MORGAN PARK — When it comes to Chicago's art scene, the Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood communities are often overlooked.
Monica Wilczak aims to change that with the inaugural Beverly Art Walk. To raise money for the event on Oct. 11, organizers will hold a kickoff party from 3-7 p.m. Sunday at O'Rourke's Office at 11064 S. Western Ave. in Morgan Park.
Tickets cost $30 and include a sampling of work by the 60 neighborhood artists who will be featured during the art walk. Those attending the kickoff party will also be treated to an open bar, pizza and live music by the folk-inspired band Coyote Riot.
"It's kind of like an artists' uprising in Beverly," Wilczak said.
She and her husband, Chris, moved to Beverly in 2005. For years, the graduates of the Art Institute of Chicago felt they were alone as artists living on the Southwest Side. That changed last year after they met some other artists at an event coordinated by the Beverly Arts Center.
The event made Monica Wilczak wonder how many other artists were living nearby. This culminated in the creation of the art walk, a one-day gathering that will transform local businesses into art galleries, showcasing the work of artists and craftsmen living nearby.
"The art walk will be a reflection of our community," Wilczak said.
Some 30 Beverly-area businesses and four home studios have signed on to host the art walk. Restaurants such as Horse Thief Hollow and Beverly Bakery are among the venues that have agreed to participate in the open-house style art fair from 2-7 p.m. on Oct. 11.
Art lovers are encouraged to ride bikes between the makeshift galleries or take one of two trolleys. Most of artwork showcased during the event will be for sale. No commissions will be taken on any sales. Thus, the upcoming kick-off party is an important vehicle for funding the art walk, Wilczak said.
Lizzy Benner of Morgan Park will be among the artists showcased at both the pre-party and the art walk. She's currently working on making tables and other furniture out of old doors. But her artistic impulses have also lead her into jewelry making, canvas painting, large murals and elsewhere.
"I just sort of dabble in whatever is my muse at the moment," said Benner, a lifelong resident of the 19th Ward.
Besides her furniture, Benner is also coordinating one of three outdoor murals that are planned as part of the art walk. A mural depicting Beverly within a larger map of Chicago is set for the southern wall of Horse Thief Hollow at 10426 S Western Ave.
Another mural will have more of a storefront motif and is set for a brick wall facing the Metra tracks at 99th Street and Walden Parkway. Chicago artist Matthew Hoffman will bring his You Are Beautiful campaign to a mural planned for the eastern wall of the Beverly Bank branch at 103rd Street and Walden Parkway.
The creation of the murals will be captured with time-lapse photography and featured online, Wilczak said.
She's also successfully applied to have the upcoming art walk included among the events for Chicago Artists Month. Wilczak believes this as well as the featured artwork and interactive events planned throughout the afternoon will help put the Beverly area on the map as an artist-friendly community.
"We are just trying to bring people into our great neighborhood," she said.
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