By Carol Flynn
Boundary, a new art exhibit space, opened in June in the garage of the Chicago bungalow at 2334 W. 111th Pl. The co-directors are Susannah Papish, who owns and lives at the property, and Larry Lee.
Papish and Lee are not new to Chicago’s art scene. Both hold Masters in Fine Arts degrees from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and are accomplished artists. They have distinguished careers in academia and administration. Lee is associate director of undergraduate admissions for SAIC, and is a lecturer on art history, theory and criticism. Papish is an undergraduate alumni recruiter for SAIC and reviews portfolios of prospective students. She has taught at a number of colleges.
Both are passionate about nurturing and supporting artists. Lee is careful not to refer to Boundary as a “gallery” because the concept is broader than a commercial enterprise for selling art.
“Boundary is an art project space that allows artists to ‘incubate’,” said Lee. “We serve as an advocate for the individual artists who exhibit with us.”
The idea for Boundary grew out of Lee’s and Papish’s visits to alternative art spaces and pop-up galleries. They both believe that one of the wonderful things about Chicago is the positive encouragement for artists and alternative settings. This has helped to bring art out of downtown and into neighborhoods, making it more accessible and less intimidating to people.
“I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the city’s art scene, and when I travel, I love to walk through museums to see what is going on,” said Lee. “The alternative spaces and pop-ups represent the vanguard for the next generation of artists; they empower the artists to operate on the fringes or along side the existing system.”
Both add that many spaces and art districts that start out as alternative become main stream. Lee referred to this as “the natural cycle.”
In 2005, Lee began Molar Productions, which he described as a “mobile curatorial project” that allowed him to stage pop-up shows. He has helped a number of friends build out artist spaces. Lee had his eye on his long-time friend Papish’s garage for years. Papish used the garage as her studio, but after she moved her studio to her basement, Lee was finally able to convert the garage into a 420-square foot project and exhibit space.
The name Boundary was chosen because the location is on the far outskirts of the city. But the word also means a frontier, unchartered and unexplored territory beyond the edge of the known, an area for discovery. And there is the psychological interpretation of “personal boundaries” – the beliefs, opinions, attitudes, etc., that help define a person, always relevant in understanding an artist’s work.
Since the opening, two exhibits have been held. The first was “Off Normal,” featuring Chicago artist John Dodge. The second, closing on Sept. 2, was “Triple Happiness,” featuring works by Annette Hur, Julie Lai and Chinatsu Ikeda.
Preparations are underway for the opening of Boundary’s third exhibit, “ANTI/body,” by Maya Mackrandilal, on Fri., Sept. 8, 6 to 9 p.m. It is for free to the public and the artist will be present. The exhibit runs through Oct. 28 and will be open for the Beverly Art Walk on Sat., Oct. 7.
Mackrandilal is a transdisciplinary artist, writer and arts administrator. She is mixed-race with roots in the Caribbean, South America, South and East Asia, and West Africa. Her artwork explores solidarity and liberation, and radical futures, for women of color. She is the Fine Arts Coordinator for the city of Buena Park, Calif.
Parking is on the street, and visitors are greeted by the family cats while walking down the driveway to the yard and garage. Boundary is informal and approachable, yet unique and cutting edge – a welcome addition to the fluid and ever-evolving art scene in Chicago.
Info on the upcoming exhibit: www.boundarychicago.space. Appointments to visit Boundary: 773-316-0562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.