One of the best artsy secrets in Chicago is the Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on State Street. They are located on the 7th floor of the old Carson Pirie Scott department store. They were renovated a few years ago and are giant, airy and gorgeous.

Whenever I am in Chicago, especially with my kids, I stop in at the galleries. Often there are a couple of shows going on at once. If you are lucky and happen to pop in during the spring or fall BFA or MFA shows you are in for a real treat! These are the student shows and are jammed with every imaginable kind of art from sculpture, painting and photography to performance and design pieces. My kids and I were fortunate enough to pop in on a design show and we were able to ride through the space on chairs turned into little wheeled cars.

If the art doesn’t catch your eye, the clean bathrooms will. Free, beautifully designed and clean bathrooms are certainly worth the ride up seven floors. The cutting edge art may just pull you into the galleries.

I have a special place in my heart for anything SAIC. I finished up my fourteen-year-long, three- art-school journey at the SAIC. It was a fabulous experience. Many of the RAC board members and teachers either attended or teach at the SAIC.

The last show at the RAC’s Freeark Gallery was by an artist who attended the SAIC, Judith Mullen. Walks in the woods near her home inspired her show, aptly entitled, A Crooked Path. She picks up natural and man-made objects and then combines them with oil, paint, canvas, plaster and wax. Mullen is focused on “how you break things down and put them back together.” She takes everyday objects, trash and natural things found on her walks and combines them to make a beautiful, new piece.

The show was stunning with its textured pieces popping off the walls and ceiling. This is a show that appeals to both the sophisticated art viewer and the regular Joe or Josephine! Kids will love doing an “I Spy” as they discover the assortment of every day objects in her work. Hmmm…Is that a piece of zebra ribbon?

Kathleen Thometz

I am an artist, writer, and art instructor with four children, one husband, and two doodle-dogs. I have contributed articles to the mid.com and Chicago Parent Magazine and wrote the Artist's Eye column...