“Back of Sangamon” by Joanna PinskySubmitted photo

Space 900, located at 1042 Wesley Ave., is a collective art gallery co-founded in 1983 by Joanna Pinsky. The name of the gallery stems from its original location at 900 Franklin Ave. in Chicago. Space 900 offers a variety of advantages for artists. “First, you are not working on the dealer’s schedule, you’re working on your own,” said Ms. Pinsky. “Another really cool aspect is you don’t feel that you have to sell work to stay with the gallery,” she added.

Over time the original gallery became too cumbersome and crowded. Ms. Pinsky said, “What happened is over time the space, the basement, became unpleasant. Most of the members were north and some had dropped out.” So they moved Space 900 to Evanston and maintained a smaller roster to prevent overcrowding.

Joanna Pinsky: Evolving Art
Joanna Pinsky got into art early, “I did art as a kid, and so it was just one of those things where I was rewarded by teachers,” said Ms. Pinsky. Since starting at a young age Ms. Pinsky has been painting for over 30 years. As the years went by she started a family and used her home as her gallery. It soon became apparent that she would have to change location. “I really wanted a space at that time to show work to my art dealer and to potential lients. I wanted a more professional look,” said Ms. Pinsky. She found her answer in Space 900.

Much like Space 900 itself, Ms. Pinsky’s work evolved over time. Working in the gallery she continued to hone and experiment with her two-dimensional art. Ms. Pinsky said she was inspired by minimalist artist Frank Stella and started her foray into the second dimension “really early on right from college. I really like the idea of how a painting changes reality.” Ms. Pinsky refused to constrain art. “There’s a kind of reality that develops, when you don’t box something,” added Ms. Pinsky. At first her artwork was straightforward. “The earlier work was simple shapes,” she said.

Over time Ms. Pinsky’s artwork changed again. “As I changed, I used aerial perspective using color. Then later using sand and gravel and textures I created these seemingly aerial views of nature,” she said. In time her work transformed again. The simple shapes became structures and buildings. They grew more complex, more distorted and more dilapidated. “I began to do images of architecture that was falling apart. I think at that time my kids were going off and my parents were in their demise. That was a personal thing,” said Ms. Pinsky.

When Ms. Pinsky is not painting she serves as artistic director for Art Encounter. The organization was co-founded by Ms. Pinsky and has been around for 37 years. Its goal is to introduce people to the art world and to make art more of a public experience then a private one. Art Encounter also sponsors trips around the world for an international look at art. Next February for example, Art Encounter intends to make its 13th trip to Cuba. When not traveling the world Art Encounter does its best to connect with Evanston. “Its offices are in Evanston, we do programs in Evanston schools and senior centers,” said Ms. Pinsky. “This fall we’ll be visiting artists and collectors in Evanston.”

Judith Freilich: Organic Art
Judith Rosten Freilich is one of the newer Space 900 artists. She first came in contact with the gallery when “Joanna Pinsky called me,” said Ms. Freilich. Art Encounter, an art education program co-run by Ms. Pinsky, visited Ms. Freilich’s private gallery as part of an initiative to visit the galleries of Evanston artists. “She called me later. I think they were looking for another artist. They are very kind,” said Ms. Freilich.

When Ms. Freilich joined Space 900 she brought her unique form of painting that has a distinctly organic look. “I think organisms are the basis for everything we see,” she said. Her style was influenced by the late professor of drawing Barry Schactman at Washington University. “Everything I do I learned from him,” she added. Ms. Freilich said she felt that its was in her nature to draw this kind of art. “Its in my DNA.”

Clark Ellithorpe: Scientific Art
Clark Ellithorpe had not intended to become an artist at first. Fueled by an interest in science Mr. Ellithorpe pursued a scientific career, “I was a scientist before I was an artist, and I was not a happy scientist,” said Mr. Ellithorpe. He returned to college to find himself again. “I was a student at first,” said Mr. Ellithorpe, but then “I realized I had been an artist all along, I got my masters’ degree at Northern Illinois University, I’ve been an artist ever since.”

The ties between science and art for Mr. Ellithorpe were present through most of his life. He had an interest in medical illustrations, such as diagrams of the human skeleton and muscular system. “I was interested in that drawing aspect; I was very drawn to it. When I was in undergrad biology, I was doing a lot of pencil drawings when looking through microscopes,” said Mr. Ellithorpe. His time working as a scientist and years of looking through microscopes became one of his three major inspirations. It was during his time at Northern Illinois University that he first caught wind of Space 900. One of his graduate professors knew Joanna Pinsky, the co-founder of the collective art gallery.

One of Mr. Ellithorpe’s newer projects is “a large series of very small works,” said Mr. Ellithorpe. Once finished they are inserted into wooden boards. The works, Mr. Ellithorpe said, were a “very elemental kind of drawing composed of collage material. They are assemblages.” Mr. Ellithorpe chuckled when he said “if you were to walk into my studio it’s a mess.”

When not working on artwork Mr. Ellithorpe does faux finishing. Faux finishing comes from the French word faux, meaning false. Faux finishing is a painting technique to make the finish look like wood or marble. Mr. Ellithorpe said he has been doing faux finishing “for almost 30 years.” He started because, “I think 6% [of artists] can make it from selling art in their gallery. I started off doing regular painting. I’ve been able to make a nice living from doing that in people’s homes,” said Mr. Ellithorpe. His years of faux painting have bled into his work. “What I do to support my art becomes my art,” Mr. Ellithorpe added.