More on the subject of apartment galleries…

June 4, 2010

posted by Caroline Picard

I came accross this article by William Dolan, a longstanding painter in Chicago. His response struck me as especially reasoned and level-headed. While he doesn’t make any claims as to how apartment galleries ought to be legal, he addresses why they would be complicated to try and manage and happen to fall through beurocratic cracks. That said, I find all of this continues to raise the question in my mind: should apartment galleries be legalized? What becomes of their idiosyncratic nature were the city to provide specific legal channels through which they could establish themselves? On the one hand providing such a channel would make those exhibition sites more accessible to the public, thereby opening up what can very easily seem like an insular community of artmakers. On the other, those channels would very quickly (I suspect) clean up and systematize what has traditionally remained outside categorical margin. While I don’t know where to come down on the question, and while I doubt there is enough incentive for the city to make sufficient changes, every so often I entertain the possibility that they would and then try to think through what that would mean.

In any case, and more to the point here is a portion of the article from nerotic art. You can read the whole thing by going here.

Some Thoughts on Apartment Galleries by William Dolan


A few weeks ago, Chicago Art Magazine ran an article asking the question, “Are apartment galleries illegal?” The article summarized the troubles The Green Lantern apartment gallery ran into, and documented the issues the City of Chicago has with mixing businesses with residences. A follow-up article dove a little deeper into licensing issues and indicated the City is unfamiliar with the term “apartment gallery.”

The commentators, at the end of the post, voiced disappointment and frustration. One even accused the City of malevolence toward artists and musicians. Since I have some thoughts on the topic, I was going to chime in, but felt I didn’t want to get into a flame war. I’d rather do that here.

While it can be disheartening that the rules can make it difficult or even impossible to legally operate an apartment gallery, it certainly was not born out of some sort of plot to hurt anybody. Instead, the laws governing businesses have two main objectives. One is to protect nearby residents from disruptive activities and the other is safety.

As for combining business activities and residential living, there are many problems that can happen here. Certainly, a steady flow of customers in and out of a business can get on neighbor’s nerves. The increase in vehicle traffic and parking puts a strain on a residential area. In the case of apartment galleries, the openings which tend to be big parties, certainly disturb the peace.

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