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A snapshot of Chicago: Buddy displays art and objects by over 200 local artists

Buddy at the Chicago Cultural Center / Photo: Kimberly Kim

One of the largest and most representative exhibitions of artists currently working in our city is located on the first floor of the Chicago Cultural Center. Buddy is a uniquely curated gallery and shop operated in collaboration with the Public Media Institute and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Buddy is home to over 200 artists, makers and small creative companies from Chicagoland, which, according to director Stella Brown, makes it a living archive and “a snapshot of Chicago”.

Brown launched Buddy in January 2020 with an open call for Chicago-based artists to display and sell their work to the public. Over the past 18 months, Buddy has grown to support local and interdisciplinary creators online, in their shop at the Chicago Cultural Center, and through programmatic initiatives. The Buddy Shop has essentially hundreds of solo exhibitions in one place, all of which are sold at affordable prices. Buddy supports a range of artists through a rotating display of unique items, including limited edition prints, clothing, paintings, key chains, books, zines, jewelry, household items, small artifacts, videos, music and ceramics with prices ranging from $ 1 to $ 1,800. Most of the items at Buddy cost under $ 50, with sixty percent of all sales going direct to their artists.

Buddy at the Chicago Cultural Center / Photo: Kimberly Kim

But Buddy is more than an expanded museum gift shop; it’s an artist-run space, gallery, platform, and programmatic headquarters. Over the past six months, they have added pop-ups across the city, a video presentation at the north entrance of the cultural center, and a residence to their program. This winter Buddy is adding a full suite of free vacation programs.

At the Millennium Park Art Market on November 19, 20 and 21, Buddy will have a pop-up shop in conjunction with the Tree Lighting Ceremony and the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. As with all Buddy initiatives, this is more than a regular tent and pop-up of goods. In addition to professional artists curated by Buddy, the art market will feature student artists from the Marwen Youth Arts program and After School Matters – as well as a heated café, a pop-up program and a special visit from Dreezy Claus from 20th to November 21, 1pm – 3pm.

On November 20, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., The Documentarian magazine, available in the Buddy Shop, will present an afternoon of free live music performances by Chicago artists Paige Naylor, Friedrich Andreoni and Devin Shaffer in collaboration with the DCASE common room on the Welcome Center’s first floor Cultural center.

Until December 11th, Buddy is holding free “Meet a Buddy Artist Workshops” every second and fourth Friday and Saturday of the month from 12:00 to 14:00. These practical interactions are jointly organized with the ceramics studio GnarWare Workshop in Pilsen, CCRx (Chicago Creative Reuse Exchange) in Auburn Gresham, Marimacha Monarca Press from Pilsen and Marwen Youth Arts Organization in River North.

Buddy at the Chicago Cultural Center / Photo: Kimberly Kim

The shop will also host the “Ornaments for All: First Annual Buddy Artist Ornament Show” in its cultural center from November 26th to December 31st. The shop presents unique ornaments and hanging art objects from over thirty Chicagoland artists. Each Buddy Artist sells an edition of five or more handmade ornament art items under $ 50 for the holidays and beyond.

It is no coincidence that Buddy is sitting in the People’s Palace. Buddy embodies the ethos of our city and is a hub for making connections between friends (hence the name). Through her multimedia endeavors, Buddy “introduces people to the world they are realizing in Chicago, a place that helps them create a sustainable world in which we all want to work, play and live.” The Buddy Shop is a place to visit and see a great variety of Chicago art producers, as well as the place to find unique gifts for the holidays.

Buddy is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Sunday from 11am to 4pm at the Chicago Cultural Center, 72 East Washington, and online at hi-buddy.org.

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