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 Stan Klein, Director of Firecat Projects.
Current Position: Director of Firecat Projects
Previous Occupations: Assistant to artists, museum preparator, furniture maker, middle school teacher, owner and picture framer (MCM in chicago)
5 favorites from the past week
Restaurant: Toast, they know me and give me long time to chat with artists uninterrupted)
Read: Dorothy B Hughes
Music: Chet Baker and Bill Evans/ Lester Young and Billie Holiday
CGN: Tell us about your background and the process of becoming director for Firecat Projects?
SK: I was working with Tony Fitzpatrick on writing and performing theater pieces when he decided his working space was too public. We discussed what to do with it and came up with the concept of a gallery that doesn't take commissions from exhibiting artists. The details of making this idea work were developed over time. Six years later it has worked. We are now talking about taking the gallery on the road for six to eight weeks.
CGN: How do you sum up your experience running the gallery/space?
SK: Patience and listening. Trying to understand each artist's concerns and goals. Every one of them is unique.
CGN: Share a typical day in the life.
SK: I'm at the gallery with my dog, Ella. Work on communications as well as my own artwork (I have an exhibition in New York City this February). Depending on the season, I work at night at Symphony Hall or Wrigley Field.
CGN: Most exciting sale you ever had?
SK: It would be a sale not completed. working for a very well known artist and representatives of a museum in another country who came to us with recommendations. They wanted to purchase a significant painting of his for a large amount of money (a couple million dollars). After weeks of research it turned out that they were loosely who they said they were, but more importantly, their funds turned out to be questionable in several ways. The artist and I walked away.
CGN: Share some successes as well as challenges this year.
SK: Being in the arts, everyday when I wake up is a success. I am constantly thinking and working out ideas to build an in-person sense of support for working artists.
CGN: Are there any specific factors you take into account when planning a new show?
SK: Not really. Each artist has their strengths and areas where they need assistance. It evolves in a manner in which we both learn from the experience.
CGN: One piece of advice you would tell your younger self when starting out?
SK: Due to the circumstances of where I was and what I was doing during high school, I spent some time with Harvey Pekar. I wish now I had asked more (questions) and evaluated his thoughts more clearly than just being amazed by his actual pronouncements.
CGN: When shopping for yourself, what do you look for in an artwork?
SK: The depth of consideration in the (artist's) choices made.
CGN: Favorite cultural pursuit outside of the art world?
SK: Listening to music, watching baseball in person, and obeying my dog.
CGN: What should we expect to see next from Firecat Projects?
SK: We are going on the road. I will be starting to book visits soon. Hope to exchange ideas and images of artists that have shown with Firecat with other artists and their work from around the country. Looking forward to having that face to face chat time. The internet is a rather cold postcard in comparison to a sit-down open discussion.
Stan Klein is director of Firecat Projects in Chicago. For more information about the gallery please visit: Firecat Projects