On Saturday November 15, 2008 the Chicago Art Department (CAD) will celebrate its 5th birthday with the Growing Up CAD 2008 Fundraiser and Exhibition. This event will feature an exhibition of work from CAD’s resident artists, former students, and friends in the community, representing a sampling of some of Chicago’s most exciting new and emerging artists. The work will open for silent auction during the ‘2nd Fridays’ gallery opening on Friday, November 14th and will conclude at the fundraiser event the following night on Saturday, November 15th.
The Saturday fundraiser will celebrate our first five years, during which the Chicago Art Department has produced over fifty exhibitions, offered close to twenty programs, and served over one hundred new and emerging artists. What started as a small project in the South Loop loft of three college art instructors has in five short years become a pillar in the Pilsen art community.
In 2007, The Chicago Art Department became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, raising generous support at its first fundraiser last August. With that support, CAD was able to offer all of its programs for free, which in the past year has included a Heroes themed class, Photo Projects, Novel Design, and a DJ’ing class. So far this year, CAD has two featured programs planned. The first is a theme-based class called “200 Lincolns”, which celebrates Abraham Lincoln’s upcoming 200th birthday with 200 Lincoln portraits. The second offering is an exchange program that will see participants travel to another city to curate an exhibition, and then turn over CAD to the chosen city’s artists to do the same. The program offers its participants a chance to explore and research art in cities throughout the US and internationally.
CAD’s major initiative however is to develop its fledgling artist residency program. The program is unique among artist residencies in that it is not only about developing individual artistic practices, but also about encouraging artists whose dedication to community participation and growth is an integral part of their practice. In the tradition of past classes and programs, CAD residents are expected to develop and lead their own art programs in addition to developing work for a solo exhibition.
“When you get to year five, you start thinking about if and how you might continue to grow,” says co-founder Nat Soti. “I believe developing new leaders is key. That’s what our residency program is about.”