At the Hop: A Virtual Gallery Spotlight on Goldfinch
In response to temporary business closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak, DFA presents “At the Hop,” a series highlighting local art galleries we miss hopping to. Our aim is to keep a spotlight on our community and stay engaged with one another. Each feature includes an overview of the gallery’s current show and some remote insights from the gallerists. Answers may be lightly edited for length and clarity.
Location: East Garfield Park, Chicago, IL
OWNER AND DIRECTOR, CLAUDINE ISÉ, HAS A WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE AND HAS HELD CURATORIAL POSITIONS AT THE HAMMER MUSEUM IN LOS ANGELES AND AT THE WEXNER CENTER IN COLUMBUS, OHIO. WHEN DID YOU OPEN GOLDFINCH AND WHAT SETS IT APART FROM OTHER COMMERCIAL GALLERIES IN CHICAGO?
I opened Goldfinch four and a half years ago. It started out as a project space and has now grown into a commercial gallery business. I think one of the things that set us apart from other commercial galleries in Chicago is that we strive to be transparent in our pricing with an online platform, Flatfiles, featuring works up to $1,500 in addition to our exhibition programming. In terms of our exhibition space, I think our gallery looks and feels a lot different from those of other more established galleries. I think it’s beautiful because it shows its bones—there’s nothing slick or polished about it but it is large and airy and has natural light streaming in through the back windows. Goldfinch is located in a big warehouse building in an area that’s filled with artist’s studios, so we have a built-in artist community literally right outside our doors. Our space reminds me of a lot of the galleries you see in New York City’s Lower East Side.
Because the gallery has the vibe of an artist’s studio, it makes sense that our exhibition program would share some similar sensibilities and goals of an artist’s studio practice. We’re excited to take chances and we definitely put our love of an artists’ work first, before calculations of how well their work will sell for us. We don’t look at commercial trends—we actually do the opposite by trying to highlight work that’s doing something different while still being absolutely current in terms of engagement with contemporary practices. I’m proud that we’re able to do a lot on a shoestring budget and that our audience and client base has grown substantially each year we’ve been in business. To sum it up: we are an artist and exhibition-focused gallery, and we have faith that all the other stuff will come as long as we make it a primary goal to make sure every exhibition we mount is superb by our standards.
HOW ARE YOU KEEPING CONNECTED WITH THE ART COMMUNITY DURING THIS TIME OF PHYSICAL DISTANCING?
Well, these are certainly unprecedented times and as a gallery that is still young and learning the ropes, this is uncharted territory for us as well. I think all galleries already have a strong facility for and comfort level with the tools of online social media, particularly Instagram, along with web-based tools like gallery websites, blogs, and online viewing rooms. Last week we launched an online viewing room for our current solo show of work by Soo Shin, we’ve ramped up our Instagram output, and the next thing we’re figuring out is how to stream and/or record an artist’s walk-through of the exhibition. We are brainstorming on how we can make this happen while physically isolated from each other.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH OR COFFEE SPOT BY THE GALLERY AND WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO MISS THE MOST WHILE WE ARE AWAY FROM OUR POSTS?
Right now I am super excited because there are rumors that we may have a coffee shop opening in the building right across the street from us at Passion House Coffee Roasters which would be fantastic. In terms of nearby places right now, a wonderful place to grab lunch is Inspiration Kitchens on Lake Street. There are tons of coffee shops and restaurants a five-minute drive away on Chicago Avenue — our favorites are Bite Cafe, Spinning J Bakery and Soda Fountain, and The Beetle Bar and Grill.