Friday, October 12, 2012

The Fabulous Fine Arts Building

Picture from the Wikipedia article about the Fine Arts Building.

I can't believe that after all the art centers and studios and galleries I have written about on here, I never did a blog post about The Fine Arts Building, which is where my studio is! So here is a much-belated post about it.

The first thing people should know about the Fine Arts Building is something I often forget to mention: the manual elevators.  It is the only building left in Chicago that still has elevators run by operators.  Instead of pushing a button once you get inside the elevator, you tell the elevator operator what floor you want to go to and he will stop there.  It's a feature people either seem to love or hate.  (I love it.)

manual elevator, Fine Arts Building, Chicago by Irina Hynes
A manual elevator on the 9th floor. Photo courtesy of Irina Hynes

Before I got my studio there, I went to the Fine Arts Building for a variety of reasons.  My first memories of it are from when I was about four years old and took piano lessons there.  If I did well, my mother would treat me to the delicious popcorn they used to sell on the first floor.  The popcorn was sold at the concession stand for the movie theater, which is now closed.  They used to show foreign and art films.  I saw Like Water For Chocolate there on a field trip with my high school Spanish class when I was a freshman.  Senior year some friends and I took an unauthorized field trip of our own, using the Wednesday we had off at our experimental residential high school--which was supposed to be a time to do independent research--ostensibly to accompany a classmate to the Fine Arts Building, where she was going to get her violin re-strung.  We walked with her to the lobby, then went our separate ways to do some "research" on State Street at T.J. Maxx, Filene's Basement, and Contempo.  About 8 years later I went there again when I was taking a painting class at the School of the Art Institute and our instructor showed us her studio there.  I came back again in the fall of 2003 to tour a design school I was interested in, which was then called Harrington Institute of Interior Design and occupied 2 or 3 floors of the building.  By the time I enrolled, Harrington had changed its name and moved to its present location on Wells and Madison, freeing up space for new tenants.

Now the building is home to a variety of creative enterprises.  On the second floor you'll find Selected Works Bookstore, voted "Best Bookstore with a Cat" by The Chicago Reader.  They sell a vast selection of used books for good prices, and a beautiful bluish grey cat named Hodge lives there.

A photo of Hodge the famous cat from the Selected Works website
A photo of Hodge the famous cat from the Selected Works website
It is also the home of L.H. Sellman Glass Paperweights.  The third floor is the new home of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, a dance company dedicated to tap.  An then, starting on the fourth floor, there are a number of art studios and galleries.

Here is a full list of all today's Second Fridays events:

Second Floor Gallery Space
"Earth, Fire and Water"
Group show by Kathleen Newman, Karen Tichy and Debra LePage
Opening Reception 5pm - 9pm

210 - Selected Works Used Books and Sheet Music
Fine Used Books, Sheet Music, and Hodge the famous cat

420 Katie Loomis
Large scale acrylic + oil paintings

501 and 514
Kundalini Yoga in the Loop (KYL)
Meditation, yoga and the gong via classes, workshops and private sessions.
Plus, Teacher Training and walking meditation, too
Stop in for a 3-minute ‘gong experience’ between 5 and 8 pm!

516 Finestra Art Space
One-of-a-kind jewelry by Glenn Doering

522 - Zoe Spirra
Mixed media paintings
Traditional Chinese ink paintings

525- Nathan's Piano Lab
Drop by between 5 and 7PM and learn to play a song in about 10 minutes using the Simply Music piano method!

609 Ledesma Studio
Beatriz Ledesma. Jon Randolph -
Color in Two Perspectives: Painting + Photography
5:00PM - 9:00PM

624 Claris Cahan

630 Carrie Eizik, ATR-BC, LCPC
Art and Art Therapy
6:00-8:00 p.m.

632F Tiffany Gholar
Assemblages, paintings, and digital photography
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

635 Jennifer Cronin
Figurative Oil Paintings

640 Studio of Richard Heiberger
Classical and Jazz Piano Instruction for all age levels

701 Debra LePage
Watercolor on YUPO and paper

701 Kathleen Newman
Oil and pastels of Chicago

701 Karen Tichy
Paper and Wax

819 Elaine Pizza
Abstract Paintings

827 Anita Miller Gallery
Saudiah Adrien - Paintings
Anita Miller - Paintings and Prints
Evelyn Vences – Ceramics
Open 5 – 9 pm Magic at 8 pm
Demo 7 pm: Using Industrial and Mosaic Materials in Art = ENERGY

918 - Studio of J. M. Jung
Paintings and Drawings
5:30-7 pm

922 Richard Laurent
New paintings for World View

924 Jim Tansley

925 Theresa Walloga

Studio 927 Ossia Musical Forum
Informal Chamber Music

939 Jill McLean
Abstract oils on canvas
6:30 - 9:00pm

In Splendorous Jewelry and Paintings by Fluers

So as you see, there will be a lot of studios open tonight.  After all, it is Chicago Artists Month.  With so much to see, it's best to have the elevator operator take you all the way to the tenth floor and then work your way down.  Be sure to refer back to this blog post or a flyer from the lobby so that you don't miss anything.  Some studios (like mine) are near the end of a hallway or around a corner.

Here are some more photos of the building that I hope will entice you to come tonight:

sheet music store, Fine Arts Building, Chicago Irina Hynes
Performers Music shop on the 9th floor, Irina Hynes
Inner courtyard of the Fine Arts Building, Chicago
My studio overlooks this courtyard. Photo by Oscar Arriola.

Fine Arts Building, Chicago
Murals in the Fine Arts Building. Photo by Irina Hynes.


And, of course, my studio, 632F!

By the way, if you get hungry while you're visiting the Fine Arts Building, my favorite place to eat nearby is Osaka at 400 S. Michigan.  They specialize in sushi and fresh fruit smoothies. (And if you worry about cross-contamination, rest assured that they are prepared in separate areas.)  The Artist's Cafe on the first floor is a landmark, but their Yelp reviews are... well, read for yourself and decide.  If you want some really good doughnuts when you're at the Fine Arts Building, come on a Wednesday morning when Beavers Donuts has their truck parked in the lot around the corner at Wabash and Van Buren for a piping hot, freshly made breakfast treat.

The best way to get to the building is via public transportation.  Parking can be very hard to find, not to mention expensive.  If you do drive, I recommend parking in the lots on Wabash south of Congress.  Some have rates as low as $6.

Special thanks to Oscar Arriola and Irina Hynes for allowing me to use their photos of the Fine Arts Building since I never got around to taking any of my own.

If you can't make it tonight, you can always contact me to set up a time to visit my studio.


  1. Wow! so amazing design and very eye catching. How i wish to see that in real.

  2. This building has really awesome art and i thing every people like to this building because it has great design and best theme.


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