Not Just Another Pretty Face: Artists + Individuals Creating Together

To comission a work of art sounds like a ofty endeavor, but as the Hyde Park Art Cent'ers (HPAC) Not Just Another Pretty FaceI (NJAPF) demonstrates, the process of a patron working with an artist is uniquely satisfying, and not at all out of reach. The program returns this fall for a fifth run. What began in 1995 as a way to support Chicago artists and the Art Center has garnered priase from those familiar with the concept, such as artists looking to collaborate and patrons looking to support HPAC, as well as art enthusiasts who appreciate this genius, approachable idea. 

At a glance, NJAPF is a kind of matchmaking arrangement for the art world, intended to support Chicago artists while making collecting ore assesible to a broader group of people. Through the "salons" series artists and patrons pair up, questions are answered, artists' art work ix explored and the collaboartion begins. 

NJAPF involves many people and from start to finish it can take place anywhere from 18 months to two years. Inititially HPAC builds up the artist roster, where the goal is to assemble a diverse group of artists, encompassing a range of cultural backgrounds, artistic media, styles and price points. Once artists are selected, private and public salons are hosted by interested patrons as well as HPAC. Artists and patrons meet and the matchmaking begins. Eventually parameters are established regarding finances and the nature of the commissioned artwork. Some patrons lay down specific requests, such as a certain type of artwork or style, liked a mixed media portrait, while others may give the artist total control over the process and outcome. Works executed include painting, photography, sculpture, installation and more. 

Due to the program's dual goals, commission proceeds generated by patrons are split equally between HPAC and the artist. Finally, a comprehensive catalogue is produced and the final works are unveiled at a celebratory opening of the three-month exhibition of the work produced during the program. In many cases at the opening party is the first time a patron sees the finished work before taking it home to be a part of, or the start to, their collections. 

NJAPF has a proven track record of bringing more awareness and support to Chicago artists, as well as demystifying the notion of collecting art. Brand new patrons as well as seasoned collectors recognize their sponsorship plays a direct role in supporting the arts. -LM