The 57th Street Art Fair is a two-day outdoor celebration of the visual arts held in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, adjacent to the University of Chicago campus and President Barak Obama’s home. Considered the oldest juried art fair in the Midwest, the fair typically features the work of 200 exhibitors. Most are returning artists, but each year between 50 and 75 new exhibitors are invited to participate by a jury made up of collectors, critics, curators and artists. The goal of the 57th Street Art Fair is to provide a venue for creators of quality fine art and fine craft to meet with the art-buying public.
Whether you are looking for glass, jewelry, leather, photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, wood, ceramics or fiber – you are sure to find something special at this one of a kind event. Artist demonstrations and live music will make for a wonderful Summer Art and Culture weekend. Known as the Midwest’s oldest juried art fair, the 57th Street Art Fair attracted over 200 artists and 20,000 attendees to this premier art and cultural event in 2014.
A special exhibit at the Mary-Frances and Bill Veeck Gallery kicked off the Art Fair celebration, featuring works of art from Chicago area talents including: painter Kathleen Eaton, potter Steve Skinner, painter Ron Mellot, fiber artist Renee Earley, photographer Xavier Nuez, painter Mary Burke, illustrator Taylor Mazer, ceramic artist Delores Fortuna, mosaic artist Jim Bachor, among others. The exhibit is free and open to the public, May 8-August 8, Monday-Friday, 9am-4:30pm. The Gallery, located on the 4th floor of CTU’s Academic and Conference Center, at 5416 S. Cornell, will remain open during the 57th St Art Fair, June 6+7 (Saturday and Sunday).
The first 57th Street Art Fair Committee, composed of 15 dedicated individuals and chaired by Womer was organized in 1950. Together, the committee generated a list of aims and policies, documenting the goals, intentions, and priorities for the fair. Still in use today, those policies validate the artistic pursuit itself, making sure artists reap complete monetary benefit of their sales. In keeping with Womer’s rules, all works must be original art; no limited edition prints or any other reproductions can be sold.
By 1963, demand from artists to participate exceeded the available exhibition space. Despite misgivings, Womer and the 57th Street Art Fair Committee implemented a jury system to assign the limited available space. The jury process consisted of a blind review of prospective artists’ works by an invited panel of artists, arts professionals, and curators. This procedure is still followed today, and much discussion always takes place as the final list of those invited to participate is decided upon!
Today, around 200 artists from all over North America set up shop on 57th Street on the first full weekend of June. Continuing to build on its humble beginnings, this unique showcase of quality art, community spirit and historic appeal now attracts over 20,000 visitors annually. Each year, as a means of commemorating this beloved event, the committee commissions an exhibiting artist to create a new poster to publicize the fair. The 57th Street Art Fair is an Illinois Not For Profit Corporation and all proceeds are used to produce the annual Fair. The 57th Street Art Fair is organized and operated by volunteers.