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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

‘Tension With Neighbors’ Leads To Closing Of AMFM Studio In Pilsen, Founder Says

Ciera Mckissick hasn't found a new home for the studio, but the AMFM founder is hoping to find another space in Pilsen.

AMFM creator Ciera Mckissick poses for a photo in her studio in 2017.
Stephanie Lulay/ DNAinfo
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PILSEN — AMFM studio, which has become a hub for emerging artists, is closing following unresolved “tension with neighbors,” the founder said.

On Tuesday, Ciera Mckissick announced the studio at 2151 W. 21st St. would be closing its doors at the end of the month “due to circumstances outside of our control.” “Tension with some neighbors” who took issue with some of the music shows the studio hosted resulted in the untimely closing of AMFM, Mckissick said.

“Most of the neighbors we know come and support the space, and have been patrons of our events,” Mckissick said. “But some folks just didn’t see eye to eye with us.”

The gallery and incubator opened less than two years ago. Mckissick, the founder of the arts and music magazine AMFM, opened the gallery in January 2017, envisioned the gallery as a place to help launch careers of emerging artists in Chicago.

“It’s been an emotional couple of days,” Mckissick said.  “I’ve been sifting through emails, and we’ve gotten so much outpouring love and support. “

“It just shows how wide our community is and how we’ve impacted people, and how much they’ve impacted us,” Mckissick said vowing to continue to the work.

Comedian and podcast host Tribble, who was a resident artist during the gallery’s first year, said the gallery and the mentoring she received from Mckissick were vital in her growth as an artist that “transformed” her career.

“I worked very closely with Ciera, and helped her with events that she curated [at the AMFM gallery], while also curating my own events, working with [a limited] budget and still being able to put on a good show,” Tribble said.

Calling Mckissick the hardest working person she knows, Tribble said the AMFM owner fought to get artists paid and gave them a platform to elevate their work and creativity.

“Having a physical space is very valuable to the community,” she said, adding it’s particularly important for emerging artists who are learning to put on shows.

“It’s sad to see it closing,” Tribble said. “I think she’ll be able to open another space, if she has the time … and that’s what her focus is.”

AMFM  launched a GoFundMe page to raise $4,000 toward a new gallery and incubator space. The money will go toward finding storage for galleries items and go toward finding a new space.

Mckissick said she hasn’t identified a location for a new studio, but hopes to find another spot in Pilsen.

“Abandoning Pilsen isn’t something we want to do. But again, there’s a lot of changes in the area,” she said. “We are hoping Pilsen will still have a space for us.”

AMFM’s core mission is to promote positivity, support artists and create a culture of inclusion, Mckissick said.

“We want to make sure we can find a space and a place that will accept us fully and be able to create and continue that work and spread it around the city,” she said.

Since opening 20 months ago,  Mckissick said the arts community that bloomed there was outgrowing the studio and have expressed interest in finding a new location. But they weren’t expecting to leave “at this point in time.”

As a final farewell, AMFM will host a closing party on Aug. 31 with all proceeds helping to support the “financial burden” of the studio’s closure.

“We want folks to come out and share a memory with us,” she said. “We are celebrating the great memories [at the studio] and … new beginnings  and new doors that we hope will be opening in the future.”

In the meantime, Mckissick said, she is using this time “to reset, reconfigure, re-plan our future.”

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