On Saturday, I visited the Epiphany Center for the Arts for the opening of the exhibition “Chicago: Home of House,” which is being presented in the venue’s Catacombs downstairs. While the fascinating text and photo-based installation describing the history of Chicago house can still be visited by appointment, the one-time-only opening event brought the subject matter to life, with ten-and-a-half hours of DJ sets from some of the greats, like Chip E., Lady D and Terry Hunter. House music is perhaps the most celebratory and inclusive of all genres and, after more than a year of hibernation, the collective joy of the occasion was palpable. 

My only prior visit to Epiphany was for a DCASE preview event on March 10, 2020. I was amazed that day by the quality of its reinvention and thrilled about its potential contribution to Chicago’s cultural life as it was on the verge of opening. Its owners, real estate developer David Chase and his wife, Kimberly Rachal, converted the West Loop church where they had been married years earlier into a $15 million multipurpose music and art venue. When everything shut down about a week later, Epiphany’s public introduction got pushed back to now, when it’s starting to do small live events, like the upcoming candlelight concerts in its Sanctuary room that pay tribute to the music of greats like Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield. The restoration of the space has brought Chicago perhaps its grandest and certainly its most spiritual secular music venue, one especially befitting the sacred gospels of house, jazz and soul.

Brian Hieggelke

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