Art to See and Give for the Holidays


With the holiday season in full swing, we came up with an artistic round-up of under-the-radar things to experience as well as share with loved ones in the next few weeks. Beyond just taking selfies with the Art Institute's wreathed lions (though we love them), or, more likely, frantically attempting to cross off your growing list of to-dos, there is a lot of art to see (and of course buy!) which adds creativity and a unique spirit to your holidays. 

Seeking out and appreciating art, and the artists who make it, can give you a special chance to enjoy culture and art this time of year. In this age of shop-from-your-couch from the world's mega companies, buying tickets to area museums and visiting local galleries and studios is an important way to support our vital, creative neighbors who do something independent every day of the year. 


Art and Faith of the Creche at LUMA

Seasonal Art for the Holidays

This winter, the Loyola University Museum of Art will showcase two exhibitions that are festive reasons to visit this small museum in the heart of downtown. 

Art and Faith of the Crèche: The Collection of James and Emilia Govan is a perennial favorite. Each year LUMA shares how artists across the globe depict the nativity with clothes, architecture, and figures from their native lands.

Chicago artist David Lee Csicsko will be featured in The Art of the Season: David Lee Csicsko. In addition to showcasing 20 new color prints, a selection of Csicsko’s black and white series Saints in the Garden (1990- 1997) will be on view.

On Friday, November 30 there is a free, public reception for both shows, 5:30-7:30pm. On Tuesday, December 4 Csicsko will give a talk from 6-7pm at the museum where he will discuss the inspiration, motivation, and process for creating his prints. On December 8, you can work with the artist to make your own greeting cards to send to friends and family (1–3pm at LUMA)

Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA)

820 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60611


Mrs. James Ward Thorne. E-14: English Drawing Room of the Victorian Period, 1840–70 (detail), about 1937. Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne.

Stunning Details in Miniature

There is no shortage of festivity at the Art Institute of Chicago, but make sure to visit the Thorne Rooms this season, as they are once again getting their seasonal trimmings. Among the most elaborate is the English Drawing Room of the Victorian Period, the only room with a Christmas tree. Now a ubiquitous feature of the season, the Christmas tree, or tannenbaum, was only brought to England from Germany in 1840 with the marriage of Prince Albert to Queen Victoria. The Thorne Room tree and accoutrements are based on a famous engraving of the royal couple and their children surrounding a trimmed and toy-bedecked tree, an image that would forever popularize this holiday fixture. 

Other ornamented rooms include: 

  • The Virginia Entrance Hall with mistletoe, wreath, and garland
  • The French Provincial Bedroom with shoes, or sabots, lined up before the fireplace, a crèche, and puzzle
  • The modern-era California Hallway with an Otto Natzler mid-century menorah and box with a dreidel
  • The English Great Hall of the Tudor period with a wassailing bowl, yule log, and an essential part of the costuming for that period’s singing and dancing revelers—a mummer’s mask

The Art Institute of Chicago

111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603



Mies van der Rohe's McCormick House

Mies for the Holidays

The Elmhurst Art Museum's exhibit, McCormick House 1952-59, showcases the recent restoration of Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House at the museum. Captivating visitors are a series of rooms with classic 1950s furniture inspired by historical photographs of the residence of Robert Hall McCormick III and Isabella Gardner (1952-59), as a means of honoring the original architect and his clients. The exhibition's architects have added more warmth to the historic home through seasonal holiday decor with a minimal, Mid-century focus.  

A family Holiday Party takes place December 8 from 1-4pm for this month's family day. Enjoy hot cocoa, cookies and hands-on art activities along with a surprise visit from Santa at 2 pm.

Elmhurst Art Museum

150 Cottage Hill Rd., Elmhurst, IL 60126



Cornelia Arts Building features more than 40 resident artists.

Meet Your (Gift) Maker

The Cornelia Arts Building hosts open studios throughout the year, but their December event (on November 30 from 6-10pm) is a great chance to meet over 40 resident artists in their studios, view hallway guest artist exhibitions, enjoy local food trucks, and of course consider purchasing a work of art directly from the maker. If you need a new year's resolution, make a commitment to bring a friend along to an open studio or gallery night in 2019. 

Cornelia Arts Building

1800 W. Cornelia, Chicago, IL 60657


WMG artists Sandra Bridges, Pamela Callahan and Fran Bull

The Smaller the Better

Woman Made Gallery marked its 26th Anniversary this year, and in celebration they are hosting a Small Works Exhibition, with an open house taking place Saturday, December 8, from 12-4pm. WMG's goal is to cultivate, promote, and support the work of female-identified artists by providing exhibition opportunities, professional development, and public programs that invite discussion about what feminism means today. A visit to their relatively new Pilsen space offers a chance to connect with member artists and also purchase their work. 

Woman Made Gallery

2150 S Canalport #4A-3, Chicago, IL 60608



Balloon Dog Salt and Pepper Shakers ($24.95); Andy Warhol sock set ($56.00); Art in Chicago ($65.00)

If It's Art Can We Just Buy More?

We love shopping at the Museum of Contemporary Art Store all year long, but we feel like we can spend more freely when we're buying things for someone else. I know I don't need a Jeff Koons-inspired set of salt and pepper shakers, or a box of Andy Warhol socks, but someone else does and I bet they will be surprised when they receive them! And of course if you're a member you get a discount. 

Also, 2018 has been a remarkable year for art in Chicago, largely in part because of Art Design Chicago, the expansive cultural collaboration that took place at hundreds of spaces and institutions throughout the area all year. The book about ADC is for sale at the MCA. Picture your gift recipient reading it in their Andy Warhol (or Keith Haring!) socks...  While sprinkling salt and pepper on something. 

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) Store

220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611



CPC's 29th annual small print exhibition and holiday sale 

Go Crazy for Prints

The Chicago Printmakers Collaborative's 29th Annual International Small Print Exhibition and Holiday Sale is always popular because it's just such a fun and lively event and a chance to see artists actually at work on the presses. It's also a very well-timed occasion to buy art for everyone you know. Kicking off this weekend on December 1 and 2, more than 80 artists will have work for sale covering the walls until it's sold.  Enjoy some hot spiced cider, artist-made snacks and start collecting affordable prints from the walls while artists attempt to keep up with the mass buying frenzy. Also featuring an artist-made selection of gifts including hand-printed textiles, greeting cards, books, broadsides, pendants and t-shirts.

Chicago Printmakers Collaborative

4912 N. Western, Chicago, IL 60625




Holidays from another era are recalled at the Driehaus Museum

Give An Art History Time Capsule

A membership to a museum is always a fantastic idea, and this season The Driehaus Museum is enticing gift-givers and new members to share one of Chicago's most unique museums as a gift all year long, since they are offering a 20% discount (with code HOLIDAY). The museum offers an immersive historical and architectural experience to everyone who visits, since the building itself is a restored Gilded Age home that features a permanent collection of period objects and design. In 2019 the museum will be offering a new focus on contemporary art that will tie to the museum's place in history. 

Several festive events for the season are taking place at the museum through mid-December, such as tours of the museum and neighboring historical sites as well as a tea at the Drake Hotel. Santa will make an appearance some time as well. And of course the gift shop offers unique ideas too. 

The Driehaus Museum

Nickerson Mansion, 40 E. Erie, Chicago, IL 60611



MoCP's Book Bazaar

If You Don't Give Art, Give a Book

When I particularly covet an artist's work but there is no way in the universe I could ever afford to own a piece, the next best thing is first to meet the artist and then to own a beautiful book about the artist's work. On Thursday, December 6, from 5–7 pm the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) will host a special celebration of photography books. Photographers of note, including Barbara Diener, Jess T. Dugan, Dave Jordano, Laura Letinsky, Cecil McDonald, Jr., Melissa Pinney, and Michael Schmelling, will be at the MoCP to discuss and sign their newly released books. 


Columbia College Chicago
600 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL 60605



Gene Skala, Shadows and Tall Trees

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten

If you can't buy it, make it! On Saturday, December 8 (You're not frantic yet! You can still be organized!) Hofheimer Gallery in Ravenswood is hosting a Holiday Gouache Workshop. The gallery is offering the public the chance to make a holiday picture using gouache. No previous experience required. Learn basic techniques from exhibiting artists. Paint, materials, and refreshments provided. The event is free and all are welcome. 

Hofheimer Gallery

4823 N. Damen, Chicago, IL 60625


Inspire Someone to Become an Art Collector

Chicago Artists Coalition's Chartwell Collectors Circle, Chartwell Insurance Services and Chubb Personal Insurance, is a dynamic group of both emerging and established collectors who share a strong interest in art and supporting Chicago’s role as an arts capital. As a special CAC membership level, Collectors Circle offers an exclusive calendar of events that broadens members’ knowledge about contemporary arts and culture. The group is regularly invited to exclusive members-only events throughout the year, primarily private collection tours and artist studio tours. Members also receive invitations to VIP events at the Chicago Artists Coalition, including the Benefit Auction Preview at Christie's (held in the spring) and THE ANNUAL Preview Reception (in the fall), amongst other programs. They also receive special access passes to EXPO Chicago, and other Chicago art events throughout the year. $175 per year for individual or $250 per year for household. 

CAC Chartwell Collectors Circle


The Gift of Information

Time to toot our own horn! Share a print subscription to CGN for 3 issues for $20 a year. 

If you sign up by December 10 and get in touch with us, we will mail a 2018 CGN Arts Guide or our fall magazine with a gift certificate to announce your 2019 gift subscription. The new edition will arrive in January. 

CGN has been spreading the spirt of art since the winter of 1982/83, and what began as a four page pamphlet to promote 16 galleries is now a 160 page annual arts guide, a summer as well as fall magazine featuring art news and interviews, and a comprehensive website telling you everything you need to know about art everyday in Chicago and the near-Midwest. 

Chicago Gallery News (CGN)

Tel 312 649 0064


We add new events and exhibitions to the CGN Calendar every day, so check it out to discover more holiday art events as well as plan for a new year of art in 2019.