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Feature Mon Mar 17 2008

An Interview with Medicine Park's Amy Cargill

Medicine Park, located at 2659 W. Chicago Ave., is a brand-new gallery space featuring work by Chicago artists of all mediums. Run by Amy Cargill and Jackie Keothavy, the space opened on Feb. 15, 2008 with a reception hosted by pop culture painter Derek Erdman and photographer Jim Newberry. The gallery's next show, Henbane: Dialectics of the Feminine Sublime, features a mixed-media menu of drawings, photo, video, sculpture by Jenny Kendler, Meg Leary, Molly J. Schafer, Amber Hawk Swanson and Stacia Yeapanisopens. The show opens March 21 with a reception from 7-11 p.m. (Video screening at 8 p.m.) Recently A/C had a brief chat with Cargill, a friendly Oklahoma native who considers her new venture "a gift."

What's your artistic background?

I have a dilletantish background in art. I paint, but I would not consider myself an artist. I'm more of a film editor by craft, more in the digital realm of filmmaking, transferring, and archiving. Sometimes I shoot video -- I've made a few documentaries [including Ladies and Gentlemen, which examines three transgendered women's efforts to promote anti-discrimination legislation in Illinois].

How do you like having your own gallery?

It's been a catalytic year of change for me, so the timing of opening the space worked out. It's new territory for me, but it's exciting to have a space that can be used for film. I'm excited about different mediums. I like the idea of an informal space where you can come and do your own thing, have friends over, make it laid-back and informal, and not be professionally trained as gallerists.

What is Medicine Park's emphasis?

We don't want to lay out any set of aesthetics beforehand, we just want to see what we get. Anything film-related I'm totally excited about, as well as mixed-media and multi-media. We just want to show new artists who aren't ... not outsider artists, really, but new and exciting. Tap into the fresh stuff out there. I kind of feel like a lot of things are recycled, with the same people just showing up at different places.

Can you tell us about Jackie, and how you teamed up?

Jackie has a background in nonprofit media and media arts. She's more of the brains behind the operation right now. We were working at a nonprofit company, the Kindling Group, editing PBS series; she was doing Web design, and one day we said, "let's collaborate ... on something."

Tell us about the space, and how you found it.

It's 1,400 square feet -- probably 100 people can come through. The front is the gallery, and there's also a loft where I'm living. We found it on Craig's List. I obsessively check for spaces, which are fewer and farther between because of all the bureaucratic bullshit, and all of the granite tabletops and such. It's nearly impossible to find a raw space or storefront these days. Everything is getting totally rehabbed.

How did you decide on that location?

This space fit our needs at the right time. I don't know of too many other spaces like this in this part of town. The price is right -- we're hoping we can stay afloat for a while.

Have you ever been a promoter before?

No, but it's getting fun. I have a lot of friends who are just smart entrepreneurs, and am taking a lot of notes from them. Also, I go to more shows and openings now than I ever have, as well as film events that I know about.

What's your take on the Chicago art scene?

I think Chicago's a great place to exist as an artist, because you can afford to. I can afford to have a gallery with no experience. I can't imagine doing that in New York.

Got any local favorites?

As far as favorite spaces and artists go, the Bucket Rider Gallery is always on it, in that it features great artists, great shows and has a great business model.

About the Author:

A native of Johnstown, PA, Lauri Apple is a contender for the title, "world's most renowned bag lady," thanks to her somewhat popular (at times) website, FoundClothing. Lauri has a JD and doesn't know why, but it will take about 30 years for her to pay it off, and that worries her. Her favorite cities are Prague, Pittsburgh, Austin and Chicago. When she's not looking through people's trash, she's either painting, taking pictures, or making/thinking about making cartoons about her weird life.

 
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Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
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Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

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A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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