An Interview with an Art Dealer: Jean Albano

Each week CGN interviews a local art-industry professional to discuss the ins and outs of running a space in the city of Chicago. This week we caught up with art dealer Jean Broday of Jean Albano Gallery.


Hometown: Born and raised in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Has spent adult life in Chicago and its North Shore Suburbs


Three from the past week

Place: Los Angeles

Restaurant: I was introduced to a wonderful up-scale Chicago Mexican restaurant - Mezcalina. It's located in the area north of Millenium Park. It's an Oasis in the city and is worth a visit. 

See: This past week I was in Los Angeles to see a new grandson, Spencer, and visit with my adorable grand daughter Lucy, who is 2 1/2. That's always special. I did sneak in a quick visit to the Jasper Johns retrospective at The Broad, and I also caught a fabulous Mark Bradford exhibition at Hauser and Wirth.


How did you become an art dealer? 

JA: I have been interested in art for a long time. I was a Humanities major in college and was introduced to the Chicago Imagists by Linda Kramer when I moved to Chicago a few years out of school. I was excited to be in a position to purchase my own Roger Brown, and a Karl Wirsum as well,
in the late 1970's. 

Since then it has been my pleasure to work with Imagist work for many years.

I actually started in business in 1986, when the prominent designer Gregory Stratman offered me his walls to showcase artists that I had worked with privately. Many were from California. When Greg unfortunately died in 1989, I moved the gallery into 311 West Superior in River North. I came to my present location at 215 West Superior in 1995. 

Today we still exhibit some of our original artists, but we have also become involved with Imagist art. This fall the gallery is planning a group exhibit of Imagists, such as Joe Tallarico and John Maloof (a wonderful artist who discovered photographer Vivian Maier), as well as a group show with young artists, curated by Edward Cabral, this fall.

What is the best sale you've ever had?

JA: I have been privileged to represent a number of outstanding artists through the years. We represented the Estate of Bill Mauldin and were delighted to sell all of the original Sun-Times editorial cartoons and the remaining Willie and Joe drawings to the Pritzker Military Museum here in Chicago; they are planning a major exhibition in 2019. 

Through the years we have worked with Jules Feiffer, Karl Wirsum, Zack Wirsum, Donna Rosenthal, and of course the late Margaret Wharton, whose gorgeous chair and books creations are still amazing.  I believe she is one of the most under appreciated and important artists whose work should not be forgotten.

Who inspires you?

JA: I am excited about new and upcoming young artists.  I am especially excited about the wonderful artists represented by PATRON Gallery on the West Side. It's important to me to promote the next generation, including some of their artists such as Samuel Levi Jones, Alex Chitty, and Liat Yossifer. 

What’s coming up next at the gallery?

JA: We are planning a group show for May, entitled Wild - It's a Wonderful World.


Jean Broday is the owner of Jean Albano Gallery. For more information about the gallery please visit: Jean Albano Gallery.

Top Image (left to right): Jean Broday, Jon Bon Jovi, and Bonnie Lautenberg