It begins in Bridgeport and continues throughout the month of October. Whether you take a trolley tour of the galleries or choose to take a walk on South Halsted Street at midnight to check out the storefront exhibits, every day is a celebration of Chicago artists and Chicago neighborhoods. Free. And only in Chicago.
The 2012 Chicago Artists Month celebrates ‘Art Block by Block’ with an opening night event taking place on three separate blocks in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. The Bridgeport Block Party is Friday, October 5, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at three locations in Bridgeport: the Bridgeport Arts Center , the Co-Prosperity Sphere and the Zhou B Art Center. Free trolleys are vailable to make it easy to travel between locations.
Three of the featured artists will take center stage on this evening starting with Dobrila Pintar of Eleven Eleven Jewelry whose exhibit at the Bridgeport Art Center will include glass beads and small sculptural pieces, as well as a Small Furniture and Functional Objects showroom. Sergio Gomez, Curator and Director of Exhibitions at the Zhou B Art Center, will exhibit his acrylic works of the human form at Zhou B. The Co-Prosperity Sphere will celebrate the opening of ‘Flash Mobbed and Dolloped’, which showcases paintings and illustrations by Ian Ferguson a.k.a. hydEON.
While many of the featured artists are Chicagoans, some, like Ferguson have selected the City as their home and workplace. “I have chosen to live and work in Chicago for one reason: I am compelled by the architecture here.” Ferguson is a recent transplant from the West Coast stating, “I developed a fascination for the level of detail and brickwork in old Chicago architecture.”
A featured event is ’20 Neighborhoods’ which opens in the Woman Made Gallery on October 5 – 31 and is a project that unites women from 20 different neighborhoods including featured artist Victoria Martinez. An interdisciplinary artist, whose work incorporates the urban environment, Martinez shares some of her creative process. “I go to marketplaces in Pilsen and other neighborhoods for materials. I also like going to thrift stores and finding whatever I can find.”
Martinez isn’t the only featured artists to find the roots of their artistic pieces in thrift shops. Featured artist Jeremiah Lee, whose cigar box guitars are not only acoustically sound but also visually stunning, states, “If I find a really great trinket, it might be the design inspiration for my entire piece.” His exhibition, ‘Deco-Sonic: Handcrafted Cigar Box Guitars’ open this Friday and continues through October 20 at the Packer Schopf Gallery and includes a performance on Saturday, October 13 at 3:00 p.m.
Artists Seana Higgins and Anne McNamee met as six-year-olds on the swings at Hayes Park on the southwest side, and both grew up to be practicing artists and arts educators. These two featured artists will lead a one-day workshop exploring the intersections of place and identity entitled ‘I Am From: Identity through Exploration of Place’ at the South Chicago Art Center on Saturday, October 13, 1-5 p.m.
“When I started to look at why I was interested in this idea of place, I realized it really came back to Chicago, back to an interest in Neighborhoods. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. Both of my parents also grew up on the South Side, and their parents before them. Chicago holds my history,” said McNamee.
Chicago’s streets hold the art history of featured artist Hebru Brantley, a Bronzeville native who uses a variety of surfaces and media including wood, coffee and tea and draws influences from pop culture icons. The exhibition, ‘Street Images: the City Speaks through Art’ begins on Sunday, October 21 with an opening reception and continues through December 8 at Trinity United Church of Christ. The exhibition explores the works of black public artists/muralists and their relationship to the culture, spirit and energy of Chicago.
On October 20, Southside Hub of Production, a local independent cultural center whose aim is to creatively engage with the surrounding neighborhood through the arts, will host a full day of projects, exhibition, conversations and skill sharing with informal art education and community learning. Leading the conversations will be Chicago Artists Month featured artists John Preus and Laura Shaeffer who co-founded and curate the center, and lead a range of community programs along with collaborator Jim Duignan.
“We are trying to look at what is lacking in our neighborhood and address what is lacking creatively. We’re also trying to propose that this kind of artist activism could happen in everyone’s neighborhood,” said Shaeffer.
Other exhibits: ‘Chicago Sculpture Exhibit’
Thirty large scale outdoor sculptures by Illinois artists are displayed throughout North Side neighborhoods in this 11th annual sculpture exhibit, formerly known as the Lakefront Sculpture Exhibit.
An afterimage is an optical phenomenon that persists in one’s field of vision even after exposure to it has ceased. The Depaul University Art Museum hosts the work of 24 contemporary artists in this exhibition.
‘The Installation Experiment’
A group of Chicago-based artists have created installations in seven storefront galleries along the 1800 block of South Halsted Street. The exhibition, lit 24 hours a day, is visible from the sidewalk; the public is invited to view the installations anytime during the exhibition’s run.
‘Preston Jackson: Seeing Beyond’
Featured Artist Preston Jackson creates bronze reliefs, three-dimensional figurative work and freestanding monumental sculptures. In this exhibition, his sculptures depict neighborhood images, expressive characters and everyday situations.
‘AREA: A Survey Show of Logan Square and Avondale Vicinity Artists’
This exhibition features the innovative work being produced by artists working across the Logan Square and Avondale areas. Among them is featured Artist Mary Ellen Croteau who, with wit and humor, addresses the absurdities of social norms. She makes everything from installations to artist books and uses a variety of media, including traditional painting, photography, Xerox and assemblage.
‘Lawrence Avenue Book Piling’
North Branch Projects is an independently run project space specializing in book arts. At this event, the general public can help fold, stitch and glue covers for handmade books. The event also includes a series of presentations, demonstrations and performances celebrating the cultural spaces that make up the diverse neighborhood of Albany Park. Featured Artist Regin Igloria, who facilitates the event, founded North Branch as an outlet for exploring the creative process in a neighborhood where few resources for the arts exist.
For more information about the featured artists and the complete schedule of the events and exhibitions for Chicago Artists Month. Pick up the Chicago Artists Month official program guide in the September 27 issue of ‘Time Out Chicago’. Programs will also be available for free at the Chicago Cultural Center Visitor Centers..