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Spotlight on the Shared Space of EC Gallery and Kasia Kay Art Projects

Gallery Spotlights are posts about randomly selected* art venues in Chicago

Brian Smith

Nestled in a lesser known corner of the West Loop and Fulton Market across the street from a metal fabricating shop, EC Gallery is a small, but well put together space allowing for just the right blend of playful and inventive art to be displayed on its walls. Since fall of 2008, when artist and curator Ewa Czeremuszkin first opened the doors of the gallery it has specialized in representing a unique group of nationally and internationally known mid-career and emerging artists working in painting, drawing, photography and mixed media.

EC Gallery

Although EC Gallery has so far been in business for only a short period of time, it seems as though it fits well into the West Loop gallery scene. As I entered through the double glass doors for the first time I was curious at its size. It is rather small and intimate, but manages its size well, even with a packed crowd of gallery-goers who have come to look at the art or just hang out, talk, and drink wine – typical of the Chicago gallery scene. But one is quickly struck with a sense of coziness and ease despite the spaces diminutive size and crowd of art supporters for its openings.

Catching a show here mostly consists of experiencing paintings rendered on small to medium sized canvases and similar sized works on paper. They are a few photographers and a sculpture hailing from Japan on their roster, but mostly what you will see here are paintings, or work having to do with paint. When you first walk in through the doors, you will generally step into a world filled with canvases full of brushy, dirty, colorful abstract and figurative work. The images are often playful and the forms, lines, colors and boundaries tend to disappear so frequently that one does not know where one line begins and another ends. Where one color becomes another totally different color seems to happen of its own accord.

Kasia Kay Art Projects

Most common from my experience of the small but expansive space was a taste for the figurative. Human forms are represented by a multitude of washes of color, lines, brushwork, and not quite abstract, but not quite representational forms and figures. An example of this can be seen in the paintings of Agata Czeremuszkin, an emerging artist and recent graduate from the Academy of the Fine Arts in Wroclaw, Poland, with a Masters degree in painting. Her nearly sexless figures rendered in both oil and acrylic on canvas and paper, stray from being full-fledged human outlines to a falling apart mess of loose limbs, missing body parts and featureless faces surrounded by text and large fields of sobering color.

There are also included amongst the collection of figurative and abstract painters some representations of geometric art. The sculpture works of Ken’ichiro Taniguchi made from little yellow jagged plastic hinges, look like miniature explosions. Richard Blackwell’s drawings created through the use of new digital technologies and industrial manufacturing materials are geometric landscapes of angles and white lines on shaped medium density fiberboard. Paul Kowalow seems obsessed with the apparitions of wobbly reflected images that appear in the grid arrangements of tall window filled skyscrapers in cities.

Sharing the space with EC Gallery is Kasia Kay Art Projects, run by Kasia Kay. Kasia and Ewa split use of the space bi-monthly. Each represents artists that work with similar mediums and have a taste for a hand worked aesthetic. Having known each other for several years, it seems only natural that these two gallerists could share a space. Kasia shows an intriguing mix of contemporary art by mostly emerging artists. The works that can be seen here range from video, drawing, and painting to installation and sculpture. Kasia’s tastes seem dependent on the artist’s vision without a preference for one type of medium or the other.

EC Gallery Kasia Kay Art Projects

Coming here you might find yourself viewing a show of tiny intimate sculptures by Duncan Anderson that are both ridicules and serious at the same time. They tend to capitalize on our fascination with movies and the surreal. Their titles are long and quirky and read like narration. On the other hand, you might find yourself surrounded by whimsical and fascinating gouaches and animations by Chicago-based artist Diane Christiansen. Her characters remind me of imaginary creatures and cataclysmic events I might have thought up as a child.

Most exhibitions here will either be solo or two person shows as the space really doesn’t allow for larger group shows. So be prepared to spend some time looking at mostly one body of work. Overall you can find Kasia Kay Art Projects to be a daring and interesting gallery where there is something new and refreshing from one show to the next.

EC Gallery and Kasia Kay Art Projects are located at 215 N. Aberdeen, Chicago, and are open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00am – 3:00pm.

*Gallery spotlights are chosen based on a lottery, which we document by videotape, in order to be transparent and truly random. 10 were chosen out of a pool of 350.