June 6 and 7 the oldest juried art fair in the Midwest will take place in Hyde Park. Now in its 62nd year, the 57th Street Art Fair brings artists from around the country to this south side neighborhood.
It was begun in 1948 by local silversmith Mary Louise Womer. Her studio had become a gathering place for artists and she created the show in an attempt to showcase their work. She developed guidelines that ensured the integrity of the show, including the restriction that all work must be original. No prints or reproductions were allowed. It quickly gained in popularity not only among patrons but also the artists themselves, until there were more artists than space. Womer and the 57th Street Art Committee created a jury system in 1963 to assign the spaces. Judges, who were artists themselves or somehow involved in the arts community, viewed the potential artists’ work in a blinded review. Both the guidelines and the jury selection procedures are in place to this day.
Unusual for Chicago street festivals, this is an alcohol-free show. That, combined with several playgrounds, makes this art fair a family activity. The daughter of an artist, my summer weekends were spent sitting at my father’s booth. If my brother and I had known about this kid friendly show we would have pushed him to enter!
June 6, 11am to 6pm
June 7, 10am to 5pm