10 Best Art Galleries in Chicago


Bare Handed" III - Filter Space

Bare Handed” III – Filter Space by Holly Lynton from Wikimedia Commons

While you may certainly visit the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and other prominent institutions in Chicago, you’ll only be getting part of the picture if you stop there. Chicago also has a variety of galleries loaded with everything an art enthusiast or art amateur may desire to see.

At least one intriguing gallery can be found in each of the city’s 77 neighbourhoods, displaying some of the city’s greatest works in all kinds of art. Chicago’s galleries have it all, from perspective-shifting performance art to finely produced oil paintings. Here’s where you can discover some of Chicago’s most inventive and distinctive art galleries to widen your creative horizons.

1. Goldfinch

Goldfinch is a modern gallery in East Garfield Park that hosts exhibitions in a stark 880-square-foot facility flanked by artist studios. The gallery has hosted exhibits by local artists such as Damon Locks, Mari Eastman, and Sherwin Ovid, as well as talks, salons, and conversations.

The gallery’s Flatfiles program, which provides a selection of works by artists such as Edra Soto and Anne Harris for relatively inexpensive rates (typically no more than $1,500, but occasionally as little as $130), is a good place to start an art collection on a budget.

2. Hyde Park Art Center

Established in 1939, many of Chicago’s youngest – and subsequently most prominent – artists got their start at the city’s oldest community arts organization. The Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) originated as the Fifth Ward Art Center in a shop in 1939.

It moved about a lot throughout the years, before settling into its first free-standing site at 5020 S. In 2006, Cornell Avenue was renovated. It primarily gave courses to residents of the area for the first several decades, but when artist Don Baum became engaged as a teacher and curator in the mid-1950s, it began to host shows featuring local artists.

3. Vertical Gallery

Vertical Gallery is Chicago’s finest gallery for urban-contemporary art. The gallery, which opened in April 2013 in the Ukrainian Village District, focuses on street art, urban surroundings, graffiti, pop culture, graphic design, and illustration.

Vertical Gallery has made a name for itself by consistently presenting developing and established local, national, and international artists. Several artists have gone on to exhibit in major art venues and museums throughout the world as a result of their work at the gallery.

Past and current art can be seen and acquired at the gallery or online. Vertical Gallery also offers advice on building personal and corporate collections, as well as selling artwork on the secondary market.

4. Renaissance Society

Contemporary art exhibitions, activities, and publications are presented by the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. The Ren, as we’re called informally, is a non-collecting, autonomous museum dedicated to artists and their ideas. Exhibitions and activities are free and open to the public, with elevator access.

The term, on the other hand, is intended to widen the notion of the renaissance. (In other words, think less Michelangelo and more the Next Michelangelo.) The hyper-resonant environment is created by the white walls and high ceiling. The events are free, and many European avant-garde stars get their sole Chicago exposure here.

5. Rhona Hoffman Gallery

 Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Rhona Hoffman Gallery by Arose2 from Wikimedia Commons

Rhona Hoffman Gallery, which was founded in 1976 as Young Hoffman Gallery, focuses on worldwide contemporary art in various mediums, as well as conceptual, formal, and socio-political art. Young Hoffman Gallery was one of the first galleries to show female artists such as Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold in the 1970s. Rhona Hoffman Gallery is highly involved in the Chicago art community and has developed close partnerships with museums, assisting them in acquiring key pieces for their collections and programs.

6. Stony Island Arts Bank

 Stony Island Arts Bank exterior

Stony Island Arts by Grings1 from Wikimedia Commons

Theaster Gates, a local artist and philanthropist, converted this long-vacant bank into a cultural institution after acquiring it from the city for $1. The rebuilt Stony Island Arts Bank now provides 17,000 square feet of space for contemporary art and archive activity on Chicago’s South Side. Arts Bank Cinema, a free weekly screening and discussion of films by and about black people, and exhibitions organized by and in collaboration with local artists are among the programs offered at Stony Island.

7. Chicago Truborn

Founded in 2011, Chicago Truborn is a non–traditional gallery committed to promoting and supporting young and renowned artists, with a focus on street art and graffiti. The gallery is noted for offering inexpensive art in a friendly atmosphere.

Chicago Truborn has been dubbed “Chicago’s Best Gallery” on several occasions. Every exhibition has featured two (site-specific) murals to coincide with the currently featured body of work since its inception. This not only changes the look of the room but also encourages visitors to engage in the exhibition. Additionally, producing murals within the confines of their studio work allows the artist to express themselves in a more diverse manner: one that you may be more familiar with as a result of their public art endeavours.

Truborn Chicago, a small gallery in West Town, rotates shows every five weeks, so you’ll almost always find something new on the walls. The gallery’s unofficial motto is “become a collector,” and artists are frequently encouraged to paint site-specific murals that complement the paintings on the exhibit. Prices are also generally inexpensive.

8. Kavi Gupta Gallery

International emerging and mid-career artists in all media are featured at Kavi Gupta Gallery, including global art star Theaster Gates, whose work includes installation, performance, and urban interventions; multimedia artist Tony Tasset; Puerto Rican–born painter Angel Otero; folk art–style painter Clare Rojas, and others. It’s part of a gallery network that also includes Kavi Gupta Elizabeth Street (219 N Elizabeth Street).

9. Comfort Station

Logan Square Boulevards Historic District

Logan Square Boulevards Historic District by Thshriver from Wikimedia Commons

This modest structure in Logan Square, built in the early 1900s, used to be a spot where trolley travellers could relax during their journey. The building was taken over by Logan Square Preservation in 2010, and it was converted into a communal art space. Comfort Station features art exhibitions, live music, and film screenings on a regular basis, as well as serving as a community gathering area for inhabitants of all ages.

10. Corbett vs. Dempsey

Founded by John Corbett and Jim Dempsey in 2004, Corbett vs. Dempsey reflects its owner’s diverse interests: jazz, film, American modernist traditions, middle-American approaches to abstraction and contemporary art. The art gallery places an emphasis on digging up undiscovered talent, often featuring great regional art (and the occasional live performance from a notable musician).

Visiting art galleries is one of the best ways to increase your own personal creativity. Visit them frequently if you wish to release your own creative energies. It feels like osmosis to me.

I’m not sure how it works but being in the presence of art and creative people makes you more creative. Don’t get caught up with the HOW; instead, relax and appreciate your newfound method. This is something I can assure you of.