HYDE PARK — A group of artisans is trying to start a new gallery to show and sell their work — sorry, North Siders need not apply.
“We’re focusing on artists on the South Side,” said Cindy Pardo, a quilter and the former owner of a fair trade boutique in Hyde Park who is spearheading the Handcrafted/South project. “It’s not that we wouldn’t accept North Side artists, but there are more opportunities available to them.”
Pardo is trying to recruit about 20 artists to be the charter members of a cooperatively owned store. She is proposing artists rent out a slice of the store to display their work and the money be used to hire a professional staff to run the shop.
“I think the best thing is the business angle is handled and you can just think about your work,” said Mary Young, a Hyde Parker who has returned to textile art since retiring and is considering joining the collective.
Young said she has struggled to get her work in North Side stores and doesn’t like the idea of only selling through an online store. She said selling handcrafted art is different from other products and benefits from being seen in person.
“If it wasn’t different, you wouldn’t have places like the Art Institute,” Young said.
Pardo echoed Young’s sentiment and said she thinks other South Side artists feel the same.
“Being able to pick it up and touch it is an important way to understand an artwork,” Pardo said. “Also, when people are in a store and put their hands on something, they are much more likely to buy it.”
Until last year, Hyde Park had a place for artists to sell their work, Artisans 21, a cooperative gallery owned and operated by the artist members. Declining revenue and waning interest from the core group of artists caused the gallery to close in December.
Pardo, who ran a fair trade goods store in Hyde Park until May, said she has learned from watching Artisans 21 and she thinks the concept is still viable on the South Side.
“I would love to see it in Hyde Park, I think it’s something Hyde Park needs and I see a good potential customer base,” Pardo said.
She said she is defining handcrafted art loosely and is looking for basket weavers, leatherworkers, soap makers or any other maker of artisanal products on the South Side.
She said once the starting roster of artists is set, she will start shopping for a place for Handcrafted/South.