The Chicago Artistic Scene

Chicago is known for many things. From foods like the Chicago-style hot dog and deep dish pizza to famous sports teams like the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bulls, and NFL’s “Da Bears,” and its world-class museums, Chicago is often cited as one of the best cities in the country. One other area that Chicago is known for, especially by residents, is its artistic scene. Learn more about the world of Chicago art, including music, visual art, and theatre.

Music in Chicago

Music has always been a major part of Chicago’s cultural landscape, and the present is no different. Throughout the years, notable Chicago musicians have included Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Andrew Bird, Nat King Cole, Jennifer Hudson, Mavis Staples, and Chance the Rapper. Indeed, much of Chicago’s music scene is steeped in jazz, blues, and hip-hop, some of the genres the city’s most famous artists represent.

Jazz clubs are still alive and well in Chicago, with venues like Jazz Showcase, Constellation, FitzGerald’s in Oak Park, and Uptown’s The Green Mill showcasing live jazz nightly. The Hideout, the beloved if somewhat hard-to-find music hall, is also a favorite of locals, known for its rich history of serving up eclectic musical sets as well as comedy. Other popular spots to catch live music around the city include Wicker Park’s Subterranean, Empty Bottle in West Town, and Schuba’s in Lakeview, all more intimate music halls than some of the big names in the city programming everything from indie rock to honky-tonk.

Visual Art in Chicago

If you’re on the hunt for work by new or established Chicagoans, there are plenty of art galleries throughout the city worth checking out. Chicago Artists Coalition provides residencies and gallery space to locals, while Art Colony in Logan Square aims to rediscover the lost artists of Chicago and provide affordable residency space. The Chicago Cultural Center is also a valuable resource, housing a few smaller galleries to showcase work by current Chicago residents.

While not purely comprised of work by Chicago artists, the Art Institute of Chicago still houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculpture, photography, and video that is worth the visit for any art buff. That said, the Art Institute does run special exhibitions that feature Chicago artists, such as the exhibition “Hairy Who? 1966-1969,” currently running through January of 2019. It’s worth noting, too, that the museum’s mobile app can help you quickly scan through the collections. The app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.  Stop by one of the many AT&T stores in Illinois for cell phones and accessories to make sure you can get the most out of your visit..

Theatre in Chicago

Theatre is also a major part of Chicago’s history, with over 200 theatres calling the city home. Large houses like Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, and Northlight Theatre are all worth visiting; however, it’s in Chicago’s smaller, neighborhood storefront theatres where the artists of Chicago theatre truly shine. Intimate houses from converted stores and other buildings, these theatres range from forty seat houses to one hundred and fifty seats, all built in a variety of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods. On the South Side, Hyde Park’s Court Theatre has been staging classics for over six decades, while Edgewater features an array of small companies, like the women-centric Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, writer-centric Steep Theatre, drama-centric Redtwist, and the young-but-quickly-growing Jackalope Theatre. Other neighborhoods pride themselves in the work of their own storefront theatres, such as Old Town’s A Red Orchid Theatre, Wicker Park’s The House, and Lakeview’s TimeLine Theatre. With so many theatres to choose from, there’s always a show running, no matter when you are looking.

From its theatre and visual art to its rich history of live music, Chicago is a major cultural destination for art lovers of all shapes and stripes. Housing an impressive amount of gallery spaces, live music halls, and theatres, there is plenty of art to experience in the Windy City. Built from a community of passionate, hard-working people, the Chicago artistic scene is well-worth immersing yourself in, whether you’re a local or a tourist.