The Chicago art scene has never been New York’s in terms of the number of overall galleries, artists, critics, and patrons. But, as a biased Chicagoan, I’d argue that this has been a benefit to many of our artists and by extension, the world at large. While we’ve won renown for our collections and art institutions, the local artists found their own paths to supporting themselves and their peers. One could argue that this has helped artists dig deeper and develop their personal styles to a greater degree and to even be irreverent(!) towards prevailing movements, which, of course, is where the really interesting stuff comes in.
Getting into the history of art in Chicago is more a novel than a blog post, but it’s worth digging into the history of groups and smaller museums such as the Hyde Park Art Center, the DuSable Museum, the Chicago Imagists, the Public Art Workshop, Movimiento Artistico Chicago, and Artemesia, which played especially important roles for artists in the 1960s and 70s. These entities fostered creative environments, outlets for social activism and overall support in a city that is and was incredibly diverse but not investing much in its local artists. We’ve exported many of our best and most innovative artists through the years, but their roots in Chicago were undeniably crucial to their development.
This is why we were so excited to connect with the Chicago Artists Coalition (CAC), another group that grew out of the 1970s movement to create a better environment and future for Chicago’s artistic community. As the identity and needs of local artists have evolved, the Coalition’s approaches and advocacy have adapted to keep artists working and supported. A number of workshops are hosted in a wide variety of mediums, including providing opportunities for emerging artists to hone their ability to mount professional exhibitions in the CAC’s gallery space. You know what building and installing an exhibit requires? Incredible amounts of creativity and lead preparators who can teach best practices and innovative, experimental methods for installation and exhibition? Yes. But it also requires, well, tools.
We’ll show off some installation building (something I’ve certainly never gotten to see in action) in the near future with the help of some Craftsman tools and fantastic teachers and Chicago artists. In the meantime, check out current workshops and exhibitions happening at the CAC!