Pictured left to right: Mellisa Blount, poets Rachel Webster and John McCarthy, and installation artist Ben Blount.Photo by Heidi Randhava

The art-filled home of Joe and Pat Taylor was the site for an opening night reception on Oct. 7 for the first-ever Evanston contingent of the Terrain Biennial, an international exhibition of temporary public art made for front yards, balconies, and porches. Artists Anne Stevens and Mat Rappaport, who organized the event, said they were inspired by the idea of building community through art and activating the spaces in a neighborhood so that they can be seen in a new way.

“It’s the idea that you’re pairing an artist with a host,” Ms. Stevens said about the concept behind the Biennial. Centered in Oak Park, the exhibition includes 120 sites and as many artists in communities across Chicagoland and as far away as Marnay-sur-Seine, France. In what Ms. Stevens calls the Evanston outpost of the exhibition, 10 artists created installations at nine homes on a walkable route along Wesley and Florence between Emerson and Dempster.

Those who attended the reception at 1217 Church St. picked up maps of the sites and had a chance to meet the participating artists and the neighbors hosting their installations. The free event also featured readings by local poets John McCarthy and Rachel Webster, a performance by Evanston sound artist Shawn Decker, and refreshments including beer provided by Sketchbook Brewing Company.

The sudden downpour on Saturday afternoon did not discourage attendees from going to visit the sites; some walked with umbrellas while others joined the hosts for a driving tour along the route. As the rain ended, a spectacular rainbow brightened the early evening sky, creating the perfect backdrop for a vibrant display of local talent.

Terrain Biennial

Evanston exhibit runs until Nov. 15. The project was made possible in part with funding from the Evanston Arts Council. For a guide to all locations for each neighborhood, go to terrainexhibitions.com.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.