Go Back
In the Early Days...


Excerpt from "Gallery Tripping: business for art's sake in Haymarket Square"



At first, they approached the merchants in the area with some trepidation. “We had never done anything like this before,” Schwartz recalls. “We were so green. We went to places and asked, ‘Can you give us anything?’ Now it’s everybody’s pet project.”


The Haymarket Square area has its peculiar charms – dozens of fresh fish and meat markets, scores of fruit and vegetable stands, assorted wholesale and retail candy outlets – all of which lend a distinctive aroma to the neighborhood. Yet despite the gustatory delights the Haymarket provides, the neighborhood has lacked – how can I put it? – a certain aesthetic flavor.
Till now. Sarah Schwartz, 25, and Patricia Miller, 24, have decided to add a little art to the aromatic ambiance of the Haymarket Square. These ambitious and ebullient young artists have formed a nonprofit organization called Randolph Street Gallery, Inc. The gallery, located at 853 W. Randolph, opens Friday night, displaying the work of Robert Richter, who paints on 6-foot by 12-foot slabs of wood.
Don’t expect a crowd of snobbish aesthetes at this opening. Schwartz and Miller have established the gallery to serve the neighborhood, and it’s the neighborhood folks who are the gallery’s most important patrons. Rather than financing the gallery solely through membership fees, and thus limiting the audience, the two young women set out to cultivate community interest. And they succeeded. With a combination of irresistible charm and unswerving dedication, Schwartz and Miller have garnered the moral and financial support of numerous Haymarket area businesses. What they’ve done is indeed remarkable; not only are they bringing art into what seems an unlikely environment, but they’ve also tapped the spirit of a community whose interests seem strictly commercial.
“ I feel this is more of a community than any neighborhood I’ve been in,” says Miller. A few fellow artists warned Schwartz and Miller that the businesses might not be receptive to their project, but the response has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. New Management, a local real estate firm, has allowed Schwartz and Miller to use the gallery space rent free for one year. Other neighborhood firms have donated electrical supplies, dry wall, office equipment, stationery – and the list goes on. “The attitude of the businesses,” says Miller, “is wonderful. All the businesses have been here for years. They are mostly family owned. They have been like big brothers to us.”
Chicago Reader, July 20, 1979