Don't Miss These 3 Essential Exhibitions from Art Design Chicago

By J.P. Anderson | June 7, 2018 | Culture

Yearlong culture initiative Art Design Chicago kicks into high gear with spring events aplenty—including these three can’t-miss exhibitions.


Gertrude Abercrombie, Untitled (Lady with a Cat), 1961. Oil on board. 8 x 10 in. Private Collection. The late painter features in A Home for Surrealism: Fantastic Painting in Midcentury Chicago, a Surrealist showcase part of Art Design Chicago

Chicago’s contributions to the realm of architecture have been bountifully documented, but the same doesn’t hold true when it comes to the fields of art and design. That changes in 2018 with Art Design Chicago, a yearlong, first-of-its-kind initiative conceived by the Terra Foundation for American Art that will feature more than 25 exhibitions and hundreds of public programs in partnership with over 60 cultural organizations, with a particular focus on the period between the Great Chicago Fire and the turn of the 21st century.

“We want Chicagoans of all backgrounds and interests to get engaged with this tremendous output of content by our partner institutions,” says Terra Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Glassman, “to have fun with it, to learn from it, and to appreciate and celebrate this amazing city.” These three essential exhibitions are a great place to start.

From photographs and artifacts to vibrant artworks, the National Museum of Mexican Art exhibit Arte Diseño Xicágo: Mexican Inspiration from the World’s Columbian Exposition to the Civil Rights Era documents the influence of Chicago’s rich Mexican community. Through Aug. 19, 1852 W. 19th St., 312.738.1503

Being a city of neighborhoods is a beautiful thing; the downside is that our various districts have often been quite segregated, a phenomenon examined by the Art Institute of Chicago’s Never a Lovely so Real: Photography and Film in Chicago, 1950-1980, which examines work by artists who have documented the city’s neighborhoods with great intimacy and unprecedented access. May 12-Oct. 28, 111 S. Michigan Ave., 312.443.3600

Often overlooked, Chicago surrealist painters of the ’40s and ‘50s like Ivan Albright and Gertrude Abercrombie get a well-deserved showing in A Home for Surrealism: Fantastic Painting in Midcentury Chicago at The Arts Club of Chicago, which was an early champion of the genre in the ’20s and ’30s. June 7-Aug. 17, 201 E. Ontario St., 312.787.3997

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