Men’s Maximum Security Prison, Clay, and Gender-Fluid Individuals Headline This Batch of Must-See Art Events in Chicago

Photo courtesy of Artist’s Book Creators

Coming up in these late-summer weeks, Chicago’s art scene is filling up with events and openings centered around African art, a clay workshop, LGBTQ+ creations, and an exhibition inspired by a maximum security prison.

Photo courtesy of Hyde Park Art Center/Facebook

Folk, Fine, and African Art From the Ann Nathan Collection at Pagoda Red
Chicago collector and former gallerist Nathan amassed an extensive trove of African art over decades, which has typically been kept private—but for three weeks, various pieces will be on view in this exhibition. Check out masks for performances, wood chaises, textiles, ceramic vessels, and much more.
Details: August 17

International Artist’s Books Triennial at Evanston Art Center
This special international exhibition of artists’ books is coming to Chicago—and the U.S.—for the first time. Organized as a traveling event, it was previously on view in Lithuania, Germany, Italy, Denmark, and South Korea, among other countries. This year’s theme, Memento Mori, skews a little dark; tackling it are artists from dozens of countries, selected by an international jury.
Details: August 23

In Sound at Hyde Park Art Center
Head to Hyde Park for a public performance by this art center’s current artists-in-residence. Nesrine Khodr and Elnaz Javani will present work that engages with the poetics in the sounds and experiences of Farsi, Arabic, and English.
Details: August 27

“The Long Term” at O’Connor Art Gallery
This exhibition is the result of two years of collaborations between artists, writers, and incarcerated individuals at a men’s maximum security prison. Works made during poetry, art, film, and other workshops explore the effects of long-term sentences.
Details: September 4

Photo courtesy of O’Connor Art Gallery/Facebook

“One Day I’ll Turn the Corner and I’ll Be Ready for It” at Monique Meloche Gallery
David Antonio Cruz’s first show at this gallery presents new, vibrant paintings of queer, trans, and gender-fluid individuals, particularly those who have suffered injustices due to their identities. The Philadelphia-based artist sources photographs from his subjects’ social media accounts and balances these realities with symbols that further allude to their personal stories, following the grand style of history painting.
Details: September 7

GnarWare Workshop Patio Pop-Up
This friendly neighborhood ceramics studio in Pilsen is known for encouraging students to experiment and create quirky clay pieces. Come pick out some cups, bowls, vases, and decorative objects at Build Coffee.
Details: September 7

“Something Olden and Golden” at Orbit
This one-day exhibition of works by Robin Dluzen features mixed-media drawings that speak to her relationship with her mother, a former horticulturalist and botanical illustrator. Dluzen’s own art uses seed catalog pages, road maps, and lawn refuse bags to create a contemporary iconography of Midwestern plants.
Details: September 7

David Antonio Cruz, Onedayi’llturnthecornerandi’llbereadyforit, Portrait of the Texas Girls, 2019. Oil and latex on wood, 48 x 48 inches. Courtesy of Monique Meloche

Fall Exhibitions Opening Reception at DePaul Art Museum
Don’t miss this triple-opening at the museum, all organized to coincide with the Chicago Architecture biennial. The galleries will be ignited with paintings by Julia Fish, her curation of works on paper from the institution’s collection, and a group show of four emerging artists who make visible untold narratives of heritage and place.
Details: September 12

“More Time Than Life” at Alan Koppel Gallery
Text and textiles come together in Dianna Frid’s work, which engages with themes of time, process, death, and the elasticity of matter. This show includes examples from her series “Words From Obituaries,” which Frid creates by threading words from New York Times obits that she selected and isolated.
Details: September 13