Hyde Park Art Center launches new wing and a time capsule

Attendees gather at the opening of Susan Giles' "Scenic Overlook" at Hyde Park Art Center, which runs until July 26. Giles' was one of three new exhibitions that opened for the center's 75th anniversary celebration.

By Traci Badalucco

“What’s going to happen when we’re gone and they break open this box? What’s going to be peoples’ reactions,” said Juan Giraldo, a photography student at Columbia College Chicago.

Giraldo and more than 300 art enthusiasts turned out recently  week to see the unveiling of a multi-million dollar expansion project, including the time capsule box and three new exhibitions at the Hyde Park Art Center on Chicago’s south side.

“I would put some sort of digital media and see how they might be able to access that in the future, because everything nowadays seems to be going at the speed of light,” said Giraldo. “Everything is up in the air in terms of digital media and how to archive this, so it’s a key to the past, both physically and technologically.”

The center broke ground on the Guida Family Creative Wing at a 75th anniversary reception, where executive director Kate Lorenz  revealed plans for the time capsule project that will remain sealed  for 24 years.

Artist Daniel Tucker, who recently a made documentary about a time capsule in Southern California, said he proposed Hyde Park’s capsule as part of the celebration for the center’s 100th anniversary in 2039.

“That’s a natural time to kind of reflect on their history,” Tucker said. “If there is not sort of some meaningful date that’s tied to it, people forget about it. There are tons of time capsules that never get found.”

The capsule will be placed inside a wall of the new wing in June with  contributions such as artworks and poems. Community members are encouraged to donate items for the time capsule but they must fit on an  8 ½ by 11 piece of paper.

Tucker said contributing to a time capsule gives people a chance to step out of every day routines and think about both history and the future.

“There’s something exciting, where people have to kind of believe that a future exists. They have to believe that what they are putting out there might get discovered, and that what they are putting in there someone will find useful,” Tucker said.

A campaign kicked off in 2014 collected $6.25 million in donations for the new wing, which also will feature 5,000 square-feet of renovated storage space for artist studios.

“Artists need a place to work. It’s pretty essential,” said Lorenz. “One of the things that we try to do here at the art center all the time is demystify the creative process for a broader group of people to grow the support base for our city’s artists, and the wing is really a physical emblem of that notion.”

Grant Gibson, lead architect for the wing, also helped with the current building design. He gave a virtual sneak peak of what’s to come this fall when the new wing will open..

“We’re really looking forward to what the space will do and do for our community and do for creativity and artists,” Gibson said.

John Guida, who donated $750,000 for the expansion project, took the first swing of a sledgehammer at the wall opening to the new space.

Zita Brizzi, an interior designer and ceramics student at the center, said she is looking forward to the collaboration aspect of the new space.

John Guida takes the first swing to what will be the new artistic wing at the Hyde Park Art Center.  The wing will create 5,000 square feet of artist workspace. (Traci Badalucco, Medill)
John Guida takes the first swing at the wall breaking into a new wing under construction at the  Hyde Park Art Center. The wing expansion and renovation of the current building will create 5,000 square feet of artist studio space. (Traci Badalucco, Medill)

“I’m glad they’re going to have a critique room. I think there should more of that in the classes, and I think it’s going to be really positive,” Brizzi said.

The center also unveiled three exhibitions.  Susan Giles’ “Scenic Overlook,” Nancy Lu Rosenheim’s “Swallow City,” and Charles Heppner and Diane Jaderberg’s “Nature’s Matrix” will  remain open into July.

“We want a diverse block of items that represent things that are important to our community members today, as well as messages for the future,” Lorenz said.

Allison Peters Quinn said anyone who’d like to contribute an item can contact her at aquinn@hydeparkart.org.

Photo at top: Art enthusiasts gather at the opening of Susan Giles’ “Scenic Overlook” at the Hyde Park Art Center.  Giles’ installation features large-scale abstract sculptures and is one of three new exhibitions that opened for the center’s 75th anniversary celebration.  (Traci Badalucco/Medill)