Summer has come to the Windy City, and with it a rollout of vaccines and the hope that life is slowly returning to something like normalcy.
As Chicago natives look for ways to enjoy their newfound freedom, city native and art aficionado Thomas Kane has some recommendations for the best new art exhibitions to visit this summer.
“Few things lift us out of the mundane and provide us that big-picture perspective, but art does that for us,” said Thomas Kane, a philanthropist and private wealth manager.
Unfortunately, with the closures of museums to meet social-distancing guidelines, we’ve had to do without the great art this city has to offer for a long time. Now is the time to support our city’s artists and museums, and enjoy getting out in the process.
Here are a few great reasons to return to some of Chicago’s excellent art museums.
National Museum of Mexican Art
Philanthropist Mackenzie Scott has been making many nonprofits and museums very happy over the last year, as the billionaire ex-wife of “world’s richest person” Jeff Bezos has been giving away her fortune – several billion dollars at a time.
Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art was one of the recent recipients of Scott’s generosity, receiving an $8-million-gift that dwarfs any previous donation made to the museum.
As the Chicago Sun-Times points out, the museum, located in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, is “an anchor of the neighborhood’s cultural pride.”
“The museum is relatively small, but pound for pound it is one of Chicago’s best and enjoys a growing national reputation,” the article said. “Just as economic development efforts in Chicago shouldn’t be restricted to the downtown area and lakefront, which often has been the case, neither should the city’s commitment to cultural enrichment.”
Kane said the museum exemplifies what makes Chicago great.
“We all know and love the Art Institute of Chicago, but the National Museum of Mexican Art is an example of just how diverse this city is, and how much we have to enjoy,” he said.
Admission to the museum is free.
Banksy Comes to Chicago – Sort Of
Most art-lovers will recognize the name Banksy, the moniker for the artist and street-tagger whose secretive personal life and vigilante approach have made him world-famous.
Chicago is now set to receive a rare exhibition of the artist’s work, starting August 7. Titled simply “Art of Banksy,” the exhibit will be staged at the Epiphany Center for the Arts at 201 S. Ashland Ave. The event was initially scheduled for July 1, but was postponed.
The exhibit, housed in the 42,000-square-foot Epiphany Hall, formerly The Church of the Epiphany, is a landmark building that dates to 1885 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The exhibit will run through Oct. 31.
“I don’t see how anyone even remotely interested in art will want to miss this,” Kane said. “Banksy has been one of the most important artists of the last few decades, and Chicagoans are lucky enough to have the opportunity to see some of his most famous works in person.”
Superhero Lovers Rejoice
Comics have come a long way from the pulpy detective stories of the 1940s. After decades of second-class citizenship in the art world, the creators of America’s classic comics have earned a place in museums.
That’s why a new exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art highlights Chicago comics from the 1960s to the present. The city has actually had a big role in the history of comic books, and the exhibition is a chance to learn about the artists and their contributions, Kane said.
The MCA’s summer exhibition will be about comics, from Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy to original art by Lynda Barry, and new works by acclaimed painter Kerry James Marshall. The exhibit, titled “Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now,” makes a strong case that Chicago has been a magnet for creative cartooning for many years.
“This would be a great activity for families,” Kane said. “With the superhero craze still going strong, everyone can enjoy a little history about the comics artists who made the medium into the powerhouse that it is today.”
Whatever you do this summer, try to make supporting the arts a part of your life, Kane said. It’s a way of supporting your local community, and still having fun in the process.