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Parting Words

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As a former member and past copresident of Artemisia Gallery, I would like to comment on your announcement of Artemisia's closing in Culture Club (May 9). Rhona Hoffman's negative quote was an ungenerous ending to the last bit of publicity for a gallery that has served a few thousand artists over 30 years. I would like to eulogize Artemisia by presenting some facts about the gallery's contributions to the local, national, and international art community over the past 30 years.

Artemisia Gallery brought art world luminaries to exhibit and lecture at the gallery, without the benefit of financial endowments that the museums are privy to for such programs. Artemisia has provided venues for artists to exhibit their work in solo shows and to show work that was not commercially viable. Although Artemisia was run by women, men and women from all over the world exhibited there, many of them faculty in colleges and universities who considered Artemisia Gallery to be a respected venue for their tenure track shows. Artemisia has also provided free exhibitions to artists who are underrepresented, either because they were emerging or were overlooked.

For the past ten years Artemisia has provided a free one-year mentoring program for emerging women artists, which culminated in a group exhibition. These women learned the basics of negotiating the art world. Not surprising to the Artemisia members, these basics are neglected in art school.

In 1995 Artemisia was the site for "Women Artists of China," presenting ten women from mainland China who, because of the content of their work, were submerged in their own country, although a couple of them had enjoyed fame in the Western art world. This exhibition was reviewed in all the local commercial and art publications.

In answering Ms. Hoffman's comment about women wanting to "play with the big boys," here are a few facts about the art world today: 60 percent of MFAs and 59 percent of PhDs in fine arts go to women, but 33 percent of art faculty are women, 5 percent of works in museums are by women, 17 percent of works in galleries are by women, 26 percent of artists reviewed in art periodicals are women, women artists' income is 30 percent that of male artists, and the statistics on grants received by women are in the 25-40 percentiles.

I salute all the members of Artemisia Gallery, from the 1973 founders to the 2003 members who have had to bear the burden of closing an organization that worked for 30 years to serve artists and members of the Chicago community.

Barbara Blades

Evanston

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