Frequently Asked Questions
Chicago Gallery News receives emails and phone calls each week from people curious about when to visit galleries, how to start a collection, how to locate a specific artist or how to sell work they've recently inherited. We try hard to help everyone, and we'll update this section from time to time with the most popular questions. We also feature CGN Founder Natalie van Straaten's latest column, "Ask Natalie" at the end of the page. To jump to a certain section of this page, click below:
• Are there local groups for contemporary collectors/art enthusiasts?
• I recently inherited a few works of art from a relative...
• I'd like to hold a private event in a gallery
• Do artists show their work in more than one gallery?
• How can I find a gallery to represent my work or me?
• How can I find employment in an art gallery?
• Ask Natalie: Reinstalling Artwork
Are there local groups for contemporary collectors/art enthusiasts? How do I join?
Answer: Area museums have many options for learning about + collecting art.
ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
• List of AIC Interest Groups
• Society for Contemporary Art (SCA)
The SCA Promotes better understanding and appreciation of contemporary art through a series of lectures and meetings, offering insights into the production, collection, and display of the art of our own time as well as visits to private Chicago collections. Every year members review a selected group of contemporary works and vote to purchase one or more objects on behalf of the museum. SCA membership is available in 6 categories, ranging from $150 - $2,500. Contact Jenny Gheith for details: firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-443-3630
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
• Collectors Forum
Dedicated to encouraging collecting in Chicago and enhancing knowledge of contemporary art through exclusive opportunities to view private collections, connect with other like-minded art enthusiasts, and explore contemporary art around the world. Annual dues support the MCA's exhibition programs as well as the acquisition of new works for the collection. Contact Lisa Key at 312-397-3867 or email@example.com
Emerge is a new group that supports the education, exhibition, and acquisition programs of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA). It’s a convergence of art enthusiasts, collectors, and art patrons who are interested in furthering the mission of the MCA by presenting events with the artists, curators, and leaders impacting today’s contemporary art world. To learn more or join Emerge, contact Monica Wojtyna at 312.397.3831 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently inherited a few works of art from a relative and I think they could be valuable, but I don't know much about them or if I even want to sell them. Who might be able to help me?
If you find yourself in possession of artwork you don't know much about, it's best to try to gather as much info on your own as possible - assemble photographs of the work and any paperwork that would help someone examining the work. See if you can tell from what gallery, if any, it was originally purchased. Consider returning to the gallery where the work was purchased, or to a gallery that represents the artist's work or work from the same genre.
If you wish to have a piece appraised for insurance or provenance purposes, contact an appraiser for a formal assessment. Several reputable appraisers are listed in our Art Service section.
If you are interested in a basic assessment with the idea that you would like to sell the artwork on the secondary market, we recommend that you contact an auction house that might be able to even facilitate a sale on your behalf. A team of experts can sometimes provide a ball park estimate and let you know if they may also help you auction the works.
I'd like to host a private event in a gallery or art space. What are the options?
Galleries and museums can be terrific, unusual spaces for small wedding receptions, corporate events, or charity fundraisers. Most galleries cannot handle very large crowds, but there are some other art-oriented spaces that do; they are also noted on our list. Contact the gallery or space directly regarding your event. If you are interested in a gallery for an exhibition, you should contact the Chicago Arts District, the Zhou B Art Center, the Fine Arts Building, or the Flat Iron Arts Building, since they have available vacant space. You may download a list of galleries that do rent their space HERE; more details may be found here; please pay attention to the various capacities as well as any listed restrictions.
Do artists show their work in more than one gallery? Can I get a
better price if I buy directly from the artist or if I shop around?
When an artist has a gallery representing him or her, that gallery should be the only place to purchase the work in the city. The artist and dealer agree on the prices and the process. Since the representing gallerist is advising, promoting and showing the work of the artist all year long, he/she will make certain that the prices of the work in the gallery are consistent with those offered elsewhere – and the artist will honor that price in his/her studio as well.
How can I find a gallery to represent my work or me?
First research galleries online and in person to determine an aesthetic match and appropriateness of the gallery to your work. Contact those galleries by phone or email to determine their individual preferred method of reviewing work. Remember to be patient when awaiting a response and keep in mind that a dealer's first responsibility is to support their current artist stable, so they can't spend all day reviewing work by outside artists. You also would do well to join some artist groups like the Chicago Artists' Coalition and also keep your eyes out for juried shows you can participate in and add to your resume. Chicago Artists Resource has a list of Calls for Artists as well as other opportunities.
How can I find employment in an art gallery?
Each gallery does its own staffing. You are welcome to contact a gallery for which you have a special interest – or send your resume to email@example.com. If we know of open positions, we will pass along the information. Above all, before contacting a gallery, familiarize yourself with the kind of artwork and artists they represent to determine if your experience and interests are a good match with the gallery.
• ASK NATALIE
April-August 2011: Ask Natalie Column
Question: I am moving to a new home. Any tips on reframing or reinstalling my artwork?
Answer: Moving or renovating is a great time to assess your artwork. Click HERE to download a PDF of Natalie’s column.