N8: CHICAGo Gallery Open and Talk with Curator Gretchen Smith

Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
1530 South State Street Installation Art
N8: CHICAGo Gallery Open and Talk with Curator Gretchen Smith

2821 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
October 8th, 2010 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Artist talk
North Side
8pm - Midnight
encaustic, bible, alternative mixed-media installation, conceptual, figurative, modern, sculpture
Complimentary Tour. Art is Available for Purchase.


Join guest curator Gretchen Smith as she shares the tricks and techniques of exhibiting and installing art in a raw alternative space. Smith will also detail each artists journey from concept to finished work including issues faces and challenges overcome. Collectors and patrons will be delighted and surprised at the innovation of this installation which was completed in just one week and will remain on exhibit for the month of October only.  Materials Used: Ice, Ink, Coal, Bible Pages, Bark, River Mud, Dyed Fabric, Raw Clay, and Resin. Talks will be on Fridays and Saturdays between 4-9pm.  All tours are complimentary and art is available for purchase. You may also wish to consider enjoying $2.00 tapas (sample plates) at Tapas Valencia between the hours of 4-6:30.  The restaurant is excellent and it is right next door.

N8:CHICAGo October 7-November 2, 2010
Phantom Gallery Art Installation Project, South Loop,
1530 South State Street, Chicago IL 60605
Open Fridays and Saturdays in October ONLY from 4-9pm or by Appointment
Contact: Gretchen Smith, 270-243-0444, Private and group tours with curator available upon request.
Chief Curator: Alpha Bruton, Phantom Gallery Chicago Network
Guest Curator: Gretchen Smith and Paul Lorenz
Curatorial Assistant: Louis Lovera
Participating Installation Artists: Char Downs, Helene Davis, Mitch Kimball, John Romang

1. existing in one from birth; inborn; native
2. inherent in the essential character of something
3. originating in or arising from the intellect or the constitution of the mind, rather than learned through experience

“The true artist is the one who will explode if they don't create.”  (artist unknown)

Humans have an innate need to create. Anyone can learn the techniques and tricks in art, but that doesn’t necessarily make them an artist. An artist has to go much deeper and reach down within themselves to access something that is greater than self and then attempt to share it with others.  Driven by something greater than themselves, this particular group of artists landed in the same destination, in the same time period, and committed to exploring their innate desire to create together as a group without losing their individual identities. As a result of an invitation by chief curator Alpha Bruton, of the Phantom Gallery Network, co-curators Paul Lorenz and Gretchen Smith hand-picked a diverse team of artists using the following criteria

1. The artists must be seriously pursuing their career.
2. The artists must be willing to be part of a team and travel, to Chicago and possibly other venues.
3. The artists must be willing to push themselves past their current creative ideas and explore broader visions and possibilities, possibly guiding other artists on the team in that journey.
4. The artists must be from a diverse background and demographic, some emerging, some mid-career, some established.
5. The artists must be willing to do installation art even if they have no experience in it.
6. Commitment to the project would be considered equally important to artistic excellence.

The result: N8, a loosely-defined creative collective exploring materials, space, and our own innate abilities to make something that is beyond human expectation. This process requires us to be exposed in somewhat uncomfortable ways, to share something that others may or may not accept or understand.  We are brave, courageous and willing to be examined and questioned by others.  The question we pose to the viewer is, “what innate gift or talent or need do you bring to the conversation and how does that change or impact our work or even us?”

All of these facets enter into this visual conversation installed at 1530 State Street in Chicago for the month of October 2010.  Visitors are encouraged to contact Gretchen Smith at 270-243-0444 or to arrange for group visits, tours, etc.  Installation art on display is as follows:

“A City of Biblical Proportions”, 8’x30’ hanging installation of the entire Bible
Gretchen Smith, Co-Curator and Participating Artist,, 270-243-0444.
This hanging installation utilizes encaustic, coal, scripture, and pigment as well as entire Bible from 1949 that has been disassembled and reassembled in a vertical format to explore the relationship between faith and art and the impact that each can have on building up or tearing down a city and its’ inhabitants. It gives a visual example of the fact that people pick and choose verses that appeal to them which is not the intent of scripture and can weaken the entire body of Christ.

“October”, 7’ x 18’  ink on canvas drawing, created on the floor, done in real time.
Paul Lorenz, Co-Curator and Participating Artist,
Following ideas developed over the past two years concerning time, location and temperature, I will be creating a drawing describing the time and space of the exhibition using ink and blocks of ice.  The drawing will begin at the opening where ice and ink will be placed on fabric.  The ice will melt over the course of the opening, describing the media. The drawing will dry over the course of the exhibition, describing the length of time of the exhibition.  The final image will not be seen until the closing.

“Interpretations of Power and Shape”, life-size human forms on paper
Char Downs, Participating Artist,
This project explores parameters of human female identity through shape, non-traditional display and art mediums. Utilizing suggestions about the feminine psyche through symbolism of flowers and twigs, river mud, tree bark, torn newspaper, hair cuttings, glitter and silver tape, and other materials the work seeks to identify with the roots of female strength and celebrate the female psyche and form.

“Other Realities”, 6’x15’ hand-dyed fabric flowing from ceiling
Helene Davis, Participating Artist,
Color balances, textural juxtapositions, and  tonal harmonies on fabric will bring a sense of harmony to the space.  My visual world is a huge part of my reality.

"Ink, Resin, and Light", a series of 8”x10” illuminated boxes with 3 resin/ink panels/box
John Romang, Participating Artist,
To create a  sense of depth using ink and resin is what this project is about.  With this work I am working with colored ink and space in one contained unit.   Each work is upon itself is a complex piece, when seen as a group the work will bring viewers in and then again into individual works. To create this sense of depth the work is back lit by a lightbox allowing the colors of the ink to show depth.

“Artist Towers”, 6’x6’, city of artists made of raw clay.
Mitch Kimball, Participating Artist,
The project is about exploring the relationship between artists and how that relationship ultimately creates a community. Depending on the foundation the community could be weak or it could be strong and when the creation of the community is in process there are many challenges to face because the material (the artist) is still being molded and improved upon and has not yet reached it's ultimate fired form. Utilizing raw clay, I have constructed towers representing each artist participating in the exhibit. These block-like formations will be are approximately 4 feet tall and assembled together as a city of artists.

Special thanks to curatorial assistant Louis Lovera for space planning, overseeing installations, ensuring safety, and working closely with each artist to achieve the desired result as well as handling video documentation.

Special thanks to Denise Kennedy for assistance with marketing.

Special thanks to Pat Devine Reed of the Emerald Inn and Gretchen Tanninger of Logan Square Chamber for hosting artists.

Special thanks to TECO Coal for the donation of materials.

Special thanks to all of our neighbors in the South Loop for their particpation.

Extra special thanks to Lauren Lowery for us of the space.

Extra special thanks to Alpha Bruton and the Phantom Gallery Network for providing this opportunity.

Phantom Gallery Chicago Network and N8:CHICAGo are part of Chicago Artists Month 2010, the fifteenth annual celebration of Chicago's vibrant visual art community. In October, more than 200 exhibitions of emerging and established artists, openings, demonstrations, tours, open studio's and neighborhood art walks take place at galleries, cultural centers and arts buildings throughout the city. Chicago Artists Month is coordinated by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit  N8 and Phantom Gallery would also like to thank our volunteers, sponsors and the South Loop Neighborhood who are so integral to the success of this project.


Raw space at 1530 S. State Street


Installation Artist/Curator for N8:CHICAGO

Mitch Kimball, Towers Clay Installation, Char Downs

John Romang, Ink Resin, and Light


Helen Davis, Fabric Banner's


Paul Lorenz, Floor Installation Ink, Paper, Ice

Posted By Alpha Bruton to Phantom Gallery Chicago Network at 10/12/2010 10:43:00 AM
Additional photos can be seen at

Thanks again for visiting N8:CHICAGo. We are counting out you to spread the words so please share this information with friends.
Gretchen Smith
Guest Curator