Friday, October 09, 2009

Thinking About Chicago

While reading my latest emails, I came across the latest ArtLetter by Paul Klein, who in his way, once again states things in such a wonderful way that I feel it is worth sharing with our readers. Through the connecting factors between Klein's article and a wonderfully written history of the artist-run spaces of Chicago, I recently read at Pr, [(Pr) is a free arts broadsheet newsletter put out by the folks at proximity magazine. visit us online at] I began contemplating the numerous similarities and differences between our neighboring city. 

Paul Klein in his article linked above writes:

Chicago artists are making a difference. There are more artists taking initiative than I've seen in some time. More artist-run, alternative spaces are emerging. Some appear with the intent of only lasting for a few months and some only for a single show.

Obviously there are not enough galleries here to address the quantity of quality art that's made here. And though that appears to be an indictment of our galleries, there is also an insufficient number of collectors (even just buyers) to adequately support the gallery scene.

Now Chicago has had a long and vibrant history with artist-run spaces and projects. Something that I have long loved about their art scene. When you can't find the scene you want, build it yourself. I had a conversation within the last 24 hours regarding a comment made by a local artist/patron whose apparent disdain for the local arts community intrigued me. In their perspective art and artists in Indy are basically irrelevant and not going to be noticed or make any noticable impact. This includes not only our galleries but also the IMA. While in some regards I do feel we have a way to go on many platforms, it is this blanket disregard to the talents and efforts being put forth by those of us who do what we can to help to elevate the scene in some way. The two biggest things that take away from Indy from having more of an active and vibrant local art scene, and both are actually interrelated are a lack of art buying/collecting public and a lack of established blue chip galleries. I have long felt that these two things are connected. But even in such circumstances, I feel that it is short sighted and narrow minded (in my opinion) to dismiss things out right. There are a number of local artists who make some excellent works that I would stack up against artist in any other city. Several of our local artists have participated and show with galleries and art fairs around the world. Perhaps this number is lower than in some cities but they are there. Artists and galleries need to try new models of practice to help get their work and their aesthetic seen, not only locally but beyond.

While we still have a long way to go, I feel it is possible to make an impact both as an artist, an arts blogger and a curator. As they often say, "if you are not part of the solution, you are a part of the problem." If you feel as if you are simply stuck here in Indy and you can't readily leave, then perhaps its time for you to step up and do something to make a change. Throw out old models of thinking and ideas about what a gallery is or should be. Reconsider what you think is success as an artist or venue. Try something new. 

7 Responses to “Thinking About Chicago”

ce. said...
October 10, 2009 at 9:36 AM

great post. more people need to have this mentality, to build up Indy and its art scene, rather than export our art to Chicago or elsewhere. the potential in Indy is staggering; it just needs the push to catalyst, to kinetic, which won't happen unless enough people are pushing.

Anonymous said...
October 10, 2009 at 5:25 PM

Great article. But if you are exhibiting some great art in a coffee shop, or some other alternative venue, forget about get mentioned on this blog.

Scott said...
October 10, 2009 at 9:56 PM


As for exhibitions in coffee shops and restaurants, you are probably correct. I do tend to stay clear of such venues. Anyways, I hate coffee. On this issue, I would suggest to the artist (unless they are a student) that it might be time to take their own career a tad bit more seriously.

Presentation is very important when it comes to a viewers experience of art (good art or bad art). There is something of a turn off to a background of the screaming sloshing sounds of a cappuccino machine while peering over the shoulders of a seated patron who simply wants to enjoy their mocha. As for other alternative venues, I and others who post here do visit and have at times posted about or mentioned such shows on this blog. The Bootleg Exhibitions show from this past First Friday is just one such example.

ArtistDan said...
October 11, 2009 at 7:05 PM

If someone has or knows of a "great" show in an alternative space I'd love to know about it. I've made special trips to coffee shops and a library, but I won't write about the art of very close friends.

Anonymous said...
October 12, 2009 at 9:52 PM

Interesting that one of Lurie's currently featured artists, not too long ago, exhibited in coffee shops in the DC area where he was "discovered."

Sure, what we need is more blue chip galleries showing contemporary work in Indy so artists would have more opportunities to exhibit, but that isn't happening any time soon. Unless maybe this blog knows of somebody that is willing to take the risk.

Lori said...
October 14, 2009 at 8:33 AM

The Harrison Center is always looking for new artists, just go to their website or contact Kyle Ragsdale. Primary Colours does a lot of community-based projects with open calls. You can submit your work to Herron Galleries through Paula Katz. The kids running the "bootleg" group are accessible on their website. Even imoca accepts artists proposals anytime. What are you for? If anything, there may be TOO many professional venues focusing on local artists!

Anonymous said...
October 19, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Since reopening 4 Star I have yet to have any decent proposals for one person shows in the space, other than Artists I already knew and was comfortable with. The venues are there, but is there anyone producing a decent cohesive group of work that would be welcome in top flite venues in other cities let alone here in Indy? If so call me! Unfortunately, at this point, I find myself looking outside of Indy for my spring run of shows.

Shawn Miller

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