A new contemporary art gallery in Forest Park is brightening up Madison Street and has brought with it a splash of culture to the ‘watering hole of the Western Suburbs.’
Artist Jay Boeldt, an Oak Park resident and former artistic director of the Harrison Street Co-op, has chosen to open his Plan B Gallery in Forest Park, making it the first of its kind in the village.
Although the gallery has been open for a few weeks, the official opening reception will take place on June 17 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The grand opening for the gallery will feature the work of two fellow Harrison Street Co-op members, Janet Emison, of Oak Park, and former Oak Parker Christy C. Wallace.
“We named the show ‘Together Again’ because it’s a reunion for all of us ever since the Harrison Street Co-op was disbanded,” Boeldt said. “It’s great to open with friends”people whose work I respect”and it’s going to be a great show because they’re both amazing artists.”
Originally Boeldt said he was looking to start his gallery in Oak Park on Lake Street.
“I would walk around that area and all of the rent prices where so high you would think it was Chicago,” Boeldt said. “Eventually I found this place [7453 W. Madison St.] and the rent, a third of what would it would be in Oak Park and Chicago, along with the space and location were perfect.”
As for his gallery, Boeldt said he plans on correcting everything he sees wrong with the cold and impersonal modern art galleries in Chicago.
“I would go to the big name galleries in the city and it would always be a horribly intimidating experience; you would show up and there would be some college student behind the counter that wouldn’t even acknowledge your presence; the owner was never there, and you would be given no information about the artist or his work,” Boeldt explained. “I brought some friends and they were shocked at the lack of approachability.”
The Plan B Gallery does not have a cold, rigid, do-not-touch feel. In fact, Boeldt is so lax and comfortable with his artwork that he encourages people to feel the texture of his paintings.
The gallery’s walls are white, the ceiling is tin, the floors are carpeted and its track lighting makes for a very warm and inviting environment.
“We hope to take the fear out of the art buying process and make it more personal,” Boeldt said.
Another distinctive element: the prices are not mounted on the wall next to art. They are only available upon request, helping make the process of appreciating the art easier, and buying it less intimidating.
Boeldt added, “this gallery is for the community to come and experience art; it’s so people don’t have to travel to Chicago and be intimidated in big galleries.”
Boeldt own art is pop impressionism, he explained. His art follows in the footsteps as such greats as Andy Warhol and his Campbell’s Soup campaign.
There is a twist to his pop impressionism, however, as Boedlt described his work as taking everyday objects and placing them into pop culture by elevating their image in a simple abstract light with an array of colors.
“I really don’t want my work to seem literal it should be somewhat abstract,” Boeldt said.
“I want people to come in and learn: learn about the artist, learn about the art, and learn about the style because true art is more than just a $20 poster of the Monet Water Lilies.”