An Interview with a Dealer: Ken Saunders

Each week CGN interviews a local art dealer to discuss the ins and outs of running a gallery in the city of Chicago. This week we caught up with Ken Saunders of Ken Saunders Gallery.

Gallery: Ken Saunders Gallery

Name: Ken Saunders

Hometown: Washington DC


Favorites from the week:

1.     Restaurant: Frontera Grill

2.     Read: David Sedaris, Theft by Finding

3.     Visit: Top of the Gross Point Lighthouse

4.     Listen: Chicano Batman


Chicago Gallery News: Tell us about your background and how you started Ken Saunders Gallery? 

Ken Saunders: I started working for Marianne Deson in 1985 and took over the gallery in 1989. In 1994 I was invited to join Bonnie Marx to create Marx-Saunders Gallery, specializing in Studio Glass.


CGN: Please describe your gallery’s program in one sentence.

KS: We exhibit the most talented and innovative artists working with glass in the world.


CGN: How do you spend a typical morning?

KS: Almost every day starts with a walk on the beach with my wife and our dogs. 


CGN: Best sale you ever had?

KS: The first one. Out of a show curated at Smart Bar/Metro I sold a very large painting to a young couple for $1,600.


CGN: Share with us a highlight of the summer.

KS: I was very pleased by turnout for the Mid-Summer Art Walk. It was a pleasure to get the galleries to work together to mount a special event.


CGN: Yours is a gallery focused on the Studio Glass Movement. What are some unique aspects about running the business in general?

KS: Handling glass sculpture is physically demanding. Much of the work is very heavy, large and of course extremely fragile. The artists that I represent are willfully decorative which makes the work quite accessible.


CGN: Favorite cultural pursuit outside of the gallery world?

KS: My best friend and I have a production company called We Got Next with an office in New York City. Our first film One Wall: Kings of Coney Island is available on I-Tunes and Amazon.


CGN: Favorite work of public art in Chicago?

KS: William Carlson, Delicato Balancia on Clark Street at Armitage in Lincoln Park.


CGN: Artists you admire most.

KS: Brancusi, Giacometti and T.S. Eliot


CGN: What's coming up next at Ken Saunders Gallery?

KS: Opening the weekend of SOFA Chicago we’ll have collaborative works from two of America’s most gifted glass blowers- John Kiley and Dante Marioni. It is going to be a bit of a blockbuster.


CGN: Last Chicago restaurant you visited.

KS: Mon Ami Gabi



Ken Saunders is the owner of Ken Saunders Gallery located in River North in Chicago. For more information about his gallery visit: Ken Saunders Gallery.