How is the project operated?
Iceberg began in 2010, and is in its’ fourth year of operation. It is a non-commercial gallery space located in a turn-of-the-century, historic carriage house behind the home of Dr. Daniel S. Berger, MD and his partner, Scott Wenthe. Also unusual, the gallery entrance is thru their gardens, which has also been used as outdoor exhibition space.
What was your motivation?
Being aware of the limitations of the large Chicago institutions, and sometimes feeling unsatisfied, or left with the thinking that there is much left to be desired, Dr. Berger wanted to provide a different type of forum to show work without these limitations. Additionally, because the art world is an economic dynamic, it poses limitations and financial constraints for the artist and the gallery. We wanted Iceberg to be free of these obstacles and to show work that may be challenging, as well as, opportunistic.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
Iceberg operates under the direction of Daniel Berger, and a group of board members including an associate director. The board is comprised of recognized art educators, curators and artists that meet monthly to discuss art being produced by artists who often have not had a recent, or chance to be exposed to the Chicago arts community. Among the current board is Doug Ischar, John Neff, Carrie Schneider and Matt Morris (associate director). Past board members also included Tricia Van Eck, Robert MacNeil, Dianna Frid and Zak Arctander.
How are programs funded?
There are no membership fees nor sales of work. Costs are generously underwritten by Dr. Dan Berger and are thus kept to a minimum. Dr. Berger has chosen not to deal with bureaucratic formalities and tedious applications for grants that are often not cost effective.
Who is responsible for the programming?
The director and the board set the programming. Many exhibitions are curated in house, while occasionally guest curators are invited to put together projects for the space.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
This stays quite flexible. There may be anywhere from six to ten exhibitions and programs in a year. Most are up for a month and a half, but there have also been one-night screenings or performances, summer events, and short exhibitions that are only up for a week at a time.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Along with solo and group exhibitions, Iceberg has hosted artist talks, lectures, screenings, performances and fundraisers for projects we take an interest in. Additionally, Iceberg has had an outdoor sculpture exhibition, and social practice interventions into the site such as Eric May’s Hors d’oeuvres and cocktail party in the garden surrounding the gallery.
Examples of some of Iceberg’s programs include:
A performance by Gregg Bordowitz
A Sound Performance by Lou Mallozzi
Screenings of films by the late Curt MacDowell
Exhibitions by Zoe Strauss (Philadelphia), Millie Wilson (California), Sara Conoway (California), Sabelo Melangeni (South Africa), Abigail DeVille (New York), Faheem Majeed (Chicago), Bernard Williams (Chicago).
Fundraiser for a film project by Cauleen Smith during her residency with Three Walls.
How is your programming determined?
It is discussed and agreed upon by the director and board.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
We do not.
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
Iceberg has been especially interested in artists at various points in their careers who have ties to Chicago, but we have also brought work to our local audiences from all over the world, such as the South African photographer Sabelo Mlangeni earlier this year. When we are planning a new year of exhibitions, we discuss artists who are producing surprising and challenging work, and who we feel may benefit from the opportunity for risk-taking and freedom in their creative research that exhibiting with a non-commercial organization such as ours can allow.
What’s working? What’s not working?
In the past year, Iceberg has taken steps to bring in exhibitions of artists who are increasingly more visible on the global stage: the aforementioned Mlangeni, Abigail Deville, and the collaborations between Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann are good examples of this. We’re very proud to be able to offer these artists a platform and give them use of the incredibly interesting space that architect Robert MacNeill designed when Dr. Berger renovated the carriage house on his property. We are continually learning ways to get our community involved in Iceberg’s programming. We are located in the northern-most neighborhood in Chicago called Rogers Park, and as such, the gallery is a destination for visitors from the far reaches of the city. This year we have been working with a neighboring alternative space in Rogers Park called The Bike Room, run by Nancy Lu Rosenheim, to overlap our events programming in order to attract a greater curious public.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
Iceberg is establishing itself as a unique institution for which the arts community can come together in very distinct environment. The dynamic of how Iceberg functions allows it to provide the community with work that otherwise may not make it into the more formalized institutions, whose exhibitions often limited by politics, curatorial boards and funders. As such, Iceberg may be regarded as more avant-garde and known for its ability to take risks but whose exhibitions and shows continue to be exceptional and of high quality caliber. In this way, we hope the Greater Arts Community of Chicago
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
We are currently finalizing details about our 2014 exhibition schedule. We are looking forward to some guest curating, some projects by artists who we have long admired and followed for years, and some history-making moments. We will soon be announcing one such upcoming, history-making exhibition planned for April 6th 2014 of a late artist who will have solo exhibitions at some distinguished museums and institutions. However, Iceberg will be the first of these venues. We encourage readers to keep up with our website as we announce upcoming projects for the coming year.
Images courtesy of Iceberg.