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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Wicker Park’s Springboard Arts Gallery Aims To Elevate Underrepresented Artists, Welcome Novice Collectors

Springboard Arts Chicago, 1910 W. North Ave., opened this winter in Wicker Park. "We are committed to building space that welcomes the most novice art-buyers and serious collectors alike."

Springboard Arts Gallery, 1909 W. North Ave.
David Kogan / Provided
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WICKER PARK — Novice art collectors and emerging artists have a new destination in the Chicago art scene.

Springboard Arts Chicago, 1910 W. North Ave., opened this winter in Wicker Park. The gallery aims to provide a place for emerging and underrepresented artists to sell their work while creating a welcoming environment for first-time art buyers.

Launching the gallery during the coronavirus pandemic will hopefully connect neighbors directly with artists at a time when art is needed, said Donna Van Eekeren, Springboard Arts president and CEO.

“Art has the incredible power to bring light to people’s lives during the darkest
times,” she said. “Our hope with unveiling the gallery in the midst of a pandemic is to offer light to those in need in our community and help to fill homes with cultured and storied beauty.”

Springboard Arts joins a neighborhood known for art. Gallery Cafe is a coffee shop where you can browse work from local artists. Studios and exhibits within the Flatiron Arts Building, such as gallery no one, overlook Wicker Park’s bustling six-corner intersection at 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave.; Jackson Junge Gallery, 1389 N. Milwaukee Ave.; and David Leonardis Gallery, 1346 N. Paulina St., also call Wicker Park home.

Springboard’s layout makes it unique among other galleries, Van Eekeren said, as the gallery has adjustable dividers, seating areas and two coffee bars. The gallery’s use of technology also stands out, she said.

Clients can use an LED projector to see how a piece might complement their wall color. They can also use a digital preview tool on Springboard’s website to superimpose a piece onto a photo of their home’s interior for an idea of what it would look like if they bought the art.

Credit: David Kogan / Provided
Springboard Arts Gallery, 1909 W. North Ave.

“One of the hardest parts of buying art is finding a piece that both resonates with you and matches your home,” Van Eekeren said. “… We are committed to building space that welcomes the most novice art-buyers and serious collectors alike.”

Springboard Arts aims to provide a platform for artists who are otherwise underrepresented and unable to access a traditional gallery setting, Van Eekeren said.

Artists have said they’re no longer able to afford to live in Wicker Park due to gentrification. Under the leadership of Heaven Gallery’s Alma Wieser, the Equity Arts project aims to save artists from displacement.

RELATED: ‘I Feel Like I’m Burying My Neighborhood’: Wicker Park’s Cultural Scene Is A Shell Of What It Once Was. Can A Group Of Artists Save What’s Left?

“We’re acutely aware that the human experience is not one-size-fits-all and wish to reflect that in our exhibitions,” Van Eekeren said.

In addition to rotating exhibits, Springboard hopes to connect artists with neighbors through events.

At 4 p.m. Saturday, Erica Hubbard of the Art Institute of Chicago will moderate a Q&A with Chicago artist Paul Branton inside the gallery.

A limited number of guests can attend. Social distancing and masks are required. Register here. You can also tune in virtually on Instagram Live.

Van Eekeren said she’s noticed two themes in recent artwork: Artwork is reflecting artists’ search for meaning or clarity while processing the uncertainty of the world, and the connection between artists and their changing environments has been persistent.

“As the human experience continues to evolve as the world navigates COVID, it’s imperative to represent these perspectives,” she said.

The gallery’s open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesdays and Friday-Sunday. Guests can book a 45-minute appointment online.

For more information, call 773-698-6869, email or visit the gallery’s website. Artists can submit their work for consideration here.

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