Chicago Artists' Month opens doors
The mission of Chicago Artists' Month—to promote the visual-arts community—hasn't changed since it began ten years ago, but the scope has widened. The city's Department of Cultural Affairs, the primary sponsor of Chicago Artists' Month, boasts 180 programs this year, including commercial gallery shows and some suburban offerings. If that sounds like number fixing, don't worry—on the whole you won't feel cheated.
One of the mainstays of CAM, the 8th Chicago Art Open (Oct 10–24) is organized by the Chicago Artists' Coalition. The exhibition, showing the work of nearly 300 artists, takes place at the same huge warehouse space (847 W Jackson Blvd) that hosts the much-anticipated Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art (Fri 30–Sun 2). The Intuit show features more than 40 dealers of outsider and ethnographic arts from across the country, including Ricco Maresca Gallery from New York and Yard Dog from Austin, Texas.
In Pilsen, the 19th annual Dia de Los Muertos (through Dec 11) show at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum pays homage with its ofrendas (altars) to three Chicago artists who died in the past year: Carlos Cortez, Ed Paschke and Allen Stringfellow. CAM is also dedicated to their memory.
The best parts of this monthlong celebration are the open studios and neighborhood art walks, which provide the opportunity to visit spaces that are not normally open to the public. While some of the art walks involve lots of retail action courtesy of their respective chambers of commerce (e.g., art in hair salons and cafés), the real pleasure is visiting artists in their natural habitats.
Centered around Halsted and 18th Streets, Pilsen's 35th annual Artists' Open House (opening-night gala Fri 30, 6pm; Sat 1, Sun 2, noon–7pm) is the granddaddy of Chicago art walks, and it converges at lofts, studios, galleries and gardens owned by the Podmajersky family. The area continues to grow and now defines itself as the Chicago Arts District. More than 100 artists show work in spaces along Halsted from 17th Street to Canalport Avenue. Maps will be available at the visitor information center at Halsted and 18th Streets.
This is the fourth year of the curated show CS: 35 (2003 S Halsted St) which features 35 artists, among them book and paper artist Shawn Sheehy—a member of the Vespine Gallery on Halsted and one of CAM's 12 featured artists.
Up in Ravenswood, Lillstreet Art Center celebrates its 30th anniversary (4401 N Ravenswood Ave at Lawrence Ave, Sat 1, noon–6pm). The center, based in an old factory, started out as a tiny cooperative for potters and has expanded to include classes on fiber arts, drawing and jewelry making. There will be free workshops and studio tours throughout the day.
Just up the street, Ravenswood Studios (4865 N Ravenswwood Ave between Ainslie St and Lawrence Ave, Sat 1, 11am–5pm; by appointment through Oct 16) opens its doors. Featured here is one of Chicago's most promising postemerging artists, Oli Watt. Other artists in the building include Hugh Spector, Eileen Ryan, Alicia Warner and David Badinger.
Finally, from points north, the Rogers Park Open Studio Walk (Sat 1, Sun 2, 11am–5pm) hosts its fourth CAM stroll along 6900–7000 North Glenwood Avenue. About 20 studios, are open for visits and there will be 40 artists represented in booths along this two-block stretch. Pick up a map at the Lifeline Theatre, Heartland Cafe or the information booth at the festival.
For more information on Chicago Artists' Month, call 312-744-6630 or visit www.cityofchicago.org/cultural affairs.