Hyde Park Art Center Launches Special COVID-19 Edition of Art Matchmaking Program

Artist Mark Yee with patrons the Williams family


Every three years, the Hyde Park Art Center relaunches its famed artist–patron matchmaking endeavor. It's a multifaceted, immersive art experience and benefit for the center, and its return is always greatly anticipated. In the best of times, the program gives much needed exposure and support to area artists, while also introducing new collectors to the world of commissions and artist relationships. It also raises funds for the art center and its programming. NJAPF facilitates lasting relationships between artists and patrons, a new base of support for artists, and investment in the vitality of Chicago’s cultural community.

Now, with the majority of working artists now unemployed or without their usual financial lifelines, HPAC launched a special COVID-19 edition of the program (the most recent edition of the program concluded at the end of 2019.)  The Art Center was inspired by one of its Board members who purchased art as a way to support artists through this difficult time. 

Taking place every three years, Not Just Another Pretty Face is a collaborative commissioning project created by Hyde Park Art Center. The Art Center arranges commissions between patrons and artists who create engaging personal works of art (from the traditional to the very untraditional).

The project has been a successful way for the Art Center to cultivate a very important part of the “ecosystem” that artists need in order to thrive – collectors – by embracing, and encouraging, the idea of patronage in contemporary art. The goal of the program, according to HPAC staff, is guided by the belief that artists need not only consumers (i.e., collectors) of their work, but also need a community of people who know and support them and value what they do.

To date, the Art Center has raised over $900,000—half of which goes directly into the hands of artists, with the other half going to support Art Center programs. Through Not Just Another Pretty Face, 375+ original works of art have been commissioned by 275 new and established collectors interested in investing in Chicago’s artists.

For this edition, here's what you need to know:

  • No art collecting experience is necessary, and there's something for every budget and style. Peruse the roster of artists available here.
  • Art Center staff will arrange virtual studio visits with artists and facilitate commissions and sales over the next few weeks.
  • The commission and/or sale fee will be split 50% to the artist and 50% as a tax-deductible donation to the Art Center’s relief fund, which will go directly to pay artists through our programs.

If you are interested in learning more, please fill out this form and someone from HPAC will be in touch.

Since its inception in the mid-1990s, Not Just Another Pretty Face has maintained its pursuit of three primary goals:

  • To support Chicago’s artists;
  • To make collecting and patronage accessible to a wider group of people; and
  • To explore the idea of portraiture in contemporary art.

My husband and I participated in the program several years ago and commissioned a wedding present that was a gift from my parents. We loved the selection process as well as the unveiling event and exhibition, and we have kept in touch with "our artist" Mel Watkin. Many people who have participated in NJAPF do so again, and again. This is proving to be a time that will be challenging for artists for a very long time. It is also a time when hopefully we recognize the importance of art in our lives and how it can help us during dark and uncertain days. The NJAPF COVID-10 edition offers opportunities for all.





Chad Kouri, Support Structure, hand cut vinyl on black paper, 11x14, 2019. Commissioned by Onyx Montes for the 2019 iteration of Not Just Another Pretty Face.