The Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC) has one of the most ambitious missions among Chicago non-profit organizations: to stimulate and sustain the visual arts in Chicago. Making a huge leap forward with its move to sharp new digs in April 2006, HPAC has brought some serious currency to its undertaking, kicking things off with a 36-hour open house.
Not to be outdone by its Beverly and Lincoln Park counterparts, HPAC plans to make the most of its 35,000-square-foot home. Professional teaching artists help aspiring students and enthusiastic hobbyists develop their skills in studios tucked just beyond several technologically-equipped exhibition spaces. Summers belong to the sculpture court, and on greyer days large digital projections dominate the front facade.
HPAC reaches far beyond its Hyde Park and Kenwood surroundings to build partnerships with schools, parks and community centers throughout Chicago's South Side. Focused on bringing resources and people together to start meaningful dialogues, the center hosts "4833rph," a physical space for exhibitions and educational collaborations as well as an online discussion section on HPAC's Web site. The initiative honors faithful patron Ruth Horwich. All of these efforts make Hyde Park feel less like an island of intellectual sophistication and more like a welcome destination for art lovers.
Centerstage Reviewer: Justin Sondak