Artist opens shop in Old Town with painting and drinking classes, rotating galleries and youth programs

OLD TOWN — A lifelong artist is offering classes and two rotating galleries in a new space in Old Town, giving neighbors more opportunities to connect with the arts.

Art City, 1400 N. Halsted St., opened Oct. 13. It’s an expansion of owner Joey Sikora’s first art space, the Chicago Fine Arts Salon at 2623 W. Chicago Ave. in Ukrainian Village.

The new location will allow Sikora to show more artists’ work and teach art classes in another neighborhood, he said.

“There are fewer artists living in Lincoln Park and Old Town now, but I think people are still looking for a meaningful connection to art,” Sikora said. “I’m trying to give people more opportunities to get involved by taking classes or just looking at art they wouldn’t normally see in an environment that’s accessible to everyone.”

Art City will largely be used for painting and sipping classes, where adults of all skill levels can stop by to paint for a few hours while enjoying drinks with friends, Sikora said.

There will also be after-school art classes for kids 10-17, Sikora said. Courses cover a range of art styles including watercolor landscapes, drawing basics, caricatures and abstract art. Students can register online.

Visitors browse one of the new galleries at Art City, 1400 N. Halsted St., during the Oct. 13 grand opening. credit: Secured/Art City

The space is also home to two galleries featuring local artists each month, Sikora said.

“We pay special attention to people who are often underrepresented or misunderstood in art,” Sikora said.

Sikora frequently offers opportunities for artists to present their work to be exhibited in galleries at Art City and the Chicago Fine Arts Salon.

Sikora is currently looking for works to include in a group exhibition of small works in December. Pieces can be any style, but no larger than 18 inches in any direction, according to the website. Artists can submit their work online until November 17.

“A lot of the shows I do are for people who don’t always have the opportunity to show their work or promote themselves,” Sikora said. “I try to keep them general enough where any artist working in any medium can get involved.”

Sikora is a lifelong artist “first and foremost,” which leads him to create creative spaces in the city. He has a master’s degree in fine arts, but started oil painting as a teenager, he said.

“I found expressing myself through drawing to be very cathartic, especially while I had a wacky family situation growing up,” Sikora said.

Sikora had an art gallery in the Flat Iron Arts Building in Wicker Park where he “had a great time” showing his own work and that of other artists for about 10 years, he said.

Sikora founded the Chicago Fine Art Salon about five years ago so he could mentor emerging local artists and curate galleries. When the pandemic hit in 2020, Sikora launched an online gallery that became popular and turned into a “whirlwind” of monthly exhibitions.

As Chicago Fine Arts Salon grew, Sikora realized there were “some limitations” to what he could offer in the space, which led him to open Art City and expand his offerings.

Sikora teaches upper-level art classes at the Chicago Salon of Fine Arts, but plans to move some of them to Art City next year, he said.

Art City is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can book specific times and classes through the website.

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