9 art gallery exhibitions to see in May

Written by
Jenny Lam

All NSYNC memes aside, May truly is a wondrous time of year in Chicago. Whether you treat your eyes to playful paintings inside galleries or jump around in an outdoor ball pit installed for one night only in a Loop alley, you can't go wrong with any one of these art shows.

Dialogues, re\VisionedFive up-and-coming artists explore the therapeutic role of art in this show. The theme of community is the common thread in these artists' works, from fiber and quilting to drawing and illustration. (Cobalt Studio, 1950 W 21st St, Opens May 6, 5–10pm. Free)

New Demands?“New Demands?” depicts garment workers’ fight for better working conditions since 1890, with a focus on the struggles and successes of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union. Historical materials like flyers and posters will be on display, as well as modernized interpretations. (Spudnik Press Cooperative, 1821 W Hubbard St, Suite 302, Opens May 6, 6-9pm. Free)

Lucifer in DubAlexander Valentine breaks down everyday images—from ads to emojis to elements of Internet culture—and reassembles them into colorful, saturated collages in this solo show of the Chicago artist’s graphic and painterly pieces. (Johalla Projects, 1821 W Hubbard St, Suite 209, Opens May 6, 7–10pm. Free)

GravityTo celebrate Asian Heritage Month, this solo exhibition by Roman Serra draws inspiration from shan shui, a brush and ink landscape painting style from 10th-century China. East and West meet in Serra’s minimalist oil on canvas abstractions, which capture the contemplative spirit and Taoist ideals of the traditional art form. (Prak-sis, 16 W Ontario St, Opens May 6, 5–8pm. Free)

Century SafeReferring to the world’s first scheduled time capsule in its namesake, this group exhibition of art and objects connects the past of the archive with the future of an unknowable audience. “Century Safe” examines the impact of exhibitions as keepers of memory and meaning. A time capsule by John Preus will also be on display. (Roman Susan, 1224 W Loyola Ave, Opens May 7, 7–10pm. Free)

Luctor Et EmergoIn Collin van der Sluijs’s first U.S. solo show, the globally renowned Dutch artist merges many artistic practices, resulting in uniquely detailed works filled with color. While in town, van der Sluijs will also create a mural as part of the Wabash Arts Corridor’s Big Walls Festival in the South Loop. (Vertical Gallery, 1016 N Western Ave, Opens May 7, 6pm. Free)

ACTIVATE: TouchArt-party-in-a-downtown-alley season has finally arrived. “Touch” kicks off this summer’s senses-themed ACTIVATE series. With live performances, bouncy inflatables and even a ball pit, attendees will have plenty to interact with. (8th Street Alley, 205 E 8th St, May 13, 5–10pm. Free with RSVP)

La Paz, Paradise Wavering, and Shoretime SpacelineIn one afternoon reception, enjoy open artist studios and food trucks and view all of Hyde Park Art Center’s new exhibits, from clay sculptures to old vacation photos to a sand and fabric installation. (Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S Cornell Ave, Reception for all exhibitions May 22, 3–5pm. Free)

Jungle BoogieAlthough separated by decades, Ben Tinsley’s contemporary landscapes and Walter Fydryck’s vintage space-inspired paintings play off of each other in this exhibition of the Chicago artists’ vibrant abstractions. (Matthew Rachman Gallery, 1659 W Chicago Ave, Opens May 21, 6–9pm. Free)

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