HPAC celebrates 75 this year

Staff Writer

The Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) will kick off its 75th anniversary year programming this week.

Founded in Hyde Park in 1939, HPAC had several homes — including the Del Prado Building, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd. — before settling into its current address at 5520 S. Cornell Ave in 2006. Despite having no building of its own until recently, however, HPAC’s contribution to the city’s art scene has been widely recognized.

Six exhibitions have been planned for the year, including “Inside the Outside,” a show opening this Sunday featuring works by two Chicago painters, Richard Loving and Eleanor Speiss-Ferri. The exhibit examines the influence of the Chicago Imagists movement — a local strain of surrealism born at HPAC — on the two artists. HPAC will mark Loving’s 90th birthday with a talk presented by School of the Art Institute professor Frank Piatek on the same day the exhibit opens.

HPAC “has always been about the now and the new, and so we wanted to keep that identity and kind of on purpose didn’t choose to do a Hyde Park Art Center retrospective show,” Lorenz said. “But instead, ‘Inside the Outside’ is offering a fresh view of two living working artists who, while aren’t identified technically as part of the Imagists movement, and weren’t in that short list, were incredibly influenced in working at the time and very much on its periphery.”

“For the Hyde Park Art Center, it’s certainly [an] important part of our history that people still identify us with,” Lorenz added. “It’s actually humbling to think that such an important movement happened here.”

HPAC will also display new works this year, including one by an artist with a strong Hyde Park connection: John Preus. The U. of C. alum, who co-founded the Southside Hub of Production with Laura Shaeffer in 2010, will be exhibiting a two-story high work entitled, “The Beast” — not exactly a sculpture nor an architectural work, according to Lorenz.

“We don’t care that it defies definition or boundaries. In fact, that’s exciting,” Lorenz said of Preus’ first solo exhibition.

This September, HPAC will host a 75th anniversary barbecue block party. In the second half of this year, HPAC will also host exhibits of work by master’s of fine arts students, artists from the center’s Art Shop program for teens and Center Program professional development class and Curator in Residence Christopher K. Ho. Beginning next Tuesday and through May 1, community members will be invited to donate any materials relating to HPAC’s history as part of an initiative entitled, “Archive-A-Palooza.”

For more information on HPAC’s 75th anniversary, call 773-324-5520 or visit hydeparkart.org.