ART & TAXES by Derric Clemmons

Another target in the Ashland corridor, in the Back of the Yards community,  was the small yet well known tax office, AMERI-MEX Insurance Agency, positioned on the 46th st. corner for some 30 years . This was an important job in a way because of its simplicity, which was a change from the detailed high color art works we’ve done over the last several years.

The times are tough and we needed to diversify. Signage work was added to the services that were offered. It extended our range and, well produced more opportunities for work.  The professional artist ponders this issue regularly when you have a studio and assistants to maintain.

A pleasant, yet savvy Ms Fonseca, director of the service at AMERI-MEX finally settled on a price she was pleased with and the work was then produced in 2 weeks.  From a commercial point of view, it was a good direction forward. The struggle continues for more recognition and opportunity. 

TRP MURAL by Derric Clemmons

How important is it for an artist to engage a neighborhood?  VERY important it seems.  Art has no true spirit if its aim is to stay indoors and affect only a specific audience. Even the poor and struggling need to feel a sense of hope and know that people are out there who care to say a positive statement.

Located at 46th and Ashland Ave.

Located at 46th and Ashland Ave.

Aronson Furniture store had been a center for active business many years ago, however as time went on, the store fell into bankruptcy and closed. This shell of an institution stood for more than 10 years in the face of Ashland Ave. traffic, day in and day out, vacant and lifeless.  It’s presence was a reminder of the struggle that plagued the Back of the Yards community for some time. At this point, we discussed this issue with the Neighborhood Council, who then made reference to the owner of organization that held rights to the property.

The building was a magnet for posters that did nothing but subject people to buy products from corporate society

The building was a magnet for posters that did nothing but subject people to buy products from corporate society

Enter T.R.P., The Resurrection Project, a non for profit organzation that is buying and re-envisioning properties and buildings in the area. We contacted the liaison representative, Oscar Hernandez, of our intentions. He was interested in the concept of doing an art gallery display on the front of the property. A few weeks passed, and in April the budget was approved, and the project was underway.

Luz Castillo, co-lead at Cocomocha studio, largely responsible for the design, stated: “This is a good thing for my community; a way to revitalize a neighborhood that really needed a change visually. I felt good to be able to do this."

The installation is available to see for the summer of 2016, after which it is proposed, the building will be dismantled for a new center in the works. Response from the community and even businesses in the area were quite welcoming.

Hashtag-It-Up This #ChiArtistsMonth with #DriveByArt! by Derric Clemmons

Thus far, Chicago Artists Month has been nonstop fun and, well, far be it from us to get in the way of fun! No, instead we want to get everyone in on it.  From now until the end of #ChiArtistsMonth, you can visit any of these 11 Drive By Art locations and use the hashtag: #DriveByArt. Share your comments, crew photos, selfies, fave locations, and creative pic collages and tag @Cocomocha on Facebook; or @Cocomochastudio on Instagram & Twitter.  The first person to tag us on all three pages will WIN FREE DRIVE BY ART!  


That's right, you can now own your very own piece of Drive By Art. The first person to tag us on all three social media sites will get to choose from our exclusive selection of installation panels(see sneak previews on our pages). If you tag us before the Meet Up & Walking Tour coming up this Friday, October 16th at the South Chicago Chamber of Commerce you'll receive your artwork in person and snag a photo with the CocoMocha artists team at the event. Then we'll shout you out on all three sites and make your photo with the team our profile photo! It's too much fun to miss out on peeps so...

#Drive   ByArt   Locations:   1)  Art On Trees  81st Street between Coles & Houston Ave.  2)  Group Show  79th Street & Exchange Ave.   3)  Drive By Art   Starting Location  8300 S. South Shore Dr.  4)  Afro-Aztec #2  8844 Old U.S. 41 (one block east of Mackinaw Ave.)  5,7)  Lake South Chicago Properties  3326 E. 90th Street  6)  Carolene's Heirloom Resale Boutique Art Facade  3010 E. 88th Street  8)  Macias Produce Floating Mural Installation  8933 S. Commercial Ave.  9)  Lake South Chicago Property    9032 S. Houston Ave.   10)  First Choice Market "Voice Of Youth" Installation   3019 E. 91st Street  11)  Afro-Aztec #1  9147 Old U.S. 41

#Drive ByArt Locations:

1) Art On Trees 81st Street between Coles & Houston Ave.

2) Group Show 79th Street & Exchange Ave. 

3) Drive By Art Starting Location 8300 S. South Shore Dr.

4) Afro-Aztec #2 8844 Old U.S. 41 (one block east of Mackinaw Ave.)

5,7) Lake South Chicago Properties 3326 E. 90th Street

6) Carolene's Heirloom Resale Boutique Art Facade 3010 E. 88th Street

8) Macias Produce Floating Mural Installation 8933 S. Commercial Ave.

9) Lake South Chicago Property 9032 S. Houston Ave. 

10) First Choice Market "Voice Of Youth" Installation  3019 E. 91st Street

11) Afro-Aztec #1 9147 Old U.S. 41




#DriveByArt at the 20th Annual Chicago Artists Month 2015: by Derric Clemmons

The 20th Annual Chicago Artists Month highlights the work of hundreds of artists throughout Chicago with performances, exhibitions, open studios, tours and neighborhood art walks. October 1 – November 15, 2015, #ChiArtistsMonth (CAM) will invite residents and visitors to meet artists and see their work at venues across Chicago. As the world comes to Chicago to discuss the state of architecture, the CAM 2015 theme The City as Studio looks at Chicago as a place for investigation, experimentation, innovation and production, and encourages a dialogue with the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial opening in October. Meet artists, see their work and make your own at 300+ events across the city. Cocomocha is proud to join the festivities with our #DriveByArt event, installations, and interactive #hashtag-it-up art walks. Click the Events Calendar for details.

#ChiArtistsMonth 2015 is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in collaboration with the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Public Library. In-Kind support from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises,®Inc. 

And So It Was Done! by Derric Clemmons

It's with a great sense of accomplishment that we recap Cocomocha's successful installation of it's first floating mural for Macias Produce. The production of this mural was an ambitious project. With months in the making, the pieces left the colorful walls of Cocomocha's studio. They were carefully wrapped and delivered to their new home.

On Thursday, July 16th, 2015 Cocomocha's crew met at Macias Produce.  The empty canvas awaited. The parking lot of Macias Produce was our playground for the day. We battled the rain that poured throughout the day. Ladders, drills, hammers and eye measurements were our instruments for the orchestrated plan.

The clouds spared us a few hours, and that was when the magic happened. Tony Macias Jr. arrived with a grill in hand and a smile as big as the mural!  He was ready to start the cookout in celebration of the great installation that awaited. 

Soon enough burgers and hotdogs were sizzling away (300 of each to be exact) perfuming the parking lot and attracting people over. The response of the community was amazing! So many people from all walks of life came over. They peeked at our work, curiously watching as the art pieces were arranged.  The line for the food was endless.  A neighbor blasted music from his car. It was a party! A celebration of art, of community, of togetherness, of people sharing something so small, but so genuinely kind that it was just so immense. When I saw everyone lined up, laughing, talking, hugging and waiting for food, a thought came to mind, "People, no matter their life circumstances, are always drawn to love, togetherness and compassion."

The installation that was planned for six hours, turned into 3 days. On Saturday, July 18 at 8pm, the mural, gloriously high up in its place, was awaiting to be revealed. The moment we had anticipated was finally here.  Months and countless hours of work were finished and the majestic floating mural illuminated the entire parking lot.

Cocomocha would like to thank everyone at Macias Produce for trusting us with their business facade and for their generosity to the community.  We are excited for the projects ahead.  We thank our supporters and the entire Cocomocha crew for helping on site and cheering us on through social media!

We would love to hear your comments! Please share our blog and like our Facebook page.

Thanks again for all the support!

-Sandra Lara


Our Next Move... by Derric Clemmons

Amigos, we want to thank you for all the support to our DriveByArt initiatives. We had a great kick-off event followed by a successful installation of the art work for Las Artelitas with the help of our contributing artists. Las Artelitas is a creative collective in the Little Village Community. 

Above from left to right: Luz Maria Castillo, Nakesha Walker, Derric Clemmons, Frank Diaz, Dameon Gray and Mary Lumbreras.

Above from left to right: Luz Maria Castillo, Nakesha Walker, Derric Clemmons, Frank Diaz, Dameon Gray and Mary Lumbreras.

From left to right: Amara Betty Martin, Jenese Jackson,  Erica Sanchez, Sara Cortez, Rosa Rodriguez and Jhonatan Carbonell. 

From left to right: Amara Betty Martin, Jenese Jackson,  Erica Sanchez, Sara Cortez, Rosa Rodriguez and Jhonatan Carbonell. 

Our next move is the installation of our first floating mural for Macias Produce. This has been a work in progress for the past few months. We are pleased to reveal this great work of art to the Chicago Southeast Side Community. We are thankful to the Macias family for trusting us with their business. The anticipated date for installation is Thursday, July 16th, 2015. We are excited for the projects ahead!

Macia's mural

Looking forward to conclude our pending projects, and motivated to start the new ones!

Remembering Rudy-DrivebyArt by Derric Clemmons

Time is unapologetic. It's been almost a month since we lost Rudy.  Time has swept through the pain, almost covering our memories with layers of countless, endless life routines and the normalities of daily to-dos. The streets of our community are buzzing as loud as usual, the cafe brewed the same coffee, and the bar played the same old Blues. But make no mistake. Some nights are darker, the air a little colder, and some days the sky is not as bright. For those who knew Rudy, these summer nights are a lot less sweeter. 

Cocomocha paid tribute to his memory by creating small tokens of his life like "the mighty lady bug," and birds and flags carrying messages of hope, love, and colorful words of inspiration. For everyone who knew Rudy, we hope that the art will make you smile a little bigger, and surely something you see will take you back in time, if for just a second, to that place of joy, music and his presence. Those who didn't know Rudy, and for the entire community, this art signifies the beauty that will forever remain to reminds us that "those we love can never be more than a thought away, for as long as there's a memory they are in our hearts to stay."

You can check out our tribute at Simone's Bar in Pilsen. 

-written by Sandra Lara

Love Is Not Provoked: Remembering Rudy by Derric Clemmons

About a week ago, we received the news of yet another senseless murder in the Pilsen community. We soon found out that Rudy Avina, a well known member of the Pilsen community, was the victim. This news broke the hearts of many who knew Rudy. The Facebook page "Remembering Rudy" was created in his memory. There, the sentiment among those who wrote about him, was the same. The community lost a great soul; a being who "loved so genuinely, loved so intensely and found a  million ways to share his love with all of us."  As a community, friends and family dealt with the confusion, despair and sadness of loosing Rudy, hope, love and togetherness quickly became the way to remember him. 

As active members of the community, Cocomocha reached out to Simone's Bar, the place where tragedy occurred. We wanted to support the community and help with the healing process. The staff at Simone's was deeply affected by this. They also knew Rudy, it was said that this was one of his favorite places in his beloved neighborhood. In our attempt to show solidarity with Rudy's friends and family and all the community members who work so hard at maintaining a strong, peaceful neighborhood, we created a #Drivebyart specially for Rudy;

Our theme: "For all the ugly in the world, there still some beautiful: Remembering Rudy"

This quote comes from Mia Avina, Rudy's daughter, who shared this on the Facebook Page (Remembering Rudy) dedicated to her father.

Simone's Bar will kindly lend their facade so that together with a few other Chicago artists, we can create patterns and words that represent and honor Rudy. 

We hope to be able to remind our community and anyone who drives by that love isn't provoked, and that even in the darkest of times, love still prevails.  It gives us strength to put one foot forward when all circumstances would have us burried in darkness of our sorrow. Love really is everything that moves us and if we open up our hearts, to remember anyone we've lost, with and through love, we can truly rise above the pain and our loved ones will never be lost or forgotten. 

Our #drivebyart initiative, meant to create awareness and togetherness, may not change our communities. But if one person is touched, moved, motivated, and inspired by a single word, a color, a pattern, then our art will never end. We will paint the town in hopes to bring us closer to that love which isn't provoked; that love which connects us beyond our flesh, and we will do so one color at a time. 

Segregated City: Make Room For The Afflicted And The Restricted by Derric Clemmons

Segregation is not only a matter of geographical space. It sometimes means the segregation in which we corner ourselves mentally. The afflicted and restricted are sometimes people who we know well, our neighbors, our brothers, sisters, friends, and co-workers. The spectrum is wide.

A few weeks ago, while driving by the Humboldt Park community, I felt as if i was driving in a different city. Poverty is evident.  Drugs and violence dominate the streets. But at the end of every dark tunnel, there is a light of hope. I saw  families walking, going about their day, small food establishments in the middle of empty lots, people lined up to enjoy some street food. I questioned if they feared their surroundings. I questioned if they felt happy with their life. Do they feel restricted? Do they feel afflicted? Do they know they are segregated?

Later that day I stopped at a small restaurant, a homeless man went inside, stumbling to walk he fell on top of a table. A restaurant employee kindly asked him to leave. There was kindness in his tone, but firm in his request. The homeless man refused. He was escorted out. He kicked his feet as he was dragged out. The people in the restaurant were quiet, but soon resumed their chats as they went back to eating their food. I let a thought escape, "Why can't he act normal?" I regretted the comment quickly. How can there be no segregation, if we have no tolerance for people who are suffering? it makes us uncomfortable and we want it out of sight.  How do we make room for those who are suffering? 

Sketches made by our artists

Sketches made by our artists

Cocomocha studio in partnership with Las Artelitas are joining forces to create the second #drivebyart project "Segregated City: Make Room for the Afflicted and the Restricted" with contributions of several Chicago artists.  This theme is dedicated to all those who are suffering, those who are restricted, those who feel they don't deserve to be happy. We bring art to those who cannot experience it in their day to day life. We make art to inspire and bring unity. We create art to break barriers; segregation and separation. Only when we are able to face the issues in our communities can we truly begin to understand that we are all part of the same force;  that perhaps we can get closer to a better future one painting at a time. 

written by Sandra Lara

#DriveByArt The Streets Were Watching Us by Derric Clemmons

Sunday, April 26th 2015, was the culmination of our first #drivebyart installation. After our kickoff event last Friday, Cocomocha was ready to splash the streets with color.  With a van full of art,  the entourage arrived at 78th & Exchange, a Chicago's Southeast side neighborhood. What looked like an ordinary Sunday afternoon, quickly turned into a moment in time that drew bystanders and community members to walk up and admire what was happening. 

Our most challenged communities are suffering from violence, drugs and lack of resources. These issues turn into disruptive behaviors that end up causing trauma in everyone who's ever experienced them. Fear takes over and it becomes a brutal reality that subconsciously everyone learns to live with. The idea that things cannot and will not change becomes the daily mantra. Dodging bullets and hiding behind shades is the only reasonable thing to do. Violence is often seen as an issue of a specific neighborhood or culture,  but in contrary, it spreads quickly and uncontrollably throughout entire cities. 

Cocomocha showed up with the purpose of impacting anyone who lives, works, plays walks and drives by the area. Our mission is to remind everyone that together we are stronger, that every single person deserves to walk by and feel safe. Many neighbors who walked by simply said, "This is great, God bless!" One person in particular walked by repeating, "I like! I like! I like"

Drive by Artists: (from left to right) Mynor Paredes, Andrea Paredes, Sandra Lara, Luz Maria Castillo, and Derric Clemmons.

Drive by Artists: (from left to right) Mynor Paredes, Andrea Paredes, Sandra Lara, Luz Maria Castillo, and Derric Clemmons.

As the installation progressed, more people drove by and honked as sign of support. The energy was vibrant and reflective of the art that had made its way across the empty abandoned wall. Cocomocha successfully completed its first largest installation of #drivebyart and as we wrapped the evening, we saw people pulling to the side to take pictures and record. A mother and son were seen reading and admiring the messages. 

"One cannot fight for peace. The only way to create peace is to be peaceful."-Deepak Chopra

#Drivebyart Kickoff Event by Derric Clemmons

Friday, April 24th was a night to remember. Cocomocha studio set up a "Drivebyart" Kick Off event - a celebration in which artists, family and friends got a chance to mingle and view the art that would later be installed in Chicago's Southeast Side. The night was filled with music and pop art color. Food, familiar faces, new comers, laughs and conversation regarding the #drivebyart movement filled the halls. Our guests received gifts with our signature art pieces.

The response was exactly what Cocomocha had anticipated; people from all walks of life coming together to support the ongoing effort of community hope and togetherness.


Derric Clemmons, co-founder of Cocomocha Studio said, "We have all been in communities affected by violence. It doesn't matter the culture. We have all been dealing with and bleeding from the same kind of situation. We want to make everyone aware that they don't have to do a lot in order to empower a community.  Just a handful of people posting color can entice and empower.  We represent many different cultures.  When it comes to this effort, talk to people, share the pictures, help us spread the word." 


If The Streets Could Talk by Derric Clemmons

Cocomocha Studio, in collaboration with Chicago local artists, is preparing to head to the streets of Chicago's Southeast Side on Sunday, April 26th to tag the streets with art. It's our ongoing effort to stand up against violence, to support our community and to spread positivity.  The #driveby initiative has already made it's way around the area, decorating rows of trees along the sidewalks. 

As artists prepare to add finishing touches, come join us for our kickoff event at Mana Contemporary 2233 S. Throop St. Chicago, on Friday April 24th from 6:30pm-9pm. Meet the artists, have a sneak peak at the art, enjoy some wine and treats, and support our cause. 

"Hope In the Darkest of Places" by Derric Clemmons

The Drive By Project, a Cocomocha Studio initiative was started as a way to beautify abandoned buildings in Chicago communities. Positive symbols created and pinned to boarded up doors and windows. We wanted these forgotten places to be a reminder not of the challenges in our communities, but that there can be beauty and color in the darkest of places. 

 Chicago neighborhoods have experienced peaks of violence in recent months. The unfortunate truth is that we attribute the violence only to one area in which its happening. The shootings are a thing of the South Side. " its been said. "As long as its not happening on our front door, we arent talking about it". But what happens when there is act of violence in our own backyard?

Some people hide behind the shades. They live in fear.  They feel hopeless. Others walk through the chaos, like its part of every day living. They think it will never change.  But there are a few brave souls who set fear aside, standing strong for the community, making bold statements of unity.  

 The #DriveByArt Project made an appearance Sunday night at a South East Side neighborhood of Chicago in response to recent violence in the area. Derric Clemmons of Cocomocha took to the streets of 81st and Houston to deliver some 'food for thought': Strong messages in the form of art, pinned to the trees of his community. I want people to know that we care, that they are heard, that they dont stand alone, said Clemmons.

 Isaac Jackson, a resident of the area, assisted the dying victim of the recent shooting. Its a shame that we have fought this issue for so long. We welcome the art pieces to the block. I want to see more.

 Clemmons planted so called community candies where people drive, walk, and live by. Focus your mind Common Sense-good for you are just some of the messages that can be seen. The response has been positive thus far. Neighbors are coming by to check out the artwork on trees. Some want them in front of their own homes.  Mary Lumbreras, a resident of the area, says she will support Cocomocha and the Drive By Project.  I will do everything to help Derric. This is our neighborhood and I will support it.

 Police officers patrolling the area have stopped by to check it out. Its not something theyve seen before. The Drive By Project is not a typical protest, but a call to positive action. The art messages are meant to involve anyone who comes across them.

 Luz Castillo of Cocomocha also contributed to the cause with “¡Alarma! style messages. ¡Alarma!  Spanish forAlarm is a Mexican news magazine that specializes in graphic pictures of violence. In Cocomocha style, Luzs messages were of peace and respect for life.

 Nakesha Walker, an art contributor for the Drive By Project said, I would want people to see that our communities engage with one another. Its important to have a strong community so that the people have a voice for change. With this alliance, we will do our best to help communities find their voice and to make communities better through visual expressions

 Cocomocha is currently working alongside other Chicago artists like Mynor Paredes, David Anthony Geary and Sandra Perez-Lara. The Drive by Project is soon to release more artwork in Chicago communities.

  Awareness is the greatest agent for change. -Eckhart Tolle.

 -by Sandra Perez-Lara

We need messages that are sweet and feed the soul.  A taste for what is good and right in communities.

Cultural symbols surround the key message we must recognize.

Cultural symbols surround the key message we must recognize.

Laying the Ground Work by Derric Clemmons

When Cocomocha Studio ventured into the Drive By Project they had one goal in mind: to beautify communities who were in need of a positive cultural identity. The Art Facade Initiative launched soon after and the idea of beautifying business spaces using a blend of cultural pasts was an exciting mix for business owners. Don Churro in the Pilsen neighborhood was the first to sign up for colorful artistic renovation; with only weeks of completion, Cocomocha added La Fruteria Inc. to its repertoire and now Macias Produce is currently undergoing the finishing stage. With two products under the belt, Cocomocha is busy sketching and ready to create unique designs for local businesses. With lined up business possibilities in place, Cocomocha is confident that the art installations will not only generate revenue for those who sign up, but also create a space for communities in which everyone can feel proud to live in. 

Anticipation begins for cocomochastudio by Derric Clemmons

We are excited to finally have our website up and running.  We have been receiving supportive attention to our "Drive By" initiative.  A number of artists from different communities, mostly south are showing interest in being a part of this initiative.  We look forward in giving you the news of this collaborative process... There is  a scheduled  meeting on 3-8-15 to discuss pending objectives. The City of Chicago asks what can be done to stem negative actions and behavior, and this is our answer; an action of an artistic direction that community can feel encouraged by.  We are very excited!