Photo by Sarah-Ji

Chicago’s artistic traditions often beg the question: who does art belong to? Many Chicagoans are kept out of the city’s insular theater institutions, bright galleries, and corporate-sponsored wall art, er, murals. With this edition of our annual arts issue we aim to throw open the doors to South Side and grassroots theater, street galleries, and much more, and we remind you of muralist Bill Walker’s philosophy that art is for the people, not “art for art’s sake” as has been the mantra of the art world. 

In our guide to South Side creative spaces, a roundup of theater companies and venues came about in response to recent conversations sparked by Free Street Theater about the visibility–or lack thereof—of the South Side in the city’s larger theater scene. We also preview four upcoming exhibits and find art in non-traditional spaces, from an Episcopal church to a grocery store. A photographer’s images of resistance and reimagination inspire others to work for collective liberation; and a singer frames his soulful music as a vehicle for radical vulnerability and social change. Throughout are peppered moments of joy and surprise, like the colorful “burger-flowers” that bloom across walls in Back of the Yards, Englewood, and Pilsen. 

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Census Spotlight Gathering Point Community Council and Greater Chatham Alliance provide free census training for Chicagoans

Muffins on the Move Less than a year after moving into Pullman, ‘Laine’s Bake Shop is on its way out

Hyde Park Community Players in Its Tenth Year The group gives its actors the long-term chance to grow

Who Was Bill Walker? “We don’t give a damn if Mayor Daley ever sees it! … It’s the ghetto’s answer to the Picasso.”

Brilliant Resistance with Donyae Asante The soulful pop artist talks about his new album and new directions

South Side Gallery Showcase Previews of current and forthcoming exhibits and festivals at unconventional South Side spaces

Land of the Free Free Street Theater celebrates fifty years with the world premiere of its new documentary

The Kozmology of Burger-Flowers → Moving between pop art and realism, Brenda Lopez’s murals explore her feelings and Latinx identity

Documents of Resistance Photographer Sarah-Ji aims to amplify a movement

Summer Camp Guide The Weekly’s 2020 guide to camps, internships, and more for kids and young adults

All the City’s a Stage A non-comprehensive guide to South Side theater

Artistic Evolution Ajani Jones takes on the landscape of modern rap

El Machete Illustrated A political cartoon by Eric J. Garcia

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