Culture | Wicker Park/Bucktown Guide 2013

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[Old-school faves]


ARC Gallery Founded in 1973, this nonprofit feminist cooperative gallery moved to Bucktown from River West last year. 2156 N Damen Ave (773-252-2232). Wed–Sat noon–6pm, Sun noon–4pm.


Corbett vs. Dempsey Friendly cofounders John Corbett and Jim Dempsey curate shows that are scholarly but never stuffy. Though they specialize in 20th-century artists with a Chicago connection, the duo also highlights contemporary art stars such as Joyce Pensato and Christopher Wool. 1120 N Ashland Ave, third floor (773-278-1664)). Tue–Sat 10am–5pm.


Chopin Theatre The host of some of the city’s most dynamic and creative storefront troupes, Wicker Park’s Chopin is a resolutely funky venue that consistently draws young audiences. In addition to a rotating door for visiting European companies, many of them Polish, the Chopin is a regular host to innovative companies such as the Hypocrites and the House Theatre of Chicago. 1543 W Division St (773-278-1500).


Collaboraction This 15-year-old company is known for its multimedia aesthetic and its annual Sketchbook collection of bite-sized new works by prominent playwrights. Collaboraction currently presents its programming (and some by other up-and-coming theaters) in a pair of third-floor spaces in the Flat Iron Arts Building. 1579 N Milwaukee Ave, 3rd floor (312-226-9633).


Firecat ProjectsArtist Tony Fitzpatrick and his business partner, Stan Klein, opened this gallery in Fitzpatrick’s former studio In November 2010. It exhibits a mix of artists from Chicago and beyond. 2124 N Damen Ave (773-342-5381). Mon–Sat 10am–4pm.


moniquemeloche Many locals whom gallery founder Monique Meloche supported early in their careers—like Rashid Johnson and Carrie Schneider—have gone on to art-stardom. Moniquemeloche is also a great place to see new talent from outside the city—and the U.S. Don’t miss the site-specific installations in its huge storefront window. 2154 W Division St (773-252-0299). Tue–Sat 11am–6pm.


[Modern classics]


DEFIBRILLATOR This nonprofit is one of the few spots in Chicago to specialize in performance art, presenting pieces several times a month. 1136 N Milwaukee Ave (773-485-6284). Variable.


The Den Theatre Founded in December 2011 in a previously unoccupied space above the Boring Store (a.k.a. 826CHI’s HQ), the Den has rapidly expanded into two floors with five distinct performance venues, all connected by appropriately homey bar/lounge spaces. Artistic director Ryan Martin programs his own productions as well as renting to itinerant theater and dance companies. During the day, the space plays host to Black Box Acting Studio’s classes, making the Den a new hub of storefront arts activity. 1333 N Milwaukee Ave (773-398-7028).


Gorilla Tango Theatre This bare-bones Bucktown space offers a coproduction model that appeals to sketch comedy, improv and burlesque producers and nascent theater troupes by making brief runs financially viable. The venue keeps things hopping, booking shows in as many slots as it can (Saturdays often see six different shows in the space, from family-friendly afternoon fare to rowdier late-night comedy). Of late, Gorilla Tango is notable (depending on your definition) for burlesque shows that mine pop culture franchises: Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Bros. Burlesque; Tolkien-inspired Fellowship of the Boobs; and the Star Wars–themed A Nude Hope. 1919 N Milwaukee Ave (773-598-4549).


LVL3 Director Vincent Uribe only graduates from SAIC this year, but for the past three, his group shows have been among the most professional and exciting in the city. Shop for artists’ books at LVL3’s MRKT. 1542 N Milwaukee Ave, third floor (312-469-0333). Sun 1–4pm.


Public Works Gallery Someoddpilot, a Chicago visual communications agency, curates exhibitions here that blur the boundaries between art and design, and often hosts related lectures and screenings. 1539 N Damen Ave, second floor (773-529-7128). By appointment.



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