Free art exchange boxes

Free art exchange boxes

Did you know a newspaper box isn’t just for dispensing newspapers? This is especially true in today’s world with the decline of print journalism. I’m here to tell you that Chicagoans have become creative with repurposing newspaper boxes to share art.

I visited two locations

I heard about the Logan Square and Wabash Art Drop boxes and had to see them first-hand. These containers hold free art, maintained by the community and others. It’s a “take and give” concept similar to the Little Free Libraries.

First stop – Logan Square

The Logan Square Art Drop is across from the Eagle Monument and next to the Comfort Station. The box makes me happy with its uplifting messages and colorful artwork. Somos Arte Chicago and artist Armando Rios sustain this project.

Explore the Comfort Station while you are there

The Comfort Station is a multi-disciplinary art space and was open the day I stopped by. I enjoyed learning about Utensil by Annas, the feature at that time. This show offers interesting ways to think beyond the norm. Some of their ideas include:

  • Eat with your eyes closed
  • Write a prompt that reads like a recipe
  • Use a utensil to trace the lengths of your arms

The South Loop and Humboldt Park are participating

The Wabash Art Drop is in the South Loop at 623 South Wabash. It’s decorated with stickers and art from Columbia College students. This is the one that started it all and inspired others, including the Humboldt Park Art Drop at 2712 West Division. I hope to check that one out soon.

I imagine this is a good marketing tool for artists. I also think it’s a great activity for art lovers, as you will likely find something new with each visit. If more art boxes become available, a scavenger hunt would be fun!

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  • These remind me of Puppet Bike, a puppet show on wheels that I used to love to see around the Loop and its edges. Various animal puppets matched various songs, such as the rooster for "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens." There was a lion-related song for the Art Institute area, but I don't remember whether it was "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." I was more impressed by the lion puppet wearing a green shirt to blend with its arty neighbors! Does anyone know whether Puppet Bike might join this?

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Yes, I remember these! I think the last time I saw one was in Andersonville. Thanks for sharing and the memories.

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