art center

Artist Claire Ashley (left) speaks with Allison Peters Quinn, Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) director of exhibitions, as she sets up her yet-to-be-named inflatable piece for the HPAC’s Artists Run Chicago 2.0 exhibition opening Sept. 1.

The Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) will open "Artists Run Chicago 2.0" for a two-month run on Sept. 1, presenting works out of 50 artist-run spaces in the Windy City and beyond, from more than 200 people.

It will be the first exhibition to open in the neighborhood since the beginning of the pandemic; it is free, though attendees must schedule a time to visit in advance.

"Chicago has this layer of underground spaces that fuel what happens at the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), the Hyde Park Art Center, Smart and all these other places," said curator Allison Peters Quinn. "These are the spaces where they take chances on the artists and they can be experimental and maybe not as polished as you would see at the MCA, but it's really at this stage about the ideas more so than the finished product sometimes."

The bigger museums were responsible for choosing the artists, and Quinn and her fellow curator, Noah Hanna, helped choose the works from the artists and set up HPAC's galleries.

"It's more about the message than the output," Quinn said. "That can be hard to grapple with, but for this show, I think it's OK, because it's about those voices. This show has so many different voices, and that's because Chicago has so many different voices."

The two had two or three pieces assembled in the galleries before the shutdown commenced and delayed the show. Some of the spaces that were originally to have contributed work to the exhibition have closed or refocused their energies towards social justice instead of art instillations, but the large majority have remained. Three or four are directly addressing Black Lives Matter with their art.

"All these spaces have kind of had a community-focused drive to them to begin with," Hanna said. "Towards the beginning of the spring, they were focusing a lot on opportunities to keep artists engaged through a lockdown. After George Floyd, a lot of them shifted back into that kind of altered sense of community engagement, which I think we've seen in a couple of installations."

Hanna still said "Artists Run" has not been so much re-conceptualized: art, alongside much of the American intelligentsia, was righteously preoccupied with racial inequality for years before the George Floyd killing, and artists made racism and the experience of race up front and central to their work.

Hanna cited a push in institutional critique responding to crowdsourced criticism of major institutions for their complacency in American inequalities. He said the show is a chance for a boots-on-the-ground perspective into the local art scene at the present time.

"There's definitely a push away from traditional gallery aesthetics towards, I think, a more relational aesthetics focus, a reach to community-based programming, arts practices that engage with larger topics on a person-to-person basis, whether that's through performance, programming, direct-to-viewer engagement," he said.

Locally, works from the 4th Ward Project Space, 5338 S. Kimbark Ave., and The Silver Room, 1506 E 53rd St., are included. Hanna and Quinn said to look for video, projection, 2D and 3D work. One artist rebuilt a gazebo art space that once stood in Garfield Park; another build a library reading space. And, a sign of the times, there is a giant wall of toilet paper.

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