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German artist Heike Weber used a permanent marker to transform the acrylic walls and floors of an apartment in Neumünster, Germany, into a hypnotic and mind boggling melange of lines and undulating structures.
In 1990 The Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago was dangerous and risqué. It was controlled by gangs and derelicts; its soundtrack resonated distant cries of revolution. Art, violence, and culture trickled out of its boundaries. The year 1990 marked the opening of Earwax Cafe at 1561 N Milwaukee Ave, which originally started off as a record store, in the heart of Wicker Park. The neighborhood during that time was in the very early stages of the gentrification that would later make this locality one of the most hip(-ster) areas in the City.
At the turn of the millennium, most of the iconic graffiti in Wicker Park had been abolished, many of the 19th century homes had been refurbished or replaced with modern homes and buildings, and a majority of the gangsters had been replaced by yuppies. Wicker Park in the 2000’s was known for it’s independent businesses, entertainment, and nightlife. It was also known for the arts and the artists that flocked to the area during the 1980’s.
Earwax Cafe was filled with interesting artworks and it sat beside the Flat Iron Arts Building, Reckless, Myopic, and numerous indie boutiques. Their vegetarian-friendly menu of Seitan based items included some of the most delicious milkshakes ever. The carnival decor consisted of authentic sideshow banners and motif complete with circus-carved booths.
By the time of the 2008 recession, Wicker Park became so attractive to white-collar inhabitants and real estate investors that property values sky-rocketed. This increased the wealth of the owners, but it also began to chase out an abundance of the “cool” that the wealthy migrants were chasing in the first place. Now corporate chains and mega brand boutiques litter Milwaukee avenue. The crime has drastically decreased, and even the new school graffiti and hipsters that occupy Wicker Park’s streets somehow seem foreign and displaced.
Earwax Cafe survived Wicker Park, until this past August in 2011 that is. After a couple of near-death experiences Earwax finally closed its doors for good claiming financial reasons as the cause of the shut down. The food, the mise-en-scene, the Wicker Park neighborhood it once represented will all be missed greatly.