Aldo Castillo's broad smile and compact frame belie his decades of sculpting and drawing, civic leadership, human rights advocacy and managing one of Chicago's most acclaimed Latino art galleries. The Nicaraguan-born Art Institute grad's work has been championed in the U.S. and Latin America; his curatorial prowess has garnered considerable press and corporate contracts; and his charitable work on behalf of political prisoners, hurricane victims, peace advocates and many other causes has earned him awards from Mayor Daley and the late County Board President John Stroger.
Castillo's hobnobbed with his share of luminaries but grants the visitor wandering in off the street the same respect he'd show anyone else, connecting River North art buyers, tourists and well-wishers to a stable of primarily Latin American and immigrant painters, sculptors and video artists. At times he plays the ambassador, as in a 2007 exhibit of "Nuevo Arte" from the Mexican Museum. Other times, he's the provocateur, championing Lorna Marsh's collaged critiques of a timid press. Most of the time, he's the friendly neighborhood sage opening minds to new and underrated artists from across the Spanish-speaking world.
Aldo Castillo Gallery opened in 1993 as a hub for art and service to local and international communities. The unassuming basement space one block from Superior Street's boutique galleries is one you shouldn't dismiss. Salvador Dali fans, know that Castillo's River North institution is one of the few places in America you can see the Spaniard's haunting but less-discussed sculpture, here an eye-poppingly expressive crucifixion figure sitting unassumingly in a side room.
In 2003, Castillo formally separated business and philanthropy by incorporating the Aldo Castillo Arts Foundation. The non-profit promotes arts education, cultural tourism and environmental protection with the vision to create "the first truly international visual arts and cultural center in the City of Chicago."
Centerstage Reviewer: Justin Sondak