Phase 3a- Pop-Up Art Loop


Pop-up Art Loop is a Project, initiated by the  Chicago Loop Alliance organization, that creates partnerships between artists and property owners, in order to attract people and investment to the neighborhood. They create temporary gallery, exhibition, and interactive space in the Loop location at no cost for the artists.The key point for the development of the Project is the uso of unexpected places for this exhibition, like empty storefronts or narrow streets of the city on witch groups of artista temporary takeover and convert them into cultural  dots all over the downtown city. So in order to increase arts participation, cultural program in the community and support public arts education this program fills the empty spaces downtown with free art galleries.



The Loop is the central business district of Chicago, Illinois,United States.According to the 2010 census, 29,283 people live in the Loop. In comparison with the population of Chicago´s Central Area ( third most populous city in the United States) that expanded from 111,742 reported in the 2000 Census to an estimated 185,844 in 2010,  The Loop grew at a faster rate tan the central Area, increasing its share of the Central Area population from 6,3% to 10,9%. 

Chicago is a city known for its large artist population and a community of young people. Students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago have in recent years turned their homes into art spaces, or rented other apartments in affordable neighborhoods and turned them into temporary galleries.   It is with one of the reasons that the Pop-Up Art Project was born.


The main controversy found was the depressed economy of 2008, the sector employment also reflected this economic recession, with jobs lost in both 2009 and 2010, the number of Loop Jobs fell by 14,47, a decrece of about 5%.

So in this difficult economic times artists struggle for patronage, commissions and the opportunity to sell their work. But this situation, has forced to think smarter and has given birth to an unique state of opportunities for Loop Chicago in the artistic fiel.

The existence of several vacant storefronts, due to the recession gave the opportunity to this Project to give a temporary solution to the retail environment and benefit both, the Chicago Community Artists and the property owners.


1. Partnerships:

Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation –  Corporation that develops, supports and promotes artistic, cultural and public events that benefit businesses within the service area of Chicago Loop Alliance. They also help the community of artist to build an infrastructure of support and awareness of this fact.

The Mission – member-based business organization, provides free space for pop-up galleries

Friends of Downtown and the International Downtown Association– downtown organizations in charged with organizing the partnerships between the artist interested in participate in Pop-up Art Loop Project and the improvement of the downtown.

2. City:

Loop citizen- active participant in the project  by visiting the galleries free at the time of frequent the downtown  whether it’s for business or to go shopping

3. Developers:

Pop-Up Art Loop –  organization that transforms empty storefronts or unique location in the Loop into cultural activation’s open to the public.

Artists– Both professional and aspiring artists can submit proposals to the program creating many levels of experience showcased in the galleries. Also students of the School of the Art Institute  that can not afford opening a gallery and are interested in the exhibition of their work.



Similar pop-up galleries have been showcased in cities around the world, such as London, Los Angeles and New York.The Chicago Loop Alliance saw success in these cities and believed a program like Pop-Up Art Loop, could benefit Chicago in many ways.

So in  November 2009, Chicago Loop Alliance presented the first exhibitions in its Pop-Up Art Loop project. The initiative has secured several temporary exhibition sites inside vacant storefronts and other currently unused spaces in which artists are able to exhibit their work.  Often the space will be as small as a street-facing window, but in some cases the storefronts are transformed into temporary mini-galleries where visitors can go, look and even buy original art.

Beginning with 3 locations in 2009, a small space on E. Madison Avenue was transformed into a small gallery showcasing the work of the Chicago Photography Collective, another storefront displayed the paintings of artists Martin Jon and Bill Boyce, and finally Sara Schandt transformed the interior of a little room on Wabash Street into the physical manifestation of  the internet in her installation entitled “Network.” There is no entry fee or rental fee to the artist. Each space is available thanks to the generosity of Loop property owners and the Chicago Loop Alliance.

The plan was to add new exhibition sites throughout Chicago’s central business district. Therefore since its launch, it has activated more than 30 spaces in the Loop and showcased hundreds of artists and arts organizations in countless exhibitions. And in 2011 it was recognized by two distinguished downtown organizations (Friends of Downtown and the International Downtown Association) for its creative approach of improving the downtown.

In 2013, it welcomed international arts partnerships, distinguished artists and record-breaking attendance at its summer gallery walks.


1. Building strategic interchanges

Unlike traditional galleries, Chicago Loop Alliance’s Pop-Up Art Loop does not own or rent gallery space. Instead, they place temporary exhibition inside vacant storefronts and public spaces, making the galleries free for not only the public, but also for the participating artists and business owners. The Pop-Up Art Loop is based on the need that building owners have to rent their space, and the need for emerging artists to gain exposure.  Artists who work in virtually  are invited to submit their proposals to be accepted and exhibited at one of the selected sites.  If accepted, artists must design, install and take to pieces their work, provide all materials, assist in staffing the space as necessary and agree to a 10 day kick out, meaning that if the owner of the building gets a buyer or renter for the space the  artist will do what he or she needs to do to get out within 10 days.

2. Building creative partnerships

One interesting strategy of the project is that both professional and aspiring artists can submit proposals to the program creating many levels of experience showcased in the galleries. These helps to the creation of a network of shared knowledge between different artists.  So galleries  are free for not only the public, but also for the participating artists and business owners.

3. Unusual situation

The key point that differentiate this installation of the normal art exhibitions  is the fact that they are located in unexpected places.So the artistas have the opportunity to showcase work in exciting, unique new exhibition sites in the heart of Chicago’s Loop, like  empty storefronts or narrow streets of the city


1. Social Benefits

The Pop-up Art Loop project will a generate  the reactivation of  the areas sounding the exhibition location, and converts them into social public places.The concept of art is so generic that can offer the possibility of meetings between different people of different ages.

Also suposed the creation of a community not only of artists, but also of customers of art lovers, that frequently attends to the art exhibition.

2. Cultural Benefits

The Pop-up Art Loop is a Project that offers the possibility of approaching al kind of people to the art world, and by being free and available worldwide becomes a spotlight for a sharing network knowledge about art.

The creation of this new type of cultural sector attracted cultural tourism that improved the quality of life in the Loop.

3. Economic Benefits

The amount of foot traffic increased compared whit the one that would usually occur around vacant stores.Not only do the galleries shed positive light on the vacant spaces, they also bring traffic to surrounding businesses in the Loop. Therefore also, the neighborhood as a whole benefits from the energy that’s brought in and that the additional traffic may result in sales to the different retailers.

The local Chicago property owners have been really enthusiastic about the program  because they can see a economic benefit in it.

Due to the new cultural sector in 2012, nonprofit arts presenters and their audiences pumped $2.2 billion* into Chicago’s economy.

Also the unemployment has descended. After three years since it has been created, the Loop has represented over 27% of all private sector Jobs in Chicago. Over the same period, between 8,7% and 9,0% of all private sector employment in the six-country Chicago área have been located in the Loop.

4. Environmental Benefits

All the artistic installation are done with low cost or reused materials, there have other particularities that makes them unique and attractive for visitors and buyers.


What catches the attention is the Pop-Up Art Loop  project that its success comes from the power of survival. Thus, the local economy has found alternative ways to strengthen through a reformulation of mechanics aimed art galleries , which tends to benefit certain social and cultural segments and territories. The community-based creative marketplace and provide a platform for young progressive artists that transforms the project into  such a beautiful and innovative approach to community needs.




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