Chicago Gallery News receives emails and phone calls each week from people curious about when to visit galleries, how to start a collection, how to locate a specific artist or how to sell work they've recently inherited. We try hard to help everyone, and we'll update this section from time to time with the most popular questions. If you have a question for us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
1. How do I find out about big opening nights in the galleries?
Many people are at least a little familiar with the typical scene of gallery hopping on a Friday evening, sipping wine with the crowds and running into fellow art enthusiasts. Chicago certainly has a busy art calendar because gallery openings happen all the time on any given evening. While there is always something happening each week, many galleries and studios around the city will open collectively on a single night every 6-8 weeks in the interest of generating foot traffic and attracting larger crowds to their districts. Much like there are regular open studio nights each month, there are certain nights of the year that are bigger on the art calendar than others. The first Friday after Labor Day is a big one many people never miss, as well as Friday nights while major art fairs such as EXPO and SOFA are in town. You can always check our openings calendar for what's coming up, and you can sort the list by Opening Receptions to see just what's happening in the galleries.
When there's a particularly big night coming up, you'll also see news posted on our homepage. You can also stay up to date by subscribing to our eblast that comes out every two weeks. Also, if there are certain galleries or studios you like to visit, make sure to sign up for their individual mailing lists when you stop by. Of course CGN is also busy on Twitter and Facebook leading up to busy nights, so be sure to catch us there.
An old-school way to be in the loop is to pick up a copy of CGN and refer to the always packed Openings page towards the front of the magazine.
2. Are there local groups for contemporary collectors/art enthusiasts? How do I join?
Many area museums, both big and small, have many options for learning about + collecting art. Supporting your favorite arts organization is a great way to deepen your understanding of contemporary art while meeting other like-minded friends. The MCA and The Art Institute have well known support groups that individuals may join. Also consider institutions like the Smart Museum, the Renaissance Society, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and more. Our links to area arts institutions may be found here.
ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
The SCA Promotes better understanding and appreciation of contemporary art through a series of lectures and meetings, offering insights into the production, collection, and display of the art of our own time as well as visits to private Chicago collections. Every year members review a selected group of contemporary works and vote to purchase one or more objects on behalf of the museum. SCA membership is available in 6 categories. Details may be viewed here.
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Emerge is a group that supports the education, exhibition, and acquisition programs of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA). It’s a convergence of art enthusiasts, collectors, and art patrons who are interested in furthering the mission of the MCA by presenting events with the artists, curators, and leaders impacting today’s contemporary art world. To learn more visit mcachicago.org
2. I recently inherited a few works of art from a relative and I think they could be valuable, but I don't know much about them or if I even want to sell them. Who might be able to help me?
If you find yourself in possession of artwork you don't know much about, it's best to try to gather as much info on your own as possible - assemble photographs of the work and any paperwork that would help someone examining the work. See if you can tell from what gallery, if any, it was originally purchased. Consider returning to the gallery where the work was purchased, or to a gallery that represents the artist's work or work from the same genre.
If you wish to have a piece appraised for insurance or provenance purposes, contact an appraiser for a formal assessment. Several reputable appraisers are listed in our Art Service section.
If you are interested in a basic assessment with the idea that you would like to sell the artwork on the secondary market, we recommend that you contact an auction house that might be able to even facilitate a sale on your behalf. A team of experts can sometimes provide a ball park estimate and let you know if they may also help you auction the works.
3. I'd like to host a private event in a gallery or art space. What are the options?
Galleries and museums can be terrific, unusual spaces for small wedding receptions, corporate events, or charity fundraisers. Most galleries cannot handle very large crowds, but there are some other art-oriented spaces that do; they are also noted on our list. Contact the gallery or space directly regarding your event. If you are interested in a gallery for an exhibition, you should contact the Chicago Arts District, the Zhou B Art Center, the Fine Arts Building, or the Flat Iron Arts Building, since they have available vacant space. You may download a list of galleries that do rent their space more details may be found here; please pay attention to the various capacities as well as any listed restrictions.
4. Do artists show their work in more than one gallery? Can I get a better price if I buy directly from the artist or if I shop around?
When an artist has a gallery representing him or her, that gallery should be the only place to purchase the work in the city. The artist and dealer agree on the prices and the process. Since the representing gallerist is advising, promoting and showing the work of the artist all year long, he/she will make certain that the prices of the work in the gallery are consistent with those offered elsewhere – and the artist will honor that price in his/her studio as well.
5. How can I find a gallery to represent my work or me?
First research galleries online and in person to determine an aesthetic match and appropriateness of the gallery to your work. Contact those galleries by phone or email to determine their individual preferred method of reviewing work. Remember to be patient when awaiting a response and keep in mind that a dealer's first responsibility is to support their current artist stable, so they can't spend all day reviewing work by outside artists. You also would do well to join some artist groups like the Chicago Artists' Coalition and also keep your eyes out for juried shows you can participate in and add to your resume. Chicago Artists Resource has a list of Calls for Artists as well as other opportunities.
6. How can I find employment in an art gallery?
Each gallery does its own staffing. You are welcome to contact a gallery for which you have a special interest. Above all, before contacting a gallery, familiarize yourself with the kind of artwork and artists they represent to determine if your experience and interests are a good match with the gallery.