When I walked into the Finch Gallery for the first time, I walked into some serious construction. Having recently relocated from its home above the legendary Fireside Bowl to a storefront at California and Armitage, the gallery was gearing up for its grand re-opening. The first exhibition in the new space, “Enter Into Circulation: An Alternative Library,” features work from the Columbia College collective Pulp, Ink & Thread. Finch Gallery directors Nicholas Freeman and Casey Murtaugh, preparing the space for the show, took a brief break from working, offered me a seat on a sturdy paint bucket and chatted me up about the prospects of re-establishing themselves within the Chicago arts community.
The non-profit was conceived last June with a mission to begin an engaging conversation between artists and viewers. The goal was to achieve this through the establishment of a community outside of a sales-driven mentality. Emphasis was therefore placed on arts education and discussion in hopes of birthing a public forum for discussion. As practicing artists themselves, Freeman and Murtaugh are sensitive to the challenges faced by emerging talent and as a result their gallery serves as a stepping stone for many just getting their feet wet. “No one wants to touch you until you get that solo show,” Freeman says, and this truth explains why focus is placed mainly on solo exhibitions at Finch. The idea is to give artists the opportunity to display the breadth of their work, presenting a full range of ideas while establishing a voice.
And that’s another thing. The Finch Gallery is a “gallery for artists with statements,” so don’t expect to see any fluff. These guys are interested in thought-provoking work that has something to say. They are looking to undercut the “power broker” gallery system with a more socialist approach. The name of the gallery itself supports these ideals as the finch, one of the most common birds, metaphorically reflects this concept. Everyone is welcome. Humility in; pretension out.
Along with the new space comes new happenings, including bi-monthly film screenings of rare releases and an art prep school for high-school students. The school, slated to debut fall 2008, is intended to foster budding young artists looking to take things to the next level. A number of Chicago artists are enlisted as mentors and teamed with students, give guidance on everything from college planning to portfolio development. These additions to the gallery, coupled with more compelling exhibitions, proves for a promising future to be had.
Walking into the Finch Gallery a second time was a much different experience than the first. It was hard to believe that within the course of one day the construction noise was replaced with a charming showroom and solid group exhibition. As I approached the entrance I noticed something that wasn’t there before. Above the entrance glowed a red neon “Open” sign, which ultimately confirms that things are definitely back in business. (Karissa Lang)
Finch Gallery is located at 2747 West Armitage, (312)622-8921. “Enter in Circulation: An Alternative Library” shows through March 15.