|The "Harmony" Mural by Ben Eine|
Creating an arts district in Chicago has been no small feat. Wicker Park has attempted to do so, unifying the assembly of galleries along Milwaukee Avenue. And for years Pilsen has hosted the popular Second Friday series with monthly open houses of working studios. Yet with the establishment of the Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) in 2013 another picture is starting to be painted, one that pits the South Loop as the city’s newest “living urban canvas.”
Unifying the creative resources of eight educational institutions, 19 galleries, 14 performance spaces, 40 restaurants and 5 hotels along Wabash from Van Buren to Roosevelt, “the district is starting to come alive and understood for what it represents,” says Mark Kelly, chair of the WAC and vice president of student success at Columbia College Chicago. The school was the first to spur the initiative and now partners with a long list of supporters from Roosevelt and DePaul Universities to the Hilton Hotel, the Elephant Gallery, Harold Washington Library and the Auditorium Theatre, among others.
The idea comes together in the annual WAC Crawl, now in its third year, a free public event that highlights the various attractions and brings together hundreds of artists — both student and professional — with special programming for one night. Voted as a “Best Event” by the Friends of Downtown in its inaugural year, the WAC Crawl is “gaining momentum,” says Kelly, and “will be bigger and more compelling than even a year ago.”The event details are as follows:
WABASH ARTS CORRIDOR CRAWL
When: 4 to 10 p.m. Oct. 23
Where: Various locations along Wabash, between Van Buren and Roosevelt