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About Us

The new HotHouse attenuates the previous iterations of this iconic cultural center that was first located in Wicker Park (1987-1995) and then in downtown Chicago until early 2007. 

HotHouse was an institution that fundamentally changed the paradigm of community-based cultural centers in Chicago.  HotHouse primarily showcased artists who were working in non-commercial genres, whose work was experimental, or from populations who were under-recognized and disenfranchised by either other arts institutions or the commercial marketplace. Each year, HotHouse hosted over 500 multi-arts programs that attracted 70,000 people. By 2006, HotHouse had evolved into a $2M organization employing 45 people and had become one of the country’s most well regarded centers for international culture.

portoluz– meaning harbor of light”was the non-profit 501c3 tax-exempt organization that was incorporated in the State of Illinois in 2007  to advance the activities of the former HotHouse when it was closed in the wake of a board dispute in 2007.  

Upon the demise of HotHouse, stakeholders recognized an opportunity to expand upon the original business model and exponentially increase the impact of its achievements. portoluz was formed to capture these opportunities and was incorporated by former HotHouse board members, its artistic and curatorial leadership team and other successful practitioners in the fields of arts, technology, and social enterprise who convened in 2007. portoluz successfully achieved the benchmarks of its start-up phase, from incorporating, to drafting strategic and business plans, recruiting and developing a new board of directors, launching volunteer committees, and presenting critically praised public programs.

As one of the hallmarks of the popularity of HotHouse was its fixture as a venue for public interaction among various and disparate communities, when HotHouse closed, a void was created with regard to the kind of all-purpose community space and the kinds of international cultural exchanges it had facilitated. This void has largely remained unfulfilled and locally multiple cohorts of grassroots activists, artists, and ad-hoc community groups are seeking to purchase a permanent site to collectively replace the kind of comprehensive resources HotHouse had extended.


In the six-year interim, while seeking to reclaim the corporation HotHouse, portoluz advanced a strategy to present a variety of multi-disciplinary programs throughout the region. Examples of recent programming successes include:  From the Lion’s Point of View-an African Jubilee, WPA 2.0, A Brand New Deal, Jazz on A Summer’s Day, Lakeside Studios and The Son Jarocho International Exchange.


The vision for the new HotHouse seeks to build upon the founders (Marguerite Horberg’s) thirty years of experience building iconic and vernacular spaces for culture and fostering international exchange. It seeks to catalyze urban development in an underdeveloped part of the city and harness creative re-use materials and sustainable practices to transform vacant lots and neglected properties into a sanctuary for progressive culture.


The new HotHouse will include a performing arts center, film screening room, restaurant, artist’s residence, office space, bodega, and green space.