As an avid art patron, you’re highly aware of art everywhere you travel. During your next trek through Chicago, take time to discover great local pieces and unique artworks as you explore the city beyond the gallery scene.
From highly regarded culinary destinations to a trendy hair salon, here are five significant places to add to your artistic to-do list that go beyond the average art exhibit.
Cafe Jumping Bean
This vibrant coffeehouse is based in Pilsen, and you appreciate that it attracts an authentic, artsy crowd of poets, writers, and, of course, visual artists. After a few minutes, you notice that some of those folks are lucky enough to get their work displayed upon the walls. Vegan-focused, the colorful cafe has been in its location for more than 20 years and gives you an idea of what the neighborhood was like before trendier restaurants moved in. As you sip your java, you experience the eclectic range of displayed works—from the whimsical and folksy to outsider art.
The country’s largest sustainable business community is located in the ecofriendly Green Exchange, a multilevel structure in Logan Square with a restaurant, brewery, co-working space, and more. Once you arrive, you go straight to IPaintMyMind, a non-profit collective showcasing unique artworks with exhibitions and other creative events. As you meander around, you soak it all in, thinking about what you’d like to purchase. Your eyeballs experience worthy pieces at this art exhibit, including surreal collages, sculptures, and painted portraits of famous people.
Fulton Market Kitchen
When this wildly animated eatery opened in the Fulton Market District in 2014, it totally made sense to include an art-focused component. It’s in the heart of the area’s art district, and the restaurant’s resident curator frequently tours the neighborhood for new talent. He, of course, is connected to Chicago’s art scene, and even if you’re a novice, you can tell there’s a different feel to each room at this establishment. To check out the most exclusive and most coveted pieces, you go to the private dining rooms, located in the rear—however, you also appreciate the lounge area’s expressive works, with conversation-starter murals and smaller pieces by emerging artists.
I’ll Cut You Hair Studio
Wicker Park is already home to many artists, which is why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this enterprising hair salon teamed up with the community to show off their unique artworks. The I’ll Cut You studio is located in the neighborhood’s epicenter, within the historic Flatiron Building, making it easily accessible for your artistic friends and fellow patrons. After a day of work, you get a late-night appointment and even bring your own music to blare. You’ve never felt more at home at a hair salon, and you find it’s the perfect way to settle in and view the art being offered, which always varies.
Owners of this delightful spot, Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds, were themselves artists before embarking upon their culinary careers almost 20 years ago. Lula Cafe is their way of giving back to the artist community, which includes some of their staff. Since the pioneering farm-to-table operation is so influential in Chicago’s restaurant community, you bring your foodie friends from all walks of life. The artwork rotates every six to eight weeks, so hitting up this establishment becomes part of your social routine, especially when you’re in the mood for some brunch or specialty cocktails with your art.