Evanston Made, a nonprofit organization that seeks to unite Evanston artists and art lovers, has opened its second pop-up gallery, at 832 Dempster St.
The organization was started almost a decade ago by Executive Director Lisa Degliantoni, self-branded as “Lisa D,” who moved to Evanston from El Paso, Texas, and began pounding on doors asking people if they were artists.
Evanston Made aims to empower and connect the large population of self-declared creatives in Evanston. Degliantoni is not an artist herself, saying she has “no patience for it” or “talent to make anything,” but rather, the former news producer loves “to make things happen.”
Last winter, Evanston Made was gifted the former Urban Outfitters retail space on Church Street for a holiday pop-up. Over 27 days it generated more than $85,000 in sales benefiting the organization’s member artists and future programming. After that major success, Degliantoni and Co-Director Liz Cramer began hunting for a new space for a second pop-up shop.
They settled on leasing the former computer repair shop on Dempster for six months, where they will rotate exhibitions based on the medium, starting with paintings.
Through Sept. 28, hours for the 832 Dempster St. gallery will be: noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 7 p.m on Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The gallery will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
On Friday, Degliantoni, Cramer, and volunteers James Deeb, a participating Evanston Made artist, and Anne Wolff, a YWCA swim coach passionate about organizing and picking artists’ brains, got busy arranging paintings while member artists trickled in with additional works. Deeb joined Evanston Made in its second year, and Wolff has volunteered for several years after meeting Degliantoni at gallery events.
Cramer said the first round of pieces are “drawings, pastel charcoal, all things related to painting and all original works,” that will get replenished as pieces sell. Degliantoni and Cramer are optimistic that this pop-up will yield as much revenue as last year’s pop-up, if not more. However, as the space is not donated, there will be higher operating expenses for running the shop.
The pop-up gallery highlights both emerging and established artists, and submissions are not juried, encouraging all 450 members of Evanston Made to participate. Degliantoni says work needs to be “ready to hang” and entered into the Evanston Made online store to tie to its point-of-sale system and ensure a commission, which covers overhead, rentals and utilities.
Wolff connected a former swim student, ETHS graduate Aiden Dillon, to Evanston Made, whose painting “(as)“, which brings Basquiat energy, will hang at the pop-up. Wolff said she loves volunteering because “it feels great,” not only to help promote the artists but also to get to know them and their stories. She added, “I think you connect much more with a piece of art when you know the story behind it.”
Deeb said joining Evanston Made has increased his sales and connected him to a community, making an artist’s often existential and sometimes depressing life less overwhelming. “It’s nice just to keep your sanity in the past couple of years,” he said.
In addition to volunteering, Deeb submitted an oil-on-board painting, Gilded Mountain, that was being prepared for display. He said he was inspired by stories about mountains and spirits tied to them. He added, “I’m interested in how people anthropomorphize objects. Yeah, rivers and other things like that.”
Degliantoni said that the exhibition’s demographics attempt to mirror Evanston’s population, as part of the organization’s mission to be anti-racist, and will prioritize visibility and sales for artists of color.
She said she asks artists to “bring in prints, extra work and your business card” to encourage connections and possible sales. “Somebody might show up and be like, ‘That’s super fun, but I don’t really feel good about red,'” she said, “but at least … they’re intrigued by Aiden’s painting; they want to go onto his portfolio page and see more of his work.”
She joked that the pop-up ideally would serve as a “gateway drug” to get locals and young people invested in their community of artists. If the curious pedestrians gazing through the window were any indication, the pop-up is bound to meet that goal.