The location of the destination art studios was hardly conspicuous. Moving through the back allies of buildings located in a Chicago industrial pocket on Cermak Street outside of Chinatown, it became clear that many of Chicago’s art studios aren’t located in ornamented buildings.
But with a little bit of effort, observation and the signaling murmur of an upbeat techno rhythm, Connie Noyes’s art studio at the Cermak Center, 629 W. Cermak St., was not too difficult to find. The old factory building housed multiple studio openings that evening, but Noyes’ exhibit utilized one of the most failsafe advertising techniques to attract patrons in modern times: dance music.
Noyes is just one of hundreds of artists participating in a citywide event called Chicago Artist’s Month this year. The municipal endeavor intended to explore the impact of art in the urban sphere resonates especially with people like her, who want to spread the merits of the creative artistic process across multiple venues of exploration.
“This isn’t a process that just comes to me,” said Noyes in regards to what art means to her. “It is a process that gradually develops over years. I do it because it’s the making. It’s the doing.”
Noyes’ exhibit featured her work as well as work donated by artists around Chicago and other parts of the country. The proceeds of the sold pieces are intended to go toward funding for her IN THE PINK project, which aims to unite 1 million people in an international artist residency campaign designed to bring artists overseas to participate in a collaborative process in the U.S.
“I had this idea because I’m really interested in connecting people,” Noyes said. “I did a lot of symposiums and residencies all over the world and those have been some of my most valuable experiences. I want artists to come who have never been to the states before.”
Teresa Getty, an artist from Madison Wisconsin who donated three pieces to Noyes’ studio gallery exhibit, came to support her international residency program and sniff out the scene in Chicago.
“When Connie sent out this call for artists, I felt compelled to participate,” Getty said. “I really believe in her. I think she’s an amazing force, and I wanted to support the energy that she’s bringing to the art world.”
The Cermak Center, a former Ford factory pre-dating major Ford automobile production hubs in Detroit, now serves as an open studio space for Chicago artists like Noyes in one of the city’s most historic industrial precincts. The studio opening was initiated in celebration of Chicago Artists Month, an annual endeavor that aims to bring artists together in much the same way that Noyes’ IN THE PINK project does.
The Cermak Center studio spaces were previously used exclusively as a work setting, but on Oct. 12, in accordance with the Chicago Artist’s Month celebration, which is dedicated to exploring the impact of Chicago’s artists on neighborhoods block by block, the building opened for public viewing of eight studio work spaces for the first time.
The Cermak Center’s public debut was one of many programs featured among more than 200 partnering events taking place during October’s monthlong celebration, which kicked off on Oct. 5 with the Bridgeport Block Party.
“Chicago Artist’s Month keeps growing, which is kind of cool,” said Barbara Koenen, Director of Chicago Artists Resources for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “People keep adding events to the website whether it be an artist’s talk or an open house. People would otherwise be doing it on their own. This way we can mix it up.”
According to Koenen, Chicago Artists’ Month has over 250 events happening throughout the month of October. The program only has three requirements for participation: events have to be during October, have to be open to the public and have to have Chicago artists in them.
Koenen said that Chicago Artist’s Month is now in its 17th year of activity and roughly its 12th year as a city-orchestrated program after taking over for the Artists’ Coalition in 2000.