Portrait of the Gallerist - New City Chicago, by Garin Pirnia (text)

Portrait of the Gallerist
Thomas Robertello
Garin Pirnia

Thomas Robertello’s first career surprisingly isn’t as a gallery owner—it’s as a concert flutist. He has played in the Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. and for the past ten years, he has taught at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington. When not teaching in Indiana, Robertello spends most of his time running the self-named gallery he opened last April in the West Loop. He currently represents sixteen contemporary artists situated everywhere from New York to Cleveland.

Nurturing burgeoning artists in their twenties and thirties is the reason he opened the gallery. An avid art collector for years, he realized he had an instinct for discovering up-and-coming artists before they became established. Since opening its doors, the gallery has hosted diverse shows featuring sociological and politically themed works. The premiere last April exhibited all of the resident artists’ pieces. Summer saw Conor McGrady’s stark paintings on military personnel. Autumn arrived with John Delk’s “Suspension of Disbelief” show, a response to the government’s uncouth activities. For “Guantanamo,” Delk placed hundreds of goldfish in clear cells with Guantanamo Bay inmate poetry set underneath. This winter, Michael Tarbi’s provocative “The Human Condition” displayed drawings of anatomical images of animals, human organs, fetuses and limbs.

Currently, “Sidewalk Soliloquy,” by New York artist J Ivcevich, showcases acrylic images of urban construction workers, firemen, police officers and graffiti scenes. His art seems mundane on the surface, but a more compelling commentary hides beneath. Coming later in the spring, Molly Springfield will demonstrate her aptitude in making graphite drawings of photocopies with her “The Real Object” show. In the past year, Robertello and his gallery have experienced a bevy of activity and talent—it has already become an acclaimed fixture in the Chicago community, garnering a spot in April’s Bridge Art Fair. It’s only the beginning for Robertello, whose eye for innovative art is just what the Chicago art community needs.

J Ivcevich shows at Thomas Robertello Gallery, 939 West Randolph Street, (312)421-1587. Through April 21.

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