Eight accomplished local artists and photographers exhibit their widely varied and eclectic images on the walls throughout Utopic’s 9,000-sq. ft. space at the integrated studio’s Art Gallery Night, Thursday, Feb. 9.
All together, 50 pieces of mostly large canvases have been assembled throughout the studio. They range in size from Tracy Ostmann’s massive 6x8-ft. oil on canvas, displayed in the digital department, to her 8x8-inch painting embellishing a pillar in the reception area.
This is the fourth gallery showing since Utopic opened two years in December, says assistant producer Donny Smutz (pronounced Smoots), a fine artist himself, who curated the current exhibit.
There is no theme, or criteria, per se, no specific medium or genre to the artwork Smutz opts to showcase. “I contact the artists and ask them to select between five and 10 pieces they deem the most representative of their work. This opens it up for their expressions and gives our Gallery an eclectic feel,” he says.
Smutz invests a considerable amount of time and effort in peeling back Chicago’s extensive art scene to find artists. “I search through galleries, the Chicago Coalition, the Fine Arts building, attend art fairs and pick up business cards. I check out websites and hear about them through word-of-mouth or referrals,” he states.
Prices usually range from $100 to $2,500, and five pieces have already been sold in the current Gallery. The artist receives 100% of the proceeds.
Smutz himself an abstract artist
A native of Kansas City, Smutz is a self-taught abstract painter who moved to Nashville in 2006 to become a full-time artist and musician; he plays bass and guitar. He worked out of his own studio and was represented by several national galleries.
After moving to Chicago early last year, Smutz and worked in sales for two rep firms. He joined Utopic last April in business development and recently had “the opportunity to transition into the creative direction side of the business,” he says.
Until his arrival, Utopic partners (editors Jan Maitland, Tim Kloehn, VP/digital Shannon Kemp and Antonucci) had held sporadic Art Gallery Nights, to showcase its extensive and ever-changing art collection to an appreciative audience. Two hundred guests attended the last Gallery Night.
Being an artist himself, Smutz was all for curating the Art Gallery “and and made it my own project since I got here,” he notes. “Most of the artists have never been exposed to the advertising world which is very creative in its own right, and creatives really dig the show.”
That said, Smutz is on the lookout for art created by agency people for a future Gallery Night Exhibit.