Tell us about yourself and your business! What do you do or sell?
Ice House Gallery features and sells local artists on our first floor. We have private artist studios and a classroom on our second floor. We also offer workshops, concerts, performances and event rentals. My education background is a BA from Albion college with a double major in Art and English: Creative Writing. I grew up in Wilmette, and now I live in Evanston.
Why did you start this business? If you were a superhero, what would your origin story be?
Hannah says: The short story is I couldn't break into the professional art community as an artist, so I decided to open my own space to show emerging artists and creatives from the community. It was a long road, but I've learned a wealth of knowledge, grown so much personally and professionally, and developed a business with community input. It's challenging, but so fun!
The long story, as told to Voyage Chicago: I went to school for studio art and creative writing hoping the combination of skills paired with great internships would land me a sweet art job in a big city… wrongo. The art job market is flooded with newly trained artists waiting to burst into the scene, but saturated with the experienced artists all the job openings are targeting.
There was no room for a newbie like me, so, after applying to hundreds of jobs, I turned to myself and my community to make my own art space. I talked with quite a lot of Evanston artists, citizens, business owners, and gallery owners to pick their brains about their work as well as what they thought Evanston could use from an art space. We opened in October 2017 after we found a hip warehouse space to freshen up. Ice House Gallery was born of many minds; but overall I wanted to provide a space for new artists to showcase and gain gallery experience and for buyers to bring home locally-made creations, as well as be a place of expression through our private studios, classes, and live concerts and creative performances.
We’ve been open just shy of seven months now and I think I hit the right chord with the Evanston creative community. We have an art opening every month, our studios are bustling with artists, our classes continue to grow and our concerts and performances have been enjoyable. We still have a lot of learning and growing to do, but, with the input of the community, we’re certain to do it right!
What's the story behind the name of your business?
Our building was originally an ice storage built around the turn of the twentieth century. We kept some original features and I appreciate the history so we chose Ice House Gallery!
Why did you choose to locate your business in Evanston? What do you love about coming to work here?
I live in South Evanston and I love it here! There's a niece art community here, and I wanted to help it grow. We're bringing art classes, studios and local art to South Evanston, there isn't another business quite like us here.
What sets your business apart from other galleries?
Hannah says: Well there is not a multi-functional art space in Evanston like us. We have all local art, concerts, classes, performance art, workshops, private studios, event rentals, video, poetry, storytelling, and more. We pride ourselves on listening to our community's needs and desires while bringing accessible art and art education to the area as well.
We show many new and emerging artists. I personally work with artists who are new to the gallery scene to make sure their work is prepared, and we’ll talk pricing, presentation and adverting. They can move on to other galleries with this experience under their belt.
Our space is huge so we can show up to 25 at a time. This leads to a dynamic display and there’s always something different to see. With so many different artists, mediums, and styles, anyone is bound to find something they appreciate.
We take pride in providing creative space for artists to use and developing artists to learn in. All our teachers create their own curriculum and anyone can take our classes so long as they desire to develop their artistic ability.
Our concerts have been so fun thus far, and I feel we’ve brought in some great poets, actors and storytellers. We have an event every month, always with local performers who want to share their talents with their community. Often the music is originally-composed performances in a gallery setting just look so cool.
I want us to to be a space for expression and enjoyment for any kind of art, visual or otherwise. I take pride in listening to what artists and people who enjoy the arts suggest for space so we can share a vision.
What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business?
Take the leap! There are always a million reasons not to do something, but nothing will ever get done if you don't seize opportunity for yourself.
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