Madison Street gets new art gallery

Iranian-born artist a 'towering figure' in Chicago art scene

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By Tom Holmes

Corosh Haidari, along with his son Ashkon, opened their Corosh Gallery at 7416 Madison St. at the beginning of June, relocating from Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood on the near southwest side. 

First time visitors to his gallery will be dazzled by the bold colors on his huge canvases, which can measure up to eight feet high. Haidari works with oil paint using many different techniques, often applying it to his canvases with a palette knife instead of a brush, or a pouring method. Most people would call his paintings "abstract," or "expressionism." Haidari said his paintings usually sell for between $1,000 and 20,000. 

"My style is completely different than that of any other artist, so it's hard to put in a category," Haidari said of his works. "Maybe I've started a new style."

Haidari said he's sold three works at his new location since opening and added many people have stopped by and checked out his gallery. 

 "The street has a lot of beautiful stores but I didn't see a gallery," Haidari said of his decision to open on Madison Street. "I wanted to share my work and other artists work here."

The Chicago City Council passed a resolution in 1995 calling Haidari "a towering figure in Chicago's arts community," and noted that he had spent 25 years of his professional life in Chicago, had designed seven restaurants in the city and had created "over 800 works—paintings and sculptures—many of which adorn restaurants, corporate offices and homes throughout the city."

The relocation to Forest Park is the latest step in a long journey for Haidari. He was born in in 1945 in Shiraz, Iran, a center of Persian culture for centuries, with beautiful gardens and exquisite mosques. He immigrated to Chicago in 1971 to study at the Art Institute of Chicago. He later married and raised two children—Ashkon and Raana. He became a U.S. citizen and has been creating art and designing architecture in the Chicago area for 46 years.

He and many fellow Iranians came to the U.S. in the 1970s while the Shah was still in power in Iran to study in American universities. Some returned to their homeland. Others, like Haidari, remained. 

He prefers, though, to focus on his art instead of talking about the present political situation. 

"People in Iran don't really think about that stuff.  Like people in America they go to work, come home and spend time with their families," Haidari said. "The people in Iran and America are not against each other.  That's between the politicians."

He added, "If you visited Iran, the people would welcome you.  They all speak English, especially the younger generation.  Iranians are very educated.  University is free over there."

Haidari is aware that there are some anti-Muslim feelings in the U.S. But after nearly a half century of living in the United States his experience may be different than more recent emigres. 

"I've been here so long I don't feel like a foreigner any more.  I've never had a problem with religion," Haidari said. "I see people as people. I don't divide people by religion or money."

Corosh's son Ashkon was born in Chicago and went to public schools. He now works with his father and has his own an artistic career. He's noticed some differences since moving to Forest Park. In the city, Ashkon said, people don't seem to pay as much attention to differences as do people in Forest Park.  

 "You can see in the resolution adopted by the city council in Chicago the lack of attention given to ethnicity, nationality etc., but rather an attention to the contribution of Corosh to the city," Ashkon said. "Six of the seven months of the new presidency we were located in the city of Chicago, and from my own account I must say there was not as much attention given to ethnicity/nationality in the city."

For now, the pair is pressing on with their new gallery. For now, all the works on display are created by the father and son duo. But, they plan on exhibiting another artist in mid-August. 

"On days when I don't feel happy," Haidari said. "painting makes me feel good."

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