Looking To Move?

I saw this article in the printed January 2012 issue of Chicago Magazine.  It highlights Ed Marszewski, an artist and entrepreneur in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.  Ed is also a father.  He and his wife, Rachael, are raising a daughter, and he talks about his daughter being the motivation for the spread of business, community, and artistic activities he’s involved with.  I was glad to read it given Bridgeport’s history and its meaning, particularly for black folks in Chicago though that history isn’t the subject of the piece.  The article is also online here thankfully:

There’s a new mayor in Bridgeport, and his name is Ed Marszewski. Yes, the Daley legacy still hangs over this South Side stomping ground, an area known in the 1800s as Hardscrabble for its blue-collar residents and in later decades as the home of Richards J. and M. and the Sox. But Marszewski—owner of the contemporary art gallery Co-Prosperity Sphere; publisher of the art magazines Proximity and Matériel, the left-leaning Lumpen, and the newsletter Bridgeport International; coorganizer of the art fairs MDW and Version; and owner, with his mother and brother, of the bar Maria’s—has his own vision for the neighborhood. He calls it the Community of the Future. And he has blueprints for how to make it happen, beginning with a new brainstorming session Sundays at Maria’s—just don’t call it a salon. This is Bridgeport. It’s a bar night.

Though he’s worked off and on at the tap since his mom, Maria, took over the place in 1986, Marszewski, 43, an Evergreen Park native, first moved to Bridgeport in 1998. He’s had his finger in a bunch of pies since, but he has recently ratcheted up his involvement in economic and cultural development—beginning with the 2010 overhaul of the bar, from an old-timers’ dive to an all-welcoming craft beer destination, and lately with efforts to match budding entrepreneurs to empty storefronts.

Why the flurry? Marszewski has an ulterior motive: “All of this activity stems from the fact that I have a baby girl.” That would be Ruby Dean, not quite two, his daughter with his wife, Rachael, an artist Marszewski met when she moved in next door to the bar. “It’s very selfish. We want to increase business here because we want people to have jobs here. We want people to know this isn’t scary old Bridgeport,” he says, citing reduced gang presence, better infrastructure, and a more inclusive attitude from the local government. “I’ll work on any possible project to make this neighborhood awesome.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

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