Following The South Side Spectrum: A Community Defined by Creativity Not Geography
By JACQUELINE LEWIS
Visitors who venture from Chicago’s established art centers can experience even more of the free, public spectrum of art that the city has to offer this fall. If you have wanted to check out these locations but aren’t familiar with where to go, use this list as a starting point and tour the uniquely creative, community-focused South Side in order to become acquainted with some of the area’s longest standing Institutions as well as glimpse exciting new cultural developments. Spend an entire day moving between each of the locations listed here, or stop in to any one on your own time, and you will start to appreciate what these often under-explored spaces have to offer.
Start in Hyde Park at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum, where you can see multiple works by internationally-known artists in an intimate yet spacious museum that offers a rich permanent collection as well as a dynamic exhibition schedule. During EXPO Art Week an opening reception for Samson Young: Silver Moon or Golden Star, Which Will You Buy Of Me? takes place September 17, 7–9pm. In his first solo museum exhibition in the U.S., Young premieres a trilogy of animated music videos that explore varying concepts of social progress and utopia.
Founded in 1974 this (free) museum’s collection includes works by artists from Toulouse-Lautrec and Otto Dix, to Frank Lloyd Wright and Nick Cave.
The University of Chicago’s Green Line Performing Arts Center is the most recent addition to the UChicago Arts + Public Life initiative, connecting academics with local artists in the neighboring South Side communities. Opened in late 2018 the center offers a professional theater space, the first in the community in decades, with a focus on community involvement, specifically training in the performing arts. arts.uchicago.edu/apl/glpac
While you are still in the area check out the Hyde Park Art Center, a hub for contemporary art – founded in 1939 – located near the lake on South Cornell Ave. Mounting about 20 exhibitions per year, offering classes for the public, plus hundreds of free events, there is something for everyone at every stage of arts engagement. HPAC even offers classes in curation as well as many opportunities for visual artists. Intersectional Touch, on view thru November 4, exhibits artists from HPAC’s professional development initiative. Artists may also apply for their own exhibitions.
Not quite two miles south of HPAC, past the Midway Plaisance and Washington Park, you will arrive at the Stony Island Arts Bank, founded by artist Theaster Gates in 2015 in the Dorchester neighborhood. A one-of-a-kind gallery, media archive, library and community center, the Arts Bank offers free classes – even yoga, dance and meditation – weekly events and art programming. The Bank, as it is locally known, holds extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays and is home to an extensive media archive that includes Frankie Knuckles’s vinyl collection. If you don’t know him, he is known as the Godfather of House Music.
Heading back north, between Bronzeville and Bridgeport, you will find the South Side Community Art Center, a Chicago Historic Landmark that has been thriving for 77 years. Founded by Dr. Margaret Burroughs and other African American artists, SSCAC promotes the legacy and future of African American art through its series of exhibitions as well as a popular artist talks that cultivate conversation and engagement with others in the Chicago art scene and beyond. sscartcenter.org
Along West 35th Street the Bridgeport Art Center, a 500,000 square foot arts base located in the former Spiegel Catalog Warehouse, prides itself on being a “multidisciplinary creative home” to more than 150 artists. With plentiful space to create and share art, including three galleries as well as multiple artist studios, small businesses, and even museums, on the 3rd Friday of each month from 7–10pm, you’re invited to enjoy free, lively opening receptions and events. There is parking in an adjacent lot.
Heading north towards downtown a final stop on the tour is the Shane Campbell Gallery, located in the South Loop. Campbell moved his gallery to the area after years in West Town. He offers exhibitions, as well as a shop bursting with media, music and rare books specifically curated by the artist on view – a unique opportunity to purchase books and glimpse the mind of the artist on display.
Upcoming exhibitions by Zak Prekop of Brooklyn and Chris Bradley from Chicago are lined up for fall 2019.
A New Direction – Following Changes on the City's South Side
In honor of its centennial, the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago is hosting celebratory exhibitions and plans all fall, including the completion of the Gallery Enhancements Project to improve the visitor experience in the galleries and to display artifacts from the museum’s collection that have not previously been publicly displayed.
Gallery Guichard, with the Purpose Foundation, received a formerly vacant lot from the City of Chicago to transform it into an exterior gallery with rotating sculpture exhibits.
Illinois Tech Master of Landscape Architecture students, Jiaming Sun and Yu Si, designed a fence for the Great Migration Sculpture Garden in Bronzeville. Named for the experience of African-Americans moving from the South to the North between 1916 and the 1970s, the garden includes a commissioned solar pyramid by Chicago artist Shala.
Gifted by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, a rotating selection of Henri Matisse’s Jazz prints is now on permanent display at the Logan Center.
Reflecting the spirit of inquiry at the University of Chicago, and working closely with artists, students, scholars, and the community, Logan Center Exhibitions also presents innovative exhibitions by emerging and established artists and supports ambitious new commissions and research projects.