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Friday, May 24

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Feature Sun Apr 27 2008

An Interview with Get Knifed's Nate Bettinger

Residence first, gallery second, Get Knifed is a Pilsen-based artist collective project that holds shows and workshops based around themes thought up by its founders: painter Max Bare, photographer Nate Bettinger and "other" Chris Cowgill. Get Knifed held its most recent event, "Returns," in conjunction with this past weekend's Artropolis mega-event, and will host its next show -- featuring works by Bettinger and Bare -- as part of the Chicago Arts District 2nd Fridays Gallery Crawl on May 9. Recently Bettinger spent a few minutes telling Gapers Block about his home/gallery's m.o. and upcoming activities.

Tell us a bit about who you are and your space's history.

The gallery officially opened in January 2007. We are, officially, just three people who share a work/live loft. However, we were all involved in each other's projects, so we sort of thought of the idea of a group. When we moved into the space in the Chicago Arts District, we automatically got traffic: In fact, in our first several months we just opened our doors and leaned art against our unfinished walls (we had to build all the walls in our space). We really only are a gallery for the openings, though. We built temporary walls, and are able to easily convert our living space into a nice viewing environment.

Why is Get Knifed different from so many other arts organizations?

I think the main thing that sets us apart is that we have day jobs. This allows us the freedom to show work that may or may not sell. This, combined with the "automatic" traffic, is a liberating force.

What's your five-year plan?

There hasn't been a five-year plan. Until recently, there hadn't been a plan at all. Max and I meet every week and discuss the gallery and "the group" (Get Knifed Together). We have changes in store for the future and are trying to plan for them.

What's this I hear about a Get Knifed show in Germany?

We're hoping for a show in Berlin. I met some people that were here on a residency in Germany that are doing a similar thing to us. We'll see what comes if it.

What are your criteria for accepting works for shows? Who decides? Is that why you have an odd number of co-directors?

As of now, we don't have any criteria. We've always wanted to be a platform and an organization first. We've never liked the traditional gallery methods, so when we formed the group, we wanted to allow various styles and approaches to come through.

Tell us how you choose themes for shows. What was the inspiration for "Returns," and what about "Arcade?"

The themes are generally just kind of proposed and accepted. We came up with "Returns" as an attempt to get some positive work. We had a lot of negative art from some of our previous themes. Of course, even "Returns" can be interpreted in many ways; [this openness] is something we try to [consider when planning] the themes.

Max came up with "Arcade." It's an idea he's been toying with for some time. I expect his piece(s) to be exceptional.

Will you have actual arcade games at the show? Would you like someone to bring a few?

We have a Super Nintendo and a projector. However, we always encourage people to bring any props that can think of. If you're not sure, just let us know.

Who made the Get Knifed plushies, and how do I purchase one?

Lana Crooks made the plushies for the NFO Expo [a "trade show" of sorts for artists, held April 20]. If you would like to purchase one, you can either line up a time to come over, or come to our next gallery opening on May 9.

Who are your favorite local artists, or can't you say?

Get Knifed Together are the best artists in Chicago! Officially, I can't say, but only because I'm bad at stuff like that. I don't know anyone's name and I don't make it to as many openings as I should.

Get Knifed is located at 1932 S. Halsted, #201. For more info, visit the Website or email

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 Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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