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Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival Moving, And It's Now Logan Square Arts Fest

By Darryl Holliday | March 2, 2015 8:04am
 The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Fest transformed Logan Square into Chicago's biggest pop-up district last summer.
The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Fest transformed Logan Square into Chicago's biggest pop-up district last summer.
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LOGAN SQUARE — The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival will return to its roots this summer with a new board member and a new name.

The former Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival will head back to the neighborhood center rebranded as the Logan Square Arts Festival June 26, 27 and 28, after a three-year change of venue, according to I AM Logan Square President Geary Yonker.

“We have decided to move the festival back to its original location on Logan Square and to change the name of the event to the Logan Square Arts Festival,” Yonker said. “We feel like the new name highlights our return to the Square, is more inclusive and emphasizes our new fundraising effort.”

The festival and its founding community organization ran into trouble last summer after former board member Mark Fishman had the work of Logan Square artist Amie Sell removed from the 2014 festival. Fishman discovered Sell's piece was a criticism of his development footprint, installed in one of his own Logan Square buildings.

 The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, renamed the Logan Square Arts Festival, runs June 26-28.
The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, renamed the Logan Square Arts Festival, runs June 26-28.
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Brooke Herbert Hayes

Community protest of the "censorship" quickly followed, and Fishman stepped down from the I AM Logan Square board of directors three months later, in October 2014, sending I AM Logan Square on a search for three new board members. That first seat will be filled by Whistler co-owner Billy Helmkamp, Yonker announced Sunday.

“We feel like Billy's experience creating The Whistler as a cocktail bar, record label, music venue and art gallery gives him some unique insights to bring to our board,” Yonker said. “I feel like his return, and the return to the square, signifies a return to our roots.”

Helmkamp is no stranger to the arts scene in Logan Square, thanks to the diverse range of music and performance arts events hosted at The Whistler, 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., and he’s partnered with Yonker on the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival in the past, before I AM Logan Square took the helm.

Helmkamp will lead the 2015 festival’s music committee, and a new visual art committee is in the works for I AM Logan Square, Yonker said. Offers are out to other neighborhood leaders, and the two remaining I AM Logan Square board openings will be filled in the coming weeks.

The inaugural Logan Square Arts Festival will feature art installations hosted in buildings and businesses across the neighborhood with local music, craft beer, food from neighborhood restaurants and cocktails from The Whistler.

“The Logan Square Arts Festival will be a celebration of the creativity and diversity of Logan Square,” Yonker said.

A portion of every gate donation will go to Logan Square Preservation and its ongoing efforts to restore the Illinois Centennial Monument, Logan Square’s 97-year-old stone eagle in the neighborhood’s main district.

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