Art 50 2018: Chicago’s Artists’ Artists

Aug. 31, 2018

Read the full article here.

Chicago has long been a destination for artists seeking to hone their practice and take their work to greater heights. Hence, it’s no coincidence that this art season opens with a retrospective of the original Hairy Who at the Art Institute of Chicago, while the Smart Museum’s major exhibition celebrates a broader spectrum of contemporaneous South Side artists—AfriCOBRA, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and the Wall of Respect collaborators. And yet, the Chicago of the late 1960s and early seventies looked little like it does today. While space might still be cheap relative to other metropolises, waves of gentrification and development have drastically transformed Chicago’s urban landscape, pushing affordable living to the further-flung edges of the city. Teaching and other work opportunities for artists are scarce and underpaid, while collectors remain conservative in taste and thus limited in their local investments. Fortunately, as our art historical legacies prove, Chicago has always been a place for artists to thrive amongst communal support, undertaking creative experimentation with a collective drive whether or not institutions are paying or paying attention. If the histories of Chicago’s artistic movements can teach us anything, it is that Chicago is a home for artists who take risks and make their own ways. This year’s Art 50—our pick of Chicago’s artists’ artists—is dedicated to them all, past, present, and future. (Elliot Reichert)