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Meet Hilesh Patel of Hyde Park Art Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hilesh Patel.

Hilesh, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been fortunate enough to have been on different sides of the arts table, from being a teacher to creating programs in schools to being in a leadership role in my current capacity. I have been Deputy Director of Hyde Park Art Center for almost three years – it will be three years this April. Prior to that, I worked at Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE), managing in-school and after-school arts programs. I was also a teaching artist in visual arts for almost 8 years. This experience engendered a holistic view of arts and art administration, to see the intersection of contemporary art, education and community engagement.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I wouldn’t say smooth or rough road, more circuitous and travelling down well worn paths. There were so many people who were kind with their knowledge and experience of their paths. Subsequently, my professional narrative has been a series of lessons in community building and leadership and all the challenges and struggles that come with it. I learned to step back and put on a wide angle lens to see how you can be accountable to long term visions while still fighting for the day to day needs.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Hyde Park Art Center – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Founded in 1939, Hyde Park Art Center is a unique resource that advances contemporary visual art in Chicago by connecting artists and communities in unexpected ways. As an open forum for exploring the artistic process, the Art Center fosters creativity through making, learning about, seeing, and discussing art all under one roof.

First and foremost, we champion Chicago artists and the Chicago artist community engaging and supporting them to experiment, envision and solidify their practice. We have been in our current space at 5020 S Cornell since 2006 and our exhibitions, educational and residency programs keep growing. Currently, our facility showcases 20 exhibitions, offers 200+ studio classes, hosts artists from around the world, welcomes 45,000 visitors, and holds 200+ free events every year.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
By 2020, Hyde Park Art Center aims to see: A more civically-engaged Chicago and equitable arts community Chicago’s only open-access visual art school serving all ages Tomorrow’s artists and arts leaders who are as diverse as the city we live in Increased racial, economic, and gender equity in Chicago art Increased support for Chicago’s teaching artist community Ambitious and inspiring new art that sparks conversation among a wide range of audiences New opportunities for Chicago artists here and abroad Growth of Chicago art’s reputation.

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