BY MARY DEYOE
House music, quilting, collaborative dance performances and architectural model-making are just a handful of the art forms you may experience during Chicago Artists Month. While there is no shortage of arts to discover throughout the year, what CAM has continued to do well for the past 20 years is draw our attention to neighborhoods, artists, and art forms with which we may be less familiar.
“CAM seems to encourage a flurry of artistic production on top of what's already happening in Chicago,” said CAM Featured Artist Victoria Bradford. “It engenders cross-pollination of audiences across genre and geography. And it gives artists an opportunity to convene and communicate.”
An initiative of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, CAM features events that are independently produced by artists and organizations spread throughout the city’s neighborhoods from Hyde Park to Humboldt Park to Edgewater. While CAM always aims to engage the city from all corners, this is particularly central to this year’s theme – The City as Studio. The EL Train, front porches, abandoned structures and the space below the expressway all figure prominently among the 2015 Featured Events.
Vacancy at the Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College features work by artists and architects who use empty, abandoned spaces in the city to imagine new possibilities and to change the notion of “empty” to “open.” Under the Freeway, conceived by artists Connie Noyes and Marvin Tate was a one-night, clandestine event. In order to attend, guests were challenged to find their way to the location by completing tasks and following guidelines created by the artists.
“I wanted people to wonder where they might be going for the night, said Noyes, much in the same way many displaced people do every night.”
The evening included installations created by Noyes and a performance by cellist Lilianna Wosko. “Wosko's cello added a classic energy and ambiance to the deeply-rooted, macro-society under a small part to the freeway,” said Noyes.
Notable this year are the number of performances and workshops on the subjects of dance and music. Until recently Chicago Artists Month focused primarily on the visual arts. Coming on the heels of EXPO Chicago and in the midst of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, it is refreshing to see these other art forms take the stage.
Neighborhood Dances asks participants to record daily “micro-dances” from September 18-24, staged in front of buildings, residences and other architectural structures throughout the city. The performances are open to the public and each will yield a 15-second video. All of the videos will be combined, and, over the course of a week, workshopped and choreographed into a performance to be showcased on October 24 at Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery. This project was born out of an ongoing series by Victoria Bradford, who is a current resident at Defibrillator.
“Every day I wake up, knowing that somewhere that day, someplace in the city, I’m going to make a dance,” said Bradford. “This city is as much where I ask questions and take risks as where I perform.”
Chicago Artist Month runs from October 1 – November 15, 2015
For a complete list of events, visit www.chicagoartistsmonth.org