Frequently Asked Questions Toolkit- 2010

"Art is Business"

Toolkit- 2010

Here are some questions that people have asked us so that they can start their own storefront program.

If you're a city entity
If you're a property owner
If you're an artist
How did you recruit property owners to participate in the program, and approximately how many individual property owners are you working with?

Our goal was to have 26 storefront installations in vacant storefronts in four neighborhoods. We worked with an economic development nonprofit organization in each neighborhood with pre-existing and deep connections with local merchants and property owners.

It was still difficult to get property owners to participate for several reasons.
Some property managers we approached thought it was a great idea but the owners, many of whom didn't live in the neighborhood or City, declined.

Some property owners thought it was a great idea until they had to sign the contract. Then, a few property owners dropped out because we asked them to carry general liability insurance.
Even though we offered to clean up properties in return for their willingness to use the space, property owners didn't jump at the opportunity.

We expanded our initial concept and included under-utilized storefronts and businesses where the display windows were not utilized. We also had the creation of two exterior murals running along the north and south side of our busiest commercial corridor to add additional impact to the Art in Storefronts visual element. That proved to be a very successful decision.

In the end, one property owner provided five windows along a critical commercial corridor.

Are the property owners receiving any compensation for their loan of vacant space?
The property owners received several benefits for providing use of their storefront, but they were not paid to participate. We cleaned their space before installation and left the space cleaner than how we received it. Property owners noted a decrease in graffiti on the properties where artists painted the exterior. And increased attention led to the rental of two properties.

How did you handle liability issues?
We required the property owner to carry general liability insurance. Our project managers, Triple Base, also named the City and the individual artists as additionally insured. The City used its own self-insured policy to cover the value of the art if it was damaged or stolen from the storefront. The art insurance was valued at $500, and the honorarium was paid to participating artists, even though the work had more excellent monetary value. For example, the cost of replacing video equipment would exceed $500. The artists were advised to carry their own liability insurance and additional art insurance.

How much did the extra insurance cost?
The cost of naming additionally insured is minimal. Property owners and the project management team found that each insurance agent dealt with it differently. In some instances, it costs nothing extra. In other cases, it costs between $25 and $100.

How did you recruit artists?
Artists seemed hungry for a program like this, and we received almost 200 applications for only 26 slots.
We issued a press release in conjunction with the Mayor's office to announce the project and posted guidelines online to coincide with the media announcement. We then put the word out through our agency's various e-Newsletters, with a lot of traffic coming from our Gallery Program, Community Art and Education Program, and our Cultural Equity Grants Program. Triple Base also reached out to their extensive roster of artists.

Some feedback we received from the Mission District was that the artists who knew about the program application were those already involved with the Arts Commission. So, for our Chinatown program, we will send out a press release (to both English and Chinese language press) when the application is posted, and we will hold an information session in Chinatown to answer questions about the program and discuss how to make a competitive proposal.

What kind of art was selected, and is it viewed solely from the street?
We prioritized selecting artists who lived or worked in the neighborhood and whose proposals were to create new work that celebrated the surrounding community. The most substantial submissions employed inventive media or full-scale installations and engaged people innovatively and dynamically.
The installations were only seen from the street to maximize viewership and minimize liability issues.

How often do you plan to change out exhibits/artwork? Do you have your schedule already set for the duration of the pilot program?
Since this was a pilot program, we did not plan to install future work in the space. Some property owners have arranged with the artists to keep the installations in the space longer than the extent of our program.
Some artists created programming that corresponded with their installation by holding an art opening at their nearby studio the same night as the launch.

What was your budget?
The entire project was created for $55,000, which covered project management, design and printing of marketing collateral, web design, artist stipends ($500 each), cleaning fees to prepare the windows for installation, and minimal installation and de-installation expenses. The project budget does not include City staff time.

Do you have samples of your contracts?
Yes. Here is a link to a sample artist agreement (Word, 38 K) and a link to a sample property owner agreement (Word, 33 K)

How do I find an artist or artist collective?
Look around at local flyers and marketing materials to find artists who may live or work in your neighborhood. Check out art websites such as Open Studios/Art Span, SFAC or GFTA, Bayview Artists Shipyard, and Fecal Face. Go to local galleries and artist workspaces and inquire.

What is the minimum the property owner should provide?
The property owner should provide a clean, accessible storefront with electricity and a secure door with a lock. The property owner should also provide general liability insurance and a set of keys to allow the artist to enter the space necessary to install their artwork. It is also helpful if the artists can store supplies in the storefront until the installation is complete.

Should the property owner select the specific art?
Many artists want to install work they already have completed and want a place to display it. If an artist wants to create an original work or installation to be placed in the window, then the property owner should be provided with a sketch of the proposal.

Who pays for what?
The property owner should cover the cost of the window and site clean-up and utilities. The artist should cover the cost of creating the art and installation unless the property owner wants to help pay for some of these expenses. No matter how much the property owner agrees to pay to support the project, the artwork belongs to the artist.

How long doe the artwork stays in the window?
The work should stay up as long as it is agreed upon and written into the contract.

What if the artist doesn't want to remove the art?
The artwork should be removed on the date stated in the contract.

What if the property owner wants the art to stay longer?
The property owner should discuss this as an option with the artist and if both parties agree to extend the exhibition time, change the dates in the contract.

What should be included in a letter of agreement between an artist and a property owner?
All agreements should be put into writing and signed by both parties. This includes installation and removal dates, when the property will be cleaned and ready for installation, when the artist can pick up keys to the property, contact information for all parties and participants, insurance coverage, and fees.

IF YOU'REYOU'RETIST: How do I find a property owner to work with?
Walk around your neighborhood and find the vacant storefronts that provide contact information for leasing or renting. In some instances, it may be a property management company. Be sure you have the exact address.

You can also search public records at your local tax collectors office, but storefronts with signage indicate a property owner interested in using the space. Be persistent once you make contact. Provide documentation of Art in Storefronts. They know you're straightforward and have their interests in mind.

If you live or work in a neighborhood, you may also know an under-utilized window, which could work as well, like an insurance or accounting office.

How do you establish the value of your artwork for insurance purposes?
The best way to establish a set value for your artwork is to list all your materials and hours of labor. Also, be sure to take ample photos of the work for your own record.

What have you found successful in lighting the art installations at night?
Lighting the storefronts is a huge benefit, so the installations are visible at night. For several of the Chinatown sites, artists used simple spotlighting. Clamp lights with hoods were the most cost-effective, easy to install, and efficient lighting. The lights can also be placed on the floor to light upwards.

Jamin in Logan Square-PopUp Culture Coach

"Art is Business"

Patron's jamming at the market -

Whether one word or an intricate design, your flag will blow and be witnessed by many.
We were asked to return the flags by October 10th. They will be part of a Chicago Artists Month installation at the Chicago Green Technology Center in East Garfield Park.

For information on where to mail/drop completed flags,,

One night I was at the Farmers Night Market in Logan Square. Susan Fox gave me one of the vertical fabrics to create my own prayer flag. I was asked to write, draw, paint, sew, dye, and collage a message about goodwill and community. I was allowed to involve my family and friends – there was no limit to the number of flags I was to paint.

   A prayer flag is a colorful rectangular found along mountain ridges in the Himalayas.
Darchor  (vertical) prayer flags promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers up to the gods, a common misconception, but spread these messages on the wind to the world. Darchor is raised by communities and is often found along walkways or paths as a colorful reminder of goodwill.

Gretchen Hasse Featured Artist

"Art is Business"
“I wrote stories before I ever started to draw, and since then my work has been narrative. Currently, I create stories with writing, video, sculpture, photography, and drawing alone or in combination. My inspiration includes travel journals, videos. I produce for social justice groups and life lessons that take a really long time to learn."

Gretchen is currently a key holder at the B13 Gallery in Rogers Park, she was recently gallery sitting during the Glenwood Arts Festival in Rogers Park, where she and I caught up on project we are both doing. We are both members of Borderbend Arts Collective, and
often run into each other during AnySquare open studio, in Logan Square. I first met her at a forth of July party, where she introduced herself and we have been run in and out of art circles together. In 2014 we will be working together on a multi-media project, or installation we have not planned yet, but said yes to it, what ever it maybe.

 Common Ground on Damen/Devon
Gretchen frequently incorporates recycled materials into her two dimensional work, and I is beginning to draw on her  own consideration catalog of older work for ideas and elements in multimedia.
Adjunct Instructor Chicago Area Schools where she taught video production/post production, traditional animation and comic book design at Chicago schools and educational programs, including: • The School of the Art Institute of Chicago• Columbia College, Chicago, • University of Illinois / Chicago Alternative School Network• Chicago Humanities Festival• Chicago Filmmakers,• International Academy of Design and Technology I• SOAR/DCFS After School Program,• Facets Cinematheque, • After School Matters,• Digital Boot Camp.

Excerpt from Gretchen's Blog can be found at
I’m using a lot of recycled material these days. So imagine my delight (actually, you can see it right above) when I found this great packing box in the alley dumpster near my house. Bonus, I can use the top and the bottom for two separate pieces.

One thing about recycled materials is knowing how to prep them so they’re sellable, but not so over-prepped that they lose their trashy charm. With this box, one obvious thing was to deal with the dangerous nails. They wouldn’t come out without ruining the top of the box, so I just bent them back. I’ll probably cover the bent nails with something else when I’m finished with the painting.
I live in a three story house (a co-op) with ten other people. We have gallons of leftover paint, in all colors, inhabiting our basement storage room. So I am set on recycled paint as well. The background for the painting on the front of this is going to be the same color as our front sitting room.

Paul Lorenz - 14 Pianos and a Pencil