In the Noble Square neighborhood, one might find themselves walking down Milwaukee Avenue without any clear purpose. Perhaps they are drawn to the smells of the nearby Gonnella Bakery or maybe they wish to stop by the Matchbox for a gin gimlet.
Above all things, the casual or serious visitor must stop by the Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. In a city that is loaded with countless galleries and a raft of large and august art institutions, the Intuit Center has a special place in the hearts and minds of many. It is, after all, a center for those who have no formal training in a traditional way, but yea, the work is most fascinating and engaging.
Stepping into the gallery, one will find a collection of carefully curated found objects or a veritable cornucopia of outsider art from Chicago collections, including works by Lee Godie and Bill Traylor. Visitors are welcome to wander at their leisure and sooner or later they will come to the Henry Darger Room (below).
What's that you say? You don't know Darger's work? That's okay, do not worry. Darger lived in a one room apartment in the Lincoln Park neighborhoods for many years, collecting hundreds of objects (balls of strings, curious eyeglasses, and much more) and crafting a truly epic work known in the shorthand as "The Story of the Vivian Girls." Here, the curators have recreated his original workspace by using many of his possessions to convey a sense of what his world would have been like. It's one of Chicago's most unique treasures and it must be savored through multiple visits.
Moving on, the gift shop (above) inside the space contains unique items created by Chicago artists and others. One will find a range of prices and there are also unique postcards and smaller baubles.
Those persons seeking additional events sponsored by the Center would do well to consult their online calendar. You might check out their New Music series, their fine "Visionary Ball," or a DIY workshop for creating fashion accessories. Their calendar is updated frequently, so don't be shy about checking back on a regular basis.
Now that you have sampled some of their offerings, you might stop by the oh-so tiny Matchbox for a drink before getting back on the El at Chicago Avenue. Railfans won't want to miss having dinner at the Silver Palm, which is right next door. Why, you ask? It's housed in a 1947 Budd dining car which will set hearts aflutter, even though it is most stationary these days.
Photos: Intuit Main Gallery and Gift Shop by Cheri Eisenberg; Henry Darger Room Collection by John Faier