Shane Campbell Gallery, which was started by Shane and Julie Campbell in their Oak Park, Illinois, home in 2001 and became one of Chicago’s most influential galleries, giving early shows to key artists of the present moment, is closing today, Saturday, October 26.
The husband-and-wife co-owners, who are 48 and 47, respectively, made the surprise announcement on Instagram this morning, writing, “After 18 years as art dealers, we’re retiring. It’s voluntary and positive and we’re ready to take on fun and creative projects whatever they might be.”
Campbell, a regular presence at international art fairs, presented solo exhibitions by artists like Mary Weatherford, Rebecca Morris, Jonas Wood, Amy Sillman, Joanne Greenbaum, and Michelle Grabner before they achieved their current levels of renown. Its roster today numbers more than two dozen, including Mark Grotjahn, Tony Lewis, Nikki Maloof, Adam Pendleton, and Amanda Ross-Ho.
The first version of the gallery operated out of the Campbells’ Oak Park residence while Shane was teaching art history at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he sometimes found new artists to show. In 2003, they expanded to a 150-square-foot space in another home, before becoming a full-on storefront operation in Chicago in 2006.
That somewhat unusual path into business was indicative of the gallery’s idiosyncratic ethos. After opening an additional, by-appointment-only space in a Lincoln Park apartment in 2012, Shane told the Art Dealers Association of America that the “intimate, homey feeling” was “conducive to conversation and cocktails. I like to create a trap, a trap for art.” The gallery’s website also hosts a “recommended reading list” that ranges from books of art criticism by Rosalind Krauss and Dave Hickey to novels by Bret Easton Ellis and J. G. Ballard.
The gallery’s shuttering comes as a number of mid-tier dealers have been calling it quits, citing the cost of participating in fairs and competing with mega-galleries, which scoop up promising artists. The statement from Campbell focused largely on personal reasons.
“I’ve never wanted to have a real job and the past few years, the gallery has become more of a job than a labor of love and so it’s time for something different,” Shane said in it. “I got into art because of the freedom it offered and its radical ability to expand my concept of culture. Jules and I met through studying art at college and art has been at the core of how we raised our kids.”
That said, the statement does go on to argue that art has “been increasingly muddled by the unbridled capital stoking an art world that can’t figure out the difference between its tastes and desires.”
Campbell hosted some 200 shows over its run, and it presently has two spaces—a main location in South Loop, and the private venue in Lincoln Park. Its final exhibition is a solo show by the inventive New York abstract painter Zak Prekop that had been scheduled to end its run today.