This past year has been rough for the Urban Edge gallery to say the least. When I think of Urban Edge, I used to think of it as a gallery that could be counted on to bring intriguing, original art exhibits to Waukegan. Over the last year that hasn’t been the case as it unfortunately has been very hit and miss as to whether this gallery will have an art exhibit on display and as a result I’ve been a bit of a let down. I know I am not alone in lamenting what has become the all too often absence of shows at the gallery.
The general consensus seems to be that the sporadic absence of the Urban Edge has been detrimental to ArtWauk this year. I’m not sure if people were aware of the impact of this gallery, but there’s certainly no denying it after seeing proof first-hand over that last year. The very disappointing part of all this is that future of Urban Edge is very uncertain. Even the one of the curators of the gallery, Vickie Marasco, said that it was bittersweet hanging the work for the current show. There are still a couple opportunities to visit the gallery one last time as it’s open the next two Saturdays, but yesterday may have been the last chance to visit the gallery as a staple of the ArtWauk circuit.
While I mainly think of Urban Edge for the great art exhibits that were brought within walking distance to my home, I was reminded in my research that at times it was more than only a gallery. It saw use for a variety of events including live music, book signings, stand-up comedy, and much much more. Of course since I’m a visual artist, I always made sure to pay a visit to see the artwork offered up by the gallery. There was so many great pieces that graced the walls of the gallery that it’s hard to focus in on one show. Although, if you really wanted me to pick one I’d say Xavier Nuez’s photography from when Urban Edge first opened. His work is simply stunning and I could only dream of ever emulating it.
I always appreciated that while they brought in a ton of work from highly regarded artists, they also gave local artists a chance. I nearly took advantage of every opportunity to exhibit there as an “On the Edge” artist. In fact by participating in those, my art nearly bookends the existence of the gallery. The first time had work on display there was in December 2011, which was the second month that they were open. Then by submitting a piece in the “On the Edge” 4’x4’ art challenge, I currently have a piece on display at the gallery right now.
It was also very refreshing when they gave significant wall space in the gallery to individual local artists from time to time. Some of those who come immediately to mind are Tracy Adams, David Motley, Mary Neely, David Dallison, Jay Stephen, and Jillian Chapman. It always felt like a prestigious group that I wanted to join, but I might have to call it quits on that dream. Not sure what the future holds for Urban Edge and all I really feel like I can do is hope for the best.