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Mars Gallery Celebrates Chicago Art

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A trailblazing force in the Chicago art world for 25 years, Mars Gallery—the studio and gallery space of Pop artist Peter Mars, located in the West Loop district—opens a retrospective exhibit on September 19 showcasing works by the notable artists that have shown within its walls.

“Mars came to define the style of a West Loop gallery,” says co-owner Barbara Gazdik. “A more laid-back, approachable gallery to both artists and collectors—exhibition space often being a timber loft instead of white cubes and wine-and-cheese openings frequently turned into late-night bashes.”

The new exhibit features a mix of pieces, including modern and retro Pop, figurative paintings, items of Outsider Art by the likes of Howard Finster and Lee Godie and a few collaborative pieces by Peter Mars and local musician/visual artist Wesley Willis, who died in 2003. The gallery will hold its official anniversary party on September 26, and tours of Mars’s studio are available upon request.

Tireless advocates for Chicago and its artistic reach, Mars plans to continue in the West Loop, which attracts a younger, quirkier brand of art dealer. And though the next 25 years will no doubt hold change, a solid foundation is already in place.

“No one will ever have a conversation about the Chicago art scene of the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s without including a discussion of Mars,” says Gazdik. “We exhibited more up-and-coming Chicago artists over the past 25 years than any other gallery in the city. Hundreds of artists cut their teeth here—in some ways it’s a right of passage.” Through October 19; 1139 W. Fulton Market; 312-226-7808;


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