Loyola students lose dedicated art space

By KatherineGamby

Hide-and-seek is not only a child’s game—it is also an ongoing art exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The “Hide and Seek” art exhibit is in its premiere year and is part of a series of out- of-gallery experiences at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. It was designed to include visitors in museum exhibitions when it is undergoing some gallery reconstruction, which happens 24 weeks a year. It is a scavenger hunt for art within other art exhibitions already on display.

“What we hope to do is provide a more fulfilling, positive experience for people when they come during these installation periods,” said Erika Hanner, Beatrice C. Mayer, director of education at the MCA. “We want to slow them down as they move through the building; we want them to see art all over the building.”

Other out-of-gallery experiences at the museum include the opening of theater doors during dress rehearsals for companies performing at the MCA and water cooler talks. Hanner said it is not the museum’s priority to draw people in to see these out-of-gallery experiences, but to use them as an added bonus.

“We’re not trying to drive traffic to the out-of-gallery experiences, per se,” Hanner said. “We’re trying to satisfy the visitor that is already in the building.”

Though the exhibit came from an initiative developed by the Education and Marketing departments of the MCA, it was the idea of the associate director of the museum and curator of the exhibit, Tricia Van Eck.

“I thought this hide-and-seek would be a way to provide the viewer with an interesting experience that doesn’t necessarily have to be installed or de-installed so that it could always be there,” Van Eck said.

Van Eck said that the museum wants their audience to attend the exhibit and realize that art does not have to be confined to the gallery, much like the thinking in the ’60s.

“I think more so since the 1960s, so many artists have been blending the everyday and using the everyday as content for their artwork,” Van Eck said. “So much [of that] work deals with a way of highlighting to people or exposing them to things that they already see and overlook.”

Van Eck said there are some interactive features to “Hide and Seek,” where attendees can write advice on pieces of paper in Puck’s Café and on the third floor of the museum. They can leave them in an envelope in a plastic case for other visitors to read or to take with them.  She said that it is better for people to come in and experience the new exhibit firsthand because of the cerebral shock.

“I think that’s the most interesting thing about the show, when works of art can take you by surprise, where you think you’re seeing or hearing one thing, but it’s actually something else,” Van Eck said.

Lee Katman a visitor of the museum and director of Support Services in the Informational Resources Department at University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, said it took her by surprise when she was presented with the opportunity to experience the exhibit.

“It just happened. They said, ‘We’re doing this hide-and-seek thing’ and so it sounded fun,” said Katman. “The woman at the desk gave me a clue, I have no idea what it is, but it’s something about air pressure.”

Katman said the exhibit made her take more notice of everything around her, making her ask a woman on the elevator if she was a part of the art because of the way she was dressed.

“I think it’s actually fun because it’s exactly directed with a goal … but it’s going to make me look more at everything,” Katman said.

Admission to the museum is $12 for the public with a discounted price of $7 for students. For more information on the “Hide and Seek” exhibit, visit MCAChicago.org.


Loyola University’s Crown Center Gallery allowed students and professional artists the opportunity to share wall space. However, that harmonious union may be broken with the gallery’s closing.

Loyola’s Crown Center Gallery, 1001 W. Loyola Ave., will host its last show at the end of fall 2009.  Seniors in Loyola’s Fine Arts Department are now left in limbo until the university finds a new space for spring’s senior exhibit. The university had planned to provide adequate space in its remodeled Mundelein Center, 1032 W. Sheridan Road, but that plan was never finalized. Now, the six other Humanities Departments will take the Crown Center Gallery to compensate for its increase in faculty.

Sara Gabel, chairwoman of Loyola’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts, said the department is close to finding a replacement for students, but are still assessing possibilities.

“We will be able to make an announcement about where the show will be held before the semester is out,” Gabel said. “We’ve given ourselves that deadline, but we’re just gathering information right now. There’s a lot of just checking the cost—cost of equipment, cost of installation.”

For the past three years, the space has

grown and drawn large crowds. Nicole Ferentz, director of the Fine Arts Department, has chosen exhibits for Crown Gallery for the past two years with another faculty member and graduate student, Brenda Brammel. Ferentz said she understands the school is juggling moving departments and handling renovation, but the lack of notification was frustrating.

“The Crown Gallery was part of the Fine Arts Department for many decades, but I would be happy to let it go and have a new gallery,” Ferentz said. “That’s not what happened. No suggestion was made that was that practical.”

Brammel said the recent shows in the space were building up a more varied audience. She said she remembers being a student at Loyola in 2006 when shows saw little attention outside of the student body.

“Not too many people went to gallery openings unless it was a senior show or a student show,” Brammel said. “At a gallery opening, there would be maybe five people there, but we started having events at the shows and getting in really good stuff.”

Part of the gallery’s focus was to reach

out to the greater Roger’s Park art community and connect those artists to students. As part of the program, artists featured in exhibits would interact with students in Q-and-A format sessions with them. The university is currently considering using the Ralph Arnold Fine Arts Annex, 1131 W. Sheridan Ave., but the issue the school now faces is that space is not equipped for professional shows.

“That would reduce a scope of our gallery to student projects which might be what

happens, but we’ve been doing more than that for decades,” Ferentz said.

Brammel said she remembers many of the shows fondly. One she especially liked was the edible art contest where she made a Fruit Roll-Up Mona Lisa for the exhibit. It is currently hanging on Ferentz’s office wall.

Another show she remembers well was in October 2008, which featured printmaker Amos Kennedy. Kennedy’s affordable posters differentiate themselves from other art in their use of political and racial commentary. He said the lack of a better space for community artists works against the university’s mission to educate its students in the arts. However, he said that won’t stop artists from coming to the university.

“If a person is a professional and has a passion for what they do, the space will not prevent them from showing their work so students can see it,” Kennedy said. “If you really like what you’re doing, you put it up in the bathroom so students can see it just in defiance of that.”

The final show in Crown Center Gallery will feature the art of Sister Mary Corita, a Catholic nun and teacher.  The show’s final day is set for March 5, 2010.