Hyde Park Art Center welcomed nearly 500 guests to its gala on Friday, November 21 to celebrate 75 years and also to recognize seven Chicago arts leaders for their contributions keeping culture and creativity alive in the community. The 2014 honorees included cultural investor Ellen Alberding and The Joyce Foundation; game-changing artists Kerry James Marshall and Cheryl Lynn Bruce; cultural leaders Bruce Sagan and Bette Cerf-Hill; arts advocate and former Executive Director of the Hyde Park Art Center, Amy Rule; and, culture visionary Chuck Thurow.
Chicago’s business, civic and cultural elite gathered at the Bridgeport Art Center’s Skyline Lofts for cocktails, dinner and dancing. The evening was also a fundraiser for to sustain the Art Center’s programming and Center’s capability to serve the 45,000 artists, collectors, families, students and youth who visit and call the art institution home seven days a week.
The center has grown tremendously over the years! Executive Director Kate Lorenz who has been with the Art Center since her grad school days 12 years ago. Lorenz said that she became interested in the center after she fell in love with the “adventuresome qualities of the organization, its creativity and diversity, and the people who work there.”
“There’s such a close connection with the artists,” said Lorenz. “With the work happening, it was a place that you could come and have a very real impact with the work you’re doing.”
She was the fifth full-time staff person ever when the organization was working with a $500,000 budget in a three-room building. Now, the staff has nearly tripled and worked their way up to a $2 million budget and a 32,000 sq. foot facility.
“Our reach has grown dramatically. What we can do for artists in the community has magnified and transformed.”
This is certainly true as next year the Art Center will open The Guida Family Creative Wing, named after philanthropists Julie and John Guida.
“The new space will offer a work space for our artists, a dedicated space for our teen artists, a gathering space where people can interact and have conversations about art.”
The Guida Family Creative Wing will continue the community of the Art Center that Board of Directors President, Janis Kanter, values so much. She expressed so much excitement for the evening of attendees learning more about what the art center has to offer.
“I want everyone to see how this place generates so much positivity and energy out of a very small staff and a small budget who do phenomenal things,” said Kanter.
Kanter spoke to the uniqueness and innovation that the Art Center brings to Chicago. Not only that, but she prides the collaborative efforts that they embark on to flourish and encourage the arts community.
“We try to break through and think of ideas that have not been generated before –sort of disruptive creativity. Then as soon as we develop something – and what I believe makes us so special – we collaborate with almost everything thing that we do… If it’s good, then we want other people and places to follow suit and do it as well, because something that’s really great should go out there and seed other great things happening elsewhere. I don’t think people always know, based on the name, how incredibly innovative this institution is.”
The gala began with a cocktail reception. Guests enjoyed live music from Bumpus, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres around sculptures by current Jackman Goldwasser Resident Artist, Susan Giles. The reception was followed by a seated dinner and program. Guests were welcomed by Lorenz and Kanter continued the remarks, praising each of the honorees for their contributions to the Chicago’s arts community. Ruth Horwich, Honorary Chair and backbone of the Art Center for more than 40 years who passed away over the summer, was also remembered during the gala for her importance in Hyde Park and throughout Chicago.
To learn more about the Hyde Park Art Center, visit www.hydepark.org.