Austin’s Front Porch Arts Center Plans Grand Opening June 15

Local author and community arts advocate Keli Stewart invites friends and neighbors to a Grand Opening of Front Porch Arts Center’s new storefront space at 5851 W. Madison St., Saturday June 15 from noon to 3 p.m.

The fundraiser for the 501(C)3 nonprofit, now in its fifth year,  will feature readings by local poets plus the “(R)Evolution” Art Exhibition,  a Juneteenth  show by local artists curated by Westside artist Tony Collins. The exhibit includes art work by quilter Jacqueline Doctor Johnson, community activist Corey Dooley, and 29th Ward Ald. Chris Taliaferro. Refreshments will be served. 

The center’s documentary West Side Classic will be screened, which features personal life story interviews with Bethel New Life elders, produced in partnership with the Chicago Sinfonietta. 

“Growing up in Austin, I was surrounded by a vibrant community that nurtured in me a passion for storytelling and the arts,” said Keli Stewart, a Columbia College graduate with an MFA from Chicago State who taught at the School of the Art Institute and published a poetry book Small Altars.” My family has lived on the West Side and had businesses for three generations, and I’m proud to own a home in Austin. As I pursued a life of writing, I’ve witnessed that the Austin neighborhood is teaming with powerful artists of all disciplines, without access to community arts spaces to showcase their talent. Front Porch Arts Center is my way of paying homage to those roots and creating a space where artists and neighbors can discover, explore, and share their own creative voices.”

“Last year, at various locations including Bethel New Life, Harambee Garden and the Chicago Public Library-Austin Branch, we showcased the work of over 65 visual artists, writers, musicians, storytellers, and other creatives. For the third summer, we’re partnering with DCASE and Move Me Soul for Summerdance at Austin Town Hall on July 24th. In the fall we’ll be expanding our Austin Art Walk, based in our new Madison Street space and other walkable locations, providing free and low-cost arts programs for the public.” 

In addition to offering regular programming, Front Porch Arts Center collaborates with local schools, community organizations, and artists to develop outreach initiatives and special events to further enrich the cultural fabric of the Westside. “The sense of pride, and social justice we foster will empower West Siders to shape the future of our community through artistic expression and collective action,” said Stewart.

For more information about upcoming programming and events, please visit Tickets for the June 15 grand opening are available at:

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