Guest essay by Reno Lovison
I first attended the 57th Street Art Fair when I was a young teen going to high school in the area.
Back then I remember a lot of hippie types selling pottery and turquoise jewelry. I still have a pen and ink drawing I bought that year. It’s hard to imagine that in 1970 the fair was already in its 33rd year.
Well here it is 48 years later and I have missed very few. My wife and I traditionally see this first major outdoor art fair of the season as our summer kick-off for all that Chicago has to offer.
Weather is often a factor the first week of June and you can plan on rain, wind and sometimes cold. This year Mother Nature played along, providing pleasant temperatures in the mid-seventies with rain only late in the evening on Saturday having very little effect.
This is a juried art fair that draws about 250 of some of the best artists from Chicago, the Midwest and around the U.S., some travelling from Florida, Phoenix and California to be on hand for this very popular event. Many of these artists have participated continually for many years giving their fans an opportunity to witness the progression of their craft. Approximately 50 to 75 newcomers are also included.
The 57th Street Art Fair as the name implies takes part largely along 57th Street steps from the University of Chicago campus in the shadow of Ray School, the neighborhood public elementary school, that offers a comfort stop inside and a variety of food vendors in the playground.
The 2018 version of the fair reflects the times, featuring many digital artists who use computers to create their work. Digital artwork also includes photographers who manipulate their images with various software tools to create new ways to express themselves visually and interpret the world around them.
Traditional technology of paint and brush is still widely represented as are sculptors, potters, metal smiths, jewelers and textile artists.
Every year one artist is chosen to create a poster for the fair. This year’s poster was created by American Impressionist Rodgers Naylor of Colorado whose Chicago street view captures the relaxed charm of the festival’s vintage urban neighborhood.
Many of the artists who exhibit here can also be found at the upcoming north side Old Town Art Fair, June 9-10.