2nd Floor Rear (2012-2017) was an annual DIY festival of art in experimental contexts, apartment galleries, and ephemeral and migrant projects, celebrating Chicago’s vibrant community of alternative art spaces.
A practical exercise in conceptual play, or a conceptual exercise in playful practicality, 2nd Floor Rear continued Chicago’s long history of scrappy, yet self-aware modes of creative production, and embraced improvisation and makeshift solutions as a means of navigating the complexity of lived experience.
2nd Floor Rear’s mission was to generate exhibition opportunities and resources for artist-run spaces and DIY collectives, educate the public about Chicago-based alternative art practices, and cultivate solidarity within creative communities.
Past artworks, events, and happenings ranged from late-night studio square dancing to a guerrilla sculpture garden, a site-specific installation in an underpass, and a nomadic art gallery in a handbag. Each February, this yearly festival connected artists with new audiences, helped underfunded and under-appreciated alternative spaces get some exposure, and enlivened a dreary winter weekend at the peak of Chicago’s bleakest season.