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Hyde Park Turning Into Giant Gallery For New Arts Fest

By Sam Cholke | October 25, 2016 5:28am
 After luring 16,000 people to Hyde Park for the Silver Room Block Party, Eric Williams will convert the neighborhood into a big art gallery for a new November festival.
After luring 16,000 people to Hyde Park for the Silver Room Block Party, Eric Williams will convert the neighborhood into a big art gallery for a new November festival.
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Facebook/The Silver Room

HYDE PARK — Hyde Park is getting a new arts festival that will convert the neighborhood’s vacant storefronts into galleries for a weekend in November.

After successfully moving the Silver Room’s block party to Hyde Park in July, organizer Eric Williams is starting a new festival, Connect, to highlight Hyde Park’s love of art on Nov. 18-20.

“People never really see Hyde Park, in my opinion, as an arts community,” Williams said Monday. “I want to do what I can to make Hyde Park as cool as possible.”

He said after the Silver Room’s block party attracted nearly 16,000 people to Hyde Park in July to see more than 50 musical acts, the University of Chicago offered to foot the bill for a second festival in the fall.

Williams said Connect will convert four empty storefronts owned by the university into galleries for the weekend to show the South Side’s role in developing street art, how artists are collaborating on the South Side and the contemporary design coming out of the neighborhood.

“I want to be focused on people who live on Harper or Kimbark,” Williams said. “People in the neighborhood should get to celebrate arts in our community.”

Williams is also working with Harper Theater, 5238 S. Harper Ave., to curate a free film festival for the weekend and already has on the agenda Nasir “Nas” Jones’ “Shake the Dust” documentary about B-boy culture around the world.

The festival will be broken down into four main galleries.

The collaboration gallery at 1538 E. 53rd St. will focus on collaborations between South Side arts institutions inclluding the Hyde Park Art Center and artists including Robert Burnier and Faheem Majeed.

Norman Teague is curating an exhibit of contemporary design objects for the creation gallery at 1465 E. 53rd St.

“Permanent Record: Chicago Hip Hop Kulture” will celebrate the South Side’s role in street art and the music, fashion and dance surrounding it at 1520 S. Harper Court. There will be live music and chances for kids to get their hands dirty painting at the gallery.

The collective gallery at 1504 E. 53rd St. will showcase local and emerging artists. Williams said he will put out a call soon for artists who want to show their work there.

Local businesses including Modern Cooperative, A10 and Sir and Madame are also clearing off wall space to show local artists during the weekend festival.

The festival kicks off Nov. 18 with an afterparty at 10 p.m. at the Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. with a performance by Kahil El-Zaba.

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