Embrace the Joy and Art of the Season

The tree in Daley Plaza (before moving to Millennium Park) next to the Picasso


Quick! The holidays are upon us! This can either be stressful or a chance to be inspired by the season. In the CGN office, with our annual guide deadline behind us (early!) we are having fun thinking of all the ways we can actually enjoy art and the holidays this month, though we are highly aware that the shortened season means we have a lot to pack in in the next couple of weeks.

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. 

Here for you is an artistic round-up of under-the-radar things to experience as well as share with loved ones from now until the new year. Go check out a museum you haven't visited before, take a selfie with the Art Institute's wreathed lions, buy art from a student, and just try to add some creativity and a unique spirit to your holidays. From luxe auctions to visits with Santa, there is a lot to do! 

There are also, of course, many ways – from checking out public art to attending a gallery talk or artist demonstration – to enjoy art without spending a dime.

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. 

Enjoy art however you can this time of year, and be on the lookout soon for our red, 2020 CGN Arts Guide, arriving mid-month! 



The Art Institute's Lions are festive

Buildings Decorated for the Holidays

The Chicago Architecture Center rounded up a list of some of the city’s iconic architecture decorated for the holidays. As they say, these buildings bring new meaning to the phrase “deck the halls”, including: the Railway Exchange Building (former home of CAC), 875 N. Michigan Ave (formerly John Hancock Center), the Art Institute of Chicago, Daley Plaza and Christkindlmarket, and others. 

CAC also offers many walking and bus tours of architecture throughout the area this time of year. Plus they have a full store of design and architecture-themed items in their new center on the Chicago River at the Michigan Ave. bridge, with special discounts for CAC members. 

And this Saturday from 1-2pm CAC offers a family day featuring Gingerbread Bungalows with Pastry Chef Gale Gand.

Chicago Architecture Center



EXPO CHICAGO is selling a limited edition print by artist Nick Cave as well as an EXPO 2019 poster. 

EXPO CHICAGO Limited Edition Nick Cave Print/Poster 

EXPO CHICAGO unveiled a special 2019 Poster, designed by Nick Cave and Bob Faust of Facility, at the fair in September. The image is a collectable momento to the artistic legacy of Chicago. Now through December 30, use promo code "HOLIDAY20" to score 20% off the artist-designed poster. A portion of all proceeds will go to Facility Foundation, which provides scholarships and opportunities for emerging and established artists alike. This is a great, affordable way to own a frameable piece from the artist that T Magazine hailed as "The Most Joyful, and Critical, Artist in America."

The limited edition print is $3,000. The poster is $50.



A miniature menorah is placed in Mrs. James Ward Thorne's A-37: California Hallway, about 1940. Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne.

The Holiday Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute

We highlighted this one last year, but we have to include it again. 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. The Thorne Room tree and accoutrements are based on a famous engraving of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria and their children surrounding a trimmed and toy-bedecked tree, an image that would forever popularize this holiday fixture. 

Other ornamented rooms include: 

  • 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 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 New Orleans, New Mexico, and the Pennsylvania Dutch (German) rooms filled with regional treats of the season
  • The 1930s French Library with a tiny taste of Art Deco holiday glamour
  • The traditional Chinese interior filled with shadow puppets and instruments that would have been used to celebrate the Chinese New Year as well as other festive occasions

The Art Institute of Chicago


Shop the School of the Art Institute

The SAIC Store is the only online retail website that offers official School of the Art Institute of Chicago apparel and accessories, many of which are clever ways to support the school and to don cheeky messages about life as an art student. Popular t-shirts and accessories sell out fast, such as the falling ice pin (pictured above) to show your Chicago winter pride, and this 'sporty' t-shirt touting SAIC's remarkable athletic legacy...

SAIC Store


Wilson 1st Edition, Pl. 35 Winter Falcon; Magpie; Crow

Holiday Gallery Tours at Joel Oppenheimer

On Saturdays through the end of the year Joel Oppenheimer Gallery, located in the Tree Studios near Michigan Ave., is offering short behind the scenes tours of Oppenheimer's Audubon and Natural History Art Collections from the 17–19th centuries. Tours begin at 11am on Saturdays during the Holiday Season and last about 20 minutes.

Joel Oppenheimer Gallery


Wrap it Up!

Gallery Victor Armendariz opens its annual holiday sale of works from the studio (Affordable art! Emerging! Small! Shareable!) on Friday, December 6 in River North. 

Gallery Victor Armendariz


Santa at the Driehaus Museum

For the next two weekends you can see Santa at the Driehaus Museum just off of Michigan Ave. There's hardly a more festive way to time travel to the Gilded Age. The museum offers timed tickets for 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and Noon. Children 3–17: $8, Adults: $15, 2 & under: FREE. Get your picture taken with Santa, and afterward, get in the spirit with holiday games, live music, and performances as you explore the museum.

The exhibition Eternal Light: The Sacred Stained Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany is also on view. 

Richard H. Driehaus Museum


Suit by Vivienne Westwood, 1990s

Luxe Holiday Auction at Hindman

Hindman is having an online-only Luxe Holiday auction featuring Property from Ebony Fashion Fair: The Final Show starting this Friday, December 6.  The auction contains the last available collection of clothing from Ebony Fashion Fair. Created in Chicago at Johnson Publishing Company in 1958 by the company’s co-founder, Eunice Walker Johnson, Ebony Fashion Fair became the world’s largest traveling fashion show and featured in cities around the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The auction will include iconic and exceptionally rare designs from Ebony Fashion Fair by Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Emanuel Ungaro, Pierre Cardin, Patrick Kelly, Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Issey Miyake, Bob Mackie, Jean-Louis Scherrer, Christian LaCroix and many more.

In addition to Ebony Fashion Fair designs, Luxe Holiday features an impressive collection of luxury couture, fur and accessories for the holiday season.



How to Buy Fine Art as a Gift

Visit the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts to hear from Chicago artists Steve Puttrich, Virginia Ferrante-Iqbal and Mary Longe about how to look at and buy a painting for the pleasure of someone else. Learn how to consider what a person might like, and art that might please them. Understand basics of the art market and investment potential. The artists will give a tour of P&C's current show by the Plein Air Painters Chicago as a way to illustrate the key points of the presentation. 

Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Arts



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 9 and get in touch with us, we will mail a 2019 CGN Arts Guide or our fall magazine with a gift certificate to announce your 2020 gift subscription. The new edition will arrive in mid-December. 

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. 

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