The viaduct (left) transformed (right)
Driving through Hubbard's Cave is one of the greatest cheap thrills in Chicago. Really, it's just a very long highway underpass, but the "cave" in its name gives it a special tinge of excitement. As do the white tiles on the walls, which are not really cavelike at all.
What many people don't know is that Hubbard's Cave is actually three levels. On the bottom is the highway underpass; on top is a railroad; and in between is a viaduct that has mostly been ignored. But a couple of months ago, producers at Canvas Chicago and Pullman Porter Group, two community arts organizations, looked into the viaduct and thought it would make a really great art-performance space, a pop-up version of Canvas's annual Sub Chroma event.
And so this Saturday night Hubbard's Cave will be transformed into an 8,000-square-foot immersive art space, with paintings, video projections, light shows, dance performances that integrate video, lots of music, and a community-produced mural. And, of course, food trucks. Canvas is used to coordinating large events—but in warehouses with ready sources of electricity, not viaducts. Nobody is sure what Saturday's pop-up will actually look like, least of all Canvas creative director Alaiia Gujral and event producer Emily Dahlquist. But they're sure it will be very cool.
"There's never been an event done there," Dahlquist says. "It will definitely be interesting. It's something new for us. It's always a pleasure to work with new mediums and new spaces."
Normally Canvas has a year to plan a Sub Chroma event. This time they had only two months. As of Friday morning, the viaduct was still empty. On Monday morning, it will be empty again. "That's the interesting part," Dahlquist says, "taking a space and, in one day, creating something to be experienced. To me, production is my art form."
The pop-up will include projection maps by DRMBT, interactive 3-D art by Marpi, videos by Sam Rolfe, a video performance choreographed by Kim Alpert, and paintings by Jasmine Petersen, Suburban Warrior, and Silvia Tangaro. DJs RP Boo, Kyle Woods, and Cqqchi Fruit will provide the music, and generators will provide the electricity to keep the whole thing going. There will be no light aside from the video projections. Visitors are encouraged to wander through the tunnel and explore.
The selection of artists, Gujral says, reflects the trend toward augmented reality in art. But the setting is also part of the show. "We're not only showcasing amazing stuff artists are doing today across mixed media," she says, "but also the fact that we had this crazy tunnel and we're going in to do something to it."
Sub Chroma, 9/16, 7 PM-12 AM, Hubbard's Cave, corner Peoria and Kinzie, canvaschicago.com, $25-$40