Hyde Park Art Center show links artists and patrons, and raises $200,000

Submitted by Ms. Gray 

Reprint from the

“Not Just Another Pretty Face,” the triennial art exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center (HPAC), has raised $200,000 for the organization and 63 artists whose commissioned works are displayed across three galleries. Scores of patrons commissioned the art, the proceeds of which are split between HPAC and the individual artists. In its seven iterations, the exhibition has raised more than $1 million. “One of the goals of this project is to make that accessible, to put (patrons) in an environment where they feel comfortable asking questions, that they feel comfortable exploring different artists and really trying to find something that they really want,” said HPAC Director of Development Aaron Rodgers, who observed that buying art for the first time can be intimidating. HPAC Associate Director of Development Maria Nelson said most of the artists have connections with HPAC, whether through teaching or exhibiting at the museum, either in past solo shows or previous editions of “Not Just Another Pretty Face.”

Patrons also invite artists to participate, all of which allows HPAC to expand its network as well.“We serve almost as like a concierge service, so we meet individually with them, really try to learn what they’re interested in, what their budget is, what involvement they want to have with an artist and then try to find a good match for them,” Rodgers said. The artists set prices, which range from $100 to $10,000. “I think one service we provide is handling the money talk, which can be something that people don’t feel totally comfortable with,” Rodgers said. “We very much encourage people to speak directly with the artists about what they want, what they’re interested in, and a lot of great conversations come out of that. We will often then really help everyone settle on a price that everyone feels good about and works for both parties.” HPAC also helps ensure artists are pricing their work at the value it’s worth.“Artists are often really excited to be a part of this show — they’re really excited their art will end up in a home with someone who loves the work,” Rodgers said. “As a result, they can be very generous in their pricing. I think everyone appreciates that, but this is designed to be a sustainable interaction, where the artists are getting paid fairly for their talent and work.”

The works reflect the artists’ skills in painting, textiles, mixed media and 3D work. Some heavily reflect the commissioners’ particular idiosyncrasies. Rodrigo Lara Zendejas, for instance contributed effigy busts of a Nikunj Chokshi’s two deceased dogs, incorporating their cremated ashes into sculptures’ glazed exteriors. “It worked really well for a number of reasons,” Rodgers observed. “Rodrigo’s practice is often very associated with memorials, sometimes gravesites, and memory, as well. But it’s also something that is simply beautiful onto itself.” Norman Teague created “WunderKammer – Babrowski & Mullangi Family,” a cabinet of curiosities for his patrons, Sundeep Mullangi and Trissa Babrowski, to house the small trinkets and artifacts they gift to each other. His resultant wooden shelving fits right into a space of its own, replete with porcelain works he made to go along with their gifts.Brittney Leeanne Williams contributed three paintings for the exhibition; Rodgers went on a studio with her patron, Joseph Fitzgerald, who said he wanted to commission her. “She said, ‘That’s great. I’m hoping you trust me to make something,’“ Rodgers remembered. “He picked out some other paintings that he liked by her, some colors that he likes, and they talked about size. And that was really it. He’s thrilled with the piece, and it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous painting.” “Not Just a Pretty Face” runs through March 1 at HPAC, 5020 S. Cornell Ave.