OAKLAND — With the art market beginning to recover, Gallery Guichard could be moving to a bigger space.
“People are ready to participate again,” owner Andre Guichard said. “For a lot of people, that hasn’t happened in a couple of years.”
With the return of collectors, who suffered losses when the real estate bubble popped, he and his partner Frances Guichard are considering moving or expanding to a new gallery space planned for 436 E. 47th St.
“I think we’re moving back to a good place — anyone that survives this will be back in a good place,” he said.
BAL Development plans a $5.9 million renovation of the former apartment building into 16 live-work spaces for artists and a first-floor gallery or arts-related space. When city officials presented the proposal to aldermen considering $1.08 million in TIF support, Gallery Guichard was identified as a potential tenant.
“We’re still in discussions,” Andre Guichard said. “Quite a bit of the value [of Gallery Guichard] is the space itself.”
Gallery Guichard opened in 2005 in an Oakland townhouse to showcase art from African-American artists in Chicago and to introduce works from Africa and the African diaspora to South Side collectors.
While considering a move, the Guichards are getting ready for a visit to the American stops of Art Basel, one of the largest international art shows, and preparing for a new show in their current gallery at 3521 S. Martin Luther King Dr.
“We’re really trying to balance to compensate for the economy,” said Andre Guichard. “I would say there is a lot of pressure and it is competitive — the pressure to break even and make a profit. You have a short window to recoup tens of thousands of dollars.”
The Guichards said they enjoy traveling because it broadens their view on what collectors are seeking and what Chicago artists are producing.
“It’s moved from real literal. Everyone was painting Obama. It’s moved away from that, and I think that’s a good thing,” Andre Guichard said of Chicago artists.
“I see a lot more abstract — I see a lot more of what they’re feeling and what they’re hoping for,” Frances Guichard added.
Frances Guichard said she has noticed younger people beginning to collect art, including many seeking a bargain on a work by an established artist.
“They want to engage in the things that mean success,” Andre Guichard said, adding that collectors are increasingly purchasing installation pieces. “Most of our collectors collect the more traditional work.”
The Chicago gallery includes some installation work, but is dominated by paintings and sculptures that address how each artist defines self and other.
“Why do we distrust people so much? I think that’s important,” Andre Guichard said. “I don’t think there’s a lot of art that’s breaking it down because there are a lot of issues out there that are hard to deal with.”
The Guichards will dig into their back storeroom for a show they are currently preparing at the Oakland gallery.
“There’s always a back room or secret room where a galleryist has some special pieces,” Andre Guichard said. The Guichards will bring out about 100 of their favorite pieces from their secret room for the show, which will open in December.
Gallery Guichard is open by appointment by calling 773-791-7003.