Chicagoland is world famous as a hotbed of art and culture. Our area is known for hosting works from masters like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Seurat, while also serving as a launching pad for the next generation of inspiring artists.
Does your dream home put you in walking distance of a landmark museum or cutting edge gallery? Want to live in a spot where you can rub elbows with painters, sculptors, and photographers? Here are five Chicagoland communities perfect for art lovers:
Located roughly 30 miles west of Chicago, Naperville is a vibrant community, and has been heralded as one of Illinois’ best places to live. The fourth-largest city in the state, Naperville can trace its roots back to the 1830s. More recently, Naperville was named one of America’s “coolest suburbs” by Apartment Therapy, which also awarded the area a special ranking as “America’s craftiest suburb.”
In fact, according to Apartment Therapy, Naperville “posted about 13,400 listings on Etsy,” a craft-focused retail site, in 2018. That’s a lot of artists and makers, handcrafting and selling unique works of art, toys, games, clothing, and so much more!
It’s no surprise that Naperville is home to so many devoted artists and craftspeople. This community has long placed a special focus on art. The Naperville Woman’s Club hosts an annual Fine Art & Artisan Fair, the longest running juried art fair in all of Illinois. Meanwhile, the famous Naperville Riverwalk is the site of the annual Riverwalk Fine Art Fair. This outdoor festival is put on by the Naperville Art League, an arts center and gallery which also hosts exhibitions and classes throughout the year.
Throughout Naperville, you’ll find plenty of inspiring spots devoted to celebrating the arts, including local galleries and studios. For public art, Naperville is home to the Moser Tower and Millennium Carillon, an enormous structure near the riverwalk that features a massive arrangement of bells and chimes inside. Nearby, the DuPage Children’s Museum is a draw for creative youngsters, offering art experiences and studio spaces for kids to explore their artistic passions.
Located just south of the Loop, near the similarly artistic communities of Bridgeport and Little Village, Pilsen is a Chicago neighborhood with a rich history and a thriving creative arts scene. For one thing, the streets of Pilsen are full of sprawling, colorful murals, celebrating the area’s history and shining a spotlight on important social issues. No visit to the neighborhood would be complete without a look at the stunning public art on display.
The eastern area of Pilsen is also home to the “Chicago Arts District,” a collection of work spaces, galleries, artists’ lofts, studios, and offices clustered around 18th and Halsted streets. This artistically focused community routinely hosts events that allow visitors to meet with local art and artists, including “2nd Fridays,” a monthly evening when more than 30 gallery spaces and studios open their doors to the public, free of charge.
Pilsen is also home to the National Museum of Mexican Art. Located in Harrison Park, in the heart of the Pilsen community, the National Museum of Mexican Art showcases art and artifacts spanning 3,000 years of Mexican and American history. Free to enter, the museum features a 10,000-piece permanent collection, as well as rotating displays and exhibits, film screenings, community events, and educational classes, all serving to break down barriers and celebrate “the breadth and depth of Mexican art, culture and history.”
Just west of Chicago, the Village of Oak Park has long been a lure for artists and creative-minded people of all stripes, including some of the world’s most famous architects — from Victorian builders to Prairie School innovators. Today, Oak Park is known for having the largest concentration of Frank Lloyd Wright homes anywhere in the word, as well as being the site of the famed designer’s longtime personal home and studio.
Outside of architecture, Oak Park has a robust arts scene, largely centered around the Oak Park Arts District on Harrison Street. Cutting through the heart of Oak Park, Harrison Street is home to plenty of local shops and businesses, including art galleries, studios, and exhibition spaces. Wander through the area and you’ll find plenty of intriguing arts spaces, including the Black Moon Gallery & Studio, Gallery PINK, Jamilla Yipp Photography Studio, and Whatever Comes to Mind Studios, among many others.
The Arts District also plays host to community events that excite and inspire, including a gallery walk every third Friday of the month. On this date, Oak Park’s many galleries and studios open their doors to the public, while the Arts District hosts live music and food and drink options. The Arts District also hosts the “What’s Blooming on Harrison” festival, shining the spotlight on Harrison Street’s many vendors and creative offerings.
Another cornerstone of Oak Park’s arts scene is the Oak Park Art League, or OPAL. Founded in 1921, OPAL is one of the longest, continually-running non-profit arts organizations in all of Illinois. Today, OPAL hosts lectures, events, classes, and exhibitions in its landmark Carriage House Gallery, with the goal of “offering of high quality art education to people of all ages and skill levels.”
The twin neighborhoods of Wicker Park and Bucktown are home to some of Chicago’s most popular haunts for artists, thanks to their abundance of theaters, live music venues, and gallery spaces. Wicker Park and Bucktown are committed to furthering Chicago’s legacy of elevating and promoting new artists, in many different ways.
A short trip away from the heart of Wicker Park and Bucktown for instance, is Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outside Art. Founded in the early 1990s, Intuit is devoted to showcasing the works of self-taught artists, or those who “demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who instead are motivated by their unique personal visions,” as the center’s website puts it. Intuit houses several permanent collections highlighting the work of Chicago artist Henry Darger, as well as progressive artists from across the country. The space also hosts ever-changing displays, as well as periodic exhibitions and events throughout the year,
Anchoring one of Wicker Park’s busiest intersections is another longtime staple of Chicago’s art scene, the Flatiron Arts Building. This sprawling complex is home to live/work spaces for artists, running the gamut of painters, sculptors, fashion designers, and more. The Flatiron space also features performance venues, as well as a professional escape room. Artists in the Flatiron hold public events and exhibitions on a regular basis. On the first Friday of each month, the building also opens its doors for an informal gallery walk/block party, inviting the public to explore and visit the artists’ studios.
Elsewhere, Wicker Park and Bucktown are home to a diverse array of galleries, including spots like Jackson Junge Gallery, the David Leonardis Gallery, Galerie Fledermaus, Bucktown Gallery, and Firecat Projects, among many others.
Sandwiched comfortably between Oak Brook and O’Hare International Airport is the city of Elmhurst. Straddling the line between DuPage County and Cook County, Elmhurst is a charming community that has long put a focus on celebrating and elevating the arts.
At the center of it all is the Elmhurst Art Museum, a popular attraction that features a rotating selection of contemporary art exhibitions and frequent educational opportunities. In addition to its impressive collections of visual art, the museum grounds also contain the McCormick House, one of only three American single-family residences designed by legendary architect Mies van der Rohe.
The Elmhurst Art Museum is also the home of the Elmhurst Artists’ Guild, which holds the mission of “encouraging, promoting, advancing, and assisting art education and instruction” through charitable functions, shows and exhibitions, workshops, classes, and other activities.
Elmhurst’s Wilder Park is also home to an annual Art In the Park event. This juried show features fine art and creations by more than 100 artists, displaying everything from jewelry to sculpture to photography.
For another side of the art industry? Elmhurst is home to Osio-Brown Editions, a privately owned giclee printing company that digitizes, reproduces, and prints the work of artists from across North America, South America, and Europe. Founder Penelope Osio-Brown also owns and operates a public studio and gallery in Elmhurst, showcasing her own works in a “fresh and welcoming environment.” For a hands-on approach to art? Elmhurst is the home Do It Together Workshops, a space for crafting hand-painted wooden signs and art pieces.
Looking to Live In the Heart of It All?
Looking to find a home in one of Chicagoland’s vibrant, artistic communities? We get you. At Baird & Warner, our agents are hyperlocal experts who can help you find the spot that’s just right, while making the buying process easier, at every step of the way. And with mortgage and title services in-house, our one-stop-shopping approach takes the hassle out of closing on your new home, so you can get back to finding that next amazing work of art in no time.