Located on calm, residential Calumet Avenue in one of the four Frank Lloyd Wright Robert W. Roloson Townhouses (built in 1894), Neleh Galleries Internationale doesn't necessarily reflect the historically black Bronzeville neighborhood that surrounds it. Owner and curator Helen Y. West has a broader view of her duties as a tenant in such a famous building: "One of my goals is [to represent] a diverse array of artists. I don't think Frank Lloyd Wright would want me to only show the work of African-American artists—people of all cultures appreciate the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and I want to do the same with my artwork."
Stepping inside the gallery feels like walking into an eccentric person's home. West encourages visitors to leave their belongings in the small foyer at the front of the house, and get comfortable as they tour the premises. The art in this multi-level townhouse focuses on drawing, painting and sculpture, but other oddities—like an unidentified woven quilt and stained-glass windows—hide throughout. West represents local artists like Felicia Grant, a Chicago Public School teacher by day and abstract painter by night, as well as a stained-glass artist living in the suburbs. Madison-based artist Woodrow Nash's sculptures, recalling both European and African history, scatter among all three floors. West also runs a custom framing business in the basement.
Centerstage Reviewer: Alicia Eler