There are many benefits to having a gallery without a location – outside of not having to worry about building logistics and extra expenses. For Gosia Koscielak, it creates an opportunity to break down geographical barriers. She coins her online gallery work “internet studio/gallery practice” in order to move away from the dividing line of global and local art. The term is fitting since the Gosia Koscielak Studio & Gallery has, from the beginning, merged ideas from many different places and supported a continuous flow of perspectives without the limitations of labels and restrictive titles. Art, networking, and general decisions made for the gallery appeared to take on its own natural course. Now, the gallery is able to do this more effectively online.
Koscielak started in Poland, studying art. While doing so, she began piecing together her gallery. The space had humble beginnings. “I did a lot of shows myself as an artist,” she explained. At the time, she was working as a graphic designer. “I was interested in a kind of aesthetical, theoretical discourse in art… it was not a very traditional gallery…I was doing my own personal one-woman project.”
Eventually, she moved the gallery to Chicago. Like with most decisions she’s made in life, her move to Chicago seemed to be a natural one. “I have family in Chicago and my family came here in the late 19th century, so my interest in the U.S. was very connected to my own family – and obviously I was interested in the Art Institute and studying there, which was a great experience.”
Once the gallery obtained a location in Chicago, Gosia created a space where local and global art intertwined. In 2001, Koscielak collaborated with the Hyde Park Art Center to produce a show entitled Transcultural Visions: Polish – American Contemporary Art. “We started thinking about how being called Polish in Poland and being called Polish here [in America] is in dialogue. It was very natural – you’re coming here, you’re from somewhere else, you see the differences of the people there and the people here of your ethnicity. So you start thinking – what happened historically? What happened culturally? How do they mingle? What is the twist? That was the base.” Many Chicago artists took part in this show, including Ellen Campbell, Bill Cass, and Tom Czarnopys – just to name a few.
In 2008, when the gallery still had a location, Gosia Koscielak curated the Chicago Verge exhibition in I Space which featured Deborah Boardman, Lorraine Peltz, and Claire Wolf Krantz – among others. Chicago Verge explored what it meant to understand trans-cultural society and the human existence through developed and aware artistic responses. “When I was doing shows, I was mostly focusing on Chicago art,” Koscielak explained. “But also I invited new artists from my previous projects that I did in Europe. Still, the concept was more about Chicago.” The gallery also featured a range of genres including new media, painting, drawing, and established art. It’s important to note that Koscielak doesn’t focus too much on any particular genre, though she has an appreciation for all of them.
Just recently, Gosia Koscielak Studio & Gallery moved from the space in Bucktown and is taking advantage of a new online direction. She is no longer limited to just Chicago and European perspectives. “If your home is in Chicago, the internet gives you a great opportunity to be everywhere else. You can put yourself online and anyone anywhere can find your stuff. I don’t need to add any of the global or local [labels] because there’s the internet. I’ve stopped using [those labels]. Because if you speak English and write in English, everyone can get your stuff. You can present your work and you can support friends who are connected with you.”
Being online, however, can cause some road bumps. Recently, the gallery’s website was hacked. Fortunately, the virtual world was able to provide Gosia Koscielak with an alternative. “On Facebook, I reached 40,000 people already. [On Facebook] you can also present your characteristics – what you’re showing, your direction. So I use that to promote the name. Basically, I try to keep the name alive. So even if the website is not fixed, I can use another network. There’s a lot of different ways to do it.”
Ultimately, being online gives her the ability to take her gallery in a completely independent direction – which seems to be a trend for most gallery owners who do not operate at a specific location. “This is a personal approach to gallery making that I’m taking,” Koscielak said. “It’s not any agenda or anything – it’s connected to my experience as a conceptual artist and multimedia artist. It’s very much true to what I like in art.”
It seems as if the appeal of having a gallery without a location seems can come down to having a bit more freedom. It is a sign of the growth of an independent market. More and more artists are looking for alternative ways to show their work. With independent filmmakers showing their work on YouTube and painters venturing into apartment galleries, it only makes sense that gallery owners are moving to accommodate these changes in the art scene as well as discovering that a street address doesn’t make a gallery.
Gosia Koscielak has an MFA in graphic design. She would go on to earn a MFA from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and a PhD in art history. For more information on the Gosia Koscielak Studio & Gallery, visit www.gosiakoscielak.info or call 847.858.1540.
Editor’s note: This article began as a Random Gallery Spotlight selection, however, it sparked this new discussion that began in Part 1.