Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Illinois icon-chevron-right Chicago icon-chevron-right The best art exhibits to see in Chicago in March

Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.

Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber, Sentinel, 2017
Photograph: Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber, Sentinel, 2017

The best art exhibits to see in Chicago in March

See artwork by Keith Haring, Ed Paschke and more amazing artists at the best March art openings in Chicago

By Zach Long

Spring is almost here, and it's bringing a bounty of interesting art exhibitions with it. Start off March by heading to the Loop to see several sections of legendary artist Keith Haring's "Chicago Mural" on display at the Chicago Cultural Center. Later in the month, a selection of never-before-displayed prints and paintings by Chicago Imagist Ed Paschke will be part of a free show at the Jefferson Park art center named for the artist. Plus, the Video Game Art Gallery presents a show about video game violence, and Filter Photo debuts its annual juried exhibition. Get to a gallery or a museum and enjoy some of the best Chicago art exhibits opening in March.

March art openings in Chicago

Photograph: Courtesy Video Game Art Gallery

“Gun Ballet: the Aestheticization of Violence in Video Games”

Art Digital & interactive

Whether players are shooting aliens or mowing down soldiers, violence and video games go hand in hand, which is why the latter is often used as a scapegoat for real-world occurrences of the former. The Video Game Art Gallery presents an exhibition that unpacks the aestheticization of violence in games, showing how artists and developers use weapons and combat in brutal, beautiful and meaningful ways.

Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber
Photograph: Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber

“Lori Nix / Kathleen Gerber: Empire”

Art Photography

Working with foam, cardboard, glue and paint, artists Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber construct intricate dioramas that depict decaying urban landscapes. The duo photographs these pieces with an 8 x 10 camera, creating detailed photographs that blur the line between fantasy and reality. The “Empire” series of photos depicts a world that is facing the consequences of climate change and explores how humanity's architectural achievements are surrendered to nature.

Photograph: Phoebe Chin

“Can Cacti Fall In Love, Or Batatas Trace Their Slips?”

Art Installation

Singapore-raised artist Phoebe Chin considers the ways in which we understand the natural world through a series of installations entitled “Can Cacti Fall In Love, Or Batatas Trace Their Slips?” Her work explores why we assign human characteristics and traits to plants by acknowledging the nomenclature and visually interpreting its meaning.

Keith Haring Chicago Mural
Photograph: Marcelino Y. Fahd

“Keith Haring: The Chicago Mural”

Art Contemporary art

In 1989, acclaimed artist Keith Haring came to Chicago to create a gigantic 488-foot-long mural in collaboration with 500 Chicago Public School students. After remaining on display at Midway Airport for several years, 36 panels of the mural will return to the Loop, going on display in the Chicago Cultural Center alongside a selection of Haring's photographs, correspondences, designs and his now-iconic drawings.

Photograph: Courtesy the artist and Vertical Gallery

LIE “Bloom”

Art Street art

Chicago artist Jay Turner (better known as LIE) mixes spray-painted street art with traditional styles such as watercolors and pencil drawings. “Bloom” marks his second solo show at Vertical Gallery, featuring new work that includes images of animals and birds contrasted with images of flowers, motorcycles and classic cars.

Anna Kunz
Photograph: Courtesy the artist

“Anna Kunz: Color Cast”

Art Installation

Chicago-based painter Anna Kunz explores the properties of color and light through this installation at the Hyde Park Art Center. Combining screens, paintings, fabrics and sound, the work immerses viewers in a vibrant spectrum of hues that can be experienced from various perspectives in the gallery.

Lala Meredith-Vula, Batush, Kosova, 29 July 1999, 1999.
Photograph: Lala Meredith-Vula

“The Needle, The Haystack, The Thread”

Art Contemporary art

International artists Aboubakar Fofana, Lala Meredith-Vula, Britta Marakatt-Labba and the late Maria Lai unpack the connected nature of seemingly-unrelated objects and places in this group show, which collects photographs, installations and more. 

Photograph: Jordanna Kalman

“Context 2018”

Art Photography

Filter Photo presents its annual spring exhibition, culled from submissions to its open call for photography. Juried by April M. Watson, curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, “Context 2018” includes work by more than 30 artists.

Max Lamb
Photograph: Max Lamb

“Max Lamb: Exercises in Seating”

Art Design

English designer Max Lamb has created designs for more than 400 seats during his relatively young career, using a variety of materials to fabricate chairs, stools and benches that balance form and function. "Exercises in Seating" collects some of his most ambitious and understated designs, presented alongside photographs, maquettes, tools and videos that illustrate how they were made. If you want to see even more chairs on display, make sure you check out “The Art of Seating” at the Driehaus Museum.

Photograph: Courtesy private collection

“To Be Seen and Heard”

Art Contemporary art

The Intuit presents a survey of outsider art originating from Wisconsin in “To Be Seen and Heard,” which collects work from Prophet William J. Blackmon, Josephus Farmer, Simon Sparrow, Albert Zahn and Eugene Von Bruenchenhein. Made up of more than 50 paintings, photographs, sculptures and reliefs, the exhibit features signs and religious imagery by Blackmon, Zahn's intricate carvings and photographs by Bruenchenhein.

Ed Paschke, Orange Hat, 2004.
Photograph: Courtesy the Ed Paschke Art Center

"Ed Paschke: Mixed Media"

Art Contemporary art

The latest exhibit at the Ed Paschke Art Center looks back on the career of its namesake local artist, displaying a collection of work from his 40-year career selected by his daughter Sharon. "Mixed Media" includes some of Paschke's drawings and paintings but also includes never-before-seen sculptures, prints and lithographs. Everything in the exhibit comes from the Art Center's permanent collection, which includes a recreation of Paschke's studio.

Otobong Nkanga, The Weight of Scars, 2015.
Photograph: Courtesy Lumen Travo Gallery, Amsterdam and Galerie In Situ – Fabienne Leclerc, Paris.

“Otobong Nkanga: To Dig a Hole That Collapses Again”

Art Contemporary art

In her first U.S. exhibition, Nigerian artist Otobong Nkanga uses drawings and tapestries to explore the mining industry in Africa and the ways in which the harvested raw materials are used throughout the world. Adorned with shimmering embellishments that mimic the qualities of minerals like mica, Nkanga's work unpacks the often violent manner in which resources are obtained from Africa and follows them to the West, where they are repackaged and sold to consumers in the form of beauty products, electronics and more.

Find even more art at Chicago galleries

Photograph: Carrie Schneider

Find your new favorite artist at Chicago’s best art galleries


Neighborhoods like West Loop, Hyde Park and Wicker Park host thriving communities of art galleries, where you'll find diverse works by up-and-coming, emerging and established artists. There are commercial galleries, nonprofit art centers, university galleries and new contemporary art spaces throughout the city—you just have to know where to look. 


    You may also like