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Thursday, July 12, 2012 02:55 am

Art fun in the summertime

The Pharmacy ups the ante and throws a party

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Miasma 31 (Timber Doodle), by Kevin Veara

Since mounting its first group show on 11/11/11, upstart local art collective The Pharmacy has already become something of a Springfield institution. Along with providing work space for a variety of area visual artists, the 401 South Grand Ave. West location has also become a haven for local writers via its “Pharmacy Literati” wing, as well as something of an ad hoc community center, playing host to numerous events and workshops. This Saturday, The Pharmacy will not only hold a third group show in its warehouse space at 1022 S. Pasfield, it will also simultaneously debut a new permanent gallery space next door.

“The new space will be opened up to anybody in Springfield, not just Pharmacy artists,” explains group co-founder Andrew Woolbright. “Anyone who wants to show there can fill out a proposal. It will be for solo shows, but there will also be group, themed shows.” The gallery will be run in part by Alison Lacher, the Visual Arts Gallery Manager at UIS, who plans to bring in work from New York and Chicago artists as well as some from the Rhode Island School of Design and Michigan’s Cranbrook Academy. There will also be guest curators from like-minded arts co-ops in other Illinois communities such as Peoria and Bloomington. “Like everything we do, it will all be grassroots, volunteer-based,” explains Woolbright, who will be presenting a farewell show of his own work in the gallery in August, marking his imminent departure to study at RISDE.

Nail Nest, by Amanda Greive
Pharmacy openings have earned a reputation as vibrant, eclectic social events and Saturday promises to up the ante. The warehouse portion will be familiar to previous attendees, featuring a variety of work by member artists, while over at the gallery, UIS professors Mike Miller, Jane Harris and Dave Kube have constructed an elaborate installation involving video projection, sculpture and other disparate elements. “It’s insane,” declares Woolbright. “It’s very experiential, you’ll have to be there to see it, you’ll have to participate. I believe there will be an oracle. People can ask mysterious questions and it will grant them answers.”

Saturday will also feature food by Chomp, Springfield’s first gourmet food truck, which will set up between the two buildings. “I think people will be pleasantly shocked by it,” says Woolbright. “It’s in a truck, but it’s definitely not ‘fair food.’ It’s got that home cooking feel to it, but at the same time it’s mixing flavors and different palates in ways that most people aren’t used to.” The truck is also equipped with a sound system, allowing patrons to plug in their MP3 players, which will play out into the space. “Artistically, having Chomp at the opening is like one passion project connecting with another passion project,” enthuses Woolbright.

“This show is definitely going to have much more of the feel of a block party than the previous ones,” he concludes. “Our next show will probably go back more to violins and wine, stuff like that, but this one is definitely going to be more like beer and summer food.”

Scott Faingold has been reporting on the arts in Springfield since some Pharmacy artists were in diapers. He can be reached via scottfaingold@gmail.com

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