photo: courtesy of 40000
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.
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
photo: courtesy of All Rise
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
photo: courtesy 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.