Flood’s Hall to host open mic to promote Black artists and art


Contributing writer

This Friday, Flood’s Hall will host Pick Up the Torch, a new open mic series based in Hyde Park.

“There are a lot of open mics in the city,” said Joy Williams, one of the organizers of the event. “I wanted an actual safe space for artists to showcase their art, but also, when they leave the space, to give the audience a little more clarity on why they wrote what they wrote and who they are as an artist.”

To that end, the open mic will also include portions of audience dialogue, where attendees can ask performers about their work. And, in order to incorporate other forms of art into the conversation, Williams has invited a painter to draw portraits of the performers and explain them at the end of the evening.

It’s the third open mic Williams has put together, though the first under the name Pick Up the Torch. The name is in reference to the long tradition of Black art Williams aims to continue. “People of color use their art to express themselves in a way they weren’t able to express themselves in any other way,” she said. “In the ‘60s, ‘70s, during the Civil Rights Movement and with slavery, African Americans were only able to express themselves through their art. I want us to keep that same energy now.”

Williams is planning to turn Pick Up the Torch into a monthly series. September’s iteration will be hosted at Dearborn Denim, the clothing store on 53rd Street. (Starting next Monday, Flood’s Hall is closing until late October for light renovations.)

Pick Up the Torch takes place on Friday, August 23. Doors open at 6 p.m.; show starts at 7 p.m. Flood’s Hall, 1515 E. 52nd Place, third floor. Chicken and steak tacos from Cholie’s Pizza will be served.