Preview of Summer's Art onTheMART: Frida Kahlo + The Obamas

Frida Kahlo, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama


By CGN Staff via PR

The City of Chicago keeps rolling through its cultural to-do list this week. This latest update brings together Art on theMART, Cleve Carney Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Art on theMART announced in partnership with Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, two major new additions to its summer program: The Obama Portraits (debuting June 17) and Frida Kahlo (starting July 5). All projections will be shown nightly at 9:00 and 9:30 p.m.

The Obama Portraits, (June 17 – September 16)

You thought the former President and First Lady hailing from Chicago were already larger than life? 

In conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago’s presentation of The Obama Portraits, Art on theMART will present a dynamically animated projection of the portraits of President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, respectively. Former Chicago residents, the Obamas have a unique connection to the city. Wiley painted President Obama against greenery, with chrysanthemums; the flowers have symbolic meaning as the official flower of Chicago. Amy Sherald captured the former first lady against light-blue ground, sitting and gazing directly at the viewer. Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald are the first African American artists commissioned to paint portraits for the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery's collection of a former President and First Lady.  A musical score will accompany the piece. 

The paintings can be viewed at the Art Institute of Chicago June 18-August 15.

Frida Kahlo, (July 5 – September 16)

Frida Kahlo: Timeless, was originally planned for summer 2020. A lot of things were. However, its now back on for this June, and the downtime allowed for some extra collaborative plans. 

On July 5, the eve of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s birthday, a new piece celebrating her work will be unveiled. On the occasion of the Frida Kahlo: Timeless exhibition at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art and the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage (June 5 – Sept. 6, 2021), the piece will feature several of Kahlo’s most recognizable works including Self Portrait with Small Monkey (1945) and Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress (1926). Accompanied by an orchestral score from Mexican composer Arturo Márquez, recorded by New Philharmonic, the projection commemorates Kahlo’s artistic legacy, which will be further explored in Frida Kahlo: Timeless, the most comprehensive presentation of Kahlo’s work displayed in the Chicago area in over 40 years.

About Art on theMART

Art on theMART can best be experienced for free from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street, where accompanying audio is also available. Current social distancing practices, based on recommendations from the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, must be observed by all Art on theMART visitors. For more information, visit

Art on theMART is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, projecting contemporary artwork across the 2.5-acre river-façade of theMART. This expansive permanent piece of public art continues Chicago’s legacy of providing both residents and visitors with exceptional art that is both free and accessible to all. Projections are visible to the public from Wacker Drive and along the Chicago Riverwalk.

The program content rotates seasonally and is selected with the assistance and expertise of the Curatorial Advisory Board. The City of Chicago and theMART work in partnership to manage and curate the projected artwork over the course of a 30-year agreement. Privately funded by Vornado Realty Trust, owner of theMART, Art on theMART marks the first time a projection of its size and scope is completely dedicated to digital art with no branding, sponsorship credits or messaging. The permanent projection system illuminates theMART with 34 state-of-the-art projectors totaling almost one million lumens. 

For more information, visit


Thumbnail, from spring 2021: The Adler Planetarium, Astrographics 04. Photography courtesy of Art on theMART