By Rajee Aryal
65GRAND, named after the bus route that runs on Grand Avenue, started in the apartment of owner Bill Gross, in October 2005. Gross hosted his first exhibition in the kitchen of his apartment as a going away party for a friend who was moving out of town. Soon after he curated a second exhibition for another friend whose works were hard to accommodate in a formal gallery. 65GRAND quickly became a well-known apartment gallery in the Chicago art scene. It got its first, much coveted review in ArtForum before Gross and his then girlfriend (they are now married), decided to expand the exhibition space to include the two rooms in their apartment, including their bedroom. After five years of operating as an apartment gallery, 65GRAND had to close the informal space due to city ordinance and zoning laws.
Gross, ready to relocate to a more formal space, moved his gallery to a storefront across the street and reopened in September 2010. Upon finding the space, Gross gutted the storefront and made changes that suited his aesthetic and personal requirements. The gallery space is now divided into a front and back room with a small office/storage in the middle. The backroom serves as a personal space for Gross and his family while the well-lit front room, with its clean white walls and concrete gray floors, is the exhibition space.
Exhibition history at 65GRAND includes many well-known artists such as Wendy White, Zoe Crosher and Ian Pedigo. Artists who have shown in the space come from Chicago and surrounding areas as well as cities such as New York and LA. 65GRAND (loosely) represents about eight artists who have shown in the gallery, some with as many as four solo shows in the space. 65GRAND also hosts group shows curated by others in the Chicago arts community. While 65GRAND is committed to showing new works by the artists it represents, it has also provided many exhibition opportunities for emerging artists.
The exhibition program at 65GRAND is focused on providing exhibition opportunities for artists with a broad range of age and experience. 65GRAND seeks to play an active part in fostering the careers of the artists it shows. In addition to exhibitions, 65GRAND also organizes formal and informal artists’ talks and gatherings so as to encourage a meaningful dialogue on contemporary arts. The exhibition program at 65GRAND is geared toward an exploratory agenda and in developing an audience for art works that may be seen as unorthodox and challenging.