While growing up, Peter Kepha remembers having to travel a far distance to experience any type of creative outlet. He and his older sister, Lauren Pacheco, wanted to give their Southwest side neighborhood something it was lacking, a nearby creative center, and so they did. In June 2010, they founded the non-profit gallery, Chicago Urban Arts Society, hoping to stimulate their community with hip, expressive art and to give artists a chance to be heard.
Kepha, CUAS’ curator, described the 2500 square foot venue that’s located in the Cermak Creative Industry District as a “creative use space” that houses the works of both local and international contemporary artists. However, the gallery owners also make the space accessible to the general public by renting it out for private events, such as wedding ceremonies and graduation parties.
“We have exhibitions, but we also like to do a lot of community programming within the space,” said Kepha. “It kind of forces viewers and people to experience art.”
Since the gallery’s inception, they’ve worked with Scholastic Books on a traveling art show that allowed children to showcase their work under the mentorship of professional artists. CUAS has also featured artists from Russia, Berlin, London, New York City and California through a collage medley exhibition.
Typically, CUAS’ installation showings would occur month to month. However, they’ve decided to display showcases every 2-3 months giving themselves time to manage other operations and time to seek out artists that can fulfill their visions for future projects.
CUAS’ next exhibition is still in the works, but Kepha anticipates it being ready for show by spring time.
“I try to always push myself and develop myself as a curator and as a person in general” said Kepha.
By Samantha Peña