Dealer Profile: Lisa Janes, Alibi Fine Art
BY LAURA MILLER
Alibi Fine Art is a young gallery dedicated to photography - one of the few in Chicago that focuses exclusively on the medium. Located in Ravenswood on the city’s north side, Alibi is owned and operated by Lisa Janes. New to gallery ownership as of spring 2014, Janes continues to push the photo-centric mission of the gallery forward while aiming to highlight the work of often overlooked artists. Janes shared some insight with Chicago Gallery News about her new role at the gallery as well as her own interest in photography. - LM
Q: Tell me about your background and your interest in art.
A: I am originally from Alaska, but I have lived all over the country since I left for college. I studied art at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. After receiving my BA, I completed the professional photography program at the New England School of Photography in Boston. I arrived in Chicago to take over the gallery last spring.
Q: Are you an artist?
A: I am an artist myself, though I rarely exhibit my own work.
Q: Alibi Fine Art was established in July 2010 by Adam Holtzman (now one of Alibi’s represented artists), and you took ownership in the spring of 2014. How did this transition come about?
A: Before I took ownership of Alibi last spring I was curating at a small gallery in Urbana, IL. Adam and I are old friends from school, and I had asked him to consign some of Joseph Sterling’s work to the gallery for an exhibit. During our collaboration he came up with the idea to turn Alibi over to me before he moved his family back to the east coast. It was something I had always wanted to do, and it was an opportunity I could not pass up.
Q: The gallery has focused on photography. Will you continue to feature photography exclusively moving forward?
A: I intend to continue to exclusively concentrate on photography. It is the medium I know and love best, and currently there are very few galleries in Chicago dedicated solely to it. I took Alibi on because I liked Adam’s selection of artists and the direction he had taken the gallery in up to that point. Deviations are inevitable, especially as I add new artists to the Alibi roster and explore potential collaborations with other organizations, but I aim to maintain the core characteristics established early on.
Q: The CGN office regularly receives questions from artists about how they can get dealers to look at their work. Do you also get this question often, and are you open to reviewing new submissions even if you’re not seeking additional artists?
A: I do get this question frequently, and I am sympathetic to it. Unfortunately I do not have time to respond to the numerous inquiries I receive, so I am not open to looking at unsolicited art, especially not in person. I jury and review portfolios through events such as Filter Photo Festival, and I encourage artists to take advantage of similar opportunities if they want their work to be seen by gallerists and curators.
Q: You recently moved the gallery from Montrose to your current Ravenswood address. How is your new space?
A: The new location is working out well. Most of Alibi’s regulars have found me by now, and I have gotten a lot of new foot traffic from events such as the Ravenswood Art Walk. Sharing space with Manifold Chicago provides good cross-disciplinary traffic and the closer proximity to Lillstreet Art Center has benefited us as well.
Q: How important is foot traffic to you and the gallery?
A: I place slightly more importance on those who seek the gallery out because they tend to be the most loyal enthusiasts for the medium, however, I have had a lot of luck with repeat visitors who began as walk-ins.
Q: What new shows do you have scheduled this spring?
A: Coming up is David Akiba’s homage to Harry Callahan in the spring, followed by Dan Farnum’s color photographs of urban youth in Michigan. Plans are in the works to participate in more art fairs in 2015. Farther down the road I would like to work with artists from disadvantaged backgrounds to provide a way for them to show work that would otherwise go unseen.
Q: Do you have any big plans for the year ahead?
A: A current professional goal is to find interesting ways to spotlight my artists through social media, events, and collaborations.
Alibi Fine Art
4426 N. Ravenswood (60640)
F-Sa 12-6; and by appt.