Pilsen East Artist Colony

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The broken sidewalks and desolate storefronts along south Halsted on the east side of Pilsen camouflage one of Chicago's best-kept secrets: an "underground" community of beautiful gardens and breathtaking artists' studios. This amazing rehab project is the result of the vision of one man: John Podmajersky, a native of Pilsen who had watched with disgust the deterioration of his community. In the 1950s and '60s, John and his wife, Ann, bought whole blocks of old factories, churches and houses. Quickly the Podmajerskys started to create unique gardens and studios where artists from all over the world could enjoy peace and work on their art. More than 300 artists are estimated to live in these studios, among them sculptors, painters, actors, photographers and ceramists. The best chance to see this underworld of beauty is to attend the open house the artists of this colony hold once a year, at the end of September.