When Chaz Evans and Jonathan Kinkley met while studying art history at UIC a few years ago, they embarked on a dream to start a gallery project that celebrated the work of artists who create the spectacular visual experiences in video games. On August 8, they will launch the new Video Game Art Gallery, with their first exhibition hosted by Galerie F in Logan Square. This initial foray into a physical show of fine art prints is part of VGA’s work across their online platform as well as through exhibition programming. In an email, Evans explains, “We are working with this hybrid model as it fits well with the media we are showing: it exists both as live software but also as framed images.” The gallery’s website is set up so that collectors can purchase prints that range in price from $75 to $400. Some of the games from which the inkjet prints have been drawn are widely popular, such as “BioShock: Infinite.” But Evans and Kinkley also hope to introduce audiences to visually stunning hidden gems like “MirrorMoon EP,” a first-person puzzler by Santa Ragione with concept art by Gabriele Brombin. Playable demos of these and other games will complement the prints on view at Galerie F in August. Other future pop-up exhibitions are currently in the works.
Evans earned an MFA in new media art from UIC while also earning his MA in art history. His art practice ranges across software programs, performance, writing and installation, and he teaches courses on programming, games web art at SAIC and DePauw University. Kinkley went on from his MA in art history at UIC to work in institutions like the MCA and the Renaissance Society, and is currently the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s manager of development.
Over the past year, VGA formed as an L3C, and built a network of relationships with their featured artists, many of whom have never presented work in a fine art gallery context. The two directors have been monitoring the ways video games have begun to receive increasing attention as a fine art modality. Says Evans, “We are also very interested and informed by many ways that games and game-related work are being publicly experienced now: from institutional acquisitions at MoMA, to community-driven spaces like Babycastles in NYC, to the new barcades like Emporium and Logan Arcade. It is hugely refreshing and exciting to see new public modes of experiencing games after the arcade era ended and there was a shift in multiplayer game design that favored play over the Internet and no longer the couch. Now we have options in third spaces again. With a wider base comes a diversity of ideas that change what games mean upon creation and how they are received by an audience.” (Matt Morris)
VGA’s exhibition at Galerie F opens August 8, from 6pm-8pm, 2381 North Milwaukee.