butterfly’s annual migration to Mexico.

Art Workshops by the National Museum of Mexican Art

The National Museum of Mexican Art offers children (ages 4-12) and families the opportunity to learn about art and culture through art workshops. Class themes are tied to the permanent and temporary exhibitions and integrate culture into the learning experience.  At Pilsen Fest, the NSMA will host educational arts and crafts stations for kids to learn and be inspired.

VojoDeyl (folk band visiting from the Czech Republic)

Performing in kid’s area at Pilsen Fest 2018 will be Radim Vojtek and Martin Deyl, long-time friends who perform together in a cymbalom ensemble.  Radim’s first achievement came at the age of eleven, when he received the most outstanding talent award from the Czech Radio Foundation at a music festival for blind children.  A few years later, the young visually-impaired violinist won the main prize in the Youth and Bohuslav Martinů National Competition.

Other areas of children’s programming at Pilsen Fest 2018 include Azteca Dance and Music Classes.  More info on these topics will be revealed in subsequent release.