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Arts Excursions Unlimited: Amplifying art, honoring history | The Homepage

By Erika Johnson

January recaps

People wearing coats stand in front of a large red statue.
Arts Excursions Unlimited members in front of “Flamingo,” a 53-foot-tall statue by Alexander Calder, located in Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago. Photo by Heather Mull

There is no better way to gear up for a month full of Black history than to focus on the arts. January excursions included a movie trip to see “The Color Purple” as well as the symphony “Courage to Stand,” a dynamic exploration of musicians, dancers, poets and other leaders who have used the power of the arts to express their core convictions.

Arts Excursions Unlimited members — 37 in total — visited Chicago for three days at the new year. They immersed themselves in the city of architectural gems, art, culture and history and experienced exhibits such as the Black Girl Altar at the Chicago Cultural Center.

They also toured the Museum of Contemporary Art to learn about artist, author, educator and organizer Faith Ringgold. Ringgold’s exhibit “American People” included story quilts, paintings and soft sculptures. It was truly as beautiful and empowering as it was strikingly confronting. Ringgold is one of the most influential cultural figures of her generation.

Members also visited the Chicago Architectural Biennial, explored the Navy Pier and enjoyed Chi-Town city sights on a bus tour, ending the trip with a final meal at retro diner Ed Debevic’s. The organization is excited to continue to expose its members to artists and works of art that drive meaningful change and evolution. (See Page 8.)

February excursions

Lift Every Voice: Feb. 3 at Heinz Hall. This concert pays tribute to the spirit and richness of Black music in America and its enduring strength in tumultuous times.

Art of Sound Workshop: Feb. 7. This interactive painting workshop combines music with art paintings while teaching STEM concepts.

Microplastics Mania: Feb. 17. This workshop will be held in the new space at 5125 Second Ave. Available slots for member families will be shared at the January Community Planning Meeting.

Attendance at meetings is required for members to attend excursions.

About Arts Excursions Unlimited

We have moved! Our meetings on the last Monday of each month are now held at 5125 Second Ave. in the old Hazelwood Initiative building behind the gazebo.

Monthly meetings allow community members to shape the organization’s programming, ensuring that it aligns with the interests and needs of the community. They provide a discussion platform for community updates, events, excursions and equitable job opportunities for members. A light meal is served at 6 p.m.

Arts Excursions Unlimited was co-founded by artist Edith Abeyta and Hazelwood community members. Its mission is deeply rooted in the belief that arts and cultural experiences can transform lives and communities. Past activities have included outings to art galleries and museums, attending theater performances and engaging in hands-on workshops.

Arts Excursions Unlimited also offers a diverse array of small excursions, workshops, and events throughout the month, catering to a wide range of interests including community shopping and monthly bingo.

This organization is fueled by the dedication and interests of its members and participants, ensuring cultural enrichment and engagement in the arts for Greater Hazelwood residents. 

For transportation information and space availability for all excursions and workshops, please contact Outreach Coordinator Tameeka Jones-Cuff via email at

We look forward to continuing service to the Hazelwood community, its members and families through the arts. Stay warm until next time.

Erika Johnson is the music arts director for Arts Excursions Unlimited and a Hazelwood-based writer and artist.

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