Public Works | Gallery Spotlight - Design Bureau

Chris Eichenseer, Wallo Villacorta, and Annika Welander

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Photo By Christopher Kitahara

Public Works | Gallery Spotlight

Friday, October 26th, 2012

By Alyssa Meza
Gallery photos by Christopher Kitahara
Artwork as credited 

Chris Eichenseer, Wallo Villacorta, and Annika Welander don’t exactly know what to call the work shown at Public Works Gallery. But they know it’s at the intersection of art and design, in that fuzzy grey area that’s not “art for art’s sake and not design just for commercialism,” Eichenseer says. What is also known is that Public Works is the only design-focused gallery in Chicago. 

What started as group shows highlighting the work (usually print and objects) of friends probing that middle ground has turned into a permanent gallery in Wicker Park. Open since May 2011, the gallery has showcased individual work such as the pop art one-liners of Matthew Hoffman and prints and artifacts of printmaker Veronica Corzo-Duchardt. Each exhibition is coupled with a lecture series and Q&A sessions—coordinated by Welander—that show the hands behind the silkscreens, posters, and photos. It’s all about accessibility. 

The gallery curators (designers by day with visual communications agency Someoddpilot) don’t want the tone to be one of a standoffish fine arts gallery (you know the type), but rather  a comfortable atmosphere that’s as friendly to locals as a rock venue. The casual loft space’s name says it all; it’s for the public. “Design by definition means making something for the common person,” Villacorta says. “It’s an intense environment in a lot of ways but it can be pushed harder. This is work that people in Chicago need to see.” 

This fall, Public Works showed work by Storm Thorgerson, the English graphic designer whose work has graced album covers for Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Muse, and Pink Floyd. Finally, we had our chance to find out what the prism on The Dark Side of the Moon means.

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