Peter Haakon Thompson

Copyright 2015

Built with Index Exhibit

I am working on a project as part of Arts On Chicago, Pillsbury House’s creative placemaking project on Chicago Avenue taking place this spring.

Some background on the Mobile Sign Shop:
My project, the Mobile Sign Shop (MSS) is inspired by the vernacular of cabin name signs found in Northern Minnesota. At the beginning of roads leading to a lake with cabins, there can often be found a collection of wooden/engraved/painted/ handmade signs bearing the names of residents i.e. The Thompson’s in the case of my grandparents. During May the MSS will host 4 sign making workshops based at different locations within the neighborhoods that share the Chicago Ave Corridor. Residents will be asked to create a sign with their name, last name or first name or names for entire extended families. Much like the cabin name signs, personalization is encouraged and facilitated.

The finished signs will be installed on poles at 3 Chicago Ave intersections throughout the neighborhood, tentatively at 33rd, 37th and 42nd. People driving on Chicago who may not know anyone in the neighborhood will begin to have a sense of who lives here and neighborhood residents can publicly claim the place as their own.

The MSS is housed in a trailer that can easily travel to different parts of the neighborhood and provides an attention getting location stocked with sign making supplies and information. This trailer is not a standard utility trailer, but recognizable as a location for activity, painted brightly, with flags and a pop-up shade/weather awning. Inserting a non-standard, incongruous tool into public space, brings out people’s curiosity and willingness to engage, leading to more potential participants.

These workshops will provide materials, paint and brushes etc. as well as assistance in carving out letters with a router. More than materials they will provide a location for people to converse about something we all have stories about, our names and families. At the conclusion of the summer the signs will be de-installed and distributed to their makers.

Confirmed sign workshops for 2013:

When: May 4th, 12-4 pm
Where: Art Stop Garden on the corner of 32nd and Chicago

When: May 25th, 1-4pm
Where: Youth Farm Ba'Hai Garden, 3644 Chicago

The Sign Shop was first used in the summer of 2012 with the Phillips West Neighborhood Organization as a way to connect residents.