Built Festival 2011 | Fest report + photo gallery
I'm not trying to be smart or mean or even snobby, but having popped over to the Built Festival this past Friday night, I can safely say it is still building, not quite built. But I can also say that the concept is fundamentally great and Chicagoans should hope founder Tristan Hummel keeps it up, because it has a lot going for it.
I loved the vibe created by the the transformed space, a pop-up arts district made from shipping containers and kept extra loose by the availability of PBR, decent live music (festival stalwart White Mystery was on the bill somewhere) and a fairly pleasant summer night—all in walking distance of Wicker Park's red zone. Built had that essential ephemeral feeling that makes quirky street festivals extra fun—and I assume it is part of what made Art on Track (a one-night annual event which placed art in a Loop-circling CTA train) a bit of a hit.
I didn't mind the fairly low-key sponsors, Fuze and AllSaints (whose pop-up shop closed just as I was heading in), so much as I wanted more from what was inside the shipping containers. At the end of the day, it's really the art that has room to grow. I got a kick out of T.A.R.T.'s gross, zombie-inspired GMO (Genetically Modified Organism), enjoyed some playful repurposing of taxidermy, minimalist light sculptures and the collage art of Baltazar Castillo. And I didn't mind some of the playful installations, such as a restaurant-themed container serving a made-to-order multi-course art meal. But nothing really blew me away. Still, Built was an admirable effort and hopefully just another step forward for Hummel and his cohorts.