The Chicago Art Scene, Under-the-Radar Museums, and More with Ally Almore

Seek Like a Local, our popular series of the best things to do in Chicago from a local is back for another summer season. In this week’s Seek like a Local, Ally Almore a freelance photographer highlights her favorite Chicago food spots, encourages visitors to explore smaller, yet significant cultural museums, and shows love to her community of fellow photographers.

Explore Chicago Like Ally Almore

Ally Almore is a freelance photographer currently based in her native hometown of Chicago. She is also a current member and resident photographer of smallWORLD Collective. A self-described ‘light chaser’ and a ‘time stopper,’ from a young age Ally has had a strong love of photography and how it is developed. As a photographer, Ally loves to intimately explore queerness and its place in nightlife, as well as the Chicago art scene and how it impacts Black and Brown people. Ally enjoys spending her days shooting, dreaming up new photo projects, editing images, and managing the well-known Hyde Park-based shop, The Silver Room.

Chicago photographer Ally Almore Seek Like a Local The Haute Seeker
Chicago photographer Ally Almore// Image by Tori Rice

Ally continues to celebrate art, culture, and diverse communities through her art. Support her by checking out her work at allyalmore.com and also following her on Instagram.

Tell us about your favorite food spots in the city.

As a Chicago native, I have to say that I am so appreciative of all the different kinds of foods available! My absolute favorite would have to be Thai food. Specifically from this one spot called Opart Thai House (get the Tiger Cry, you won’t regret it!) If we’re talking Mexican food, I’m especially keen on Pancho Pistolas in Bridgeport right now! So yummy. I can’t leave the restaurant section without mentioning Bronzeville Winery. Chef Whitney is incredible at what she does. Absolutely must recommend you get the Brussel sprouts and try the Watermelon Steak. Yeah, you read that right – watermelon steak. SO GOOD!

What are your favorite things to do with out-of-town visitors?

A ride down DuSable Lake Shore Drive is a MUST for any friends I host from out of town. There’s no other drive in the city quite like it and you get to see the gorgeous lake and it’s such an iconic part of the city. I love going to a museum, the Art Institute is great, and the MCA has been incredible with its programming lately.

National Museum of Mexican Art Chicago photographer Seek Like a Local The Haute Seeker
Outside view of the National Museum of Mexican Art // Image via Facebook

Don’t sleep on the plethora of smaller Chicago museums too, The DuSable Museum and Museum of National Mexican Fine Art get slept on sometimes because they’re not in a big downtown museum campus but incredible work happens in those spaces both on the walls and behind the scene. I love to see where smallWORLD Collective is popping up, if it’s an E N E R G Y weekend, I’m definitely bringing my friends to the best party for queers and their fam!

who are some of your favorite Chicago artists?

I know countless photographers out here doing their thing. So many amazing people! I am so lucky and blessed to be in a community with so many other great photographers. ThoughtPoet, Tori Rice, Angie Starr, Jansen Bridge, Gold Frame Photo, Sebastian Hidalgo, Tonika Johnson, and Love+Struggles Photo are just a few photographers that come to mind.

Outside of photography, Sam Kirk is one of my favorite muralists out in Chicago right now. They’ve been doing some incredible work with their LGBTQ celebratory murals. Brandon Breaux is a Chicago gem—truly! I just co-curated a show with Raspy Rivera (who is everywhere right now it seems), Alexandria Valentine, and Courtney Anderson—all incredible in their own way! Rebel Betty is also an amazing artist whose work has been super inspiring to me lately. Honestly, Chicago is full of incredible artists, I could go on about the art scene in Chicago for a very long time. Cierra McKissick is an incredible curator, and honestly, the whole team at Hyde Park Arts Center does amazing work. Support them! Follow these people. Go to shows that they share. Share their stuff, and help them promote.

What are some good shops and boutiques in Chicago?

I have to plug the store I manage (The Silver Room), not only because I manage it but because it is such a staple for the Chicago community, especially the South Side and Hyde Park. Always on point with our House Music merch (a genre of music I hold very close to my heart, my parents grew up on house music and raised me the same way!) We have tons of local artists featured in the space so that’s always nice to check out. I put a lot of my own love into the store, and it’s really a store that’s by Chicago, for Chicago.

Definitive Selection in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago Seek Like a Local The Haute Seeker
Inside the Definitive Selection clothing shop// Image via Facebook

If I’m in Pilsen I like to check out Definitive Selection, they have a dope array of t-shirts and other local goods to help you create a fresh fit! I’m also a big fan of Early to Bed, it’s a sex shop up north, it’s small, quaint, and has a great knowledgeable staff! 

What community organizations in Chicago do you support?

Oh, so many! The Chicago Abortion Fund is near and dear to my heart. They do incredible work and should get more hype! Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, and Trans-led LGBTQ center on the Southside. Marwen, an arts program of which I am a direct result! I already mentioned Hyde Park Arts Center, but I’m bringing them back up here too! Yollocalli Arts, BYP100, the Let Us Breathe Collective. Honestly, again there are so many amazing orgs out here doing the groundwork in Chicago.

Seek Like A Local, and discover things to do, places to dine, and more of what the city of Chicago has to offer this week. Check out more guides from influential Chicago locals at Seek Like a Local.


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