Logan Square Is a Hotbed of Contemporary Art

See major names in Chicago art at Hairpin Arts Center’s new exhibition, and exhibits from Northwestern’s Kelly Kacynzski and silkscreen superduo Sonnenzimmer at Comfort Station.

PHOTOGRAPH: COURESY OF THE ARTIST

For years Logan Square has been fertile ground for a thriving art scene, and it keeps getting better.  Here are two newish art ventures have popped up recently:

Hairpin Arts Center sits in the six-pointed intersection at Milwaukee, Diversey and Kimball. The pie-shaped building was a hairpin factory in 1930s,  a department store in the late ’40s, and then it was neglected for years before it was finally refurbished into affordable rental apartments, retail space, and the arts space. “It is the first Chamber of Arts to be created in the city of Chicago,” boasts the non-profit’s website. The recent successful historic preservation of the building is a testament to our city’s homegrown architectural legacy.

Today, the second floor of the art center is a unique venue in a long, triangular space with huge windows that open to the surrounding intersection. Here a new exhibition opens this Friday, May 10, from 5 p.m.–7 p.m. Titled ”The Presence of Absence,” it includes some major names in Chicago art— Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Laurie Palmer, Paola Cabal, Katarina Weslien, Melika Bass, and others, and is a show about invisible forces in the world. One spectacle is Christopher Baker’s “Hello World!” (pictured above) is a layered digital collage of five-thousand internet video diaries that play simultaneously. Other pieces in the show are not as in-your-face; you’ll have to hunt for them as part of the viewing experience.

Travel a bit south from the Hairpin, down Milwaukee Avenue, and you’ll land at the Comfort Station, which is exactly what it sounds like: a place where you can relax. This cottage was built in the late-1800s when a long day’s journey up the boulevard would necessitate a rest. It’s the same reason we today stop and buy junk food and powder our noses on our way to Michigan in the summer. The antique structure, called Comfort Station, is now repurposed as a multimedia arts venue. This includes films, music, and visual art.

Comfort Station’s current exhibition is Northwestern University’s assistant professor of art, Kelly Kaczynski, who is showing a video installation that makes interesting use of green screen. The show is open Sundays, from 12pm–3pm. A new art print by silkscreen super-duo Sonnenzimmer is dirt cheap (and exuberantly colorful) for only $10, in a limited edition of 150, available at the Comfort Station. Their May film program includes The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Valley Girl, and Bright Star. All movies are screened outdoors at dusk on Wednesdays, 2579 N Milwaukee.

One final note about free artist studios in Logan Square: The South Logan Arts Coalition is offering free work spaces, for 30–90 days (perfect if you have an upcoming exhibition). Artists must live in Logan Square or the vicinity, apply by email, and prove that they’re dedicated to living a life in the arts. The Coalition only asks for some money for utilities and takes no percentage of art sales. The initiative is supported by 35th ward Alderman Rey Colon.

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