El Paseo Boricua welcomes new addition to public art that celebrates Latin cultures

CHICAGO -- El Paseo Boricua on Chicago’s North Side welcomed a new addition to its collection of public art. Organizers hope new works of art open doors to conversations about the diversity of the city.

“Las Puertas del Paseo Boricua” is a collection of 16 doors along Division Street  in Humboldt Park. They were painted by 13 local artists.

The projected was spearheaded by artist Sam Kirk.

“I just wanted to create something that celebrated Puerto Rico,” Kirk said. “I always loved going to visit my family and looking at all the architecture in Old San Juan. So I thought this would be a cool way to share the stories of artists and families in Humboldt Park through art.”

Even though it began as a very Puerto Rican project, Kirk made sure to pick artists that where from other parts of Latin America whose work regularly celebrates culture, identity or dealt with the topic of politics.

Puerto Rican artist Christian Roldan is a veteran of public art in Humboldt Park with nine pieces around the neighborhood.

With his two doors, he wanted to teach a bit of history about the island to the newer generations of Puerto Ricans in Chicago.

“A lot of things about culture, the new generations don’t have the environment. They are not living on the island, so a lot of traditions are missed,” he said. “I thought that doing something that was culturally relevant from the past can help people to question, ‘How does this connect to me as a Puerto Rican.”

The project picked doors in buildings with long time owners that were committed to staying in the neighborhood indefinitely to make sure the works of art will be preserved.

Las Puertas del Paseo Boricua were sponsored by Chicago’s The Year of Public Art program and Alderman Roberto Maldonado’s office.