Chicago Art Shows This Summer: Best-Kept Cultural Secrets 2023

Discover the top 10 unique and intriguing art shows in Chicago this summer, from Stanley Brouwn’s retrospective to Derrick Woods-Morrow’s groundbreaking solo exhibition.

The Stanley Brouwn retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Derrick Woods-Morrow solo exhibition at Gallery 400 are among the must-visit art exhibits this summer.
"Art for the Future: Artists Call and Central American Solidarities" at the DePaul Art Museum provides a historical insight into politically engaged art.
Edra Soto's decade-long project, "Destination/El Destino: A Decade of GRAFT," and Tim Youd's unique typewriter-based project, "Retyping the Chicago Public Library," offer innovative and engaging displays of artistic creativity.

The Top 10 Art Exhibitions Lighting Up Chicago this Summer

For art enthusiasts looking to escape the summer heat, Chicago’s world-class galleries and museums promise a refreshing and thought-provoking journey. Ditch the sunscreen and slip into the cool, air-conditioned exhibition halls of the city, where ten standout shows are set to steal the limelight this season.

Stanley Brouwn: A Lifetime of Artistry in Retrospect

The first stop on our summer art tour is the Stanley Brouwn retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Suriname-born conceptual artist, known for his distinct fascination with measurements and mapmaking, presents an intriguing peek into the psyche of an artist who chose to distance his work from the mainstream. His refusal to permit his work to be reproduced or interpreted makes this exhibit an unadulterated encounter with Brouwn’s idiosyncratic brilliance.

Gravity Pleasure Switchback: A Solo Exhibition by Derrick Woods-Morrow

Next up is the first major solo exhibition of Derrick Woods-Morrow at Gallery 400, where the artist’s quest for rest, queer liberation, and freedom from capitalism takes tangible form. This multidimensional display features unique elements like a full-scale copper pipe replica of his bedroom, glass blown with dirt from sites of Black tragedies, and a captivating slow-motion film of Black cowboys.

Art for the Future: A Showcase of Artists Call and Central American Solidarities

At the DePaul Art Museum, you’ll be transported back to the tumultuous 1980s when hundreds of artists campaigned against U.S. intervention in Central America. The striking posters, impactful artworks, and vibrant performances they created remain just as relevant and stirring today.

There’s plenty more in store for art lovers, including Edra Soto’s 10-year artistic journey in “Destination/El Destino: A Decade of GRAFT,” the intriguing “Shift: Music, Meaning, Context” at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Brenda Draney’s “Drink from the river” at the Arts Club of Chicago, and Tim Youd’s unique project, “Retyping the Chicago Public Library.”

Visitors also shouldn’t miss Marie Watt’s celestial-inspired “Sky Dances Light” at Kavi Gupta, the vibrant display of Indigenous art from Mexico in “Los huecos del agua,” and a deep dive into the race-based conceptual art of Gary Simmons in “Public Enemy” at the MCA Chicago.

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