An Interview with Kate Lorenz, Executive Director of Hyde Park Art Center

Each week CGN interviews a local art-industry professional to discuss the ins and outs of running a space in the city of Chicago. This week we caught up with Kate Lorenz of Hyde Park Art Center.

Age: 41

Current Position: Executive Director, Hyde Park Art Center          

Hometown: Nashville, TN  

Previous Occupation: Management Consultant


5 favorites from the past week:

Restaurant: Rajun Cajun (Hyde Parkers know what I’m talking about!)
Shop: I always love popping into the MCA gift shop
Listen: WBEZ’s podcast, Making Obama
Activity: Seeing daylight at 6pm
Read: I need a good novel…any suggestions?


CGN: Tell us about your background and the journey that has led you to become Executive Director of Hyde Park Art Center?

KL: I had the great fortune of finding myself in an internship at the Hyde Park Art Center when I was in graduate school, which turned out to be the right place at the right time. The Art Center was just gearing up for a major growth spurt and move into our new (current) facility. I had an amazing mentor, Chuck Thurow, who hired me even though I had little experience at the time. One thing led to another, as they say, and years later, here I am.


CGN: Give us a day in the life!

KL: One of the reasons I’ve been doing this as long as I have is that every day, and every year, is different. But my time is generally filled with growing support for our work, joining broader efforts with our colleagues at other institutions to strengthen the field, working with our board, getting to know the work of artists, chatting with community members in our halls and classrooms, and everything in between.


CGN: How would you sum up your experience during your time with Hyde Park Art Center? 

KL: I’ve learned how fulfilling it is to witness the power of many people working to make things happen. I’ve also learned about the importance of caffeine and optimism.


CGN: Most exciting collection you have ever worked with?

KL: As a non-collecting institution that primarily shows new work by living artists, collections are not our bread and butter. And, honestly, I could never choose the most exciting artist we’ve worked with (that would be like Sophie’s choice!). But I will say that work being made here in Chicago holds its own nationally and internationally and is right in our backyard.


CGN: Share some successes as well as challenges this year.

KL: It’s been exciting to be a part of the Terra Foundation’s Art Design Chicago initiative. We’ve been working with curator Juarez Hawkins to show rare work from the 70s and 80s by artist Bill Walker, one of the forefathers of Chicago’s mural movement who is best known for his work on the Wall of Respect. This is one of the rare times we’ve shown existing work by an artist who is no longer alive, but the content remains so relevant to the city that it fit perfectly in our program (so here’s indeed a collection we’ve worked with). The exhibition has provoked exciting artistic responses from artists such as Dorian Sylvain who created an inspiring mural in our building in response; as well as from Miguel Aguilar (Kane One), Rahmaan Barnes (Statik), Liz Lazdins (Beloved), and Lavie Raven (Raven) who collaborated on a dynamic graffiti work that wraps the outside of our building.


CGN: What do you want to tell a young person considering this career path?

KL: Come on in – the water’s great! It’s wonderfully fun and gratifying work, but also has plenty of challenges like any career. And don’t be afraid to do the grunt work – we all do it.


CGN: What do you look for in an artwork? When searching for yourself, what speaks to you?

KL: My interest usually starts with the artists themselves and wanting to hear more about what they have to say.


CGN: Favorite cultural pursuit outside of the art world?

KL: I love seeing theater and appreciate the power of storytelling that happens on a stage. Plus there was a time in high school I pretended to be an actor, so I can relive those days vicariously.


CGN: What should we expect to see next from Hyde Park Art Center in 2018?

KL: Anna Kunz’s solo installation, Color Cast, just opened and it is stunning (it closes June 24th, so plan to come down before then). Later in the year, we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ground Floor, our biennial exhibition that features artwork by some of Chicago’s most promising emergent talent coming out of Chicago’s five excellent MFA programs. You’ll see a breadth of work by artists you’ll want to keep an eye on who are doing really interesting things.


Kate Lorenz is Executive Director of the Hyde Park Art Center. For more information about the HPAC please visit: Hyde Park Art Center.