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Izze Ortiz

18th Street Pilsen Open Studios - 2023

1439 West 18th Street, Chicago, IL, USA


October 21st & 22nd / 12-8pm

Exhibiting work at Cafe Jumping Bean


After settling into this country, my father had dreams of being a radio-host. He was enchanted by the local radio stations, and started going to Radio Arte back when it was in Pilsen, sharing the building on Blue Island with Yollocalli. 

He'd often start by playing an iconic intro, usually the beginning of a Miguel Mateos song and break into character saying things like "...escuchando, rock en TU idioma" or ''Estamos aqui con (insert one of my siblings names)!!" bringing us into his imaginary show. We had a tumultuous relationship so I never learned much more about his career. 

Then, one hot day in 2010, before the school year wrapped up, I was sitting in front of the AC miserably watching TV, and he walked into the room. He suggested I apply for the youth program at Radio Arte. I was like..."sure dad" and probably rolled my eyes. I went online and immediately applied. That same day, I get a call from Adriana Gallardo. 

That building on the corner became my second home. I'd commute from 62nd and Albany every day possible. Both Adriana Gallardo and Aaron Arreguin took me under their wing and nurtured my ambition and creativity. I eventually migrated to Yollocalli after Radio Arte shut down and that's where I met Rafael Rojas, Pasta Gabriel Cisneros, Gabriela Ibarra, Joseph Mora, Ricardo Martinez, and Miguel Aguilar aka Kane One to name a few. I didn't know what kind of art I wanted to make or focus on but this neighborhood nurtured my abilities and took care of me during some of the hardest years of my life. 

I used to go to the Jumping Bean and order licuados as a teenager, now I order coffee haha.


Izze (they/them) is an illustrator and muralist from Chicago Lawn. Izze was moments away from their degree in Earth, Society, and Environmental Sustainability when they decided to pursue illustration. They completed their degree and began drawing every day, meeting goals, posting art online, and slowly but surely...they began to develop a style.

In 2018, needing a little extra…motivation to keep the juices flowing, they began selling $5 portraits on Instagram and months later were approached by the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Since then, they’ve worked with companies like Nike, Google, the Chicago Fire, Apple, and local organizations like FroSkate, the Chicago Abortion Fund, Gage Park Latinx Council, and Friends of the Parks.

They are driven to create in hopes of better understanding and communicating back the world around them. Through bright colors and expressive faces, Izze’s illustrations share stories of their findings in relation to love, healing, and pain.

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