Josh Rubens and his friends are hard at work putting the finishing touches on their shop before it officially opens for business-the one that’s smack in the middle of their two-flat apartment in Little Village.
The Five Dollar Store is Rubens’ first venture into hosting events at his living space/art studio/gallery. All items in the store-including everything from screen-printed tee shirts to wooden fortune cookies-are $5 and under. “It seemed like a good idea to have art for cheap-especially with all that’s going on in the world,” Rubens says as he takes a moment away from the “shop” while others are drilling, setting up lights and stocking beer onto makeshift shelves.
Initially, Rubens always wanted to be able to convert the spacious apartment into a space where he and his friends could showcase their art. They formulated plans for the commerce-themed show about four weeks ago. In creating the shop, the group relied mostly on leftover wood that they would pick up in a rented U-Haul truck, which slashed costs. Construction has been underway “for the last month and REALLY in the last week-especially in the last three days where none of us have even slept,” Rubens says.
The Five Dollar Store is a chance to provide viewers with a change of pace from the standard gallery. “We want to have this show that was outside of the snoozer white-wall gallery and commerce happened to be the way,” says Rubens. “I wouldn’t say that typical galleries are uninviting, we just want to divide the space up and showcase things that aren’t in the traditional way.”
Most of Rubens’ customers found out about the event through word of mouth or craigslist. Another event for next month is in the works as the group’s goal is to “keep it fresh and keep switching it up,” says Ruben. “We just want to be in contact with like-minded people and anyone who is into this is like-minded enough.”
As soon as Rubens finishes his thought, his first customer of the night walks up and says, “I’ll take these three; keep the change.” (Katie Fanuko)