THE INDEPENDENT VOICE OF THE VISUAL ARTS
Chicago’s art world is steadily shifting westward. A series of gallery moves over roughly the past two years shows signs of a new art district in the making. Those actions represent the fourth iteration of Chicago’s gallery scene since the 1950s.
One can say these dealers are migrating to a destination or a district, using the latter term loosely. Unlike earlier districts, such as River North and West Loop, the newest pioneers are not clustered within a narrow area. West Town, the new art neigborhood, is spread out over a two-mile area.
Starting at Chicago Avenue, in the 1600 and 1700 blocks, are the newly-arrived Catherine Edelman and Rhona Hoffman galleries. Proceeding south and west, one finds Gray Warehouse, Chicago Artists Coalition and Corbett vs Dempsey in an industrial corridor (2000 and 2100 area) of West Carroll and Fulton.
Such a dispersion is not strictly a new district but more of a starburst. Galleries appear to be claiming a “destination” status for artists and collectors to seek more of a personal art experience. This seems to be a key factor behind the moves by Gray and Corbett, along with a desire for more space to show large-scale work.
Gallery owners, both moving and staying, say they don’t need the security and buzz of being huddled together anymore. Their business model has moved away from local walk-in sales to striking deals at art fairs and over the internet. Local trade now accounts for 20 percent or less for many name-brand gallerists.
The New Art Examiner salutes this new spark of creative energy as a welcome sign of renewed life and direction while also taking note of an equal burst in the even-farther Bridgeport and West Cermak Road outposts.
Our second cover article also examine several gallery owners happy to remain in their current homes. Those interviews reveal the thinking of long-standing dealers about the current gallery market and are worthy of your attention.
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