Halloween + Day of the Dead Highlights in the Galleries

Zack Wirsum, Up All Night, These Days, Orange is the Only Sunshine We See, 2019.  Jean Albano Gallery.



Halloween this year is a different bag of tricks than usual, but whether you're home bound or getting festive from a distance, this weekend still offers some spooky art and ghoulish inspiration. With a full moon on Halloween on Saturday and Day of the Dead and All Saints Day on Sunday, the spirits are out! 

If you're looking for Instagramable costume ideas, check out our summary from 2019 (remember three versions of Bob Ross?) Below is our wrap up of festive exhibitions and art events taking place around Chicago this holiday! 

Trick or treat! 


Halloween History and Socially Distanced Trick or Treating

The Driehaus Museum has written about the history of Halloween on its blog. It's a good refresher about the pagan and Celtic origins of the holiday before it became about candy and suggestive costumes. Although people around the world view Halloween as a thoroughly American holiday, it has a far more complicated story than that. In fact, Halloween is a mash-up of ancient Celtic paganism, early Roman Catholicism, nineteenth-century American immigration, modern suburbanism and commercialism, and much, much more.

It all started about two thousand years ago, when the ancient Celts made sacrifices around sacred bonfires in celebration of the harvest’s end. Think of this as the moment the earth makes its transition from abundant autumnal life to silent wintry death, and—perhaps—a moment when the boundaries between the worlds of the living and dead are blurred. Read more here.

If you plan on trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, the Driehaus Museum will be giving away candy on Halloween from 3 - 7 p.m. No tickets required.


Courtney Timmermans, Skulls, 2013, air rifle BBs, cast resin, mixed media, 6 x 6 x 8 in. each 

Jean Albano Gallery

The gallery seems to have an abundance of art that suits this weekend's holiday, or they just have a creative eye for spooky association. They recently shared several works available at their River North gallery that are especially suitable this time of year, from Karl Wirsum and his son Zack Wirsum to Bonnie Lautenberg, Courtney Timmermans and Lee Grantham. 


Dragonfly Gallery

Over the course of two days the gallery will celebrate life and death by showing love and respect for those who have died. Through art inspired Dia de los Muertos, ofrendas (altars),  arts and crafts, we remember our loved one and celebrate life.  


The Art Center Highland Park

Plans for Dia de los Muertos are taking place in the suburbs as well. The exhibition, on view through November 14, includes prints from two portfolios published by Arceo Press: “Posada, 100 Year Legacy” and “Dia de Los Muertos, Common Ground.”  


Hyde Park Art Center Virtual Sunday

HPAC's latest Center Sunday, an all-ages program filled with art-making activities, workshops, and artist talks, held on the first Sunday of each month, will feature three, hour-long segments led by artists Delilah D. Salgado, Lillianna Chavarria, Kristin Cass and Cindy Lys. The event is free and open to the public virtually via Zoom. This Sunday at 1pm, join Hyde Park Art Center Resident Artist Delilah D. Salgado of Mujeres Mutantes and guest artist and activist Lillianna Chavarria to create a Dia De Los Muertos/Day of the Dead ofrenda (Spanish for ‘offering,’ a home altar or ritual display honoring an individual who has died) “Dedicated to Chicago” that will be showcased during this Zoom session. They will discuss Dia de Los Muertos and the meaning behind their altar currently on display at the Center’s current Artists Run Chicago 2.0 exhibition, and demonstrate how to create tissue paper cempasuchil (Mexican marigold flowers, referred to as the “flower of the dead” in Mexican culture and said to guide the spirits back to the altars of family members). “We honor our ancestors and tell the stories of those who came before us and those who we have been fortunate enough to know,” said Salgado.