Lifelong artist Joe Sikora cuts the ribbon on his new art gallery and lesson space, Art City, 1400 N. Halsted St., in Old Town. Credit: Provided/Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce

OLD TOWN — A lifelong artist is offering lessons and two rotating galleries inside 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, Chicago Fine Arts Salon at 2623 W. Chicago Ave. in Ukrainian Village. 

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

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

Art City will largely be used for paint-and-sip 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. The courses cover a range of art styles, including watercolor landscapes, drawing fundamentals, cartoons and abstract art. Students can register online.

Visitors explore one of the new galleries at Art City, 1400 N. Halsted St., during its grand opening event Oct. 13. Credit: Provided/Art City

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

“We give special attention to people who are often underrepresented or misunderstood within the arts,” Sikora said.

Sikora frequently offers opportunities for artists to submit their work to be displayed within the galleries at Art City and the Chicago Fine Arts Salon. 

Right now, Sikora’s looking for pieces to include in a Small Works group exhibition in December. Pieces can be of any style but no larger than 18 inches in any direction, according to the website. Artists can submit their work online until Nov. 17. 

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

Sikora is a lifelong artist “first and foremost,” which is what drives him to create creative spaces within the city. He has a master’s of Fine Arts, but he started painting with oils when he was a teenager, he said. 

“I found that expressing myself through painting was very cathartic, especially while I had a wacky family situation as I was growing up,” Sikora said. 

Sikora had an art gallery within the Flat Iron Arts Building in Wicker Park where he “had a wonderful time” displaying his own work and creations from other artists for about 10 years, he said. 

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

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

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

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

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