Free arts in the city

View of City of Chicago

By Tariq Weaver


As the semester comes close to wrapping up and the cold winter hits, many students at BenU are now presented with the awkward and bittersweet option of staying in and studying to avoid the cold. This decision to stay inside involves isolating yourself from the bright and vibrant atmosphere of Chicago, but if you’re amongst the people who are daring enough to venture into the city during this time of year, then I promise a rewarding experience. Most importantly, it will be free.

For those who are in need for some fast city life, you can check out the many free urban art exhibits that are located downtown. The Chicago Cultural Center is holding a free art exhibit that explores the limits of letterforms. The Chicago cultural center is located at 78 E. Washington. I had the pleasure of seeing the exhibit and it is amazing. All of the artists displayed are well known local Chicago artists.

One of the artists showcased in the exhibit, Rahmaan Barnes, is holding another free art exhibit which opens November 11, 2011 and goes through the end of the month at the RGB Lounge on 1420 North Milwaukee in Chicago. Barnes, who goes by the artistic name of Statik, is a visual artist that uses the spray paint and graffiti aesthetic within his work. Although he is not limited to those mediums, he also creates work from acrylic and pastel as well. Being a Chicagoan and an avid supporter of the arts, I’ve been following this artist for years and bar none his work is a perfect mixture of graffiti and modern art. He tackles a wide variety of themes from reforming race relations to the current state of hip-hop music and culture. For a small vignette into the breadth of his work check out his website at

Finally, for those students who are indie rock fans might have heard of the brilliant folk band called Bon Iver. Bon Iver is lead by Justin Vernon whose 2007 debut release “For Emma Forever Ago” spawned tunes like “Skinny love” and “Blindsided”. His new release, “Bon Iver,” has acclaimed much success comparable to his debut release. Even though you have probably never heard of Bon Iver, you have most likely heard a sample of their music. They contributed to the “New Moon” movie in the Twilight series by making the song, “Roslyn”. They have also collaborated with numerous well-known singers such as Kanye West. Nonetheless, I recommend checking out Vernon’s music and for those who are intrigued, you all can see him in concert Dec. 9 at the UIC Pavillion.

Well, there you have it. I highly recommend not staying cooped up in your houses this fall-winter season. There are plenty of things to do in Chicago, you really don’t want to miss out due to a slight change in temperature!