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Tender House Project: Demonstrating the Cultural Activation of Chicago’s Bridgehouses

Opening Reception : Sept 12th 5:00-7:00pm

Featuring a performance with Ben LaMar Gay

Exhibition Dates:  September 12 - November 3, 2019 

Location : McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum

99 Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60601

Open Hours: 

Thurs 12:00 AM to 7:00 PM 

Fri-Mon: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Tender House Project works to realize the latent potential of Chicago’s iconic yet overlooked bridgehouses, proposing that this hidden infrastructure is a cultural asset that will breathe needed life into the Chicago River. 

In collaboration with Togetherism, a two-month festival of artists groups curated by Public Media Institute, eight  Chicago-based groups will creatively activate the Michigan Avenue bridgehouse and surrounding riverwalk areas. 

Exhibited work will feature design proposals from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Master of Architecture program and design proposal submitted by the public. The result contributes toward a city-wide strategy of highlighting the Chicago River as a cultural corridor. With 70 bridgehouses spanning 13 miles of the Chicago River and having direct access to 15 neighborhoods, these underutilized buildings will be vital to fostering a connected and culturally celebrated Chicago.


Chicago Artist, Ben LaMar Gay will perform two concerts presented by International Anthem. On September 12th, Ben will engage audiences and the public by playing both inside and outside of the bridgehouse.  

Ben LaMar Gay is a composer and cornetist who moves components of sound, color, and space through folkloric filters to produce brilliant electroacoustic collages. The Chicago native’s true technique is giving life to an idea while exploring and expanding on the term Americana. Inspired by the vibrant experimental music scene of Chicago, and a three-year residency in Brazil, Gay collaborates with some influential figures in the world of music, dance, and visual arts including George Lewis, Itiberê Zwarg, Onye Ozuzu, Qudus Onikeku, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Catherine Sullivan, Mike Reed, Joshua Abrams, Celso Fonseca, Tomeka Reid, The Black Monks of Mississippi, Bixiga 70 and the Association of the Advancement of Creative Musicians. His musical influences derive from his collection of experiences in all of the Americas and the gathered data channeled by technology and its amplifying accessibility. Embracing international vision while remaining true to his roots, Gay’s creative output aligns with the honest notion that he only knows how to be a man from the South side of Chicago

On Weds Oct 9, 9:30 - 11:30 AM, LaMar Gay will also perform a second performance, a duet with the live sounds of the moving bascule bridge during a scheduled bridge lift. 

Ben LaMar Gay’s performances are presented by International Anthem


Returning to the McCormick Bridgehouse Museum, Tender House Project is led by Mejay Gula, Chicago based civic designer, curator, and lecturer whose work highlights value of forgotten buildings and spaces in the city.

Togetherism examines creative experiments with horizontal, collective art-making and organizing. The series is inspired by (and hopes to inspire) forms of radical, liberating practice where collective creative work rethinks and reforms the ways of living in society. The festival will feature the work of both historical and contemporary groups from Chicago and beyond. Not quite utopian, each group serves variously as a proof of concept, a failure, a new direction to pursue, or an example of why “we” needs to change.