BRIDGEPORT — For each of the past 14 years, Version Fest, the annual weeklong event packed with cultural happenings, kicks off the start of summer for the city's artistic and civic set.
This year, the theme for the festival is "The Placemakers," defined by organizers as "people who are shaping the physical environment and social character of the city through art and cultural reinvigoration." The events are co-produced by Public Media Institute.
Here's a day-by-day breakdown of the activities.
The events kick off with a weekend "mini market" outside the Mana Contemporary Arts Center, the gallery inside the hulking warehouse on Cermak Road where festival organizers will throw an outdoor pop-up fair filled with artwork and wares from Renegade Craft Fair vendors.
Inside, they'll host the "Placemakers Summit," a roundtable for lectures and discussions led by Public Workshop director Alex Gilliam, Chicago Architecture Foundation's Krisann Rehbein, Nance Klehm with Spontaneous Vegetation and many more.
Those discussions take place both days. A complete roster of speakers and talk times can be found here. Admission is free.
On Saturday, the afterparty moves to Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3129 S. Morgan St. for the "Version Music Showcase," for an electronic music throwdown that runs from 8 p.m.-midnight. The live acts include Windbreaker, onYou, Chandeliers and a DJ set by Johnny Ludwig.
Sunday evening brings a more subdued but no less interesting gathering at Bridgeport's Palmisano Park, the former landfill-turned grassy park, which from 5-8:30 p.m. plays host to a potluck barbecue that doubles as a follow-up discussion of the Block Museum's "Artists' Congress," a public forum for artists and social activists. Free non-alcoholic ginger beer will be provided by Maria's Community Bar.
The "Bridgeport Streetscaping Society," the group behind the renegade beautification effort along Morgan Street, will offer tours of their handiwork beginning at 4 p.m. Tour leaders will also make a few stops around the neighborhood, including the new "Bridgeport Victory Gardens" effort at 35th and Morgan. The evening wraps up with dinner and discussion over plates of Ko PO BBQ, the Korean-Polish grilling series at Maria's, 960 W. 31st St. RSVP only; $5 tickets.
A "very limited number" of guests will have the chance to tour a project from the Rebuild Foundation, which aims to transform abandoned buildings and blighted areas with cultural programming. Tickets are $20; location TBA. The tour runs from 3-6 p.m.
Also on Tuesday, patrons at Maria's can drink and do good at the same time. The bar is hosting its monthly Community Grant Night, which sends 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of a specified cocktail to a local organization. This month, proceeds are headed to Elevarte Community Studios, a nonprofit arts group in Pilsen.
The moveable fest heads north with a visit to The 606, the game-changing new public park featuring a 2.7-mile elevated walking, jogging and cycling path that will run through four Chicago neighborhoods. The tour takes place 1-4 p.m. Starting point TBA. Tickets are $20.
Led by artist and author Hui-min Tsen, "On the Trail of a Disorderly Future: The Pedway Tour," will take visitors on all-subterranean tour of the city using only the Pedway, the confusing underground corridor.
The tour "re-imagines the tunnel's origins according to residual undercurrents in our urban history: fear of others, discontent and its Utopian counterpart (order), control, wonder, and fantasies of the future," and visitors will "catch glimpses of characters including a fearful Grand Duke, a 19th century capitalist, a time traveler, and an eccentric president as well as hear stories about the history of Chicago and multi-level walkways."
ArchiGo revisited. The project, based out of the Illinois Institute of Technology in the 1960s, was a "neofuturistic, anti-heroic and pro-consumerist" experiment in which architects and urban planners drew inspiration from technology to "create a new reality that was solely expressed through hypothetical projects."
Rare renderings and sketches from the ArchiGo project culled from the IIT archives, as well as more modern interpretations from local artists and visionaries, will be on display at Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St. The exhibit takes place 7 p.m.-midnight; Admission is $5 after 9 p.m.
The various Bridgeport-based publications — Proximity Magazine, Lumpen and Mash Tun Journal — will be represented at the 10th annual Printers Ball, a literary culture festival highlighting Chicago's independent publications that takes place at 1821 W. Hubbard. Free admission.
For a neighborhood lacking in bona fide street fests, the "Above the Pavement" fair should fill the void. Packed with vendors from the Small Manufacturing Alliance and various food offerings, the festival takes place 1-6 p.m. in the parking lot outside Maria's, 960 W. 31st St. Free admission.
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