Article and photos by Alec Ozawa
It’s the year 2019, but it could just as well be 1970 on this block of Western Ave., on the northwest of Chicago. It’s a hot summer day and the scene feels real groovy. Vans and bikes of every psychedelic color line the street in front of the dual storefronts of Sideshow Gallery and Revolution Tattoo. The row of radical vehicles turns heads and slows down traffic on the busy north-south thoroughfare. It’s a whole fleet of good vibes. On the sidewalk side, the vans have open doors to grand interiors while some of Chicago’s finest choppers are parked across along the buildings. The colorful denizens of Chicago’s custom scene turn out in every variety; coolers and friendly conversation rule the day. The atmosphere is electric. It has become thee annual block party to attend, unlike any other in the city.
Returning for its fifth year, The Happening Van and Chopper Show brings together two communities of custom culture. An effort started by Alex Simpson of Bravetown, Anne Elliott & Cheri Gutierrez of Sideshow Gallery, and Omar Gutierrez of Revolution Tattoo, the show began as a fun summer street party for friends to gather, show off their customized rides, party, and check out some equally far-out art. It has grown to encompass multiple blocks, dozens of vans, over a hundred bikes, and hundreds of people throughout the day.