Bronzeville Art District Trolley Tour

"Art is Business"

Last month I caught the CTA Red Line to the 43rd Street Stop, to begin my gallery tour at Faie's Art Gallery, which to my dismay was closed, the Cottage Grove location.  
The only African art gallery on the South Side of Chicago they specialize in traditional African art she also carries African Fine Art.
I didn't get the memo, nor read the posting that Faie has moved to 1005 E. 43rd Street.  
Thinking about what to do next, I hopped the RTA to #3 King Dr. to 35th/ and MLK Drive, and walked a block over to
Pearlie Taylor was the featured artist on the  third floor, I just loved the direction her new work is presented. Amongst the other fantastic artists on display at the gallery, I especially love Pearlie's art.
Gallery Guichard. The eight-year-old gallery displays a variety of Afro-centric artwork. To get more Chicagoans to take a look, the gallery's proprietor Andre Guichard conceived the Bronzeville Trolley Tour.
The trolley tour combines  six organizations in Bronzeville, Hyde Park and Kenwood opening their spaces and their current exhibits. It gives the rider the opportunity to take a glance at the wonderful culture that the South Side offers. Riders board a Chicago trolley to be transported between several galleries on the Near South Side. It hits the big ones including the DuSable Museum of African American History,  Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center and the Hyde Park Art Center,  Faie African Art Gallery, Blac Gallery,  South Side Community Art Center, and the St. Thomas Ephicopal Church, who exhibits African Artist from the Diaspora.

The tour lasts just three hours, so visitors spend only a short time at each venue. The trolley ride, as well as admission to each of the galleries, is all free during the Bronzeville Trolley Tour.

Faie African Art

Finally I was able to get on to the Trolley, for the first time in years. I have always wanted to visit Bronzeville, and take the Trolley tour, but there was always another exhibit opening happening with the Phantom Gallery that didn't allow me the time to break away.

I finished the tour at Blanc Art Gallery where James Britt Jr. was exhibiting.
I think some times when artists make a special effort to send out a thank you to patrons that follow their careers, it makes one appreciate them more. I really wanted to catch his closing, because he made a me feel like he really cared about sharing his work with me.  So this is his note.

Hello Everyone,

Thank you for the well wishes and congratulations regarding my exhibition, and I appreciated seeing those of you who were able to make it to the opening. 

Blanc Gallery will be open today from 6pm - 9pm for the Bronzeville Art Trolley Tour.  I will be there, so if you are available feel free to stop by.

The artist talk with Romi Crawford - Visual & Critical Studies Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago is still scheduled for September 7th at 2pm.

Many of you have reached out to me to catch up, but with my new position and the show I haven't had sufficient time to connect, however after things die down I will be in contact.

Thanks for your patience and support!

James aka Semaj L'rae

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Visual artist James Britt uses various forms of media to create satirical allegories. Through these visual expressions, Britt seeks to cultivate a space where personal and collective conversations occur about the social phenomena represented in his work.  
The subjects of these stories range from public figures to pop icons, professional athletes and politicians. However his alter ego Semaj L'rae remains ever-present in each narrative, representative of our need for validation and relevancy within a system governed by subjectivity. 

The exhibition is curated by Eugene Maltez and will be on display at Blanc Gallery, a community based art space, working to re-inspire a Culture of Conversation in historic Bronzeville. Gallery hours are Saturdays from 1 pm - 3 pm and by appointment. Call 773.952.4394 for more information or visit

Newest Group to the tour is the Radcliffe & Elliott Hunter International Art Gallery

My next stop was to the Hunter International Art Gallery, which is new to the neighborhood, I was most impressed with the facility, the featured artist was from Ghana, and all work in their collection are from countries in Africa, Haiti, Jamaica.
History of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church and the Radcliffe Hunter parish House.
In 1962, the congregation suffered a shattering loss. The edifice was completely destroyed by fire. An old mansion which had been used as a funeral home, located at 3800 South Michigan Avenue was purchased. The funeral home had a chapel and with few alterations was converted to a rather attractive place of worship. A rectory and undercroft with a kitchen and dining facilities were also made possible. This is the building we wanted to renovate and refurbish to use as Parish House and Community Center. Because of escalating costs during the building of the Church, we were compelled to cut back and modify our original plans.

As our then church Historian, Mrs. Helen White wrote, “The area as it is developing now serves many ethnic groups as well as having in its boundaries Illinois Institute of Technology, Mercy and Michael Reese Research Medical Centers, experimental housing developments; south Commons, Prairie Shores, Lake Meadows and Lawless Gardens. These Housing Developments are the model for new Inner-City integrated living, and can provide a resource for community-church activities. In addition to these areas we would also serve the world’s largest Public housing facilities. Robert Taylor Homes, Wentworth Garden, State Way Gardens, Dearborn Homes, Wells-Darrow Dwelling and others.”

Through the years we have witnessed the fall of all of the Public Housing facilities, which had evolved into “segregated ghettos”, However, urban renewal graced our church community with new developments that are diverse and affordable town houses, single family dwellings, apartments, condo’s and refurbished park areas and with available land that will enhance our neighborhoods even more.
Currently the Hunter house has  on-going activities held at the Parish. It is a meeting place for several civic and social organizations, The Renaissance Collaborative computer classes, church board and committee meetings, art gallery, and scheduled public events. There are also administrative offices for the Rector Church Administrator and the Treasurer.

The St. Thomas Episcopal Church is located at 3800 s. Michigan Ave, Chicago Illinois, Rev Dr. Fulton L. Porter III, and Rector VI and Dean of the South Deanery.

Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center, 1060 E. 47th Street

Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell
DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 East 56th
Faie,  4317 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
South Side Community Art Center,   3831 South Michigan Ave, Chicago