“I was afraid, it was almost like leaving high school,” said Andre Guichard, about moving his gallery from a converted three-flat at 3251 S. Martin Luther King Drive. “This is one of those life breakthroughs.”
Walking through the new 4,000-square-foot gallery hung with work by artists from South Africa, Haiti and other countries, Guichard said he’s convinced he and his partner, Frances Guichard, made the right decision.
“A lot of people do a lot of talking, but the Guichards put their money where their mouth is,” said Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) at an unveiling event at the 436 E. 47th St. building. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was also on hand.
Sixteen artists occupy apartments on the second and third floors of nearly century-old former dairy building.
“I need light as a painter,” said Alpha Bruton, who has split her unit into two studios, a gallery space and a living space. “I got it, I got all the windows, all this light.”
The $7 million space was specifically designed around a zoning change from 2010 that allows artists to get a business license and use their home as a gallery.
“You always end up sleeping at the gallery anyway when you have a deadline coming up,” said Alan Emerson Hicks, an artist who works with found objects that shares studio space in Bruton’s apartment.
Hicks said he struggled to find a new studio that wasn’t raw industrial space when Begyle Brewery took over the building that housed his old studio in North Center.
“There are some, but nothing like this.” Hicks said. “Most of the studio spaces are these warehouses.”
All 16 apartments, which range from $592 for a studio to $1,175 for a two-bedroom apartment, are all rented.
The project is expected to expand next year with the creation of a pavilion on the lot east of the building.
Gallery Guichard held a reception for its first exhibit at the new space, "Genesis," at 6 p.m. on June 27.