SPACE 900, an art collective and exhibition space, has recently relocated to the heart of Evanston’s Dempster Street, opening their doors for everyone to enjoy.
Previously located at 1042 Wesley, Space 900 officially moved to 816 Dempster St. in March after learning their previous building would be sold. SPACE 900, whose name derives from its first location at 900 North Franklin St. in Chicago, was co-founded in 1983 by local artist Joanna Pinsky and is composed of eight “core members,” each of whom use the space to display their art: Todd Anderson, Ken Avick, Colleen Conley, Clark Ellithorpe, Judith Roston Freilich, Jill King-Wynn, Joanna Pinsky and Judy Solom.
“The initial idea was sort of a white box, like there is a black box in theatre,” Ms. Pinsky said. “The idea was that we would have a space to work and anybody, any member, could put up a show and have a dealer or client over.”
Since the early days in 1983, SPACE 900 has morphed to take on more of a gallery role, moving from its first Chicago location to eventually find a home in Evanston. Ms. Pinsky, who is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of Art Encounter, said as membership changed throughout the years, more of the artists involved resided in the North Shore. With this in mind, SPACE 900 relocated to their initial Evanston location on Wesley Avenue, a more convenient commute for the current members.
The current group of core members includes a variety of artists – from painters to photographers and sculptors. SPACE 900 allows for each member to show their work, whether alone, in a group show, or in pairs of two or three. In addition, SPACE 900 is rented to other artists and groups to display their work for a period of time, diversifying the artwork that is shown in the space, Ms. Pinsky explained.
“I’ve been lucky in life to explore art through the practice of making it, through introducing art ideas to people, through Art Encounter, and by sharing the comaraderie of showing art and discussing ideas with the gallery members,” Ms. Pinsky said.
Currently, one of the longest-standing members, Clark Ellithorpe, and one of the newest, Judy Solomon, are sharing the space in a show that will run through May 19. Mr. Ellithorpe, who joined SPACE 900 in its first few years, uses wood as his medium, painting and applying paper to create layers. Mr. Ellithorpe, who had a background as a research biologist, has hints of his scientific past in his work. One of his pieces in his latest “Constructed Paintings” display is titled “System of a Thing,” and resembles a microorganism, something Mr. Ellithorpe says may have been “subconsciously” inspired by his previous studies.
Ms. Solomon’s “Ceramics in Conversation,” on the other hand, displays her work with ceramics, some of which incorporates shells she inherited from her late father. The incorporation of shells started as a conversation with him and turned into a conversation with the shells, Ms. Solomon said. This transition is visible as the color and patterns on ceramic mimic that of the natural design on the shells.
Though Mr. Ellithorpe and Ms. Solomon do not have a common theme in this show, Ms. Pinsky said the group has done challenges in the past, prompting members with a theme that they all interpret in their own way. Some of these themes have included colors such as green or purple; time; and light-and-dark. These themed shows, as do other group shows, allow members to share the space, displaying all their work at once in a cohesive way, Ms. Pinsky said.
Since moving from a primarily residential area to the busier Dempster Street, Ms. Pinsky is hoping Space 900 will continue to facilitate conversations surrounding art, as well as attracting visitors far and wide.
“I hope it will give people an opportunity to explore different ideas that are on exhibition,” Ms. Pinsky said. “I would like it to be a place where people can just come and look at art, meet other people and enjoy art in an intimate setting.”
The current show of Mr. Ellithorpe and Ms. Solomon’s work will host a closing reception on May 17 from 5 to 8 p.m. but will remain on display through May 19. The next exhibition, premiering May 31 and running through June, will be a group show including new works by all eight members.