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September 2000, 10 posts, 321 lines


If you had sayyy a 250 dollar budget to spend on getting people (not neccessarily people who _buy_ art... just people) to an opening. How would you spend it and why...

My response is that if you simply want "people" to come to your event promote free beer, wine and liqour. blow your wad on stocking the bar and everyone will come. this has been a tried and true method for bolstering turn out to events as far back as the last supper. it's simple it works and it takes the load off having to worry about niggling problems like curatorial aims, artistic intent or integrity. people understand drunk wayyy better than art, it makes them comfortable in a way that art (good, bad, or indifferent) simply can't. after you've stocked your bar, list yourself in the reader and new city (Thats free), then call your friends and spread the word. post cards are expensive and mostly ineffective mementos that given the nature of Chicago's mobile working poor art scene almost without fail come right back to you.

E-mail is free but only occasionly effective as few people take the time to actually write down information about upcoming events they find posted in their boxes.

If you take your venue seriously and you Know you're going to be around for a while promote the event/party angle for a short duration. make an effort to meet people, talk to them and find out what will be effective in getting the group that you want to be there at your events. certain combinations of all of these things work for different sorts of events and different groups of people.

there is no silver bullet other than free and free is expensive. take Law Office as an example these folks spend a shitload of time, energy and money to get the word out and the people in. they are largely effective and reach a diverse group of scrubby artists, interested collectors and press of one sort or another. their events are free and mostly you can walk away with an okay buzz and spend the next month remembering your evening with them as you read all about it in the press (either "e" or printed).

I can't speak for all the alterna-spaces out there but if I had to guess I would say that a good number of us spent a little time in the mode of julie the cruise director hosting gala beer bashes that only the most die hard drunks remember and then only for the vacant spots in their soddened memories the nxt day. every one had fun though and every one comes back to your next event. after a little stumbling though you can get rid of the keg and encourage a decent crowd that wants to see art to show up. it takes a little time but it works. another method that can be fairly inexpensive is to attach yourself to an existing space. this keeps costs down and you don't have to worry about the name recognition factor if your showing in a space that has paid it's "DUES" and seems to be doing well ie, butcher shop, dogmatic etc. In this case though a good solid idea and framework for the show is important. if you want to show with an existing space it opens you up to credibility and integrity issues. Some spaces are open to outside curators but you have to be prepared to back up your efforts with a solid program and be prepared to do the leg work wether or not you are splitting costs or paying rent or what not. these are my basic points

1. stock the bar

2. free is effective: free is expensive

3. advertising is basically a cocktail, everyone likes thiers a different way

4. post cards are only as effective as the latest updates in your mailing list

5. e-mail is only as effective as the organizational skills of the intended reader

6. if you're new and don't need a space talk to established spaces. many want curators, some will split costs, and name recognition never hurts.

7. if you are a new space there are no silver bullets you have to pay your "DUES" [unless for one reason or another you are an exception to this rule]

8. get to know your local press [not mentioned above]

9. this is hard work

10. people do like art, they do want to come, make them feel comfortable


rather than spend 250 - here is an opportunity that should cost you next to nothing but time:

Justine Jentes is working with the Chicago Cultural Center to promote chicago artists month. They are interested in promoting the young alternative galleries in their brochure announcing events for the month of November - Justine is organizing a selected tour on an evening or two - I need to know who is interested in giving a 15 minute presentation about their space and the current exhibit during a visit to their gallery - she will make selections based on the response.

They also plan to list the galleries that will commit to be open on a given day (probably Saturday)for those that are interested in putting together their own customized tour - for that all you need to do is be open during the agreed time period. Please email me the following information immediately and whather you want a formal or informal tour of your space:
- gallery name
- address
- phone
- fax
- email
- contact persons
- november show(s) with dates
- hours

for other groups without a space but a project happening in november - go ahead and email me with your projects and locations if you have any
- and I will forward it along with the rest to Justine. thank you for your immediate response since they are going to try to get this thing together for city wide distribution in partnership with Metromix in the coming few weeks.

email your information to nfas- at

thanks - iain muirhead


did anyone check out video parking lot on saturday night in the parking lot behind Vedanta's V2 gallery? how about arena gallery's grand opening?


Iain & Others-

The Video Parking Lot was a tremendous success, although not so much for the actual videos presented as the attention it garnered and discussion it provoked. Bravo to Kristen! You did a bang-up job and your efforts are much appreciated. Didn't make it to Arena. How was?


Hello to all--

This is Adam writting in with a quick reminder. I know I saw a bunch of you at the Saturday night events, so I wants all of you's to write about it. Doesn't have to be a "review" or criticism, just about what you thought, saw or who farted that was sitting next to you. The experience you had is what Gravy is interested in. This applys to any shows in any medium, mental state, and all the rest.

Let's have it

Love, inspectoradam


Call for Curators:

In FGA#2, Michael Bulka has contributed one of the first reactions to the new ARENA Gallery. He writes: "It is a beautiful new space....As for the art--it sure is a beautiful space. The work is better than coyote-quality, barely; maybe Artemesian."

Unfortunately, I cannot disagree. I'm working for them part time, trying to find artists to fill this vast--but beautiful--space, and having a bit of trouble. Each exhibition (they're scheduled through about January) has at least one artist about whom I'm pretty excited (in this case Patrick McGee, in the next show Alan Sonfist). In a smaller gallery, one good artist pretty much constitutes a show. At ARENA, there's still about another 5,000 square feet to fill.

I'd like to solicit the help of all you Other Groupies in completing this Sisyphean task. Every time we find strong artists, we have to parcel them out over the course of the year, and can't seem to fill a show that's strong all-round. The gallery needs a great number of both artist referrals and proposals for guest-curated shows. Take a look at the space and get inspired! Also, if you have any ideas for how best to utilize this glossy behemoth, please let's talk. The space can be a great addition to the Chicago galleries, or can be an extremely pricey waste. E-mail me with ideas, give me a call at (312) 718-8101, or send your proposal care of :

Jen Zukerman ARENA Gallery 311 N. Sangamon Chicago, IL 60607 Thank You!


There is not much neutral about Arena-that is, although yes, a vast space, is vast necessarily a good thing? My first thought was what work can hold here- the work goes up against alot of compettion in a space like that...(high ceilings, crazy acoustics, crazy square footage, etc) (and is it at all interesting to address the site, the meat packing part? think of other large spaces..say matthew marks and the kind of work necessary(like sam taylor-wood), the work needs to hold its own, and there could be a lot of really bad curatorial mistakes in trying to just "fill" it up(opening show case in point) also many artists might be wary of the message the opening show sent, curating yourself into your own show/space has always been hotly contested and family members just might be a big no-no also. and there was the opera is good that there are more additions-space wise to chicago this season but the quantity/quality thing is a really big issue. vanity galleries are just damaging, there has to be a strong, intelligent curtorial presence. after making the rounds last night i kept thinking there are alot of good artists in this city but much rarer is a gallerist with strong curating skills(alot of shows were way over installed to the point where it really hurt the artists work -seeing 25 paintings is overkill..contrasted with vedanta -where the installation was tight...) .arena is going to have to work really hard to overcome already attached stigmas. we seem to be ina happy love congratulatory time...oh great all these new places...but what we really need is some strong hard criticism.about work, about installation, about curatorial practices, etc...danielle gustafson-sundell


I tend to agree with much of what Danielle has mentioned here and parden me if I reiterate some of her points. The mere fact that gallery space (quantity) has come to be an issue is amazing. I think the thing we can all agree on is that the art and the execution of the installation is what the focus should be on - I think that ARENA has realized that. Even though we are all allowed to make our curatorial mistakes, the solidity and quality of the work should be what makes the gallery, not the glamorous space itself. I'm glad that others came away with the same feeling I had after seeing ARENA's first show because I truly believe that an amazing exhibit can exist in a basement whereas all the glitz and glamor of another gallery can't hind mediocre work. The good point in all of this is tht ARENA recognizes this as a problem and is encouraging people to be proactive and get involved. (I only wish that my biggest problem was having too large and magnificent of a space.)



Thanks to the wizard Jno, FGA is now available for world-wide perusal. God help us all, We still have some paper copies if you're into that sort of thing. Catch me or Cindy or Pedro. Or go to and see it stripped of all my laborious amateur Quarking.



I had a last minute thought I wanted to throw in, re: what we were discussing at the Valerie Cassel meeting as far as audience is concerned, or accessing new interest/audience in gallery shows and out of the mainstream art events.

She had mentioned that the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston doesn't have this problem, it's audience is self-regenerative, and I was wondering if that had something to do with the fact that that museum will show emerging artist's from the region, whereas, as far as I know, our Museum of Contemporary Art will not.

My guess, is by showing regional emerging artists - new interest is garnered in these shows, both for the museum and the artists (and then, of course, indirectly for the galleries that represent them). I'm wondering if at the institutional level here, there could be something done to bridge this gap by sharing the audience they pull and the audience "our" events pull : as well as generate new audience for both of us.

- This might also help to keep seasoned patrons of the arts knowledgeable about what is emerging in their city or region outside of the museums without forcing them to make the effort on their own to reach out. In other words, we create the interest in their own back yard. (If you listen to any recent theory on expanding the art's audience within the city environment, the key to success is bringing the event to them.)

(Also People of Chicago tend to take pride in the idea of regionalism, remnants of our defensive "second city" complex.)

I addition, someone mentioned at the meeting how cards will be sent out for gallery shows and the names of the artists on the cards will be mostly unrecognizable to the audience. Perhaps this could also help that.

The more I think about it, this might be another incentive to keep our artist's from running to the coasts after graduation. (There is actually a Wallace Reader's Digest grant -administered through the MCA and SAIC- designed expressly to create programs to keep artists in chgo after graduation.)

Perhaps this could be suggested. would love to hear any thoughts on this.

Jen Durbin.