Thursday, October 18, 2007

photos oct. 18, 2007

I was doing laundry across the street from my apartment and it started raining so I took the photos below.

Monday, October 15, 2007

feature in

Living the Art Life, Literally
Five gallerists tell all about living and working in one small space.
Friday Oct 12, 2007
By Alicia Eler

The adage says you shouldn't combine work with pleasure, but sometimes it's best to buck the establishment and do your own thing; in this case, we're talking about opening an art gallery in the space where you live. Despite saving big bucks, this venture is risky business, sometimes making it impossible to find privacy or peace of mind. We tracked down five gallerists who "live their art" on a daily basis to find out if they'd do it all over again.

Britton Bertran of Gallery 40000
The gallery-filled building at 119 North Peoria Street in the West Loop usually empties out around 6 p.m., but one guy hangs around. No, he didn't get locked in; he lives there. Behind Britton Bertran's cube-like gallery space, filled with cutting-edge work by local and national artists, sits a bedroom littered with contemporary art. "It's a necessary thing if I'm going to give this gallery thing a go," says Bertran. Problems arise mostly during openings, when people want to use his bathroom, but he says the positives, like the fact that his room can serve as a VIP place for artists to relax during stressful showings, trump the negatives. His five-year plan is to eventually move into a separate space, but for now he goes with the flow, trying not to work on Sundays and Mondays. "I literally cover my eyes when I walk through the gallery," he says about his days off.

Dubhe Carreno of Dubhe Carreno Gallery
When Dubhe Carreno came to Chicago in 1999 to complete an MFA in ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she never envisioned opening her own space dedicated exclusively to that art form. But after she found a great live-in/work space in Pilsen, everything just clicked. Large white platforms display hand-crafted ceramic vases, and Carreno greets patrons from behind a front desk. She says that the positives of her living situation heavily outweigh the negatives. "With sculpture, [most] people [don't really know] how to live with it," she says. "They have [this] assumption that you need a pedestal or something to elevate it. It really helps when they see my home space [in the back], which is full of sculptures."

Lisa Flores of All Rise Gallery

It's not easy transforming a once-adolescent art co-op, aptly named High School, into the mature All Rise Gallery, especially when the entire loft building used to be hipster party central. Owner Lisa Flores admits the past two years have been hard. But visitors who climb three flights of rickety stairs to her Wicker Park space (that's easily twice the size of most galleries) could never tell she did a massive overhaul. Today, All Rise is finally gaining notoriety, thanks in part to Flores being uniquely connected to artists all over North America. Living at your workspace isn't easy, though. "It's hard being tied down to the space everyday…and it feels like I'm always working," she says. But on the up side: "It's great because there's always so much to do. And if I need to hang a show all night long, I can work until 3 a.m. without interruption."

Marco Logsdon of Logsdon 1909 Gallery & Studio
Marco Logsdon moved to Chicago from Kentucky a few years ago and opened a gallery and studio space for his own work. But in September 2006, after a few successful shows, he decided to start showing other artists' pieces, too; he now rotates exhibits (mostly mixed-media, drawings and paintings) in the front and shows his work in the back. In line with the nature of most Pilsen galleries, Logsdon's space is only open on Saturdays and the second Friday of every month. With slim to none walk-in traffic, he's able to have some privacy though, "[I've always] got to be ready for people, so I can't be a slob," he says. Though keeping tidy isn't very fun, drawing a curtain at the halfway point of the gallery ensures his privacy.

Miguel Cortez of Polvo

For the past four years, Miguel Cortez has displayed challenging installation, new media and performance art in his gallery/home space, with white walls, wooden floors, TVs showing experimental video work and a kitchen right in the open. "The only downside is my loss of privacy; it's a minor inconvenience," says Cortez. But since living and working in the same space means only paying one rent, Cortez says it's "easier and cheaper to keep things going." It's been a while since he took a vacation, so after hosting a few more shows in 2007, he's going to take a well-deserved six-month break. Although Cortez juggles running Polvo on the weekends and working as a graphic designer during the week, he's received a tremendous amount of acclaim that many full-time gallerists could never live up to.

interviewed in

I was interviewed by recently.

“We felt that Pilsen needed a contemporary cultural space,” says Polvo co-founder Miguel Cortez, “where artists could be free to experiment.” Among the most long-running artists’ organizations in the Chicago area, Cortez formed the Polvo conglomeration over a decade ago, in 1996, with the assistance of partners Jesus Macarena-Avila and Elvia Rodriguez-Ochoa. The three met in the early 1990s through their mutual affiliation with alternative artist spaces Casa de Arte y Cultura/Calles y Sueños and Taller Mexicano de Grabado. Through these affiliations, the three recognized a void in the local art scene of the time in its lack of outlets for contemporary Latino art; such artists were typically relegated to commercial Latino galleries or the Mexican Fine Arts Museum while the art which interested Cortez and his partners was too experimental to gain recognition at such venues.

The group’s first action was to begin a zine in 1996 to publish the art they found interesting as well as bilingual poetry. This venture led to the opening of Polvo in storefront gallery form three years later, establishing a venue for the collective to showcase the sort of avant-garde Latino art they hoped to promote in the Pilsen community. Faced with financial difficulties, the gallery was forced to close soon after and the group instead focused on developing a noticeable presence on the internet and promoting their zine. The success of these ventures resulted in the opening of the current Polvo space in 2003, which has shown a continuous stream of exhibitions since.

For their gallery, Polvo’s founders logically chose Pilsen, Chicago’s nexus of Mexican-American culture. They were drawn to the neighborhood due to its mutually supportive combination of working class families and artistic community. Additionally, Pilsen’s rich history over the past century—including, Cortez cites, artistic subcultures from the Bohemians to the Mexican muralists—made the location a unique setting for the sort of organization into which he and his colleagues hoped Polvo would develop.

Cortez describes the second show in Polvo’s current venue as a turning point in media coverage for the space. “We were the first space/gallery in Chicago to organize an anti-war show against the Iraq War,” he states. “Our show opened the week that the US started bombing.” The critical attention and dialogue earned by the exhibition set the course for Polvo’s agenda in the years since; the collective has exhibited thematic group shows by artists who deal with such politically charged issues as gentrification, the environment, and surveillance.
Despite the increasing attention Polvo has received in past years, Cortez, Macarena-Avila, and Rodriguez-Ochoa still aim to exhibit work by emerging artists, to serve as a springboard for the career of such local and international figures. The work of such practitioners is complemented by work by more established artists from such locales as South Africa, Australia, and Mexico. They are likely attracted to Polvo due to the space’s focus on diversity. “I don't mean ethnicity but also types of media and art making,” explains Cortez. “We needed a space where artists could be free to not just hang 2-D work on the walls.” Artists exhibiting at the gallery have shown work of a variety of media including new media and installation art, among others.

On November 16, an exhibition entitled “Goin’ Mobile,” curated by Kimberly Aubuchon and dealing with the theme of travel will open and run through December 15. The show will be the last in Polvo’s physical space, which will close at the end of 2007 and, instead, exist primarily as a webspace and curatorial endeavor. (Britany Salsbury of

This is for you...

This is for you...

James Beckman
Holly Sabin
Stephen Shapiro
Kyra Termini
Miguel Cortez
Sarah Perez
Arielle Bielak
Marc Salha
Michael Una
Renee Prisble Una
Nikki Hollander
Blake Lewis

Saturday November 10 (7PM)

Happy Dog Gallery

1542 N. Milwaukee Ave. , Chicago, IL

Saturday, October 06, 2007

toninght's closing reception

Landscapes of Experience and Imagination: Explorations by Midwest Latina/o Artists

Landscapes of Experience and Imagination: Explorations by Midwest Latina/o Artists
April 4 through July 27, 2008

Curator: Judith Hoos Fox
Research Assistance: Oscar E. Vázquez and David Dorta

Paul Sierra, Afternoon Landscape

This exhibition highlights and explores the ways that eight, largely Chicago and mid-west based Latina/o artists have developed the theme of landscape through mixed and new narrative media installations, as well as through more traditional means of drawing, painting and sculpture. The exhibition examines their responses, through a variety of pictorial forms, to the natural and built environment. The works included will address the memories or imaginings of a tropical forest, the suburbs, or the density of urbanscapes, as well as the artists' own self-identities, or understandings of Latina/o presences in the United States.