Artist Steve Agpawa was born and raised in the neighborhood and draws inspiration from the community to create his art. The photographer and graphic designer has a new collection of work called Stranger in Time” inspired by 80’s synth wave retro pop and is also working on creating a physical shop for local artists.
Agpawa gives LoganSquarist a first look at his new shop and shares his experience living in Logan Square, witnessing its continuous changes and how that spills into his work.
How long have you lived in Logan Square?
I grew up on Kimball and Altgeld in the late ’80s, so I’ve been in the neighborhood and seen all the changes that have taken place over the years. I’m currently in Avondale, but I frequent the neighborhood a lot.
You grew up in the area, so you’ve seen a lot of the changes in the neighborhood.
Yes, we’re in Sip of Hope now, but this used to be a bodega. There’s a lot of change and now you can’t even touch Logan Square unless you make a certain amount of money. Back in the day, it was a good neighborhood, but there were always pockets of gang activity, but all of that’s changed.
Right, they’re going to be opening up a Target down the street.
The apartments that used to be the Megamall, when I was a little kid, they used to be a flea market, we’d go get clothes and food at a reasonable price. Now it’s hard to find that.
What are some of your top restaurants and hangout spots in the neighborhood?
My friend owns a wine bar called Penumbra Restaurant & Wine Bar, they offer wine tastings and it has a lounge vibe. Revolution and Rocking Horse are also some of my favorites. I enjoy walking around the neighborhood to take pictures and work out of Gaslight. I also frequent Longman and Eagle for their food. Navigator Taproom is great, you can try eight different beers for $15. Unfortunately, a lot of the mom-and-pop places diminished over the years.
How long have you been working in graphic design?
About 13 years. In addition to graphic design, I also do web design, photography, and creative consulting.
Photos: Steve Agpawa
Can you share a little about the inspiration behind your work?
I really fell into this after “Stranger Things” came along. The soundtrack was a big part of the inspiration, it felt different but also familiar like the ’80s. I found this subculture of music called synth-wave retro pop, dark synth, and it had a particular illustration and art vibe with vivid colors. From there I started immersing myself in the art, so a lot of my work is inspired [by] ’80s culture and music.
A lot of your recent pieces are inspired by Logan Square landmarks. Can you share a little more about that?
I started this series called “Stranger in Time” and I was doing a lot of space and retro homages to ’80s futuristic movies like “Blade Runner.” I thought it would be cool to fuse that with scenes from Logan Square and Chicago, so that’s what started this Logan Square series, [that is] possibility evolving into a short film. As I was working on the series, they became almost storyboards. I’m currently getting a lot of people together to work on the film, but it’s still in its infancy.
Photos: Steve Agpawa
Where can we find your work?
I’m launching a brand called Logan Squared. The goal of the site is to work with local artists and showcase and sell their work through the site,. It’s going to be reasonably priced framed art. It’ll be a curated collection of works by local artists from the city. If there are any artists that would like to collaborate they can reach to me on my website.
See more of Steve Agpawa’s work here.
“Socializing the neighborhood” is at the core of the LoganSquarist mission, so we introduce readers to interesting and unique residents throughout Logan Square in our Know Your Neighbor column. If you know someone who would be ideal for to feature, let us know.
Featured photo: Steve Agpawa