Collaborative Benefit: Hyde Park Art Center Plays Artistic Matchmaker

In order to thrive, Chicago artists need an active local collecting community. A unique program – Not Just Another Pretty Face (NJAPF) – created to benefit the Hyde Park Art Center also supports artists, while showing collectors the surprising ways to make art part of your life. NJAPF allows the Art Center to play matchmaker for artists and potential art buyers, facilitating a fun, accessible commissioning process that builds lasting relationships between artists and patrons, creates a new base of support for artists, and invests in the vitality of Chicago’s cultural community.

2019 marks the seventh installment of the program. A series of salons began early this year, and an exhibit unveiling the works will be presented in December, along with a catalog documenting the collaborations. We asked Linda and Mark Shapiro and artist Candida Alvarez, who worked together during the previous iteration of NJAPF, to share the story behind their artist–patron collaboration.  – Ginny Van Alyea, CGN Publisher


Candida Alvarez’s Dignity and Tranquility Last Forever hangs in the front room in Linda and Mark Shapiro’s home.

Hyde Park Art Center: Tell us about your experience with Not Just Another Pretty Face.

Linda Shapiro: We were fortunate to work with Candida right before she had an amazing exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2017. I’ve always admired her as an artist, and it’s been fun to follow her work.

Mark Shapiro: When she invited us to her studio, we had the chance to meet an old friend and neighbor in a different context and to see how an artist works.

Candida Alvarez: The commission with Linda and Mark was special because I have known them for years. Their son was a school buddy with my son. I was so touched.

HPAC: Describe the piece that resulted from your collaboration.

LS: Candida was very responsive to us. She made a beautiful square painting. I really like squares, and she picked up on it.

CA: I asked them to share photos and things that meant something to them as a family – a special collection of objects, travel and family photos, landscapes. Those images were my beginning point for the formal structure of the painting. The color was found through the photographs.

LS: We sent her photos, mostly of family, with the theme “At Home in Hyde Park.” We have a son, who for years wore a red fleece to school. There’s a little red splotch in the corner that I’ve decided is Michael’s fleece.

HPAC: Two years later, how do you reflect on the process?

LS: The whole process was great – going to a salon, sitting and reviewing artists, visiting Candida’s studio, attending the unveiling, and now living with the art!

CA: The entire process was fluid and surprising.

LS: We’ve never commissioned a piece of art before, and it was fun. We’ll do it again next time!


To get involved with Not Just Another Pretty Face please visit hydeparkart.org or contact Maria Nelson: mnelson@hydeparkart.org • 773-324-5520, ext. 1014

Publisher's note: since this interview was published in the summer print edition of CGN, the full list of artists participating for 2019 has been released, including: Juan Angel Chavez, Kelli Connell, Antonia Contro, Chad Kouri, Laura Letinsky, Industry of the Ordinary, Jay Tichy, Mary Lou Zelazny, and many others.