Friends of the Arts
1800 W. Cornelia Avenue
Chicago, IL


Review from WHERE Chicago Magazine, April 1996

The Cornelia Arts Building is a bit off the beaten path and a bit on the edge. In the shadows of the "L" tracks, the structure at 1800 W. Cornelia Ave. is a gritty industrial cavern located on the corner of a residential street in Roscoe Village. Two large unadorned doors, located on Ravenswood Street, the former freight entrance, are portals of this artistic milieu. Once inside, roaming the clean, austere space akin to attending an open house for a grade school. The studios look a lot like big boxy classrooms, and the doors are often open, giving you a peek at the day's experiments. Cornelia hosts an eclectic group of tenants, including everything from set designers, sound sculptors, painters and even an S & M boutique (with a private entrance). The best way to see the building is to make an appointment with Friends Of The Arts (FOTA), a nonprofit arts support group that has been hosting exhibitions since 1988. Directors Richard Lange and Thomas Frerk, two talented artists with an penchant for making art accessible and providing a forum for non-traditional art, make the space warm and inviting, as well as educational. FOTA's philosophy is to provide a stage for artists to show works that may be pushing the envelope somewhere else, says Lange. Frerk and Lange operate Kunstwerk Galerie and Circa (773) 935-1854, respectively, across the hall from each other. Each month, the duo highlights a daring, message- oriented exhibition. Spring presentations included a debut of an exchange artist from India, new works by Circa alumni artists, and a juried show of Chicago art therapists. Also during April view "Manhood: A Graphic Portrayal of Masculine Virility," which features a dynamic group of artists integrating both form and figure of the male body.

Copyright 1996 WHERE Magazines International. Used by permission. Reproduction in whole or in part strictly prohibited.

A Sense of Friendship by Wendy Wollenberg from WHERE Chicago Magazine, December 1998

One of the best parts of the Holidays is the convivial gathering of friends and family that mark the season. In the true spirit of togetherness, the Chicago based Friends Of The Arts, a not-for-profit arts support group, has gathered a large number of its cohorts to host an annual holiday fine art sale and exhibition. This year's event is number 11.

Ground zero for Friends Of The Arts is the Cornelia Arts Building, a structure reminiscent of a factory or a warehouse that is located on a residential street in up-and-coming Roscoe Village. An eclectic array of tenants occupy the space, in keeping with the organization's dedication to providing a forum for artists who may be considered too "edgy" in other environments. Friends Of The Arts directors Richard Lange and Thomas Frerk (both of whom own galleries across the hall from each other in the building) have been organizing exhibitions since they founded the group in 1988.

An off-beat place for a holiday show, you say? Well, the 75 artists who take part in the exhibition do run the gamut in styles and subject matters. On one end of the spectrum you'll find the cheerful, almost childlike depictions of everyday items like fruit, flowers and clothing, as well as hand-painted ceramic servingware pieces by Chicago artist Marion Nixon. On the opposite end you can also discover the claustrophobic, complicated sculptures of local artist Tor Dettwiler that tackle such subjects as sleeplessness and mortality-things that the holidays themselves can cause you to contemplate. And all of this in one show, which last year was voted one of the top 10 holiday activities in the area by Chicago Social magazine.

Tor Dettwiler shows his complex sculpture at the Friends Of The Arts show (along with a) colorful fruit panel by Marian Nixon (which) makes for a well-received gift. Find Nixon's artwork, along with the work of many others, at the Friends Of The Arts sale.

Copyright 1998 WHERE Magazines International. Used by permission. Reproduction in whole or in part strictly prohibited.