Homework: The Dream
While studying Business for Artists, Founder and Director, Dulce Maria Diaz was instructed to pretend she could have her own business. Her homework turned into the S.H.E. Gallery that you know today, these are the real and raw origins - take a read!
Written By Dulce Maria Diaz, Spring 2015
"Business for Artists" Class: The University of Chicago Graham School
Instructor: Rebecca George
The topics that I have chosen as my areas of focus work hand in hand. Founding an art related for-profit business was the original idea. I learned the difference between for-profit and non-profit. For me, the main difference was that if I wanted to completely be self-sufficient, I'd have to go the for-profit route with curatorial projects to make it become alive.
The Dream -
I came into this class a little blind about my exact direction. I was however, clear about my dream. I knew I wanted to have shows with positive messages while working with artists of all ages with concentration towards inspiration to the youth. I thought to have my own shows I would need to have my own venue, until Rebecca said the classic Nike words, "just do it". I learned that the curatorial projects would have to take place in order to raise the funds to get to the permanent home, the founding of an art-related for-profit business.
To Profit or Non-Profit, that is the Question -
After in-class discussion about he hassles of the non-profit organizations, requiring constant grant writings and asking, I did not much research the subject. I quickly decided that if I wanted to be an entrepreneur I would have to do things myself without spending half of my time asking for money to help my dream come true. For profit organization became my target. Knowing I do not have the funds to own my own space for shows, I visited a for rent empty storefront styled venue in Pilsen. The idea was to inquire about price for a month long exhibit. After speaking with the owners I learned that there would have to be a 6 month lease priced at $1,200/mo. with light and water included.
Planting the Seed -
I started to look into gallery venues such as Vertical Gallery and Maxwell Colette. These are art galleries that show urban art. I enjoy their shows and always wished I could see more local artists get recognition for the origins of what such places are profiting from. I stopped researching their avenues and decided I would have an exhibit solely on educating the public on the origins of the popular street art. I am personally heavily influenced by the graffiti and hip-hop culture. I thought of my friends who were innovators and continue to mural. I decided I would share graffiti's history and introduce graffiti artists whom I respect, simply because they deserve it too. The decision was made, I wanted to introduce Chicago graffiti artists who paved way for street art - the names came to my mind quick. I reached out to the artists; they were excited and wanted to participate. Great, the seed was planted, that was a start.
Curatorial Projects and The Brainstorm -
I had to dig in my roots and reflect on a time when growing up, my friends, siblings and I would dedicate our free time of youth to partying. Not just dancing and having fun but actually being in party productions. I recall my oldest brother being in Boy/Girl Productions and I was in Girly Girl Productions - party crews, in and out of productions we would host "day times", "night times" and attended underground raves. We did it for the fun but the revenue was real and would keep the next party going. I thought back to those days and thought, "I've done this before, it's a different push but I can do this - find a venue, get the word out and have a show!" I was so excited, I knew I would want to have more shows and needed a "home". I decided to build a website. My intuition and strong faith are my anchors - "sharing his energy" kept playing in my head over and over - I wanted to honor God in a non-religious non-invasive yet inclusive type of way. Sharing His Energy, S.H.E. was the name of my gallery. I wanted to build a space where I can give opportunity to both the artists and the art lovers to network, this would be the place.
After in class discussions, I researched Chicago Artists Resource's website looking for affordable venues. I also reached out to Aaron c/o Homeroom who had visited the class and gave us some insight on what his organization does. He gave me some leads, I reached out to the a fitting venue, Comfort Station, but they never got back to me. I reached out to a few other venues out of Chicago Artists Resource's website as well and out of all of those places, I received one e-mail from artist, Layne Jackson.
Rookie Booking; Ups and Downs -
Layne Jackson is artist and owner of Layne Jackson Studios. Layne and I were scheduled to meet on the same evening that I was scheduled to have a phone conference with Mike Nourse, Director of HPAC. Mike and I were discussing my rejected Visual Arts Certification Program application, as we were discussing same I let him know what I was working on. I recall being part of Chicago Art Department's 200 Lincoln Exhibition there years ago and I remember that was his baby. I inquired about the space for my show; he send me some helpful information adding that he thought he would be able to help me with a venue at the HPAC. After spending half of my lunch break on the phone with him, I spent the other half writing up a proposal for the show and hit "sent" - he loved the concept, I was thrilled. After confirming dates with the artists we booked the show to take place in May with a two week running time for the price for zero.
Later, Mike apologized as the HPAC would be under construction for an upgrade and would not be available to host my show in May but rather at the end of Summer. Things happen, I embraced the change of plans and reached out to my artists who were disappointed as they had been so excited by the show. By this time, I already had my website for Sharing His Energy Gallery nearly completed with Artist-Calls for upcoming shows that I would be working on. I thanked Mike and asked him to consider any of the other shows for the Center. Meanwhile I was back at square one - find a venue.
I was back at Chicago Artists Resource, this time I got two replies but my heart was set on The FoxHole Chicago. the feeling of the place felt right. I met with the founder, actor and musician, Tim Frank, and booked it. The energy was high, he liked the concept so much and gave me a generous price of $300.00 for the entire weekend plus would help promote through his agents and networks. The first exhibit is now again booked, June 13, 2015. Pave Way at The Foxhole Chicago - suddenly the dream began to feel a bit more real.
While researching for venues, I also began to brainstorm sponsors and publications. I reached out to my favorite brewery, Lagunitas as well as a Pilsen Community tamales venue called Dia de los Tamales - beer and tamales, that's what I was asking for. Since, Lagunitas has gotten back to me and they too liked the concept and would like to help. We will do without tamales for now.
The Foxhole Chicago is allowing spray paint directly on their walls for a graffiti mural so I am reaching out to Modest, a skateboard shop that also sells aerosol paint. The owner, Danny, is a humble individual whom I have met on several occasions. I shop at his store and support the events he has hosted in the past. I plan to visit the shop to let him know about the show. I am asking him to sponsor spray paint to the graffiti artists that I will be presenting pushing the idea that it would help get the work out about his shop. No hidden whims, help for help.
I remember reading an article from the Reader about street art from July of 2014, I had kept a copy and e-mailed all of the editors that wrote any of the articles on it letting them know about the show for publications. I am also reaching out to my friend who is part of an urban magazine, Prevail N Prosper. I am also looking into hiring for assured publication and press release through Chicago Artists Resource.
I have shopped around for pricing on prints for postcards, brochures and signs - after visiting Staples and going through internet search engines I found that Vistaprint has the best deals with great reviews for quality.
Once I start to promote the website and the show, I plan to create an Instagram account for each show and the site. we can run but we cannot hide, social media is a great way to help promote - there's no hiding from that fact.
Legalities and Revenue -
69 West Washington Street, Chicago, IL is where I would go to discuss business applications and learn which is best for me. I understand that I would need to apply for a business license. After class discussion, I took my colleague, Rita's advise and have reached out to Score Chicago for individual mentoring on which type of business license would be best fitting. For now, I am keeping track of the moneys I have spent and the revenue I may collect as these shows continue to travel. I am like many of us, overworked and underpaid but I am working and saving my hard earned income to make these shows happen by cutting costs in everyday living. Sponsorships and volunteers from those who believe in the concept and mission of the gallery are also helping. I am also starting a Kickstarter account to help those who want to donate to help fund the mission.
Letting it Grow -
Holding on to my anchor, I have found my hook - these shows. www.sharinghisenergygallery.net is the website where my gallery lives. I found this site under website builder after researching reviews on different hosts. I followed the templates and luckily one of my artists is a computer engineer who is helping me continue to work on her. If you can no longer find her at this domain, please try www.shegallery.net, which may be the new domain by the time you've read this.
One of the most important parts of keeping this dream going is networking with artists and non-artists. I don't know anyone who does not love art. I find myself talking with different people, whether my family, my stranger or my Blick store cashier - I am meeting new artists, potential new artists and art lovers. Keeping people informed and excited I think is something that comes easy if it's true, it has to be shared so the people who can feel it. That's what I think is going to make these shows successful. They come not from "which artist is going to make me rich" but rather from - this is going to make a community out of every neighborhood and give each person that wants a chance to be an artist.
I don't have deadline to come up with enough money to own my own gallery venue - I will continue to host these shows if I get there or not. My heart is with S.H.E., I am giving her all of my energy.
Chicago Artists Resource -www.chicagoartistresource.org
Aaron Rodgers c/o Homeroom -[email protected]
Layne Jackson Studios - www.laynejackson.com
The Foxhole Chicago - www.thefoxholechicago.com
The Hyde Park Art Center - www.hydeparkart.org
Chicago Art Department -www.chicagoartdepartment.org
The Comfort Station -www.comfortstationlogansquare.org
Lagunitas Brewery Co. - www.lagunitas.com
Dia de los Tamales - www.diadelostamales.com
The Reader - www.chicagoreader.com
Staples - www.staples.com
Vistaprint - www.vistprint.com
Craigslist - www.craigslist.org
Modest - www.modest-inc.com
Prevail N Prosper - www.prevailnprosper.com
Website Builder - www.websitebuilder.com
Score Chicago - www.scorechicago.org
Following Pave Way - S.H.E. Gallery became a non-profit incorporating articles September 29, 2015.