Peek into the best art events and cultural activities this April in Chicago. This month, the city is bursting with creative energy and will host some of the most exciting art events of the year. From swanky art gallery openings to laid-back artists’ talks, there are plenty of art events happening across the city.
To make it easy, I’ve curated the best art events and things to do for you. Check out this comprehensive guide to Chicago’s art scene this month and mark your calendar for these must-see events.
Art Events in Chicago: April 2023
Free and Cheap Art Events to Checkout
The Annual Breakfast with the Chicago Artists Coalition
Friday, April 14th | 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m
Connect with artists, curators, collectors, and art enthusiasts from around the world, while getting a glimpse into what’s happening in Chicago’s art scene for free. This year, the exhibitions on view will feature both HATCH and BOLT residents. Guests may view the open studios of our BOLT 2023-24 residents. Coffee and a light breakfast will also be provided.
3rd Friday at Bridgeport Art Center
Friday, April 21st | 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Pop by the Bridgeport Art Center during Third Fridays for a free Open House in Bridgeport. Meet curators, painters, sculptors, photographers, and more artists of various disciplines.
Open Studios at Columbia College
Friday, April 14th | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m
Meet and connect with Columbia College Chicago’s visual artists. Tour the Art and Art History undergraduate and graduate studio spaces to see both finished pieces and works in progress. Open Studios are open to the public and occur once a semester.
Conversation: Gio Swaby—Love Letters
Saturday, April 8th | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Gio Swaby’s embroidered portraits are anchored in the connections she forges with her subjects: each piece begins with a photo shoot in which her sitters are captured in moments of self-awareness and empowerment. Join the artist for a conversation with Melinda Watt, chair and curator of Textiles, textile conservator Isaac Facio, and assistant director of interpretation Loren Wright. Together they will discuss Gio Swaby: Fresh Up and the significance of care in mounting an exhibition that is, at heart, a love letter to Black women. Admission to the panel is free—purchase of museum admission is required.
Art Battle Chicago
Friday, April 21st | 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Watch as masterful artists craft stunning masterpieces in just 20 minutes per round at Art Battle. The epic showdown where you crown the ultimate art champion goes down this month in River North. Don’t miss your chance to own a piece of the action with the silent auction of all original works.
Centennial Celebration at the Stony Island Arts Bank
Sunday, April 16th | 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Join ReBuild Foundation for Mellon Archives Innovation Programs at the Bank, including a special Johnson Publishing Library reading with Theaster Gates. This is an all-day event featuring house music from the Frankie Knuckles Collection, a reading with founder and Executive Director Theaster Gate, followed by Sunday Service hosted by Duane Powell. Seating is limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Forward-Looking: Black Visual Artists in Conversation
Thursday, April 20th | 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Tune into a conversation with diverse artists and creators. Black visual artists in Chicago are contributing to the way we understand the world we are in and the world around us. Black contemporary artists working today continue within a long lineage of Black visual artists who have engaged with and built relationships in their communities. Some of these engagements and giving forward include mentorship, developing community or neighborhood projects, and creating art that reflects our culture.
Skin + Masks III Artist Talk
Monday, April 10th | 5:30 p.m.
Kick-off EXPO Art Week with a panel discussion from artists and curators featured in Skin + Masks III, presented by Kavi Gupta Gallery. Join the West Loop gallery for a conversation with Erol Scott Harris, Armani Howard, and Lola Ayisha Ogbara, three of the emerging artists featured in the blockbuster group exhibition Skin + Masks III, curated by Vic Mensa and Chanelle Lacy, presented by Kavi Gupta in partnership with EXPO Chicago and the Magnificent Mile Association.
Stay Up! A Celebratory Kick Back with Chicago Printer’s Guild
Friday, April 14th | 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Celebrate the release of a commemorative issue of the Englewood Arts Collective (EAC) Zine in honor of their 5th anniversary. This kick-back is hosted by Chicago Printers Guild to amplify the work of Englewood Arts Collective. The Optimist Gallery will be showcasing the work of EAC members throughout the month of April. Stop by the Chicago Art Department— it’ll be a good time!
ROLL CALL: A Black Women in the Arts Convening
Satuday, April 15th | 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
South Side Community Art Center will host its newly realized annual event, ROLL CALL: A Black Women in the Arts Convening, as part of EXPO Chicago this year. Bringing together Black women artists, curators, arts administrators, and culture workers, this event seeks to encourage fellowship and connection amongst Black women in the arts-based here in Chicago and elsewhere. Stop by for community, mimosas, small bites, and music from the iconic Chicago-based DJ Celeste Alexander! Tickets to this event are first come, first served.
EYEZ COLLABORATE ART SHOW, Chiago
Satuday, April 29th | 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Visit Happen Space Gallery for a collaborative exhibition with internationally known Stencil Graffiti artist PEAT @EYEZ. The one-night show features 40+ National artists and 16 of Chicago’s best artists to create over 60 pieces of amazing work.
Spring Hyde Park Art Center
Satuday, April 22nd | 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Hyde Park Art Center will host its Spring Center Day, a family-friendly day of intergenerational art-making activities, artist workshops and talks, open studios, exhibition celebrations, and community collaborations. Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet and visit the studios of our new Radicle Residents.
Exploring the Intersectionality of Public Space, Art, and Social Justice
Wednesday, April 12th | 5:00 p.m.
Join the College of Architecture’s Master of Landscape + Urbanism Program for the annual Alfred Caldwell Lecture and explore the intersectionality of public space, art, and social justice. The panel discussion will focus on how memory and representation have expanded the narrative about the built environment.
The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born Opening Reception
Tuesday, April 11th | 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Arts + Public Life presents artist zakkiyyah najeebah dumas-o’neal’s new body of work. Focusing extensively on notions of embodiment, alternative modes of movement, imagining technologies, intimacy, and collectivity in physical and digital spaces, dumas-o’neal, an APL/CSRPC artists-in-residence alumnae, debuts new video and photo work.
A Spectacular Black Girl Art Show – Chicago
Sunday, April 16th | 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
A Spectacular Black Girl Art Show is a national exhibition experience celebrating black women artists using various forms of media. Since 2019, Black Girl Art Show has created exposure for more than 600+ artists in 12 cities across the U.S.
Ongoing Chicago Art Events in April 2023
The Best Art Shows to See in Chicago
EXPO CHICAGO, the international exposition of contemporary and modern art takes place April 13 -16 at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. Check out my guide to EXPO and all you need to know about this year’s highly anticipated festival.
The Other Art Fair, is an inclusive and unique art fair that features affordable and original artwork from 140 independent artists with immersive installations, performances, DJs – and a fully stocked bar. This art fair is “for everyone” from April 27 – April 30 at Artifact Events.
One of a Kind Spring Show brings together hundreds of talented artists, makers, and designers with thousands of shoppers who love art and handmade work April 28 – 30 at Merchandise Mart.
Boil, Toil + Trouble is the newest iteration of the large-scale group exhibition inhabiting a 15,000-square-foot unused commercial space in Chicago’s Fulton Market District, the exhibition features work by over 50 contemporary artists in a multigenerational grouping that examines water through the lens of magic, ritual, and the role of the ‘witch’, or medium, in contemporary art. This show runs from April 12 – 23rd in Chicago’s Fulton Market neighborhood. Free to the public with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Honey Art, Beats + Lyrics Tour, is a traveling urban art and music exhibition that has grown over the years to support visionary artists and musicians who value authenticity, creativity, and individuality. This is a one-day, free event taking place on Friday, April 7th in Chicago.
BARELY FAIR is an international art fair operated by Julius Caesar, an artist-run project space established in Chicago in 2008. The invitational fair presents a tiny peek inside the programming of 36 contemporary art galleries, project spaces, and curatorial projects during EXPO ART WEEK in Chicago. BARELY FAIR will open with a vernissage on April 14, will continue a run of daily hours through the weekend, and then re-open the following Tuesday through Sunday before closing on April 23rd.
Map: Spring 2023 Chicago Art Gallery Openings and Museum Exhibitions
With so many exciting events happening across the city, it can be hard to know where to start. I hope that this list of the best art events in Chicago will give you some inspiration and insight into the city’s art scene. Go solo or with your friends and immerse yourself in the amazing art scene this month in Chicago. Don’t forget to let us know which event was your favorite in the comments below!