This traditionally working-class neighborhood on Chicago’s southside has become the unexpected home of a flourishing literary and arts community. From celebrated publications and local festivals to a research library brimming with rare periodicals, you never know what you might find during your next adventure to Bridgeport. Take a closer look at what we found:
Public Media Institute (PMI)
Public Media Institute (PMI) is a community based non-profit whose mission is to “create and incubate innovative arts programming and cultural infrastructures to transform people – socially and intellectually – through the production of festivals, art spaces, events, exhibitions, community projects, artifacts and media.” PMI serves as a “great connector” for the growing literary Bridgeport community, showcasing both emerging and established writers through the development and promotion of festivals, publications, and events in its many experimental art spaces like the Co-Prosperity Sphere. PMI also oversees a residency program, traveling exhibition series, artist-led art school, and international artist exchange program. Check it out at: http://www.publicmediainstitute.com.
Here are some of our favorite PMI literary discoveries:
Started in 2008, the award-winning Proximity explores contemporary issues arising in arts communities around the world. Articles focus on the efforts of artists, galleries, museums, and academic institutions as they create sustainable partnerships to postively impact where they live, work, and make art. Subscribe or submit work at: http://proximitymagazine.com/.
Launched in 1990, this independent quarterly centers on current arts news and emerging cultural trends, featuring work by both artists and writers. Readers might find anything in Lumpen from editorials and interviews to reviews. Get caught up in the conversation at: http://lumpenmagazine.com/.
Inspiring readers since 2010, Matériel is an award-winning art and design annual that features the work of some of the most exciting artists, designers, and writers working in the industry today. Download a copy of the current issue at: http://www.materielmag.com/.
Residents created this bi-monthly newsletter in 2010 and now, two years later, it serves as the community’s “go-to” resource for local events and issues. To catch up on the latest news, visit: http://bridgeportinternational.blogspot.com/.
PMI Events and Resources
Head to Bridgeport’s Co-Prosperity Sphere on March 30, 2012 at 7pm to attend the opening night of Typeforce, an annual showcase of emerging typographic artists. As the only art and design showcase in the Midwest, it promises to be full of inspiration. Go to http://typeforcechicago.com/ for details.
For the past 11 years, Version Festival has invited every faction of the Bridgeport community––from business owners to artists––to participate in a month-long urban art experience. This May, 12 temporary spaces will transform to energize the neighborhood. A Bridgeport visitor might find themselves browsing titles at a pop-up bookstore, enjoying a reading in a re-purposed storefront, or catching a performance at a donut shop turned gallery. A new publication, Mash Tun: A Craft Beer Journal, will also kick-off during Chicago Craft Beer Week (May 17 – 27) as a part of Version Festival. With a spectacular line-up of literary projects, cultural programs, and artist-run initiatives planned, Version Festival expects 1,000 + participants.
Public Media Institute Research Library
Created to establish a dialogue about Chicago based art and design, the PMI Research Library houses a fun collection of “hard-to-find” art, architecture and design periodicals. The unique space is located at the Co -Prosperity Sphere at 3219 S. Morgan Street and is open by appointment only. Visit: http://pmirl.blogspot.com/ to find out more.
Other Bridgeport Literary Destinations
Zhou B Art Center
The Zhou B Art Center’s mission is to “promote and facilitate a cultural dialogue by organizing contemporary art exhibitions and programs of international scope.” Founded in 2004 by Chinese American artists and longtime Bridgeport residents, brothers Shan Zuo and Da Huang Zhou, the Center offers an ecclectic mix of artist’s studios, galleries, and event spaces. Located at 1027 W. 35th Street, it even has a welcoming Cafe where writers and Center patrons alike can rejuvenate. Watch out for literary happenings and text inspired exhibitions at the Center’s 3rd Friday events. Learn more at: http://zbcenter.org/.
Red Lightbulbs and Love Symbol Press
The mission driving Red Lightbulbs and Love Symbol Press is simple: Connect amazing writers and artists with an expanded readership. And, champion the creation of new, beautifully crafted work. Over the past few years, poet/musician Russ Woods and his partner, artist/writer Meghan Lamb, saw a growing need for publishing outlets in Chicago and they decided to do something about it. Their online publication, Red Lightbulbs, launched in April 2011 and features literary prose and poetry of all genres. The publication will release its seventh issue in late March 2012. Visit http://redlightbulbs.net to discover a great piece of writing or submit one yourself. Love Symbol Press (the print arm of Red Lightbulbs) was announced in January 2012. It will release its first book, Variations on the Sun by M. Kitchell, this coming summer. Contact Love Symbol Press at: email@example.com.
Author Billy Lombardo was born and raised in Bridgeport. He is the author of several books including Chicago Tribune Best Fiction of 2005, The Logic of a Rose: Chicago Stories and The Man with Two Arms (Overlook Press, 2010). Lombardo co-founded Polyphony H.S. in 2004, the first student-run international literary magazine of its kind for high school writers/editors.