It is a well-known fact that Chicago’s Bronzeville community was an epicenter of African American culture. And although it has faced upheavals and change over the years, thanks to a renewed interest of artists, entrepreneurs and new residents, Bronzeville is on the heels of revitalization. Part of that revitalization is in the form of the Bronzeville Art District. For the past 11 years, art gallery owners, Frances and Andre Guichard have encouraged art patrons across the city on a tour — not just any tour, but the Bronzeville Tour Trolley. Starting June 16 and continuing to run every third Friday through September, all are encouraged to attend and bring friends to view the artistic offerings of Bronzeville’s six fine art galleries, including: Blanc Gallery, Bronzeville Artist Lofts, Gallery Guichard, Faie Afrikan Art, Little Black Pearl Art & Design and South Side Community Art Center, one of Chicago’s oldest art centers.
What was the idea behind starting an art trolley?
Since its inception 11 years ago, the Bronzeville Arts District has collaborated with the existing art galleries in the neighborhood to create an art district and a unique art crawl to spur tourism. The vision to use trolleys was conceived via collaboration with Gallery Guichard and The South Side Community Art Center. The continuous rotating trolleys have served as a great marketing tool for the art district, bringing people from all over the city and the world. Each gallery — South Side Community Art Center, Blanc Gallery, Faie African Art, Gallery Guichard and the artists in the Bronzeville Artist Lofts, Alpha Bruton & Alan Emerson Hicks with Phantom Art Gallery, Raymond Thomas and Roger Carter — contribute to making the BAD Trolley tour spectacular.
What are some of the things you’ve done to keep the tour interesting and fresh?
For the past 11 years, no exhibition has been the same. Each gallery, each month, provides something interesting and exciting for all ages. Our trolley guides are the frontline communicators providing information pertaining to the trolley stops, exhibitions, as well as historical landmarks, and other businesses to consider for shopping, dining etc. By keeping the experience fresh, the guests’ experience is memorable. Each guest receives a warm reception with entertainment, food and networking giving reason to return for each event and each season.
What are some of the highlights you have planned for this year’s events?
In addition to amazing art at each gallery location, an opportunity to meet artists and see them work live, receive historical information about the community, and a chance to network, each gallery will feature live music by bands comprised of young musicians providing exposure and opportunity. During our travels, we have found, like in New Orleans, that giving the opportunity to young people not only uplifts the receiver of the music but also helps the youth, promotes optimism and combats violence. One organization we are working with is a local nonprofit, promoting young musicians and bands in a variety of genres.
For more information, check out Gallery Guichard, 436 E. 47th Street, galleryguichard.com, 773-791-7003.