ACTIVATE 2017 Kick-Off: Alley Turned Neighborhood Rec Room (Plus Photos)

On June 15th, Chicago Loop Alliance kicked off the first event of ACTIVATE 2017. The highly anticipated summer event series is dedicated to transforming iconic alleys into pathways to innovative urban experience outlets — bringing together the community to celebrate art, music, and each other. The interactive exhibit series attracted over 47,000 attendees last year. Based on the crowd on opening day of this year’s series, it’s likely that turnouts will continue to grow rapidly as the series continues throughout the summer.

The first day of ACTIVATE took place in the alley of Sullivan Center (16 East Monroe). Upon entering, guests found themselves quickly immersed into the unique artistic atmosphere. To the left was a stage featuring a modern mix of the city’s up-and-coming DJs and performers, whose music set the perfect mood element for the urban pop-up exhibits. Moving forward, attendees were invited to explore and actively participate in a plethora of art and action.


The event stayed true to its theme: “Playground: Rec Room of the Block”. The entire alley ‘venue’ was open game for participants, who were supplied with chalk and fluorescent paint to make their own creative mark on their surroundings. This did not exclude body paint models, who took the ‘life’ of the pop-up exhibit to another level. Attendees also had the unique opportunity to observe visual masterpieces in the making, including vibrantly painted faces and creatures plastered across once drab concrete or brick surfaces. Observers surrounded the artists, awestruck by each brush stroke as they watched imagery come to life on the walls around them. The blacklight ambience accentuated the fluorescent hues of each street art masterpiece, and made every attendee’s smile a little brighter.

As event-goers passed around pieces of chalk and fluorescent paint tubes to one another, played exuberant ping-pong matches, and cozied up together on alley-way couches— the playground, ‘rec-room’ feel was all too real. The only aspect that resonated more strongly than the amazing art in action was the respectful, kind nature of all event attendees — too uncommon in similar crowded event settings.


In this case, the art speaks louder than words— see for yourself here in the image gallery above.

If you’re bummed you missed it, you can still catch the next ACTIVATE event on July 26. RSVP today and grab a free drink ticket:


All Images Courtesy of Egle Makaraite


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