Independent businesses and artists together (Part I)

Who are the businesses and artists independent together–like Rudolph and Herbie (see video below)–at the Logan Square Arts and Business Center (Logan Square ABC) and how do they see the space?

Lending credence to art

Artist/curator/educator/consultant Alpha Bruton (see sample of her work here–scroll to bottom) was the first to sign on as a tenant at the Logan Square Arts and Business Center in July 2010.  Not surprisingly, Alpha had also accepted Susan Fox’s invitation to the open house for the co-working/co-office space downtown last year (See ABC’s of the Logan Square Arts and Business Center), so she already understood the concept.  Alpha had also previously lived and worked as an artist in a number of non-traditional settings from a live/work space to an office in a gallery setting to a model similar to the Logan Square ABC.

She learned about the Logan Square ABC from Susan Fox as well.  (Logan Square is in some ways a small town.)  And she jumped at the opportunity to have her own little corner to think in a convenient location.

While Alpha doesn’t presently live in Logan Square (though she has in the past), she relies on public transportation and does do a fair amount of travel (like her upcoming show in Berlin).  The Logan Square ABC is conveniently located at 2823 N. Milwaukee Avenue near the CTA “el” train from O’Hare airport and a few different CTA bus routes.  Feeling safe in the locked second floor location permits her to focus on her work at any hour she chooses (often late).

Having an address that is not a home gives Alpha a place to meet with people she’s working with, including taking advantage of the shared conference room.  Her location right by the shared kitchen facilitates her hospitality.

As a City of Chicago art educator vendor, having an address that is not a home is a requirement.  The City checks these things out to protect against fraud.

And as an educator and curator, having her own space to think allows her to focus on the programming aspect of her work.

For Alpha, the advantages of the space outweigh the disadvantages of occasional noise from the bar below and from street traffic and the difficulty of negotiating the stairs for loading art and supplies.

Alpha has already used the services of another tenant, organizing and productivity company Order Ahead, and she’s looking forward to seeing more of the open desks fill up so that the Logan Square ABC becomes more of a hub of creative activity.

Just across the hall, artist Jane Michalski (see sample of her work here–scroll to bottom) has claimed her space as her art studio.  She previously worked out of the attic in her home, but as the kids needed room to grow, she needed to move her studio out.

The studio is a family affair as her oldest son, Ray, also an artist, uses the studio as well.  Down the hall, her husband Frank Michalski has also moved his firm, Northlight Architects, to the Logan Square ABC from a previous location further east on Diversey Avenue.

Beyond how it’s turned out with the family benefits, it’s good for Jane to be out in the community, especially as Logan Square comes into its own as an arts community.  Jane believes that having her studio outside the home lends credibility to her as an artist.  There is not the preconception that she’s just tinkering with art.  There’s the tangible reality that she is a working artist.  Establishing her studio outside her home has allowed other artists to make studio visits and has even resulted in her getting a show (though not her current show).  She can only hope that the increased exposure will offset the downside for her, paying rent when she previously did not.

Her new studio is smaller than what she had in the family attic, and that forces her to keep clutter out.  Countering the smaller size, her work space is set up in an efficient triangle (like a kitchen work triangle).  And then there’s the light.  In the already light-filled Logan Square ABC, Jane loves the light in her even brighter skylighted studio.

She also likes the fact that the space is improved (not raw), and, like Alpha above, that it’s convenient and safe.  She would like to see more artists’ studios in the space and hopes for more interaction among tenants.

Jane learned about the Logan Square ABC through her involvement on the board of directors of the Logan Square Chamber of Arts, which holds its meetings there.  Voice of the City, an arts organization and member of the Logan Square Chamber of Arts, also has an office at the Logan Square ABC.

Jane is starting to learn what stores are in the area and occasionally gets out to local restaurants and coffee shops.  She’s also switched the family dentist to one a couple of doors down.

This is precisely the behavior that supports my desire to see more of this type of office use “above the store” on Milwaukee Avenue.

Next:  Making room for business

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