What do you get when you mix two women who work at Rhona Hoffman Gallery
with a site-specific gallery in a fourth floor apartment in West Town? duchess
, of course, one of Chicago's most promising young art spaces. Kat Parker and Katie Rashid, co-directors and close friends, started this venture in March 2006. Their inventive programming, resigned to two small rooms in Katie's apartment, has included an installation made of cassette tape by Alexander Stewart, screenings of Icelandic films and a series of costumes, drawings and sculptures inspired by childhood and identity by artist Huong Ngo.
After climbing four flights of stairs on a recent Wednesday evening, the one time of the week that the gallery has open hours, I arrived to see Kat and Katie hashing out some bills and promo plans over a glass of wine at a mod table for two in the only common room left in the apartment.
During our chat, Kat and Katie would reply in unison, finish each other's sentences and agree to try on the interactive costumes made by Ngo in the brightly yellow (painted so for the Ngo show) exhibition space for some photo ops. All in all, Kat and Katie seem to be having a ball with duchess.
You decided to run an art gallery in Chicago because:
Kat: You want to have some creative outlet. At Rhona's gallery (where we work during the day) we don't get to dictate how or why things are done, and we don't get to pick the art. Also, we were feeling so disconnected from the younger art scene.
Katie: It's nice where duchess is right now and seeing how it feels. Giving artists we like the opportunity to do just do something with the space is exciting.
You select art that:
Katie: ...is experimental, that activates the space and that illuminates the artist's commitment to their work. The work is representative of the artist's energy.
Kat: We don't have anybody we have to answer to. We're open to what an artist can do in this space.
If we remember one thing about your gallery it's:
Katie: We are welcoming. We do have this background at Rhona's gallery so we can maintain a level of professionalism. But as people we are both very open to people and spirited about what we're doing.
When you're not at your gallery, you check out art at: Kat: [holding up a folded map of the West Town Gallery Network] At all of the West Town galleries: Bucket Rider, 65 Grand, Western Exhibitions, all of them!
Katie: Renaissance Society, the MCA...It's hard to visit galleries when you're working at one all the time. Most openings overlap with ours.
An artist we should know is:
Katie: Jamisen Ogg… I can't wait for his show here in the spring!
Kat: Heather Hollenbeck. Her paintings are beautiful. She uses a combination of decorative fabrics and spray painting, using fiercely opposing techniques. Her paintings are on the cusp of being decorative and abstract.
On your walls at home you have: Katie and Kat, nearly in unison: Ian Pedigo. We both own his work (he has a piece up at 65 Grand). We both own New Catalogue (Luke Batten and Jonathen Sadler), Spencer Finch, Amy Myers.
You would tell artists interested in the gallery scene to: Kat: Do your research!
Katie: Yes! Do your homework to figure out where your work would fit. Don't just blindly send your work to all galleries. We get that all the time at Rhona's.
Collect on a budget by:
Katie: Going to younger galleries.
Kat: Come to duchess, we have affordable art!
Katie: Yes, and even go to galleries like Rhona's and try asking about prices. If a gallery can't accommodate you, they might have an idea of where you should go for what you want.