There’s nothing quite like spring in Chicago. Since at least November, there’s hardly been a day when it was not miserable to be outside for any period of time. When the sunset finally moves past 5pm, the temperature climbs into the fifties, and the year’s first dandelions bloom across the city, Chicagoans emerge from their cocoons too. There are more people outside, walking, playing in parks. It’s like the city is itself something that wakes up and stretches out, ready to do things and go places again.
Once again, we at the Weekly decided to present our guide to South Side summer camps in the spring, so that students and their families can begin planning out their not-so-dog-days well before school lets out. This guide features nearly thirty camps, youth programs, and internships for South Side kids to explore the best Chicago has to offer them. While there are many repeats, we’ve included some not seen before, like camps at the Adler and even a boat building camp.
The South Side, which has a rich history of contributions to the visual arts, has been gaining recognition in recent years for its experimental, emerging, and DIY-style of artists and art making. Often bringing lesser known artists and styles into the fray, these new spaces challenge traditional notions of what a gallery is with their wide-ranging programming, choice of artists, and remarkable use of space. For this piece, the Weekly visited and spoke to a selection of makers and art spaces spread across the South Side.
Three years ago, Zoe Nyman started organizing successful open mics and backyard events in Bridgeport, but it was only last October that the Backyard Series took shape. That was when Nyman collaborated with musician and designer Landon Tate to bring around two hundred people to an open mic, poetry, and music event titled “The Backyard Series” located in Nyman’s backyard in Bridgeport. The project grew quickly since its launch in the fall, expanding to institutional venues such as the Experimental Station in Woodlawn. Over coffee at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Nyman sat down with the Weekly to talk about the project’s origins, accomplishments, and ambitions for the future.
On a bitterly cold night in early February, the reflections of twinkling string lights are dancing across the polished hardwood floors of Galaxie 2.0, a quasi-DIY space in Ravenswood. The night’s all-ages show is a food drive and fundraiser for the Chicago Food Depository, an organization that distributes 159,000 meals daily to Cook County residents. The five-band lineup has drawn an impressively mixed crowd of suburban punks, hardcore music veterans, and South Side metalheads. Of the five bands playing tonight, four are hardcore bands from around the city and its suburbs. The five members of the one, lonely emo band—Habitats—all hail from either Little Village or West Lawn, neighborhoods on the South Side.
Recently, I took a Japanese calligraphy class for the first time. As the instructor set up the materials on the table, he showed me a variety of tools, including brushes with thin and fat bristle, handmade fine oil soot Ink Sticks, and my favorite: some of his own collection of calligraphy work. The way the black ink settled into the paper, the strokes thin in some places and bigger in others, the way each symbol resembled his knowledge and control of the brush, struck me as it reminded me of another art form I’ve become interested over the years: graffiti-writing.
Brenda Phillips and Linda Hall are veteran DJs on WHPK’s Jazz Format. They’re not siblings, but on air they are “The Twins.” They invited me up to the station for the first half hour of their radio show, while they played CDs from their individual collections. This interview was conducted to the tune of Houston Person’s “I Want to Talk About You,” chosen by Brenda, and Oscar Pettiford’s “Bohemia After Dark,” chosen by Linda. The Twins’ show, “Journey Into Jazz,” airs on WHPK 88.5FM every other Sunday from 2pm to 4pm.
This January, the Smart Museum of Art welcomed two new exhibitions which pose important questions about identity and inclusion. The museum’s front gallery houses “Solidary & Solitary” from the Joyner/Giuffrida Collection. It consists of mostly abstract works created by artists of the African diaspora, and serves as a meditation on what it means to be a Black artist moving in solidarity with the race while maintaining a solitary identity. The rear gallery space features “Smart to the Core: Embodying the Self,” which presents provocative ways to contemplate the self-portrait.
Last July, Armani Howard, an artist from Roseland, had his first solo show, exhibiting “Chapter 5: This Kingdom Come” of his work, at Mo Faux Studio on the Northwest Side. The gallery was welcoming, and Appleby’s “Lady Sunshine” played from time to time.