Help ACRE, Chicago’s Much-Loved Artist Residency, Move Into a Funeral Home

by Corinna Kirsch on May 26, 2015 Fundraiser + Newswire

A former funeral home will soon be full of artists. ACRE, a summer residency held in Steuben, Wisconsin with an ongoing series of exhibitions in Chicago, Illinois, will move into a permanent space this September, to 1345 West 19th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood. Purchasing a building is a big deal for any nonprofit—in any metropolitan real-estate climate it’s nearly impossible for artists to compete with luxury developers.

With a bit of luck, ACRE did. The former funeral home was purchased by ACRE co-founder and director Emily Green, which she will then “rent” to the residency. “It’s going to be below-market rate for awhile,” says Green, who adds that after a year of searching for a space, ended up writing a letter to the owners of the former funeral home. They let her purchase below the ask because they wanted the building to go towards artists, and not developers.

Let me repeat: the space was acquired, in part, by writing an old-fashioned letter.

Up until now, the residency has been run without a “real” office, and just a 400 sq. foot gallery. In comparison to the residency’s former home, the new ACRE will be home to an office, library, and exhibition space on a first floor of 2,200 sq. ft., with a courtyard and coach house in the back. But there’s a lot of work to be done before the September launch of the West 19th Street gallery space: ACRE launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to build out the building into an exhibition venue proper.

If you can give to the campaign, you should: ACRE’s city-country model is rare, and it’s one of the reasons why the residency has been able to stick around for half a decade, even on a shoestring budget. When you’re not in art school, it can be hard to find a community throughout the year. Since the artist-run residency began five years ago, over 300 artists, mostly from Chicago area, have trekked north to ACRE’s wooded cabins.

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