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An Artist’s Haven

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Images courtesy of Mana Contemporary

By Brandy Kraft

Four-hundred-thousand square feet of empty factory space is the type of structure that any arts community might pine for–and exactly the mammoth that Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood found itself acquiring in 2013. Eugene Lemay, a co-founder of Jersey City's Mana Contemporary (an offshoot of art storage, handling, framing, and crating company Mana Fine Arts) worked with Micha Lang to bring the concept to the Windy City. Last year, they began work on the 100 studios, exhibition spaces, dance spaces, foundry, and more that Mana offers, now functioning as an all-inclusive art factory.

This exciting hub not only brings together contemporary artists from across all mediums and age groups but also strives to connect with the surrounding community. "We work hard not only to bring exposure to artists with studios here but to serve the larger art ecosystem in Chicago," says artistic director Nick Wylie. Outreach to the Chicago educational system is a large part of Mana's artistic mission, and working relationships have already been established with several local universities and high schools.

Mana also boasts a café and artist's library and regularly hosts performance art, open studios, and exhibitions. It serves as a home base for several smaller non-profit art organizations and also houses a printer, art shipping company, and a frame shop—all on the premises. An artist's dream, indeed.

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