Producing Local Color

A Study of Networks and Resource Mobilization in Three Local Chicago Communities

Diane Grams. Reviewed by Jane Levy, Marin Community Foundation

2004, 45 pages. Published by Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago, 1155 E. 60th Street, Chicago, Il 60637, 773-834-5995

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This working paper presents an innovative, nuanced view of art creation. Grounded in both sociology and art—holding a Ph.D. in sociology and herself an artist—the author explores art creation in three Chicago ethnic neighborhoods. Based on extensive interviews and her scholarly definition of networks, she argues that art is produced in these neighborhoods through community networks. In Bronzville, a predominately Black/African American neighborhood, the author uncovers a creative community she calls a collection circuit—composed of repeated and enduring exchanges between Black artists and collectors. In the two other Chicago communities she explores, in addition to social networks for art production, the author also discovers more extensive artistic activity than could be found in public listings. She concludes, “This study showed how professional and local residents involved in art production accessed resources through social circuits to create markers of the racial, ethnic and class dimensions of their communities.”