Fall means many things to many people, but there are some central tenants that are reliable, and on which we can all depend in our fair, windy city. In Chicago, we savor a few remaining days of pleasant weather, while we start cursing those who wear cold weather gear too soon; we get competitive about making dinner reservations and fall plans in area restaurants and theaters. There is a slew of charitable events and benefits to put on the calendar. And there is a great deal of new art to check out and enjoy.
There are several levels of gallery viewership interest, if you will, all of which have their purpose. Some people come out just for the big opening nights, others wait until the dust settles to browse in peace. Some jam the galleries just for the free wine in tiny cups, or enjoy the free beer they can't normally get because they still have a student ID. Some hoppers come just to press the flesh and network a mile a minute, while others realize they've just spent 90 minutes in the same stairwell having a long overdue conversation. Some others are supporting artist friends who've worked months, maybe years to put their new work up on the walls at last. Many visitors are wonderfully surprised by the engery and passion at work in our city. The power of art is on full display this evening. The official opening of the fall gallery season is wonderful for a host of reasons - quality as well as quantity certainly among them. Below is a summary of what begins tonight and continues all month long, and beyond.
River North, West Loop + Trolleys:
First, there are dozens of openings. The majority of activity is centered in River North and West Loop, where most of the attention has been historically focused. Free trolleys are taking gallery hoppers between three main stops so everyone can get around safely and easily. Just hop on and off to pop into the many spaces along the way. If you want a map in advance, click here.
Then there are other areas of the city putting on their own festivities as well - there's a special reception at MetCap Bank in the historic Tree Studios on Ontario, and nearby on Michigan Avenue, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) is hosting an event for the paintings of Janet McKenzie. On the other end of Michigan Ave., the Fine Arts Building is open for its 2nd Friday, featuring many studios and artists at work.
2nd Friday is taking place in the Chicago Arts District in Pilsen East. This is just a warm-up before the big annual Pilsen East Artist Open House takes place in a couple of weeks, an event that has been going on for over 40 years. The area's history as an artist enclave in unmistakeable, especially when you wander around and peek into the backyard garden spaces, reminiscent of an arty Melrose Place, without the pool.
Independent artists open their studio doors to new patrons and collectors in emerging city art centers, such as Bridgeport, Wicker Park, and Pilsen at Lacuna Artist Lofts. The School of the Art Institute has exhibitions taking place in two of its own galleries, Betty Rymer and Sullivan.
The events continue after the openings are over, starting on Saturday morning, and then heading into Saturday night, when the openings pace is a little more manageable and you can explore some more city neighborhoods.
• There are two free gallery tours on Saturday, September 10. One is in River North from 11am-12:30pm. You can break for lunch before hitting the second tour of the day, in the West Loop from 1:30-3pm.
• The newly opened Hinge Gallery has a new exhibition opening 6-9pm. at 1955 W. Chicago Ave., featuring work by Jeffrey Forsythe and Dan Tague.
• Down in Pilsen on W. 18th street, you can take a welcome break at Prospectus Gallery, featuring brand new work by the painter Walter A. Fydryck: Provocative Attitudes.
• Rotofugi is a gallery and designer toy studio that wears many hats - their Saturday reception is a good reason to get up to Lincoln Ave. Toy Karma 3 is a new group exhibition curated by Mark Nagata, featuring hand-painted toys and original art inspired by Japanese toys.
• Finally, you could just commit yourself to benefitting the arts and winning some fabulous artwork at the famous auction to benefit the Renaissance Society. This year's wild bash, Trompe L'Oeil, takes place at the Geo Lofts on South Iron Street. There's even an afterparty, 10 PM-midnight, featuring DJ Lee Douglas (DFA). Tickets are $50 and include a Renaissance Society membership...
Beyond this weekend:
And next weekend, there's Gallery Weekend Chicago, which by and large is intended to get people from outside of Chicago to come here and check things out, but there are some events going on that we locals can take advantage of. And really, it's an event to watch, because there could be some seriously beneficial attention coming our way, as well as some fun plans ahead, for years to come. We wish the participants well!
Fall really is where the fun is in the art world, and September is just the beginning (we haven't even talked about October yet, which is Chicago Artists Month - one of the best event line-ups to focus on artists around.) We live in Chicago, and it's awesome - particularly rocking in the fall, showing off a good time as well as some sophisticated intellect at the same time. Enjoy it all, and be proud!