This post continues my series “In-Sync with…” aimed to get a closer look at contemporary artists and art professionals from Chicago and abroad. Read it, enjoy it, share it, and get in-sync with artist and 4Art inc Gallery owner Robin Rios. Do not miss her personal recommendations at the end of the interview.
Robin Rios is a hard working art professional running successfully both her art career and the gallery she started 10 years ago. 4Art Inc is located in the 4th floor of the Zhou B Art Center. You can visit the gallery openings every Third Friday of the month from 7 to 10 pm. Robin not only has come a long way but also has a long career ahead of her helping artists brake their way into the art world. Enjoy!!!
ABOUT ROBIN RIOS
Sergio: Where did you go to school (college/university) and what degree you received?
Robin: I attended the Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago I received my BFA in Visual Communications in 2003. I was 29 when I went back to school after a ten year stint in the corporate world. Although I really enjoyed my time at school, I believe it was my corporate background the really prepared me for both my art and gallery career.
Sergio: What is your website?
YouTube : Mini Artist Documentary – by Abel Berumen
ABOUT YOUR WORK
What are you working on and what inspires you right now?
Robin: I am working on a few things right now, another chessboard that has been inspired by my long time love of Star Wars. I just finished another piece, 24×32 titled “The Impact”, that is part of my nine year body of work called the Observation Series. I am also very excited to start working on some more masks. Masks? You may be wondering, I actually started them for a photo-shoot I did for my Four Horseman Pieces and it was just so much fun to make them and they are all created using recycled and other mixed media and are all one of a kind. They are wearable and they also make for a nice piece of art hanging on the wall. In any case I am making them for a up coming Chicago Art Girls show, May 11th.
Sergio: How does a typical day in your studio/creative space looks like? Describe your creative process (theory, conceptualization, production, evaluation, presentation).
Robin: A typical day for me doesn’t always begin with art as I have a lot to do for the gallery as well. But for me it always feels like I am being creative in one aspect or the other. When I am able to delve into my art I feel as if the wait was a crucial part of my creative process, in that my mind, body and spirit become a sort of incubator where all of my emotions, thoughts, dreams and planning are stored for a time until I am able to release it. I describe it this way; it’s like turning a child loose in a candy/toy store. It’s exhilarating. Although I’m not always physically able to start working on a piece, it’s certainly always alive inside of me and continually building its momentum on a subconscious level.
Sergio: Do you find social media to be a distraction or an asset for you as an artist and how do you deal with it?
Robin: Social Media can be a distraction for me sometimes. I find that I am forcing myself to stay away from it from time to time. I think as an artist I much prefer personal contact with living, breathing individuals. Sitting in front of the computer or texting on my phone is certainly not a place to find inspiration. I find that it actually manages to dull the senses in many ways.
Sergio: What is your biggest challenge as a contemporary artist?
Robin: I am always in pursuit of learning new things and pushing my art in new and exciting directions, but ultimately I enjoy everyday and the process of my creative expression.
Sergio: How much does the art market influences your art production/output?
Robin: I am an artist with my own distinctive voice and I am focused on being true to myself as an artist. My art pulses through my veins and it keeps me connected to the world. I really have no concern about being influenced by the art market to create because it matches someone’s drapes or for any other reason that wouldn’t match who I am as an artist. I want my art to move people and those who collect my work do so, first and foremost, because they were moved by it. I’m just not interested in the “Hottest Art Trend” or the “Who’s Who” in the art world.
Sergio: What’s next for you (exhibits, projects, travels, residencies, etc)?
Robin: May 11th I am part of the Chicago Art Girls Event. Then I want to work on more chessboards this year. I have a few really exciting idea’s that I have been dying to get busy on. I will be heading to Portland Oregon in June for a Trip down the Coast. I intend to shoot a lot of nature!! I am planning to also spend some time this year in pursuing more exhibition opportunities for my work. Sometimes with running the gallery, I tend to put everyone else first leaving very little time for myself. But I’m ok with that for the most part; I will do what I can… when I can….
ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART & GALLERY WORK
Sergio: When did you start 4Art Inc?
Robin: I started the gallery almost immediately after graduating college. I graduated in June 2003 and opened the Gallery in October 2003. So this year is going to be my Ten year Anniversary and couldn’t be more proud. I have just really taken one day at a time so to be ten years down the road is amazing to me. I just never really saw this day coming. Not that I didn’t want it to be so, I just did all I could do for that very moment and tomorrow would be handled when I got there.
Sergio: How did you find out about the Zhou B Art Center?
Robin: I knew artists from the center and I had also been following and reading about the Zhou Brothers. The Brothers had also attended a few of my exhibitions at my gallery over the years. And I remembered feeling quite special because of that. Then to be welcomed with open arms and encouraged to keep following my dreams here at the center, well, there are no words really to describe it.
Sergio: What is your goal/mission as a gallery?
Robin: My mission has always been in the mentoring of artists and art enthusiasts. I have been family, friend, therapist and consultant and I have been happy to wear any hat needed to help other artists. I am certainly not perfect or have all the answers, but I do what I can for anyone who comes to me. I don’t just have a gallery of artist, we are essentially a family and this is their home. We work towards our goals as artists knowing that we are all in support of one another.
Sergio: How do you manage your artist and gallery owner careers?
Robin: Well that is not easy, by any means. I just do what I can. When its time for me to creative I can’t think of anything else, that’s when the gallery duties are put aside and I am 100% focused on my art. Same thing happens for the gallery, if I had to describe it; I’d say its organized chaos that can easily teeter on insanity. But I LOVE IT…
Sergio: What is the submission process for artists who may be interested in showing with 4Art Inc?
Robin: I have all my submission information and application on my website http://www.4artinc.com/submission.htm . I offer both a Collective Member spot, which is a 3 month minimum non-exclusive commitment and a Guest Artist Spot opens up from time to time where an artist can be apart of the gallery for one month and then have the opportunity to join the collective.
Sergio: What is your opinion about the Chicago art scene?
Robin: I worry that artists are creating works that they think people will like and buy. Over all, not just in Chicago, It disturbs me to think that the artists’ creative spirit will be lost within the ever fleeting and fast paced Ecommerce and Digital Age.
Sergio: Do you believe gallery representation today is as important as it has been in the past?
Robin: I believe that it has its importance and its flaws. Artists certainly need venues to showcase their works. This is important. But today, what does Representation really mean today…. I do know that artists need more comprehensive resources. So that it doesn’t seem like its only industry privilege to have such knowledge. I have always believed in “Together we can fight a war, alone we are defeated.”
Sergio: As an artist and gallery owner, what is one piece of advice for another artist wanting to start a gallery?
Robin: You must have a deep passion for what ever you wish to pursue in life. Without it, it’s just another daily chore. It really is as simple as that.
Art movie or documentary…
This is a great site to check out to see art documentaries http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/category/art-artists/
Art museum… http://www.museumofcontemporarycraft.org/
Contemporary artist (other than yourself)… Ned Broderick
Place to be inspired by… WITHIN
One sentence advice for an art student… “Don’t be afraid to seek knowledge; with every door that is closed there will be one that will be open. Don’t give up.”
Chicago cafe/restaurant… Bridgeport Café & May St. Café Restaurant