A return to normalcy means a return to the arts! Since the pandemic hit, nearly 1.4 million U.S. jobs and $42.5 billion in sales were lost in the fine and performing arts sector, according to a study by the Brookings Institution. So, spend some time (and some money) on some of Chicago’s most enlightening art exhibitions. You’ll be richer for the experience.

Now on display at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art (CCMA) is “Frida Kahlo: Timeless” (through Sept. 6). Best known for her self-portraits which explore themes of self, women’s sexuality, politics and death, Kahlo is a legendary figure of female empowerment.

With pivotal works on loan from the Museo Dolores Olmedo, the 26-piece collection makes this exhibition the most comprehensive presentation of the Mexican artist’s work displayed in Chicagoland in more than 40 years. In addition to 19 oil paintings, the show features a multimedia timeline with replicas of iconic objects from Kahlo’s life, more than 100 photographs, a Frida Kahlo-inspired garden designed by Ball Horticultural Company, and a children’s area.

The multifaceted exhibit also includes commentary by curator Justin Witte and Executive Director Diana Martinez. “Since the landmark exhibition opened [the response] has been absolutely phenomenal, with more than 35,000 tickets sold already,” says Martinez, who also serves as the exhibition’s executive director.

Together with McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage, CCMA also offers virtual tours of “Frida Kahlo: Timeless.” Both in-person and virtual guests may access a series of online programs examining Kahlo’s life and legacy on the museum’s website. For tickets and more information, visit Frida2021.org.

Thanks to the Neon and Light Museum pop-up (Sept. 9 – Oct. 31), Chicagoans can interact with approximately 70 professional neon and light-based sculptures including works by Monika Wulfer, Sarah Blood, and feminist artist Zoelle Nagib.

“Neon defined a retro era when the automobile was broadening Americans’ horizons and the highways and boulevards of America’s cities were filled with bright and often flashing illuminated messages: snappy, happy, hopeful, warm and fuzzy come-ons to a better future,” explains Neon and Light Museum Director and Curator Ken Saunders. “Today, artists are bending glass into weird and wild shapes. This immersive exhibition features breathtaking sculptures and interactive light shows both kitschy and nostalgic, ironic and literal. Quite simply: It’s lit!”

Tickets ($40+) go on sale August 2 and are available online only. To purchase, visit www.neonandlightmuseum.com.

More than 20 sculptures are currently lining Halsted Street from Madison to Van Buren Streets per the Greektown SSA #16, the Greektown Arts Committee, and the Chicago Greektown Educational Foundation. The outdoor art exhibit entitled “Hello Helios!” will be on view through spring 2022 in Greektown Chicago. Painted by a diverse group of Chicago artists, the three-dimensional pieces celebrate the sun as influenced by the mythologies of Greek, Aztec, Yoruba, Japanese and Native American cultures. Visit greektownchicago.org for more information.

“This We Believe” is now on view at 21c Museum Hotel Chicago through July 31. Free and open to the public, the installation is part of “Shaping the Past,” a multifaceted event and program series presented by Goethe-Institut North America and Monument Lab. Also visible through the hotel windows facing Ontario Street, the installation includes posters designed by Cheyenne Concepcion and 2019 fellows of the non-profit art organization A Long Walk Home’s Girl/Friends Leadership Institute: Anaya Patrice Frazier, Danielle Nolen and Aliyah Young. To learn more, visit www.21cmuseumhotels.com.

Top image: Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Small Monkey, 1945 (Oil on masonite). Collection Museo Dolores Olmedo, Xochimilco, Mexico. © 2019 Banco de México, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico City, Mexico

Second image: Sun sculpture design/build by Eve Moran and Connie Hinkle, The Greektown Arts Committee. Photos by Diane Alexander White Photography.

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.