Potential buys peruse the selections at the Old Town Art Fair.
Summer is here. Short shorts are back, the beach is a cooler- and beach ball-filled playground, and neighborhood art fairs pop up like the summertime ice cream truck - you know, the one that plays the same 20-second keyboard tune as it circles a six-block radius. Looking for an abstract painting with drips that match the sweat beads running down your forehead? A nude for the living room? New work for little bucks by talented young Chicago artists? Our guide to neighborhood art fairs around Chicago ensures that you'll be able to start building an art collection without having to take out a second mortgage on your home. And you'll get to support Chicago talent at the same time.
57th Street Art Fair
Hyde Park kicks off the season with the 63rd annual 57th Street Art Fair. As Chicago's oldest juried art fest and one of the country's first art fairs, this historic, community-focused event features glass, jewelry, leather, photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, wood, ceramics and even fiber art. One of the fair's artists, Michigan-based Wayne Francis, uses "...art as a type of icon to depict that place where humans, animals and spirits come together in the natural world around us." He's new to the art-fair circuit, and will be traveling to Chicago for this prestigious fair. Chicago standby Dolan Geiman will be selling his quirky, nature-inspired collages and objects, and Milwaukee-based artist Katheryn Corbin will be selling her ceramic work, along with many other local artists. Buyer, no need to beware: The art fair offers a special Art Buying Bootcamp for anyone new to art buying, where first-timers can learn about finding the best price for a piece, figuring out what size fits their space, and how to "get creative" on a small budget.
Old Town Art Fair
Now in its 61st year, this venerable event returns with 260 artists that were hand-selected from a pool of 800 applications. Entirely volunteer-run, this fair boasts an assortment of two- and three-dimensional works of art, including painting, sculpture, prints, ceramics and photography, and jewelry. Music chairs Pete Greenwood and Shawn Rios have selected a host of talented, young, up-and-coming Chicago musicians to perform while art patrons shop. On June 12, The Chicago Mazes play mellow, laid-back tunes that sound like a combination of Stereolab mixed with the perkiness of The Beatles, and at 5 p.m. electronica band Pretty Good Dance Moves wants to get you to show exactly what its name says. On Sunday, June 13th at 5 p.m., Via Tania, who recently played at South By Southwest 2010, wraps up the fair with music that sounds like "a combination of St. Vincent and a fairy," according to New Gay Magazine. For the full line-up, see the website. The entrance fee is only $7, and all proceeds benefit local youth groups and neighborhood preservation projects. Free admission for kids under 12.
Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival
The Milwaukee Avenue Arts Fair proves Logan Square's creative power over the city with curated gallery shows with names like "The Gutter Exhibition," curated by Cheri Basak, Anne-Katrin Elliot, and Rebekah Brown, where the only submission requirement is that work "embodies the physical or mental gutter." Experimental art is complemented by live music and performance, local eats, the Logan Square Farmers Market, and outdoor cafe-style seating. If you'd prefer to buy art rather than just experience it, the indoor art market features work by creative folk from all over Chicago. Because the festival is huge, a complimentary trolley is available to help transport everyone from point A to point B.
Bucktown Arts Fest August 28-29
As the ice cream trucks begin pulling back into their parking garages on the outskirts of Chicago, the Bucktown Arts Fest wraps up the summer. Still going strong after 25 years, the non-profit, all volunteer-run fest features 190 artists working in a range of mediums, including visual art, poetry, music, theater, dance and film. Bucktown Arts Fest Committee Member Melissa Hellstern
says: "It is a unique opportunity to not only support smaller artists who have great talent, but also to meet them and hear what is special to them about the piece they have created." To show their love for the local talent that makes this fest possible, each year a local artist designs the festival's poster, and this year, it's artist Jill Lanza
. The selection committee for this fair includes graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
, as well as professional artists from around Chicago and the Bucktown neighborhood. Admission is free.