This past week, I was in Chicago for a meeting and had the opportunity to see the work of two of Kendall’s faculty, each in a different Chicago gallery. David Gianfredi, an assistant professor of Illustration, is being shown in the Museum Works Gallery in the Merchandise Mart. Margaret Vega, a professor of painting and chair of the painting program, is being shown at the Lydon Contemporary Gallery, 230 W. Superior Street.
The history of the Merchandise Mart is, itself, an interesting story; and getting to the Museum Works Gallery on the Mart’s eighteenth floor--the Design Center--takes a person past high-end showrooms for Henredon, Barbara Barry, Holly Hunt, (see http://www.josephjeup.com), Morgan Richards, and Maitland Smith. The Mart is home to a great many contract furniture showrooms that are extremely busy during NeoCon in June (Kendall holds a class in Chicago during NeoCon). Thus the Museum Works Gallery is in the heart of a commercial center.
The Lydon Contemporary Gallery at 230 West Superior Street is nine blocks north of the Mart, which is at 222 West Merchandise Mart Plaza. Douglas Lydon, the visionary behind Lydon Contemporary, started out to pursue a career in painting, but switched to printmaking. He graduated from Washington University with a degree in that area and, through a series of events, he took a job in sales—at which he has considerable ability. Building on his success in sales, he decided to move to Chicago in 1989 and begin his gallery. He is a realist, who speaks of the challenge for artists at any time, but especially in the current time. And the impact of the economy can take a variety of forms, including influencing the size of a painting people can or will pay for and thus the size of a canvas on which an artist can work. He realized that his love for art and his ability to sell, organize and operate a gallery represented a happy combination of commitment to art and the possibility of operating a successful gallery. Douglas Lydon has been doing just that—for more than a quarter century and always in the Superior/Franklin area of Chicago.
David Gianfredi is a Kendall alum, who went on to complete his MFA at Brigham Young University; Margaret Vega holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing, with a minor in Art History, from Michigan State University. She did her graduate work at Western Michigan University.
Davis says of his work: “As a result of studying the artist Norman Rockwell, I came to the realization that he painted his notion of the perfect vision of America’s golden age, yet it was never actual place. His paintings were an image of everywhere and nowhere. In concept my work resonates similarly, the images I use are from everywhere and nowhere, but certainly American.”
Margaret says of her work: “In my work, the landscape, often juxtaposed with the figure, documents time and place. I am fascinated with man's need to re-organize a nature which has its own order.”
To work as a professional artist—i.e., an artist who seeks to express her or his vision, together with the ambition that someone will ultimately buy the work—requires commitment and courage. And it takes a similar commitment and courage to operate a gallery, especially in these times.
I know that over time I will be sharing my admiration for other artists; and David, Margaret, and Douglas present qualities I admire—a commitment to the integrity of their vision, coupled with an awareness of the realities of the market, and an ability to create work that expresses their vision and at the same time may find a home in the world.