Art Incubator

Sep 22, 2015 / by Ashton Cooper / CULTURED Magazine

It’s hard to believe that when Patron Gallery opens its doors this
fall, it will be among just a handful of commercial art spaces that have
opened in Chicago in the past 10 years. While the Windy City is rife with the
kind of artist-run and non-profit spaces that have come to define its art
scene, the commercial galleries that call the city home are mostly veteran
affairs. Yet, in the past few years, the city’s art community has started to
receive more attention—something one could attribute to the star power of
several Chicago-based artists, including old hats like Theaster Gates, Kerry
James Marshall and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, as well as new residents like
Jessica Stockholder and LaToya Ruby Frazier. There is also the skyrocketing
interest in the Imagists and the School of the Art Institute more broadly; and,
to a certain extent, the city’s new art fair EXPO.
This fall, Julia Fischbach and Emanuel Aguilar, two former directors of
Chicago mainstay Kavi Gupta Gallery, will strike out on their own to open a
space geared toward cultivating the city’s next generation of artists. “For a
long time, artists left Chicago—they felt there was not enough opportunity
here,” says Aguilar. “We are staying and continuing the momentum the city
has at the moment. There will be a big focus on artists here in Chicago, and
it’s important for us that we’ll be able to have a lot of interaction with them,
person to person.”
As a 17-year staffer at Kavi Gupta, Fischbach watched the gallery find
its footing in Chicago by cultivating local artists. “For a long time, that was
our singular focus,” says Fischbach, “and at Patron, I want to get back to
that passion.”
By and large, Patron plans to focus on young artists. Currently, its roster
consists of New York-based artist Kadar Brock and Chicago-based artists
Alex Chitty and Daniel G. Baird. The gallery will inaugurate its new space
with a group show, “Theory of Forms,” which includes the aforementioned
artists, as well as Samuel Levi Jones, Matthew Metzger, Bryan Savitz, Kristen
Van Deventer and JPW3.
“There will be people in the program that have never worked with a
gallery, as well as recognizable names. It’s just about working side by side
with the artists in developing a practice that is more encompassing than just
the market.”
Located a few blocks north of the West Loop, Patron is taking over the
space formerly occupied by Shane Campbell Gallery. The area has a history
of being home to artist-run spaces and two remain down the street—the
Center for Intuitive Art and the feminist gallery, Woman Made.
In choosing a name for the space, Fischbach and Aguilar decided
against the convention of naming it after themselves. “We are both interested
in an old school value system and ‘patron’ embodies everything we want to
bring to a young space,” Aguilar said. “It is our way of saying that everyone
is allowed to take on that name and come and engage and learn about art
and be part of it.”