2ND FLR Gallery
903 W 19th Street 2nd Flr
Chicago, IL, 60608
The 2ND FLR Gallery is a hot new spot in Pilsen that you should know about, and now you will. Arno Mayorga is the owner, gallerist and creative director. Marketing, PR and the seeking of new artists is handled by Darrell Roberts. Gozamos recently caught up with Arno and Darrell to get more information on their brainchild, the 2ND FLR Gallery.
When did you open 2ND FLR Gallery?
Arno: We launched 2ND FLR Gallery in July of 2009 with Darrell Robert’s solo show. The opening was a success and well-received.
What makes 2ND FLR different from other galleries?
Arno: We are not your typical white cube. We are an apartment Gallery which means that we have furniture to work with and the work is hung and placed according to the interior design elements of the space. Immediately after walking in, you have to feel as if you owned the work already and it is an art collection in your home.
Were there any obstacles to opening the gallery? Any haters?
Darrell: Arno can be bossy sometimes but that’s all. I am on a mission to give artists who need exposure exposure. I am not interested in if people like what I am doing or not.
What type of art is featured at 2ND FLR Gallery? How do you select the art you feature?
Arno: What we like to exhibit here are multidimensional creative expressions. It can be anywhere from painting, sculpture, conceptual art, performance art to digital screenings. We like to keep it varied so that there is a constant newness and audience appeal.
Darrell: We tend toward artists that are process-based; ones who like to make things–produce a product or object. I do not have to like their work but they have to have a solid body of artwork and a personal style. We are looking for artists who have made art their life. They must have a strong voice in their art making. We like to help artists get out there so they can get the exposure they need–including other exhibitions with other galleries.
How, if at all, has your background influenced the art you like, in general?
Arno: I was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and moved to Stockton, California when I was six months old. My parents were migrant workers in the fields of San Joaquin Valley and every two years we moved back to our farm in Mexico. My childhood was spent between these two worlds. I’m now settled in the neighborhood of Pilsen, here in Chicago, where I moved to in 1993. Being the son of Mexican migrant farm workers and having been exposed to the contrasts of city life has had a major impact on my life and my taste in art. Its influence can be seen in my love for vibrant color, the architectural elements of Bauhaus design and even some of my love flings with the Avant-garde. Not that these things have any relevance to being Mexican or a migrant worker, per se, but in the process of living in two varied extremes, I found that it is the extremes of expression that my taste gravitates to.
What do you think the artist’s role in society is?
Arno: The role of the artist is to express himself so that his expression creates an emotion within you and makes you question it. It is to bring a visual poem to the masses and create a temporary illusion of beauty. Society loves sports, society has no room for art. We need the artist to change this mindset. We need that creative stimulation so that society’s senses can be opened just a little bit more. Art makes you believe that anything is possible because there are no rules in art. Art just is.
Darell: Each artist develops into a style over years that is recognizable to the public the same way a signature is recognizable. Artists can do this through sound, painting, ceramics, video, installation, the possibilities are endless. Artists should bring us beauty, questions about, and appreciation of humanities to society–by providing art that is their own personal language.
Are there any big changes on the horizon for 2ND FLR?
Darrell: In the summer, we will put on digital screenings in the backyard and BBQs to bring more people into the local artist community and to expose more artists to the public.
What are some of your upcoming shows at 2ND FLR Gallery?
Arno: We have paintings by Ana Fernadez, a Latina gay artist from San Antonio. A Polaroid show from artist Daiv Whaley. And an installation from artist Gisela Isuaste.
Darrell: The next show, Texas, opens June 5th and features the work of Ana Fernandez. Her new works commentate on Chicano mythology and ritual. In September we’ll have painter Bradley Anthony Biancardi who retains a direct connect to art history and recently visited Spain–and is greatly influenced by Picasso’s Guernica painting. In 2011, Alan Lerner will have many of his multi-layered collage silkscreens on exhibit and Kim Mitseff will produce an over-the-top installation filling the entire exhibition space that will be a physical trip for people to walk through and experience.
What other major activities are you involved in outside of running this gallery?
Arno: I’m currently collaborating with United Latino Pride which is a group recently formed to help support and celebrate the LGTB in the Latino community–and to educate the Latino community as a whole. 2ND FLR Gallery is hosting the reception for Unite Latino Pride Week on Saturday, June 5. Come check it out!
For more on 2ND FLR Gallery, be sure to follow @2NDFLRGallery on Twitter and check their Facebook page. More information on the United Latino Pride week (June 6-12th, 2010) schedule of events including the opening reception at 2ND FLR Gallery can be found on the ULP Facebook page or Twitter account @ULPChicago.
The artwork featured in this article is the work of Michael Murphy (top photo), Robert MacNeill (top and bottom photo), Darrell Roberts (middle photo).