Arts Fest will descend on community

By Anna Vinnik

Noisy melees of alumni, students, visitors, and artists will board the University’s free trolley to experience the diverse assortment of artistic works on June 7 and 8, as organizers of the second annual Arts Fest hope to solidify the artistic clout of Hyde Park.

Chicago art is often considered to be monopolized by activities on the Loop and the North Side, but University officials hope the Hyde Park Arts Festival will dispel this misconception and demonstrate that Hyde Park is a thriving artistic community.

“The idea of this was to get the artistic and cultural institutions to feature their ware in one big weekend. We want to get people outside to know that Hyde Park is a great place to go for art,” said Lorraine Brochu, a principal organizer of the event.

The Hyde Park Arts Festival made its first appearance last year, and Brochu trusts that it will become an annual event.

According to David Guyer, an assistant in the University’s community affairs office, this year’s fair will be bigger and more inclusive than the inaugural one. He listed “SuperCroc comes to Life!” as a new and highly anticipated exhibit, a project that will attempt to marry art and science by showing visitors how to reconstruct a scientifically accurate model of a 40-foot-long, 110-million-year-old, dinosaur-eating crocodile from Africa.

Project Exploration, a group founded in 1999 by paleontologist and professor in the Department of Biology and Anatomy Paul Sereno and his wife, Gabrielle Lyon, is organizing the exhibit. The group aims to make science more accessible to the public and specifically targets inner-city school-children and females.

“We want to get people of all ages involved in paleontology,” Brochu said. “We’re looking at the artistic aspect of it-you can learn to draw a fossil of Super Croc and see how it looked.”

The two-day event is being sponsored largely by the University, with the office of community affairs, the office of the provost, and the alumni association as the three principle donors. More funding was devoted this year to an expanded advertising effort, which organizers hope will result in an increased crowd. “We expect to get a lot more people as a result of our media blitz,” Guyer said.

The University’s publicity campaign will be helped by coverage from two Chicago reporters: Delia O’Hare of the Chicago Sun-Times, and Lisa Stein of the Chicago Tribune. Students at the University were informed about the event via e-mail.

But with the Arts Fest coming the weekend before finals, organizers recognize that many students will be hard-pressed to make an appearance at the event. Guyer admits that the festival comes at an odd time for undergraduates but hopes that students can stop studying for just a few hours in order to enjoy the art.

The dates for the fair were chosen to correspond with alumni weekend, the 57th Street Art Fair, and the Community Art Fair.

Despite the difficulty involved in attending the fair, members of one student group found time in their schedules to participate. On Saturday, from two to four o’clock in the afternoon, the Chinese Calligraphy group will display their art and offer a hands-on workshop to help visitors acquire calligraphy skills.

The Art Fair will also include alumni artwork in the library and lounge at Ida Noyes Hall, according to alumni co-chair of the festival, Kyle Gorden.

This is the first year that artwork from the Festival of the Arts (FOTA) will appear in the Hyde Park Arts Festival, but not the first time that FOTA has organized a display of alumni art work. Five years ago, a similar gallery was exhibited for the Class of ’63 Reunion, Gorden said, adding that this year’s alumni gallery has significantly expanded to include the work of graduating classes from 1939 to 2001.

“Some of the artists had more work than we could display, but everyone who wanted to have their work included has at least one or two pieces in the fair,” Gorden said.

At the end of the festival, visitors will be asked to fill out surveys about their experience.

“We built on last year’s experience, but we are always looking to be better and to attract more people,” Guyer said.