Black Voices

Virtual Bronzeville Art District Trolley Pays Homage to South Side Artists


Virtual Bronzeville Art District Trolley Pays Homage to South Side Artists

For the last 15 years, Chicagoans have explored the art of one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods thanks to a trolley. But this year, the Bronzeville Art District Trolley tour is going virtual.  

“We have the majority or most galleries in one area that are either walkable, or can be accessed by the trolley,” Frances Guichard, co-owner of Gallery Guichard said. “We haven’t found this in any other area around the country."

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It’s a modified version of the Bronzeville art district trolley tour, now virtual via Zoom. Among the galleries participating is Gallery Guichard whose virtual experience will be a little bit different from the rest because they’ll be showing their virtual exhibition catalogs.

“Our virtual exhibition catalog allows you to actually tour that gallery at your leisure at home with your family 24 hours a day,” Andre Guichard, co-owner of Gallery Guichard said. “You can literally drop into the gallery, walk around and see. Get close to the art and get the information about pricing.”

Artists from the Bronzeville artists’ lofts will also be stop on the tour. Raymond A. Thomas will not only be doing a live painting, but will be showcasing recent works, including one that pays homage to Bronzeville’s “policy kings,” also known as the Jones brothers.

“This door was from a show we did here downstairs called ‘Echoes of Our Journey,’” Thomas said. “I created a door celebrating the Jones brothers. … This building here was owned by the Jones brothers, so it’s multiple layers of history. This was the first Black department store.”

The South Side Community Art Center is another stop on the tour. While they aren’t an official art gallery, they’ve offered context about Black art in Chicago for the last 80 years.

“The South Side Community Art Center was a hub,” said Monique Brinkman-Hill, executive director of the South Side Community Art Center. “In the 1940s as you know, there was not a place for the Black artist to come, learn, mentor, grow. The South Side Community Art Center was that place. Fast forward to the Black Lives Matter movement, and what’s happening now and the impact (and) importance of that conversation, and we are still that place for artists.”

Other participants include Blanc Gallery, Faie Afrikan Art, and Little Black Pearl Art and Design, which will offer different virtual exhibitions each month. Guichard says it’s a tradition they must continue to honor artists that have worked in Bronzeville and the neighborhood itself.

“Eighty years of art movements in this neighborhood,” Andre Guichard said. “It speaks to the collaborations that have been going on for many years, and the great art that’s in this community.”

This month’s Bronzeville Art District virtual tour will be held at 7 p.m. Friday. Each virtual tour takes place on the third Friday of the month through December. 

Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3

Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.

This story also aired Sunday, Sept. 13 on “Black Voices.” See more from that show here.


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