Literature, art ‘pop up’ at Athletic Association


Erin Brown

A new gallery is being set up in the Art Shoppe at the Chicago Athletic Club, 71 E. Madison St.

By Miranda Manier

The Chicago Athletic Association hotel is a historic pop-up bar landmark, and one more is on the way.

The first pop-up paid homage to the Cherry Circle sailing team of the early 1900s. Another decorated the Backroom bar with specimens from the Field Museum.

Next on the schedule is Art Shoppe, a retail and gallery space that explores the intersection of literature and visual art. It offers catalogues, zines and art books alongside art installations and a gallery wall. 

Art Shoppe had a soft opening in early October and will have a grand opening party Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. It will remain open until at least the end of 2017 and is a collaboration with Johalla Projects, an artist and writer collective.

Anna Cerniglia, Johalla Projects’ founder, has consulted on CAA’s programming in the past, but Art Shoppe is the first event she thinks truly represents Johalla Projects.

The Chicago Art Book Fair inspired the Art Shoppe’s exploration of literature and art, Cerniglia said, and will be held at CAA Nov. 16–19. The pop-up is an opportunity to draw attention to the Art Book Fair and also provide a place where people can come to add to their book collections, she noted.

Patrick Hatton, CAA’s general manager, said in an Oct. 26 emailed statement that the hotel’s programming goal has been to “build playful, inclusive programs and experiences that speak directly to various local artistic and cultural communities.” 

Cerniglia explained that the programming focuses on education. Art Shoppe’s retail plan is a departure from this strategy, but Cerniglia said it still falls “under the umbrella” of CAA’s mission by featuring Chicago artists, communities and cultures. 

“Literature and art go hand in hand,” Cerniglia said. “When there’s a visual piece, there’s obviously text that goes along with it. They support each other, so I figured that [would be] a good introduction for people who are not normally in the art world to start viewing art. I want [art] to be accessible.” 

Compared to online shopping, the Art Shoppe’s tactile experience creates accessibility, said Stephen Eichhorn, an artist featured at Art Shoppe and represented by Johalla Projects. 

“The ease of being able to walk into a space and start looking at materials that are best viewed in person is great,” Eichhorn said. “The most important part of [Art Shoppe] is making [art] accessible and not so much ‘the other’ or existing in the bubble that is the fine art world.”