Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Judy A Saslow Gallery: A Welcoming Atmosphere

Have you avoided some art galleries because they make you feel unwelcome? If you answered “yes” to that question, you need to visit the Judy A Saslow Gallery at 300 W. Superior St., Ste. 103 in the River North gallery district. Opened in 1995, gallery owner Judy Saslow aims to create a welcoming atmosphere that engages visitors and encourages questions.

Surrounded by Art
As a young person, Saslow took art classes at the Art Institute. Although she enjoyed creating art, the instructor seemed more interested in telling her what she was doing wrong than encouraging or nurturing her talent, which intimidated her. Saslow didn’t beome an artist, but instead, for a time, was an elementary school teacher and an attorney specializing in family law. The idea of her opening an art gallery came from Saslow’s friends.“Friends told me I had a good eye. They encouraged me to open a gallery,” Saslow said. She met all kinds of artists, including artists with disabilities. She started collecting and buying pieces by these disabled artists, eventually sharing their art with others.

Modern and Contemporary Art
Before opening her gallery, Saslow collected modern and contemporary art. Relatively recently, she was drawn to the works of self-taught American and European artists. When the gallery opened, it featured 100% self-taught artists. “The lines between the self-taught and the classically trained modern and contemporary artists seemed to blur,” Saslow said. So about six years ago, she added the work of contemporary and modern artists to her gallery. Saslow gets submissions from artist electronically on a regular basis. This wasn’t always the case. In the early days of the gallery, Saslow would travel to France, Italy, and Switzerland to find new and interesting artists. Artists and gallery directors would point her to new and emerging talent.

Former slave Bill Traylor created art
on scraps of cardboard.
Slave Turned “Outsider” Artist
Although she appreciates many forms of art and artists, she has a special love for artists that aren’t classically trained. One of Saslow’s favorite artists is Bill Traylor (1854-1949). Traylor was born a slave on a plantation in Alabama. After emancipation, he moved to Montgomery where he began drawing on scraps of cardboard. Traylor who created pieces for four years had a “simplistic, but appealling” style according to Saslow. She featured Traylor and other “outsider” artists at her gallery recently in “Far Out: 2012.” The show featured work by outsider and contemporary artist, including some pieces from Saslow’s personal collection.

Chicago Art Scene
When we asked her how the art scene in Chicago compares with that of other cities in the world, Saslow says it’s “it’s right up there.” Unfortunately, the Chicago art scene doesn’t get the “same amount of press coverage as it does in San Francisco and New York,” Saslow says. For sure, print reporting has changed in the age of the Internet. Newspapers that existed for three-quarters of a century are no longer with us and the ones that still are have cut back or eliminated their coverage of the arts. In spite of that fact, Chicago has a lot to offer art lovers.

New Show
If you’re interested in learning more about the Judy A Saslow Gallery, visit their Web site. Even better, pay the gallery a visit. “Timeless: Worlds of woodland spirits and old materials given a new life” will have an opening reception on February 24, 2012, starting 5-8 p.m. This exhibit runs through April 7, 2012.

The Judy A Saslow Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

1 comment:

  1. wonderful gallery!! i am particularly impressed that judy saslow has showcased and even represented many project onward artists. project onward is a studio and gallery at the cultural center that showcases the work of outsider artists who also happen to have mental health challenges and developmental disabilities. it's a GREAT gallery and saslow has been very supportive!!


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