The South Side and Beyond:

A Chicago Art Legacy



At the New Art Examiner, we have set out to provide a forum for intellectual inquiry and serious art criticism. It is our belief that art criticism has too much cultural value to be constrained by traditional institutional models. On our pages you will find coverage of exhibitions at major museums, pop-up galleries, and everything in between.

In recent months our volumes have taken shape around topics in the art world that we feel deserve closer examination. In so doing, we have begun a process of expanding the reach and breadth of our criticism. We have tackled art schools, art media, and who gets represented in the (so-called) serious art world.

For this issue we decided to focus on a place: Chicago’s South Side. Building on a rich history, this collection of neighborhoods has evolved into a hub for contemporary art where new forms are explored and put into practice. Of course, in discussing the South Side, we cannot ignore the fact that it has earned a negative reputation in American culture thanks in large part to the media. This reductive vision of a predominantly African-American community can fool even the most well-meaning people into believing that identity politics and social justice are at the heart of art and culture on the South Side. This may be a part of the story, but it is not the whole.

In this issue, we talk to Patric McCoy, who offers up a poignant critique of the art world from his vantage point as a collector of African-American art. We also speak with artist Cleveland Dean, who says that he wants to get beyond the label of being a black artist and address universals through his work. Additionally, we discuss how art centers employ creativity through collective action to generate culture and define the roles artists can take in their communities.

We are proud to present an issue that provides space for these historically neglected artists and subjects. We hope that we have not only focused on the ideas behind artists’ endeavors but that we have also captured the nuanced role of identity in different artists’ lives.

The South Side has emerged as a pillar in Chicago’s art community and is helping to shape our national cultural discourse. As we continue to grow our network of artists and thinkers, we look forward to continuing this conversation and seeing how it unfolds.



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