Aragon Ballroom Framed Watercolor

Claudia Renzi

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The Aragon Ballroom in Uptown, Chicago: Construction was completed in 1926. The Aragon was designed in the Moorish architectural style, with the interior resembling a Spanish village. Named for an autonomous community of Spain, the Aragon was an immediate success and remained a popular Chicago attraction throughout the 1940s. The ceiling looked like the sky, the clouds moved across the stars.

According to legend, the secret tunnels under the nearby Green Mill bar, a Prohibition-era hangout of Al Capone, lead to the Aragon's basement.

A fire at an adjacent cocktail lounge in 1958 forced the Aragon to close for several months. After the reopening, crowds declined significantly, to the point that regular dancing ended in 1964. A succession of new owners used the Aragon as a roller skating rink, a boxing venue, and a discothèque, among other uses. There were also occasional efforts to revive it as a traditional ballroom.

The Aragon hosted nearly all of the top names of the big band era. During the 1970s, the Aragon was home to so-called "monster rock" shows; which were marathons of rock and roll acts often lasting six hours or more. The shows gained a reputation for attracting a tough crowd, leading to the nickname, "the Aragon Ballroom."

In 1973, Latin promoters Willy Miranda and Jose Palomar, who had promoted Hispanic dances and concerts in Chicago for years, became owners of the Aragon. They soon teamed up with rock promoters Arny Granat and Jerry Mickelson, who used the hall for their rock concerts.

In the late 1990s, the Aragon was bought by Luis Rossi, Ivan Fernandez, and Mercedes Fernandez. In September 2014, Mercedes Fernandez sold all of her interests in the Aragon.

Today, under the name Aragon Entertainment Center, the hall hosts a variety of Spanish language and Vietnamese language shows as well as English language rock concerts. The occasional boxing events are also still held there.

In 2015, the theatre was used in the filming of Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, doubling as the theatre where Thomas and Martha Wayne get shot. The sign for the venue and the marquee was temporarily reconstructed, and taken off once the filming had been completed.
Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 1.5"
Materials: Watercolor paper and Japanese Ink and watercolor inks

Claudia Renzi


Claudia Renzi is a Venezuelan-born, USA-educated artist. On a full ride scholarship through playing tennis, she earned two bachelor’s degrees in Marketing at Georgia State University and in Graphic Design at the Portfolio Center. In school, she earned extra income by selling large acrylic paintings to friends and co-workers. After decades in a demanding career in graphic design, she returned to painting and drawing in 2010 while searching for something to help cope with life stresses. The creative process and the media were a balm for the soul, much like meditation. When she draws and paints, she is relaxed and free. Free of rules and deadlines, free of what others might think, free of problems and stress.