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The Chicago Loop Alliance has launched a new initiative called Pop-Up Art Loop that allows artists to turn unoccupied storefronts into temporary galleries for free. Property owners give artists short-term leases with a "ten-day kick-out provision"—the space remains on the market with rental signs up while it's being used as a gallery, and if it gets rented it has to be vacated and returned to its original condition within ten days. The artist may then be allowed to relocate the gallery to another Pop-Up Art Loop space.
The first three pop-up spaces—Wabash Gallery, CUFF-Inside Out, and the Chicago Photography Collective—opened to the public yesterday and will remain open Tue-Sun 11 AM-7 PM through the end of the year, as long as the spaces don't get rented out first. CLA executive director Ty Tabing says the organization is searching for more artists and in discussion with several landlords, and they expect to expand the program significantly in 2010. "At the beginning of 2009," he says, "we didn't even know we were doing this." He sees 2009 as a pilot for the program and says that next year the CLA will have a much larger budget for Pop-Up Art Loop, and could support 25 or 30 galleries.
The program is as much about helping landlords rent their property as offering artists places to display their work for free in high-traffic areas. Says Tabing, "This is a temporary response to the retail environment because what we're advocating is the rental of these spaces." So when the economy improves the program may die. Still, Tabing thinks it'll continue for at least a couple years, if not longer. In the meantime, the CLA is looking for proposals from "all types of artists." You'll soon be able to submit a proposal on the Pop-Up Art Loop Web site; in the meantime, call the CLA at 312-782-9160 to find out more or to submit a storefront property for consideration.
What's on display at the three pilot pop-up galleries:
Wabash Gallery (220 S. Wabash): "Network," an installation by local performance and installation artist Sara Schnadt. "Inspired by the idea that we simultaneously live in a real and virtual world, and that the virtual is infinitely expansive, Network uses large quantities of electric yellow twine and mirror to suggest a virtual network landscape cutting through an otherwise ordinary space."
CUFF—Inside Out (Sullivan Center, E. Monroe between State and Wabash): Short films and scenes from feature-length films from the Chicago Underground Film Festival, an annual event "showcasing independent, experimental, and documentary films from around the world."
Chicago Photography Collective (29 E. Madison): Work by 25 Chicago photojournalists and fine-art photographers, including "compelling portraits, abstracts, nature, black-and-white and color photography."