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Meet Hannah Litvan of Ice House Gallery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Litvan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Hannah. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I went to school for studio art and creative writing hoping the combination of skills paired with great internships would land me a sweet art job in a big city… wrongo. The art job market is flooded with newly trained artists waiting to burst into the scene, but saturated with the experienced artists all the job openings are targeting.

There was no room for a newbie like me, so, after applying to hundreds of jobs, I turned to myself and my community to make my own art space. I talked with quite a lot of Evanston artists, citizens, business owners, and gallery owners to pick their brains about their work as well as what they thought Evanston could use from an art space. We opened in October 2017 after we found a hip warehouse space to freshen up. Ice House Gallery was born of many minds; but overall I wanted to provide a space for new artists to showcase and gain gallery experience and for buyers to bring home locally-made creations, as well as be a place of expression through our private studios, classes, and live concerts and creative performances.

We’ve been open just shy of seven months now and I think I hit the right chord with the Evanston creative community. We have an art opening every month, our studios are bustling with artists, our classes continue to grow and our concerts and performances have been enjoyable. We still have a lot of learning and growing to do, but, with the input of the community, we’re certain to do it right!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Getting open was the most difficult issue. Old spaces are tough to wrangle. It took about a year to build out our space and get up to code, but ultimately that gave us more time to brand ourselves, research, find more artists and plan for the future. It was hard, though, to exist without a phone, internet, working address, or storage.

Once we were told we’d be open in June 2017, so we gathered up all the art and were ready to pounce, but wound up in the complex world of construction deadlines (and how they’re never right). We held a sidewalk sale the day we advertised for our opening and afterwards I kept all the leftover art in my 250 square foot studio apartment. It was a squeeze! But that day was successful and I’m sure it made our eventual October opening even bigger.

Certainly, the biggest challenge of owning a business is owning a business! It’s mostly on-the-job learning, and you have to be so flexible to adapt and learn. There are way more ins and outs than you think, and the job is never over! I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and sent emails on my phone to stay on top of my never-ending to-do list. But it’s important to stay positive, see the silver lining, and designate time off for yourself.

I would say the most important lesson I’ve learned is making sure to hear and adapt to the community’s desires from the space. For example, the second floor was intended as a co-op artist space, but we quickly noticed artists were looking for private studios, so we had to redo the build-out, but now we’re full!

Please tell us about Ice House Gallery.
Ice House Gallery sets itself apart from other art spaces with its multifacetedness.

We show many new and emerging artists. I personally work with artists who are new to the gallery scene to make sure their work is prepared, and we’ll talk pricing, presentation and adverting. They can move on to other galleries with this experience under their belt.

Our space is huge so we can show up to 25 at a time. This leads to a dynamic display and there’s always something different to see. With so many different artists, mediums, and styles, anyone is bound to find something they appreciate.

We take pride in providing creative space for artists to use and developing artists to learn in. All our teachers create their own curriculum and anyone can take our classes so long as they desire to develop their artistic ability.

Our concerts have been so fun thus far, and I feel we’ve brought in some great poets, actors and storytellers. We have an event every month, always with local performers who want to share their talents with their community. Often the music is originally-composed performances in a gallery setting just look so cool.

I want us to to be a space for expression and enjoyment for any kind of art, visual or otherwise. I take pride in listening to what artists and people who enjoy the arts suggest for space so we can share a vision.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
We’re still a bit new, so luckily no major regrets! I know I would tell myself to take more deep breaths and relax in the off time. Taking a moment for yourself to just be is so important and I know I over-stressed a lot over things which we not in my control.

Pricing:

  • Art anywhere from $10 to $1000
  • Our performances are typically suggested a donation, around $15
  • Classes are very affordable for eight-week programs and workshops, between $85 and $190
  • Studios are priced by size between $150 and $450 monthly

Contact Info:

  • Address: 609 South Blvd. Evanston, IL. 60202
  • Website: www.icehousegalleryevanston.com
  • Phone: 847-232-7092
  • Email: hlitvan@icehousegalleryevanston.com
  • Instagram: @icehousegalleryevanston
  • Facebook: @icehousegalleryevanston


Image Credit:

Michael Weston, Val Shebeko

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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