Attendees browse artwork on display at a 57th Street Art Fair. Credit: 57th Street Art Fair

HYDE PARK — A popular Hyde Park art fair will celebrate its 75th anniversary next month with a return to 57th Street after a pandemic hiatus.

More than 130 local artists — including painters, ceramicists and sculptors — will show and sell their works at this year’s 57th Street Art Fair.

The free fair, which touts itself as the oldest juried art fair in the Midwest, is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. June 4 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 5.

The fair is held on 57th Street from Kenwood to Woodlawn avenues, and on Kimbark Avenue from 56th to 57th streets.

This year marks the fair’s first in-person edition since the start of the pandemic, and booths will be spread further apart than usual to encourage physical distancing, organizers said.

Attendees should “stay tuned” to find out about any special programs honoring the art fair’s 75th anniversary, committee member Dara Henning said.

But even if the celebration is limited to special merchandise honoring the milestone, the fair’s return to 57th Street is “a really big deal,” Henning said.

“For us, that we’re even [holding the fair] is what’s so special,” Henning said.

Henning joined the planning committee in preparation for the 2020 fair, which was canceled within the first month of the pandemic.

Organizers initially said they were optimistic about holding an in-person fair in 2021, but they canceled those plans, saying they ran out of time to pull the event together.

Virtual exhibits, which include links to participating artists’ websites, have been held in lieu of the outdoor fair the past two years.

A virtual fair was once again organized this year, alongside the in-person event. Artists have enjoyed the online platform, and organizers are considering making it a fixture of the fair moving forward, Henning said.

The virtual exhibit doesn’t feature “the exact same group as the in-person artists, but there’s a lot of crossover, and people really like looking at it before they go to the fair,” Henning said. “Sometimes, there’s an artist you saw at the fair, but didn’t get a chance to buy one of their pieces. People do want [the virtual fair] to be a permanent part of it.”

A panel of artists reviews applications and chooses who gets a booth at the fair, ensuring every fair presents work from top-quality creatives, Henning said.

Henning said she’s excited to see the creations of Connie Verrusio, a jewelry maker from the Hudson Valley region of New York who’s returning to the fair after a few years away.

Showing at the art fair “is an honor, and it shows that someone’s work is of a certain quality to be represented,” Henning said.

Despite the “struggles” of organizing a fair amid the pandemic, the planning committee is excited to once again host “a great community weekend” on 57th Street, Henning said.

“It’s a kickoff for summer — seeing your neighbors and appreciating art and the beauty of Hyde Park,” she said.

The fair coincides with the University of Chicago’s commencement weekend, so organizers recommend bicycling or taking public transit, Henning said.

For a fair map and a full list of participating artists, click here.

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