On Monday, September 26th, my friend Beatriz and I went to Damen Silos, a degenerated grain silo located on the opposite side of downtown. Being a Chicago native, I was already aware of the silos and all of its interesting facets. I knew this location would be perfect for a dispatch. The history and the art behind it all makes up for the venturesome journey you have to go through just to get there. Just like many, the one thing that draws my attention to the subdued silos is the amount of art that is invested into it. From your customary, Chicago graffiti to your resplendent, Leonardo Da Vinci-like paintings, the worn down silos has been replenished with pulchritudinous works of art by extraordinary artists.
The adventure first starts off with one giant leap over the white, deteriorating fence with a sign stating not to take that giant leap over the white, deteriorating fence. After I make it to the off limits side of the fence, I then proceed to walk towards the silos which is about 10 minutes away from where the fence is at. The adventure doesn’t start at the silos itself. It starts off at the Ashland orange line stop. From there and after the fence you have to walk through masses of rocks and railroad tracks. After what seemed like the longest walk of my life, I eventually got to the second part of the adventure: the walk through the giant outlet store parking lot.
It is weird walking through the big parking lot because how odd you look walking through a place where you know you don’t belong. When going to the silos you will definitely be gawked at by random customers and commuters. Maybe they’re jealous; who knows?
After what seemed like second longest walk of my life, I eventually hit THE SILOS. The relief that is going through my body at that point is indescribable. I’m filled with happiness yet at the same time anxiety. Although the silos is home to some of the best art I know of, it still is nerve wracking to be in a place where I know I am not supposed to be in. Anyways, after I finally get out of the outlet parking lot, I proceed to follow this bumpy trail that leads me straight to the front door of the silos. I mean a metaphoric door of course considering all of the doors got blown to pieces a long time ago. Tragic. Once the trail ends is when the real party starts to happen. I was introduced to a large opening that leads to the inside of the silos. I felt like I was at an underground art exhibit. Anywhere your eyes can possibly move there was some kind of writing or art. There was art on the walls and there was art on the floors and there was art on the ceiling and the roof and the stairs. It is an artist’s wet dream.
When I think about the silos and what it means, I think about how rugged it is and worn down it is. It is very similar to how the setting was described in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. “…she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side…the sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass…they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere…now the house was as dull and gray as everything else” (Baum 18). The setting in the story is perceived as this insipid location that has nothing to its name. Just like the great Kansas prairies in the story, the silos is something that typically doesn’t catch anyone’s eye. The big meaning behind this though is how ironic it all is. It is ironic because though both places are perceived as these tedious areas, they both have something that is internally interesting about them; literally and symbolically. Even though Dorothy is trapped in this place, she herself is the most interesting aspect, given the fact that she is still young and full of youth and what not. In the case of the silos, it is what is inside that literally reassures the visitor that the silos is not all dull and boring as it is seen from the outside.
It is kind of difficult to articulate what I felt exactly when exploring the silos. When I really put some thought into it, I kind of feel a little bit of everything. I’m overfilled with joy and excitement because this place is really cool. Like really really cool. I feel very exclusive whenever I visit, like I’m not worthy enough to be able to look at all of this kick ass piece of work. At the same time, however, it is kind of frustrating to know that some of these pieces were done by people whose talents will forever go unnoticed. They will live life not getting the kind of attention they need.(Angelo Garcia, City of Stories Student)