Last year’s Arts Issue opened with a story titled “The Past Keeps Happening”—and it does. A year later, we bring to you a new Arts Issue, packed with reviews and interviews, profiles and photographs. In these pages there’s history: years of hard work by our featured artists, the generations of people before them, and the historical canons that help us understand the importance of what they do. And in these histories, there lies potential for the future.
Standing among some quiet residential buildings on 23rd Street and tucked not far from Chinatown’s cluster of restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores on Wentworth is the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (CAMOC). Even with its doors flanked by two stone lions, hand-carved by artisans in China’s Fujian Province and donated to the museum by Chinese officials, CAMOC is pretty inconspicuous, and you might miss it if you aren’t looking for it. CAMOC is about as small as museums get, but contains much more than one might expect.
A crowd gathered in Daley plaza on August 15, 1967 to witness the unveiling of the “Chicago Picasso.” The installment was an unprecedented one—up until then, Chicago public sculptures had mostly taken the form of commemorative statues. The “Picasso” would signify a new direction for Chicago city art away from the commemorative style. Later installments like “Cloud Gate,” which are now entrenched parts of the downtown landscape, exemplified this artistic shift.
The weekly member meeting of the South Side Hackerspace (SSH) begins with a call to those in the room to “gather around the TV.” The TV in question is facedown on a table with its back wide open and its internal hardware exposed. It’s the electronic centerpiece of a table cluttered with wires and circuitry.
Like many musicians, JoVia Armstrong’s journey began early: she went from playing on pots and pans as a kid to becoming an accomplished percussionist, as member of the band JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, and an experienced teaching artist. JoVia is now onto her latest project: a music school that she runs out of her own apartment called Sounds About Write, which she started last September. Students can take lessons in a variety of instruments and sound technology, both in groups and one-on-one sessions. With different lessons taught by different teaching artists, the lessons range from guitar to songwriting to conga drums, and nearly anything in between. The school aims to make music education more accessible, and to instill a passion for the arts in every household.
Cultura in Pilsen, a grassroots gallery and arts organization, is in transition. Displaced from its original space and unsure of where it will end up, the organization is now striving to continue being a gathering place for Pilsen artists and activists.
On Sunday, February 26, the airy interior of the Zhou B Art Center hummed with activity. Student artists mingled with peers, parents, and school staff in a showcase of the state’s best artwork by high school students. This was the general exhibition for the Illinois High School Art Exhibition (IHSAE), thrown every year at the Bridgeport gallery by an association of Illinois art teachers to recognize the state’s outstanding student artists.
Community-oriented galleries like those in the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) are founded on the idea that encounters with art can be educational. Now, with a new exhibition called “Public School,” the gallery is exploring the possibility that education itself—meaning pencil sharpeners, cubbies, and swing sets—might be an object of artistic interest.