There is life once more on what was long a "dead" corner at 55th and Prairie on Chicago's South Side.
With the cooperation of city officials, the University of Chicago's "Arts and Public Life" initiative hopes to provide "a dedicated space for artists to grow professionally and build creative connections with the surrounding community."
A reception was held Friday to herald its opening after more than two years of planning, fundraising and extensive reconstruction.
The brainchild of artist Theaster Gates, the 10,000 square-foot Arts Incubator was once a Walgreens before sitting dormant for two decades.
"I think there are some really clear challenges," Gates said. "One, how do open up a space like this help the community that's here understand it's an asset?"
Programming is key, he said, and those who run the center (which boasts several artists-in-residence) are pondering how best to attract the widest possible audience. Ongoing fundraising is crucial, too.
Asked how much personal involvement he will continue to have, Gates simply replied, "It's my baby."