Hyde Park Art Center
Address: 5020 South Cornell Ave. Chicago, IL 60615
Contact: Brook Rosini, Marketing & Communications Manager
Open Hours: M-F, 9 am – 5 pm
Monday – Thursday: 9 am – 8 pm
Friday & Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm – 5 pm
How is the project operated?
501(c )(3) nonprofit
How long has it been in existence?
Approaching 75th anniversary; founded in 1939.
What was your motivation?
The Hyde Park Art Center was founded in 1939 by Senator Paul Douglas and other leaders of the New Deal. Very much in the spirit of the time, Harold Hayden, a leading Chicago artist and the Art Center’s first director, proclaimed that “art should be found wherever people work and live.” The Art Center was conceived as a democratic forum at which patrons, the general public, and artists at all levels would engage in challenging the academic norms of art. Very soon after it began, the Art Center threw open its doors to the general public by providing studio classes in addition to its exhibitions.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
Currently, the Art Center has a staff of 10 full-time and 2 part-time positions, plus a faculty of about 35 teaching artists, a handful of interns, and dozens of volunteers
How are programs funded?
The Art Center earns about 1/3 of its income primarily through tuition for studio art classes, another 1/3 from private foundations, another 1/3 from individual donations
Who is responsible for the programming?
The Art Center’s staff works together to develop and execute programs. Under the leadership of our Executive Director, Kate Lorenz, the Director of Education oversees all arts education programs, including on-site artist professional development programs, on-site studio art classes, and off-site outreach programs in Chicago Public Schools, while the Director of Exhibitions determines the lineup of approximately 20 exhibitions per year, coordinating occasionally with guest curators to mount some shows.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Each year, the Art Center produces:
1. 20 exhibitions of 3 month durations each.
2. 200 classes over four quarters of approximately 10 weeks each.
3. About 60 public events including artist talks, symposia, art making events, and festivals.
4. Summer camps that run from the beginning of June through the end of August and serve about 250 youth.
How is your programming determined?
The Hyde Park Art Center’s founding mission is simple: to stimulate and sustain the visual arts in Chicago. Today, it accomplishes this mission through a program model that challenges traditional roles of artists and community members and acts as a magnet for diverse people and creative activity. Central to this model is an inclusiveness that ensures new voices are continually heard.
The Hyde Park Art Center’s Unique Program Model
The Art Center’s programs each contribute to an area (or multiple areas) of its model’s cycle—develop the next generation of artists by ensuring artistically inclined/curious people of all backgrounds have access to resources – engage the broader public through accessible, relevant programming – connect this public and artists in meaningful ways – support these interactions as an important part of the people’s daily lives – influence the success of artists careers – ensure these successful artists and culturally engaged community members can share their skills and talents with others.
This model and philosophical approach contributes to an environment in which creativity, at every level, thrives. It is particularly supported by the Art Center’s primary programs: an open access community-based school; partnerships with Chicago Public Schools that ensure students (particularly low-income students) have access to visual arts education and a creative community; a residency program; free public programming and interactive events that engage new audiences with the visual arts; and a nationally recognized exhibitions program that supports Chicago’s artists.
Finally, this environment is supported and fed by the Art Center’s physical space, which itself acts as a community resource and social hub—the result of a successful capital campaign and facility project in 2006. The Art Center’s meeting room and library are in continuous use by community members, teens hanging-out after school, local organizations holding meetings, groups hosting film-screenings, and even knitting groups and quilting circles gathering weekly. The onsite café (Istria Café) is constantly buzzing and provides the Art Center with another layer of visitors. This consistent use of the space by an audience that is notably socio-economically diverse provides the Art Center’s programming with a vibrancy and exchange not found elsewhere.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
The Art Center’s exhibitions program is focused on showcasing primarily Chicago artists at key points in their career, supporting their ability to experiment with new practices and ideas, and connecting them to a broader audience. The Art Center supported over 150 artists over the last year in a combination of major solo exhibitions, socially relevant curated group shows, and innovative programs that fill specific needs in the community. The Art Center favors artists with diverse backgrounds and encourages artists that explore the discourse of contemporary art and culture.
What’s working? What’s not working?
The Art Center is uniquely both a community space serving its local community, as well as a nationally and internationally recognized contemporary art exhibition space. This allows the Art Center make its greatest impact through its ability to bring together neighbors, students, families, artists and collectors to learn from each other and participate in the artistic process.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
The Art Center strives to be a welcoming, inclusive space where artists, art-lovers, and art curious at all ages, levels, and backgrounds can interact with each other and art in unexpected, fulfilling, and impactful ways. Specifically, the Art Center has three main goals:
1. Creating New Opportunities for Artists: The Art Center has a long history of providing Chicago’s artists with exhibitions that challenge them to experiment in new ways, teaching opportunities, commissions, and access to a creative community and support system. Now, the Art Center is invigorating and diversifying the pool of artists who achieve success in their careers and practice.
2. Transformative Education: To increase access to the visual arts for people from all walks of life and to ensure that the artists of tomorrow reflect the community’s diversity, the Art Center is reinventing its school and education programs to provide greater access to artists at all levels and give them the resources they need to succeed.
3. Investing in the Ability to Adapt, Innovate, and Maintain Excellence: To support all of these activities and ensure the Art Center remains focused on its mission and impact, the organization is building its capacity to sustain its work.
Each of these strategies provides access to the visual arts and arts learning opportunities to individuals for whom traditional models prove prohibitive, especially those from communities and neighborhoods experiencing historic disinvestment. To this end, the Art Center is filling critical gaps in opportunities for underserved people to participate in the arts by establishing multiple professional and educational pathways for the art curious and artists at every level to pursue the visual arts.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
Three specific programs that we are most excited about are:
1. The Center Program. This six-month program offers artists ongoing critical feedback about their work, a peer network, mentors in the field, access to studio space, and the opportunity to develop a body of work for an exhibition. A group of 12 artists meet bi-weekly with a program facilitator and visiting arts professionals: teachers, critics, and curators such as Dawoud Bey, Juan Angel Chavez, Susan Snodgrass, Annie Morse, Tricia Van Eyck, and more. Participating artists are at varying stages in their careers, from emerging artists to those with extensive professional experience. The program is focused on artists’ studio practice, helping them develop their work conceptually while contextualizing it within the larger art world. This past year, The Center Program was piloted successfully and the Art Center found that demand far outstripped all expectations. The Art Center is looking forward to the official launch of a much-expanded version of the program in January 2013.
2. The Residency. The Art Center is excited to launch a newly re-imagined residency program in October of this year. The Art Center’s residency program will build exchange between the local community and artists from around the world while providing time and studio space for artists to work in ambitious new ways. The inaugural Jackman Class includes four artists who practice internationally, hailing from India, Asia, and Europe, who will be at the Art Center for eight to twelve weeks each from September 2012-August 2013, and one Chicago-based artist who will be in residence for a year. Intentionally, the Art Center has chosen artists whose projects benefit from diverse public engagement and will connect with the city’s available resources and diverse communities.
3. Not Just Another Pretty Face®. Not Just Another Pretty Face® is a commissioning project created by the Hyde Park Art Center. The Art Center arranges commissions between patrons and artists who will produce engaging personal works of art (from the traditional to the very untraditional). This project allows anyone to support Chicago’s artists directly while also supporting the Art Center and its programs: artists receive 50% of the commission price, the Art Center receives 50% of the commission price, and the patron gets to take home an original, meaningful work of art. We find artists and patrons through the vibrant community we’ve built over the course of our 73-year existence. We currently work with about 150 artists per year – so we run through our networks to find artists who are interested in or desirous of this kind of collaborative process. We try to create a diverse roster of artists, in every sense of the word: racial diversity, a diverse mix of media and materials, a diverse mix of art works, and diversity in pricing.
Images courtesy of Hyde Park Art Center.
Sarrita Hunn is the managing editor and co-founder of Temporary Art Review. Over the last decade, she has worked with many artist-run and alternative spaces and projects across the globe including recently at Koh-i-noor (Copenhagen, Denmark) with sponsorship from the Danish Arts Council. www.sarritahunn.com