Bronzeville Art District gears up for last gallery bus tour of this year
Art lovers on the south side are gearing up for one last party before fall.
All summer, the Bronzeville Art District hosted free monthly tours of its member galleries. Participants take double-decker buses led by guides. The galleries sometimes offer drinks and live music.
“It’s about connecting people with their culture and the history of one of Chicago’s African American communities, as well as bringing people from across the city to enjoy what Bronzeville has to offer,” said Frances Guichard, of Gallery Guichard, 436 E. 47th Street.
The last visit of this year takes place on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Participants can start at any of five galleries, including Blanc Gallery, Faie Afrikan Art, the South Side Community Art Center, and the building at 436 E. 47th St. that houses both Galerie Guichard and the Artist Lofts of Bronzeville.
Buses leave every 20 minutes, following two different routes. One goes from the 47th Street building to Faie Afrikan Art; the other, between 47th Street, the Community Art Center and the Blanc Gallery.
No registration is necessary for the free event, although attendees can RSVP ahead of time, using the Eventbrite link found on the Bronzeville Art District website.
Once on board, guides share stories about the neighborhood dating back decades.
“The story is starting to percolate,” said William Scott III, a tour guide since its inception 16 years ago.
His favorite things to point out include a former home of Ida B. Wells, the birthplace of gospel music, and telling the story of the South Side Community Art Center — which, at 82, is as old as he is.
“I’m really limited by the three hours, you might say,” Scott said.
Beyond knowledgeable guides, attendees can take advantage of each gallery’s “unique cachet,” said Monique Brinkman-Hill, executive director of the Community Art Center.
For example, Faie presents works collected in Africa, while the Guichard gallery presents contemporary works from the African-American diaspora.
Completing their first in-person year since COVID, organizers hope to celebrate the art of Bronzeville and hear its stories of resilience, dating back to the Great Migration of the early 20th century, when many black people from the South moved north.
“Bronzeville was one of the first places they landed and it was a booming place with art, music and business,” Brinkman-Hill said.
“It remains an area that has seen the ups and downs of the economy as well as things like the pandemic, but it remains and sustains itself to be strong thanks to community members.”
Michael Loria is a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for Americaa non-profit journalism program that aims to strengthen the newspaper’s coverage of communities on the South and West Sides.