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Monday, October 15, 2007

feature in centerstagechicago.com

Living the Art Life, Literally
Five gallerists tell all about living and working in one small space.
Friday Oct 12, 2007
By Alicia Eler



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.

Britton Bertran of Gallery 40000
The gallery-filled building at 119 North Peoria Street in the West Loop usually empties out around 6 p.m., but one guy hangs around. No, he didn't get locked in; he lives there. Behind Britton Bertran's cube-like gallery space, filled with cutting-edge work by local and national artists, sits a bedroom littered with contemporary art. "It's a necessary thing if I'm going to give this gallery thing a go," says Bertran. Problems arise mostly during openings, when people want to use his bathroom, but he says the positives, like the fact that his room can serve as a VIP place for artists to relax during stressful showings, trump the negatives. His five-year plan is to eventually move into a separate space, but for now he goes with the flow, trying not to work on Sundays and Mondays. "I literally cover my eyes when I walk through the gallery," he says about his days off.

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

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

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.
5 : : : P O L V O : : :: feature in centerstagechicago.com Living the Art Life, Literally Five gallerists tell all about living and working in one small space. Friday Oct 12, 2007 By Alicia Eler ...

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