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The West Loop Art Scene

Art abounds a little left of center.
Wednesday Apr 20, 2005.     By Centerstage Chicago Staff
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

River North and Michigan Avenue have earned their reps as stalwart figures on Chicago's art scene, but there's more to be had. Pull out that compass and head west, young man. The West Loop is replete with galleries boasting unique goods. Better still, those who think the city is built around Clark Street will be happy to find a slew of restaurants, clubs and coffeeshops about, making the neighborhood one that's inspiring in more ways than one.

Kavi Gupta Gallery
Kavi Gupta's West Loop gallery is spacious, bright and clean. So clean, in fact, that you can actually smell it. Spotless hardwood floors and fresh white walls perfectly accentuate the bold colors and contrast the dramatic black of the pieces on display. Kavi Gupta doesn't limit his collection to strictly paintings and other wall art; he avidly shows video, sculpture, photography and performance pieces as well. The gallery consists of a large main room, a separate smaller showroom and a dark video room where viewers can sit and watch the latest video piece on display. The gallery focuses on an international mix of artists and pieces; this global focus allows the gallery to participate in a broader range of styles and cultures, with a main interest in what artists are creating "now."

Kavi Gupta, a businessman with a strong appreciation of art, opened his gallery in 1998. Focusing on international art, the gallery travels around the world to participate in art fairs. Shows include MACO Mexico, Mexico City; Volta Show; Basel, Switzerland; Art Forum, Berlin; and NADA Art Fair, Miami. Fortunately for those of us who aren't afforded so many travel opportunities, Kavi Gupta features exciting shows right here in the Chicago gallery, including upcoming exhibits featuring new work by Jeff Carter, Simon Watson, Scott Anderson, Claire Rohan, Joe Jackson and David Noonan.

Belloc Lowndes Fine Art
spire restrained contemplation. Colors are cool; edges are blurred. Landscapes are quiet; subjects are serene. The gallery features contemporary paintings, sculpture and works on paper (drawings, prints and pastels). Works tend to be abstract, impressionistic or otherwise at a remove from the representational. Victor Pasmore's later aquatints calmly echo Joan Miro. Kathleen Dunn's pastel landscapes shimmer as if rain-soaked. Norman Acroyd's etchings resemble misty, fading daguerreotypes.

Gallery owner Charles Belloc Lowndes shuttles between the British and American contemporary art scenes, showing works by renowned British artists in the U.S. and introducing emerging American artists to collectors in the U.K. Although the focus of the Chicago gallery has shifted to favor American artists over the last eleven years, the gallery continues to represents a number of important British artists such as Victor Pasmore, Karl Weschke and John Carter.

FLATFILEgalleries, which was founded as FLATFILEphotography in the spring of 2000, has since expanded to include FLATFILEcontemporary, extending its capacity to show all artistic disciplines in one of the largest gallery spaces in Chicago. The work of the gallery's emerging and established artists hang side-by-side in 10 yearly shows in each gallery, with more than 1,000 photographs and works on paper stored in 80 flatfile drawers at all times.

The variety of work at a wide range of price points is ideal for anyone searching for interesting art, from first time buyers to seasoned collectors. FLATFILEgalleries also works with numerous corporate art buyers, architects, and designers to choose site-specific works of art that are perfect for both residential and corporate clients. FLATFILEgalleries is a member of the Chicago Art Dealers Association.

Kraft Lieberman
You never know what you might find at Kraft Lieberman, thanks to the gallery's surprising variety of 20th-century and contemporary American and European art. The gallery's collection includes photographs, prints, etchings and paintings; sculptures in bronze, glass, ceramic and stone; vessels in wood and ceramic; and installations. Works range from the abstract images of Beverly Kedzior and Helena Frankenthaler to Stephen Lagattuta's whimsical portraits of past dates. Organic forms predominate, such as in Yumiko Irei-Gokce's contemporary Japanese prints, Jon Krawczyk's bronzes and Nancy Gong's glass constructions.

Gallery owners Kraft and Lieberman are enthusiastic about the art that they show and the artists that they represent. They will share the stories behind a series of paintings. They will explain technical aspects of printmaking. They will point out the subtle workmanship of a bronze sculpture. In short, they're happy to discuss just about any art curiosity you may have. Kraft Lieberman shares gallery space with Belloc Lowndes Fine Arts. The galleries take turns hosting exhibitions in the space's main area.

Aron Packer
If you want to instantly become more cerebral than any of your friends, head to the Aron Packer Gallery. The gallery features striking contemporary art in a variety of media that promises to be both bizarre (in a good way) and fascinating. The space prides itself on carrying "work that is not so dry that you scratch your head and can't get it, is objectively well done and affordable in the grand scheme of the art world." Eerie and surreal show titles have included "Haunted Heroines," "Floating into Ether" and "The Freaks Come Out at Night II." You may start wearing head-to-toe black and suddenly reject anything but the most avant-garde music and literature after a visit here, but is that really so bad?

Gallery Two
Sometimes the mere sight of a contemporary art gallery evokes suspension of time and space with its quiet minimalism. That's what it's like to stumble upon Gallery 2, or G2. So discreet and unexpected that you would miss it if you didn't know it was there, it's a welcoming excuse for an art fix. Housed in The School of the Art Institute of Chicago's White Tower building, G2 is one of two public exhibition facilities of The School, showcasing innovative and experimental work by students, faculty, staff and alumni. G2's extensive programming includes exhibitions, performances, film and video screenings and site-specific installations. Check out its Web site for the latest schedule and crash the glitzy opening receptions, where you can schmooze with the next Damien Hirst or Matthew Barney.


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