GETTING THE PERFECT CHICAGO SELFIE IS SIMPLE WITH THE RIGHT BACKDROP. The city’s ample supply of public art sites offers perfect opportunities to fill your Instagram feed with high-quality art, even if you never make it to a museum. And now is a better time than ever, with 2017 designated as the Year of Public Art in Chicago and celebrated with a new festival and free exhibitions throughout the city. So keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready: art is everywhere you look this season. 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CHICAGO PICASSO The Chicago Picasso is perhaps the most iconic piece of public art in Chicago, due in part to the fact that no one really knows what it is. Some say it’s a dog. Others insist it looks like a woman or a horse. Whatever the case, this massive steel monument makes for great photos. Seeing the piece from different angles is like seeing a new sculpture every time. And best of all, you can climb on the Picasso to get the perfect profile pic. Afterwards, head to Atwood for upscale American cuisine and cocktails that are works of art themselves. FLAMINGO AGORA ABRAHAM LINCOLN CLOUD GATE THE LOOP Chicago’s Loop is home to more than 100 internationally acclaimed works by artists like Chagall, Miró, Dubuffet, Taft and Picasso. This area includes Millennium Park, Grant Park and Daley Plaza. The art here ranges from the traditional (Abraham Lincoln in Grant Park) to the curious (Agora on Michigan Ave. At Roosevelt Rd.) and everything in between. No one leaves Chicago without a selfie in front of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, known by most as “The Bean.” While you’re in the area, head over to The Gage for a sandwich or salad before moving on to your next stop. PILSEN 16TH STREET MURAL GAIA’S UETZALCOATL AND THE STORK PILSEN The history of the Pilsen neighborhood is inextricably tied to the immigrants — first Czech and, more recently, Mexican- American and Latino — who have called it home. The area has become a hub of public art, with more than 400 brightly colored murals celebrating the artistic, religious and political history of the area’s diverse cultures. Where else can you snap photos of Eastern European architecture covered in Mayaninspired designs? Stroll along the 2.5-mile 16th Street rail embankment to see one of the largest concentrations of street art in Chicago, and pick up works by local artists in one of the dozens of neighborhood galleries. When you’re done seeing the sights, indulge in Chicago’s renowned craft beer scene at Dusek’s Board & Beer in historic Thalia Hall. THALIA HALL MOOSE BUBBLEGUM BUBBLE WABASH ARTS CORRIDOR In the three years since the Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) was created by Columbia College, the area has become a hub for appreciators of largescale mural installations and collaborative art projects. The WAC is home to colleges, galleries, hotels, performance spaces, more than 40 restaurants and tons of public art pieces, including Big Walls, large-scale mural installations covering buildings that line the streets. See them on S. Wabash Avenue. And its cross streets, beginning roughly at E. Congress Parkway and extending south to E. 11th Street. If you still have room for more culture, head over to Buddy Guy’s Legends for the ultimate Chicago blues experience. MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER PUBLIC ART WALKING TOURS Sure, it can be exciting heading out on your own to explore a new city. But sometimes it’s nice to see the sights without having to navigate. MetroWalkz offers self-guided walking tours of the Loop, Millennium Park and just about anywhere around the city. Or sign up for a Chicago Greeter tour and be guided by a local. CHINATOWN BILL WALKER WORKING ON THE WALL OF RESPECT CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER EXHIBITIONS As part of the Year of Public Art, the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Washington St., will host multiple exhibitions celebrating the important role of public art in Chicago’s history. The Subject is Chicago: People, Places, Possibilities features 50 works by 50 neighborhood artists, while The Wall of Respect honors the 50th anniversary of the eponymous mural, which once stood on the city’s South Side. Painted in 1967 during the Civil Rights Movement, The Wall of Respect was a seminal cultural and political landmark for Chicago’s African-American community before being razed in 1971. THE WALL OF RESPECT
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