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New Gallery in Wicker Park

If you’ve walked by 1418 West Division lately, you may have thought that someone is trying to turn Wicker Park into Jurassic Park. And you’re right, well… sort of.

This month Chicago native, Justin Markin, opened the doors of his Wicker Park Gallery, Grand Bizzare.

“I hate the galleries who snub you as soon as you walk in the door for not looking like you can dish out the cash for a piece of art,” said Justin. “In that respect, I like to think of my space as the anti-gallery.”

photos by: Ricky Kluge

Markin has focused on making his space as organic as possible. Plants, crystals and Turkish rugs adorn the galley, accompanied by floor to celling windows that let in an indulgent amount of natural light.

The name of his gallery is Grand Bizzare, a play on the Turkish bazaar in Istanbul. Markin visited Turkey a few years back and came back, in love with the architecture and vast amounts of art that embellished the city.

After collecting art for 15 years, It seems only natural that Markin would open up a space where he can showcase artists. He lives in an apartment behind the galley, so he spends a lot of time thinking about how to fill the space. Some mornings, he finds himself as part of the display, forgetting that he’s standing in his underwear in a huge window right outside the Division bus stop.

“It’s kind of funny living in a fishbowl, but the work  and gallery space is in an ideal location,” he said.

Justin grew up believing that artists should be accessible to the masses and not an aloof luxury. As an artist himself, he wants to give the people of Chicago a chance to actually own art. He is completely self-taught and works daily with wood, screen-prints, paint, pencils and polaroids. Describing his work as a study of people and things, he is currently working on a series of wood cutouts of city-esque scenes.

The gallery’s first show is called, “Of Fur and Fang a Paper-Mache Expose.” It showcases the work of artist, Clayton Meyer, and opened October 7th. Meyer is seeking to push the way people think about using paper mache as a medium.

In the window, you’ll find a prehistoric shark jaw with human teeth and a full sized emu with a lampshade for a head. Walking inside, you feel like you’re being transported into a dinosaur fantasyland with creatures covering the walls.

So if you’re hoping off the Division bus anytime soon, make sure to stop by, or at least poke you’re nose in the door. Hopefully, Justin won’t be in his underwear toasting blueberry Pop Tarts, but you never really know. If you’ve been looking to own a few pieces of reasonably priced art then this could easily be your chance.

“My dad, a long time art-collector, and has always told me that if you see a piece of art you really love and can’t live without, you’ll find a way to make it yours.”

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