Edra Soto is a backyard gallerist who lives on Franklin Boulevard in East Garfield Park; the gallery in her backyard, an open-air little wooden structure, is itself called the Franklin. It’s visible from the nearest cross street and currently hung with work by Matt Nichols—on opening nights, she says, the gallery is apt to attract curiosity from passersby, whom she invites in. The Franklin is one of the stops on this year’s Chicago Artists Month’s tour of Chicago, which over successive weekends has highlighted specific neighborhoods, ending in East Garfield Park. Soto curated the events.
In East Garfield she sees a growing artists’ community, centered largely around Franklin Boulevard and Carroll Avenue, where several studio buildings will open up for a weekend art walk. Soto chose two artists to spotlight, one of whom isn’t a visual artist: DJ Mr. Voice spins records at Dr. J’s, an old-school bar on Chicago Avenue. He’s been working there about 15 years, Soto says: “He will take you back. It’s just one of those places that, when you go there, you can feel the neighborhood. This is people from the neighborhood being welcoming” (After Hours Celebration Sat 9 PM-2 AM, 3241 W. Chicago).
Also featured is the visual artist Andrea Jablonski, who has work in a show at the Chicago Center for Green Technology, another stop on the art walk; others include the Albany Carroll Arts Building, Inspiration Kitchens, Adds Donna, and the Golden Dome field house (Sat-Sun noon-6 PM, “headquarters” at Switching Station Artists Lofts, 15 S. Homan). Soto organized the opening event: an exhibition of wind chimes, hung in trees across the Garfield Park Conservatory campus (Fri 6-9 PM, 300 N. Central Park). They range from the whimsical—Catie Olson’s Tree-rings resemble earrings, dangling from a strikingly symmetrical pair of branches—to the conceptual: Soto’s own contribution, Debris, is simply another tree branch, decorated with a black plastic shopping bag she cleaned up from the street in front of her house.