Elgin brings back its Next Wave Art Salon
By Chris Peterson For Sun-Times Media September 6, 2012 11:22AM
Next Wave Art Salon
♦ Sept. 7-8
♦ Haight Warehouse, 166 Symphony Way, Elgin
Updated: September 6, 2012 11:22AM
For the third year in a row, the Next Wave Art Salon will transform part of downtown Elgin into an artistic free-for-all. The salon, presented by the city of Elgin, the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission and the Next Wave Committee, will bring together more than 200 local artists as well as artists from the greater Chicago area and other states.
The Next Wave Art Salon is unique because of its all-inclusive nature. Carl Brahms, co-chair of the salon and member of the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission, says the works on display will range from paintings and sculptures to performance art and dramatic readings.
“The idea is to sort of take some of the tenets of Burning Man, where one of the rules is to be radically inclusive,” Brahms said. With no entry fees, curators or set themes, the Next Wave Art Salon can feature everything from quilts to homemade robots. The concept is based on the idea of the salons of the 17th century, which brought together artists, philosophers and thinkers from various backgrounds and provided them with an opportunity to share ideas without censorship.
“It’s a wide-open process to provide everyone with an opportunity,” says Elgin Cultural Arts Commission spokesperson Sean Hargadon. “It’s really inspiring for young artists who are coming up because they have a chance to rub shoulders with established artists.” In addition to the opportunity to share their work with the public and other artists, those participating in the Next Wave Art Salon will have the chance to win a share of $3,000 in prize money for the work judged to be the best by the committee.
More important than the prize money is the sense of community and inspiration that the salon creates, according to Brahms. “Ideas are spread, and there’s these interesting connections that are made and a community starts to form out of that,” he said.
A big part of fostering that community is the use of the Haight Warehouse as the venue for the salon. The historic building gives the artists a “blank canvas” in which they can arrange their work to maximize its effectiveness as well as play off the works by others surrounding it, Brahms said. “It just allows for more creative freedom,” he added.
Hargadon said the committee expects practically every inch of space inside the warehouse to be filled, with some artwork stretching from floor to ceiling, and side rooms being taken up with performances and cocktail tables. The building’s loading dock door also provides the space with a wide-open feel that invites the public inside. “It’s a very exciting experience because it’s very open and fun,” Hargadon said.
Using the Haight Warehouse does more than provide area artists with a place to mingle and share ideas, however. Hargadon said having the Next Wave Art Salon in the warehouse has been a great way to repurpose an existing structure and bring new life to the city’s downtown. “It’s exciting to see downtown Elgin doing something like this,” he said.
Brahms compares the use of the Haight Warehouse to the various “pop-up” art galleries that take advantage of vacant commercial space to display works by local artists. “(This event) shows how you can reuse and elevate a downtrodden property or a space that’s been left dormant,” he said.