Art & Art History
The Free Store
The Free Store exhibition at Gallery 400 is an installation of a nomadic, temporary free store run by Melinda Fries, Salem Collo-Julin, and Biggest Fags Ever (Zena Sakowski & Rob Kelly) that irregularly visits a variety of Chicagoland neighborhoods. The gallery audience is invited to involve themselves: they are encouraged to come to the store, bring with them anything they wanted to give away, and take anything they wanted. There is no restriction on what they could take—no trading or bartering was necessary. The audience is welcome to take and leave as much or as little as they chose.
The Free Store took as its inspiration the long-running gift-economy tradition of swap shops, free shops and other similarly named initiatives where materials and services are offered free of charge. Free stores had a brief heyday in the U.S. during the late sixties, with perhaps the most famous example being the free store run by the radical theater/community-action group the Diggers in the San Francisco Bay area. For links to recent examples of free shops, visit The Free Store website: freestorechicago.org
The Free Store‘s relationship to Temporary Services ’ Art Work: A National Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics exhibition at Gallery 400 creates a dialogue about art and commerce within the gallery space. Several related events were also held, including a discussion with workers from The Greenhouses of Hope at the Pacific Garden Mission about “closing the loop,” a film and video screening called The Shopping Show curated by UIC assistant professor Ben Russell, a two-day local maker and publisher fair, a free concert with Lert Somboom Festival of Love, a screening of the documentary “You ’re Gonna Miss Me,” and drawings of money created within the gallery by local artist Harold Jeffries.
The Free Store is presented concurrently with Art Work: A National Conversation about Art, Labor, and Economics.
Biggest Fags Ever (Zena Sakowski & Rob Kelly), Melinda Fries, and Salem Collo-Julin
The Free Store, 2011
mixed media installation
Melinda Fries, Salem Collo-Julin, and Biggest Fags Ever (Zena Sakowski & Rob Kelly)
The Free Store
January 26–March 6, 2010
Opening Reception: Wednesday, January 27, 5-8 pm
The Free Store is a nomadic, temporary free store that irregularly visits a variety of Chicagoland neighborhoods. The Free Store, open during all gallery hours, invites you to be involved: come to the store, bring stuff you want to give away, and take stuff that you want. There is no restriction on what you can take—you don ’t have to trade or barter. Just take it.
The Free Store takes as inspiration the long-running gift-economy tradition of swap shops, free shops, and other similarly named initiatives where materials and services are offered free of charge. Free stores had a brief heyday in the U.S. during the late sixties, with perhaps the most famous example being the free store run by the radical theater/community-action group the Diggers in the San Francisco Bay area. For links to recent examples of free shops visit The Free Store website: freestorechicago.org.
The Free Store will be open for business during all related events (see below listing).
To be successful, WE NEED YOUR ITEMS OR SERVICES. Items can be dropped off at Gallery 400 during open hours. The Free Store organizers are always happy to accept donations (everything except for people, animals, and illegal/toxic substances).
Contact The Free Store directly: email@example.com or 773-562-1428.
Delisi, Joe. “Gallery 400: Art Work Magazine and The Free Store.” The Argus (Chicago), Feb. 24, 2010.
Foumberg, Jason, and Nate Lee. “Eye Exam: Making Art Work for You.” newcity.com, Feb. 16, 2010.
Liu, Bing. “Gallery 400: A Two Day Art Fair.” The Argus (Chicago), Feb. 28, 2010.
Morgan, James David. “Chicago ’s Shadow CAA and the Radical Art Caucus.” groundswellcollective.com, Feb. 10, 2010.
Weinberg, Lauren. “The Free Store/Art Work.” TimeOut Chicago, Dec. 7, 2009.
The Free Store is just that—a store where everything is absolutely free to take. It happens on an irregular basis (usually every few months or so) and travels to a variety of publicly accessible spots around Chicagoland.
Each store features stuff—everything from books and clothing to mechanical parts and cans of food—given to the organizers by people who didn’t need or want it anymore. Visitors can come and take anything they want. No reciprocation is expected. Visitors are also welcome to bring stuff to the store that they want to give away. They can take as little or as much as they want and give as little or as much as they want. Leftover stuff is saved for the next store installment.
The Free Store is an ongoing project and traveling spectacle coordinated by artists Salem Collo-Julin (b. 1974), Melinda Fries (b. 1962, Ohio), Rob Kelly (b. 1968, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) , and Zena Sakowski (b. 1968, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada).
Postcard: Art Work, The Free Store
Poster: Art Work, The Free Store – Events, Opening Reception
The Free Store is supported by the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago, and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.