Posts Tagged Portage Park

Portage Park Centerfor the Arts Recognized in the Tribune for its “Art of the Car” at the Eli’s Cheesecake Festival



Kids take ride on road to artistic

By Jon Anderson
Tribune staff reporter
Published September 20, 2005

Looking for new ways to define what interests them, modern artists have used everything from cannon balls to miles of string and cracked plates.

So, could a Dodge van be an appropriate vehicle for a creativebreakthrough?

“Sure,” Jennifer La Civita said Sunday, encouraging a flood of youngsters gathered in the sunshine to take brushes and paint in hand, then dab and swoosh and swirl away.

That they did, for six hours, covering an aging blue van with words, names, shapes, figures, flowing lines and flowers–in a rainbow of colors.

“It’s total expression. Anything goes,” observed La Civita, the director of the Portage Park Center for the Arts.

It is also, she added, art.

“The Art of the Car” was a highlight of the 9th Annual Eli’s Cheesecake Festival, a two-day neighborhood event held on the grounds of a cheesecake plant at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, on the northwestern edge of the city.

It was a weekend filled with delights and diversions–Irish dancers, a jazz band, cooking demonstrations, a yo-yo expert, a Hula-Hoop contest, tumblers, dancers and free food.

But for the kids who paid $1 to enter the Paint-A-Car area, there was a kind of quiet, artistic intensity that comes from the discovery of new ways to look at an everyday object.

“Come on, get the windows,” said one, as he added a heavy-stroked, Gauguin-like sunset to the front windshield.

Nearby, Kyle Kranz, 4, reached up under a wheel rim to spread blue paint. In back, Emily Kazmierski, 7, splattered orange on a rear tire.

Others–encouraged to “go ahead, there are no rules”–colored in the license plates, customized the rear-view mirrors, drew all over the bumpers, decorated the wheel rims and crawled underneath the van to paint its tailpipe.

“We had a Caprice last year, but it got filled up way too fast,” said La Civita.

The car-painting raised some money for the Portage Park arts center. But the main point was to encourage young artists, part of the center’s mission of “celebrating the literary, visual and performing arts.” Opened in the summer of 2000, it is housed in the former Nebo Lutheran Church, at 5801 W. Dakin St.

The church closed in 1998, one of eight Northwest Side Lutheran churches that combined congregations after years of declining memberships.

Now, with classes in everything from drumming to quilting, the arts center “is like a big house that invites everyone to celebrate their inner being,” its current schedule reports. Though van painting might seem a bit random, there were important lessons to be learned, La Civita suggested.

Even in art, there are rules.

“Hey, guys! No!” cautioned one mother, as several young artists started splashing paint on each other’s arms.

Nor does all art endure.

“It’s only poster paint,” said the man who lent the van. “Tomorrow, I’ll use a high-pressure hose and blast it all off.”

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Eli’s Cheesecake & Wright College Farmer’s Market Opens! Breakfast in honor of the Portage Park Chamber of Commerce

(l-r) Troy Hayes, Wright College President, Chuck Guenergerich, Portage Park Chamber President, Ted Szabo, Chamber Vice President, Mahmoud Bambouyani, Eli’s, Marc Schulman, 38th Ward Alderman Tom Allen’s Assistant, Pat Ahern and Eli’s, Denise Bronski, cut the ribbon to open the first Eli’s Cheesecake & Wright College Farmer’s Market of the Season. The Market continues every Thursday until October 13th.

There is a free Continental Breakfast for 7 to 9 for all Market Shoppers and there is lunch from Eli’s Grill every day from 11 to 1:30pm .

Young shoppers enjoying the flowers from Nichols Farm & Orchard of Marengo, Illinois.

The Portage Park Chamber of Commerce had one of its best attended meetings of the year in connection with the opening of the Farmer’s Market.

Wright President, Chuck Guengerich, Eli’s, Debbie Osman, and Rudy of Rudy’s Bike Shop making final arrangements for the Inaugural Eli’s/Wright/Rudy’s Father’s Day Bike Ride.

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Historic Chicago Bungalow Expo ’05 scheduled at IIT on Saturday, April 30th/Eli’s Cheesecake World located near Portage Park and Schorsch Village

Home Improvement Guru Bob Yapp & HGTV’s Paul
Slated for 2005 Historic Chicago Bungalow

CHICAGO (March 2, 2005) – Two of the nation’s eminent home improvement
experts will be on hand to instruct homeowners on how to both improve and
enhance their historic Chicago bungalows at the Fourth Annual Chicago Bungalow
Expo. Bob Yapp, the PBS “House Doctor,” and Paul Duchscherer, a regular
contributor to HGTV’s “Curb Appeal,” will be giving advice and counseling
homeowners at this year’s show. The Expo will be held on Saturday, April 30,
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

The Bungalow Expo is a free public event sponsored by the City of Chicago
Department of Housing and the HCBA. The HCBA will offer on-site certification
for Bungalow owners who have not already had their homes certified as Historic
Chicago Bungalows. To apply for certification as a Historic Chicago Bungalow,
owners must bring photographs of the front and rear of their home. Certification
is the first step to access a special Bungalow purchase loan, rehab loan,
federal tax credit, matching grant, energy efficient voucher or any of the other
technical and financial assistance offered by the HCBA.

Historic Chicago Bungalows were built between 1910 and 1940, and are
single-family brick residences with one and one-half stories; a low-pitched roof
with overhang; full basement; generous windows; rectangular shape; stone trim;
and central heat, electricity and plumbing. The 2005 Bungalow Expo is part of
the Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, which was launched in 2000 by Mayor
Richard M. Daley, with the intention of preserving these sturdy homes, helping
owners adapt to today’s family needs and lifestyles, and strengthening Chicago’s
Bungalow Belt neighborhoods.

The 2005 Bungalow Expo will take place on Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. to
4 p.m., at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Hermann Union Building, 3241
S. Federal Street. Attendees can park for free in the lots at nearby U.S.
Cellular Field, from which they can walk or take shuttle buses to the Expo. The
Expo also is easily accessible via the CTA Green Line’s 35th Street
stop or the Red Line’s Sox-35th Street stop. Watch the HCBA website
( for
further details about the schedule for the 2005 Expo, or contact the HCBA at
312/642-9900 or the City of Chicago at 311.


Information on Schorsch Irving Park Gardens provided by Historic Chicago
Bungalow Association. The Schorsch Irving Park Gardens Neighborhood is located
south of Eli’s Cheesecake World starting at Irving Park Road.


The development of the Schorsch Irving
Park Gardens from 1917 to 1926 typified the rise and enormous popularity of
Chicago bungalow neighborhoods between 1907 and 1930. The tens of thousands of
one and one-and-one-half story brick bungalows built in the city’s outlying
neighborhoods between 1910 and1930 stood at the forefront of the expansion of
single-family homeownership. Built together on entire blocks, the unprecedented
form of Chicago bungalow created an entirely novel form of Chicago

The area that would become Irving Park
Gardens lay largely undeveloped until the turn of the century—the opening of the
Milwaukee Avenue streetcar line through Portage Park in 1894 and the extension
of another line along Irving Park Road in 1896 raised new interest in the area’s
development. The city built the O.A. Thorp Public School on the west side of
Austin Avenue in 1916. The school provided something of a magnet for residential
development, which began in 1917 with the construction of 16 bungalows on the
6000 block of Grace Street, immediately north of the school. These bungalows,
designed by Axel V. Teisen, were the first of over 600 bungalows that real
estate developer Albert J. Schorsch & Company would build during the late
1910s and early 1920s.

Schorsch was born in 1888 in Hungary
to Anton and Mary Schorsch, his German-speaking parents. In 1895 Schorsch’s
parents and their five children immigrated to Morris, IL. In his teens, Albert
worked in a bakery and as a night watchman at a bank in Morris. He then moved to
Chicago to find work. In 1913, at the age of twenty-five, Schorsch started his
own real estate, contracting, and building business. He built his first bungalow
on North Nagle, just a few blocks south and west of the tract he would develop
as Irving Park Gardens.

Albert Schorsch’s modest beginnings as
a German-speaking immigrant laborer and his struggle to make a better

life for himself and his family connected him to the middle-class and
working-class families who bought his bungalows. Foreign-born immigrants headed
approximately one quarter of the neighborhood families, and American-born
children of immigrants headed many more. Many of these families had moved from
apartments in Chicago neighborhoods where commercial, industrial, and
residential buildings existed noisily side by side. The fairly uniform, quiet
residential bungalow blocks in Irving Park Gardens stood in sharp contrast to
the “crazy-quilt” urbanism that prevailed in the city’s older neighborhoods.

Critics of the bungalow neighborhoods that were springing up
around Chicago in the 1910s and 1920s worried about the monotony that could
arise from identical bungalows lined up and fairly tightly packed on adjacent
urban lots. One of the notable elements of Albert J. Schorsch’s Irving Park
Gardens was the studied effort to create varied blocks. Schorsch worked with
architect Axel Teisen and, to a larger extent, with residential architect Ernest
Newton Braucher to create different bungalow designs that would give variety and
rhythm to each block. Nevertheless, the uniform building lines, street lawns and
residential fabric in the area created broader neighborhood cohesiveness. On
such restricted bungalow blocks, a diverse ethnicity was assimilated into a
fairly uniform American residential fabric.

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