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  Interview w/Kimberly Aubuchon  
  By Chris Johnson, published in citylink newspaper  
     
 

Kimberly Aubuchon runs Unit B (Gallery), an emerging presence in the East Pilsen alternative art scene. I interviewed her the day after she and her volunteers removed the paintings and movable wood sculptures from November’s show. She was recovering from Thanksgiving and enjoying an empty space for the first time after a run of seven consecutive monthly art shows. The gallery is closed for December as Kimberly plans Unit B’s display for The Stray Show, a group exhibition organized by Thomas Blackman Associates that will display booths by over 50 alternative galleries and art collectives in a 37,000 square foot warehouse at 1418 North Kingsbury, Chicago, IL. The exhibition takes place Dec. 12-15, and will expose the up and coming of Chicago’s avant-garde underground. Unit B’s booth features the work of two photographers, two painters, a sculptor and a concept performance/video duo.

Kimberly got her introduction to art shows when she studied sculpture and painting in San Antonio, showing her work in juried student shows and grass roots galleries around town. She rented a studio and warehouse with a local band.
KA: “They toured, so in the summer I would have two shows. July was Contemporary Art Month in San Antonio. The whole warehouse would be open to show with 15 to 20 artists. That’s when I started to want to take it to other levels.”
CJ: “When did you first start showing in Chicago?”
KA: “First as a student at the Institute, I got into a couple of juried shows, in 99. And since then, it was steady showing. I applied to a few out of state shows and got in. I showed in the Staff show at the MCA.”

Kimberly worked in the development office at the Art Institute while working towards her degree in Fine Arts, making contacts and seeing first-hand the business side of art. After receiving her BFA, she began working for the Museum of Contemporary Art, where she co-chaired and exhibited in a Staff show. Drawn to the growing art scene in East Pilsen, she looked for a studio to rent in the area where she would have the space to paint.
CJ: “So you weren’t looking for a gallery at this point?”
KA: “I was really more interested in a place to work.”
She opened her space as a gallery for the first time in May of this year during Art Chicago, exhibiting the photography of Megan Carr. She put up a website (www.unitbgallery.com) during the same month and sent press releases and used chicagoart.net to promote the show. Since then, the Unit B has exhibited work monthly with an eye toward the raw and the innovative. The gallery holds its opening receptions on the second Fridays of each month, along with four other galleries that form the East Pilsen alternative art collective. Unit B has received press from the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Journal, and the Sun Times, and was recently featured in the Cultural Center of Chicago’s program, Chicago Artists’ Month.

KA: “I want to keep having an intriguing compelling group of artists dialogue with the patrons and keep them interested in contemporary art. For younger people and collectors. A good third of the shows are from the art institute, and I want them to keep coming here. A lot of the work is young and fresh. Hey, a lot of times they don’t have jobs, so they have all day to work on their art, and it’s good. I want them to come here now and be refreshed by what they see and aspire to show here, if they keep that energy in their artwork throughout their career.”
“I hope the Stray Show is a good connection for that. I want to branch out to other galleries in the U.S. and try and do some shows elsewhere. There are some prime gallery estates that will be at the Stray Show from all over and I’m hoping to make a connection.”
CJ: “What do you think of the East Pilsen art scene?”
KA: “I think it’s pretty good if we can keep it up. But I think things are changing next year. 1R (an East Pilsen Gallery) is going out. They have a great opportunity in the West Loop. Some galleries are talking about moving or closing. But I really want to stay in Pilsen. I really think things are going well here.”
“I’d like to get a deal on a Halsted street place. A not for profit or some kind of sugar daddy, because you know no-one’s paying for this but me and the artists.”
CJ: “What’s Unit B got on tap after December?”
“In January, we have John Henry Marshall, he does 2d woodcuts, very painterly, and the craftsmanship is amazing. February is The Tainted Love Show, for Valentine’s Day. Duncan Anderson (with the Museum of Contemporary Art) will curate or we will co-curate, based on a call for entries. It’ll be about the downfalls, trials and tribulations of love. March is Jason Meyer. He does sculpture made from materials you might get at Home Depot. Copper tubing and he hangs about 50 worker’s lights. Really beautiful, but I hope they don’t blow the electricity in the building out. In April, we’ll feature Matt Irie and Dominick Talvacchio. They’ll curate the walls, or put photography on them, and integrate perfomance with the installation. And May is our one year anniversary.”

Unit B (Gallery) is located at 1733 South Des Plaines Street, Chicago, IL. The gallery reopens in January 2003, with openings every second Friday, and holds regular gallery hours on Saturdays from 12-5 or by appointment. Kimberly Aubuchon can be reached at (312) 491-9384, or unitbgallery@aol.com. The Stray Show runs from Dec. 12-15, 2002 at Kingsbury Place, 1418 North Kingsbury, Chicago, IL.
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