Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



Stephen Kelly Gallery: Turning Profits and Heads
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 2745 times since Wed Mar 1, 2006
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Pictured Stephen kelly Smith. Photo by Andrew Davis. Work by Lisa Caplan. Former President Calvin Coolidge once stated that 'the business of America is business.' If that's the case, then Stephen Kelly, owner of Stephen Kelly Gallery, is the essence of Americana. However, he is more than a businessman; he is also an artist, and is successful in combining the analytical and the creative.

Kelly recently chatted with Windy City Times about the art of the deal—and the deal regarding art.

Windy City Times: Your background is in art.

Stephen Kelly: Yes. I've been an artist my entire life. My dad went to art school in Grand Rapids. But I remember drawing from age five. I went away to school for business. I try to utilize that as much as I can; sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn't. [ Laughs. ] But it's a learning process. However, I [ ultimately ] left a company and went to the School of the Art Institute. I decided that I wanted to control my art and bring together the business and the art worlds.

I opened my own gallery because I showed other galleries and had been pretty successful. I figured that I could sell and produce my own work as well as create the whole environment on my own terms. It's been a real process and a learning experience.

WCT: It'll probably always be a learning experience.

SK: Oh, absolutely. It's funny how you think you understand something about the business and something always pops up. I'm always trying to get better at what I do.

WCT: Who are your own favorite artists?

SK: I like Gerhard Richter. I like how he spreads the paint across the surface and you wonder about what's going on underneath. I always wonder about what he's deconstructing—and I think he's trying to break down what abstraction is. I love mystery. With my own paintings, I don't [ reveal ] everything; I want people to be continually interested.

WCT: Is there any type of art you won't display in this gallery?

SK: That's a good question. The body of work that I'm working on now is taking me in the direction of art that is even more abstract. I want work that's very clean and simplistic. I really want people to create the story within themselves. There's going to be more abstraction.

I want something that people don't see all the time in River North. I mean, there are a lot of beautiful works, like Picasso and van Gogh. That style is wonderful but I want something new.

WCT: So what separates this gallery from the plethora of others in this area?

SK: Part of it has to do with the fact that I'm an artist myself. There aren't a lot of artist-owned galleries in River North, or Chicago for that matter—and there aren't many galleries owned by African-Americans. I bring all those worlds together.

If someone comes in here and wants a piece specifically for their office or home, I can create that. As long as we're on the same page, it'll be a happy relationship. I really try to create the environment for the client. But I [ essentially ] work as a consultant; I want the client to become part of the process.

WCT: What are the best and worst aspects of owning a gallery?

SK: [ Laughs. ] The best aspect is that I can sit in this gallery and be surrounded by beautiful work all day. I love working with people, and I don't know where they might be coming from: places like India, Europe and other spots. That makes it fun. I also enjoy the creative part, [ which involves ] creating and selling my work. I like the control.

The biggest challenge is the business aspect and keeping everything interesting and fresh. So I have various events, like First Fridays. It's always [ about ] cash flow. Money talks; that's the bottom line. I want to let people know what I can provide what they need.

Something I didn't realize initially is that River North is seasonal. It makes for an interesting sociological study. Spring and fall are usually the best times while winter and summer tend to be slower. In the summer, people go away to resorts or places like Saugatuck and New Buffalo. During the fall, people come back from traveling and walk around the galleries to prepare their homes for the winter. There are a lot of dynamics going on [ regarding ] spending habits. It's such a learning process. This has been business school; my advice is to start a business if you really want to learn about it.

WCT: What is art to you?

SK: Art, to me, comes in different ways. When I'm in the studio, the creative process is art to me. With any artist, the art is in the creation; for the viewer, it's in observing that piece. I'm very blessed to be in this world and being able to create.

One day, I won't be here but my art will be. That's the beauty of it. That's what Picasso, Michelangelo and all of these incredible artists can say. They've been able to transcend their lives through their art.

Stephen Kelly Gallery is located at 750 N. Franklin, Ste. 101. Call ( 312 ) 867-1921 for more info.

This article shared 2745 times since Wed Mar 1, 2006
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.