Chicago’s Bronzeville Art Scene
Photo by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood has been the epicenter for the city’s art and culture for a century — this southside community is where blues, jazz and gospel were developed. It’s also where literary greats like Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes and Lorraine Hansberry started writing stories about the dynamic neighborhood. 2016 marks the centennial of the Great Migration; the mass movement of African-Americans from the South to Bronzeville, which created a multi-faceted cultural legacy that rivaled Harlem’s.
Much of that cultural history is still retained, especially in Bronzeville’s vibrant art gallery scene. Check out these art emporiums for a glimpse into the community’s creative heritage.
Begin with a stop by the Monument to The Great Migration at the beginning of the community on 26th and King Dr. The work commemorates the thousands of African Americans who migrated from the South into Bronzeville, in search of a better life.
From here you can follow the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, which are plaques on sidewalks and medians through 35th St, that honor famous Bronzeville residents including Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke and Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first open heart surgery. Then view the Victory Monument, at 35th and King Dr. The bronze sculpture honors the African American Eighth Regiment during WWI.
Next, visit the art galleries that Bronzeville is noted for. Start at the South Side Community At Center one of the oldest African American art centers in the country and dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941. Drop by Gallery Guichard for contemporary art from the African Diaspora and Faie Afrikan Art Gallery for art that covers the East West, Central and Southern regions of the African continent. Blanc Gallery hosts one artist quarterly to examine a compelling theme. This year’s theme is ‘Retracing The Steps Before,” in honor of the Great Migration.
More by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates
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