The doors to Chicago’s finest places and spaces don’t unlock themselves. This year, we’re introducing you to the passionate, enthusiastic people helping us put Open House Chicago 2018 together.
Karen Benita Reyes, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of ArtReach Chicago, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to social justice by empowering and connecting people through the practice of visual arts. This year, ArtReach moved to a new home in a former industrial space in Garfield Park, where glassblowing demonstrations and hands-on art projects will be available during Open House Chicago 2018.
What is your favorite part about this site? Why should people see it?
ArtReach specializes in the rarefied and hard-to-access art forms of hot glass and ceramics. Both art forms are very exciting and powerful tools for healing and building community. Come learn from our brilliant youth participants who use art to deal with trauma and to find peace and respite. We serve all ages, but focus on Chicago youth, by providing employment, mentorship and a space for creative expression.
What do you love about Open House Chicago? What was your favorite OHC experience?
As a native Chicagoan, I feel like a detective, getting secret, behind-the-scenes glimpses into spaces that I've passed my whole life. A few years ago, I visited the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel during OHC, which was interesting to tour, and I learned a female architect—Jeanne Gang—constructed it. The Rookery is also always an amazing space to explore as well. (Editor’s note: neither of these buildings are OHC sites in 2018).
What is the most unusual or most common question you get asked by visitors?
“How hot is the glass and the kilns?” “Can I try that?” and “Is it dangerous?” The answers are 1,200-2,200 degrees and yes! You can sign up for private lessons, small group workshops or private parties. Art forms using high heat can be dangerous, but we work hard to keep all of our participants safe.
What is your favorite Open House Chicago site other than your own?
The Plant is one of my favorite "off-the-beaten-path" places in Chicago. The diversity of uses they have for the space is inspiring.
Why should people visit your site?
Most people do not have a chance to see glassblowing, torchwork, and wheel throwing happening. Learning about these art forms from expert youth will remind Chicagoans of the talents and strengths of our city's young people.