Country’s oldest African American Art Center hosts 80th Anniversary Masquerade Kick-Off!

South Side Community Art Center to host nationally acclaimed artist Jonathan Green


Theme: Preserving the House That Art Built

The South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC) kicks off their 80th Anniversary Celebration on Thursday, June 17th at 6:30 pm with a virtual Masquerade Celebration. Co-Chairs for the 80th Anniversary event, themed Preserving the House That Art Built, are artist Jonathan Green, widely known as one of the most important painters of the southern experience, and Patric McCoy, noted collector and co-founder of Diasporal Rhythms. The SSCAC is the oldest, continuously operating, African American Art Center in the country, created as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA).

The virtual kick-off event features will include a cocktail/mocktail reception by Drinks on Me demonstrating making our signature cocktails, discussion of the historical significance of SSCAC, a trivia challenge, a special raffle, along with a special awards celebration honoring local community partners, leaders, and artists. The Dr. Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs Award will be given to Madeline Murphy Rabb, and Patric McCoy will receive the Patron of the Arts Award.

The storied Bauhaus building housing SSAC has seen the giants of contemporary African American art walk through its doors for more than eight decades. The Center’s opening exhibit in December 1940 featured local artists who would become the giants of mid-century African American visual art, including Henry Avery, William Carter, Charles White, Archibald Motley, Jr., Joseph Kersey, Bernard Goss, and William McBride. In May 1941, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt attended a special dedication ceremony for the Center.

The founder of the DuSable Museum, Dr. Margaret Goss Burroughs (then Margaret Goss), was one of the youngest founders in 1941and spent the entirety of her life as its patron, fundraiser and spiritual guide. Many of the Black students attending the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago during the forties and fifties, among them Eldzier Cortor, then transferred that hard won knowledge to their art brethren in classes they conducted at the SSCAC.

“SSCAC is distinct in that it has fostered the careers of Black artists across the globe, yet it continues to be a pivotal part of the Chicago Arts community,” says Monique Brinkman Hill, executive director of the SSCAC. Legacy and history converge at the Center, and we welcome everyone to join us in this anniversary celebration.”

Researchers from across the globe have combed the Center’s archives where they can experience works by Charles White, Allen Stringfield, Bill Walker, Ralph Arnold, Sylvester Britton, Yaounde Olu, Hale Woodruff, and Dorothy Higgenson-Carter.

Tickets for the virtual reception are $80 tickets and include an annual SSCAC Membership, a specialty cocktail/mocktail recipe and a mask, a nod to the storied “Artists’ and Models Balls” held by the Center during the 40s and 50s. $40 tickets include an annual SSCAC membership.


Founded in 1940, SSCAC is the oldest African American art center in the United States and is a Chicago Historic Landmark. While taking pride in our rich past, we today build on our legacy and are stepping into the future as an artist and community-centered resource with programs, exhibitions and events that inspire. SSCAC showcases established artists and nurtures emerging creators. Through educational and artistic programs, exhibitions, talks, tours, and more, the center strives to engage, educate and connect community members to African American art and artists. SSCAC is proud to have partnerships with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College and the University of Chicago. The center is supported by Alphawood Foundation Chicago, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Chicago Community Trust, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, the Driehaus Foundation, the Field Foundation of Illinois, the Joyce Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Monarch Awards Foundation, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

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