Chicago Tribune Magazine’s recent “Art in Chicago” issue eloquently states, “The arts that live in your town don’t just invite passive consumption; they demand an intoxicating blend of listening, participating, conversing.”
Ironically, the publication managed to leave out the contributions of Chicago’s African American artists.
“When it comes to fine art, the African American community is consistently overlooked,” says Ashley Moy-Wooten, who helped her friends Lowell Thompson and Andre Guichard plan an event in response to the lack of representation.
“I wanted it to be more than a letter to the editor because that would be a waste of time,” says Thompson, a local artist. Instead they had organized a protest for April 22 and sent out e-mails to their friends to meet them in front of the Tribune Towers. (Editors at the Chicago Tribune did not respond to inquiries for this story.)
But the protest was canceled when Chicago Tribune Associate Managing Editor Geoff Brown contacted Thompson and agreed to meet with the group the night before the protest. “I thought the conversation was innovative, refreshing and something that was definitely necessary,” says Guichard, owner of Bronzeville’s Gallery Guichard.
One of the main issues brought up at the meeting is the lack of arts coverage that mainstream publications dedicate to the South Side art scene, specifically the contributions made by minority artists. There is a burgeoning artistic renaissance happening south of Roosevelt Road that is being overlooked by the majority of the city’s newspapers and magazines, according to Guichard. “We want to challenge our media and reporters to open their minds to go to an opening in a neighborhood that they have never been to and see the beautiful treasures in a community,” he says.
Some of the specifics that were discussed included taking the Chicago Tribune’s art critics and editors on a tour of South Side galleries and hosting meetings that would be opened up to local artists. Another idea suggested that Chicago Tribune Magazine dedicate an entire issue to the African American arts community. Although the publication’s staff makes collective editorial decisions, Thompson mentions that Brown agreed to push for a greater sense of inclusion and diversity in the magazine’s coverage.
“What they promised is what they should have been doing in the first place,” says Thompson. (Katie Fanuko)