The Beverly Area Arts Alliance is anxious to start hosting concerts and exhibits again, and Nicky’s of Beverly is excited to host those events at its new location.
Working together made perfect sense, then, and a pop-up gallery, titled Alliance Contemporary, will run at Nicky’s of Beverly, 10500 S. Western Ave., from April through September.
With the gallery featuring art exhibits and a blues festival in a garage space on the Nicky’s property, Alliance Co-founder Sal Campbell and Nicky’s Owner Paul Kostopanagiotou said the partnership is an ideal fit.
“We love finding these cool little spots around the neighborhood, and working with great people like Paul,” Campbell said. “This is like the sweet spot for us. It’s just the perfect space for right now for what we need. We’re just so excited to come back and bring all these cool artists and lots of new artists who we’ve never had before. We’re just super-excited.”
Alliance Contemporary will debut on April 16 with “This Place,” featuring paintings by North Beverly resident Chantala Kommanivanh. His works focus on Lao American refugees and the challenges they face in their dual identity.
“I handle paint loosely, with a mix of soft and forceful strokes layered with lush drips of diluted medium,” he said in a prepared statement. “The intense vibrant colors and broken aggressive marks are used intentionally to ease the balance between normalcy and discomfort.
“Graffiti walls inspire my work. I am interested in decaying surfaces that are active with graffiti markings. The complex layers and textures intrigue me. In these paintings, I attempt to create the same effect; a palimpsest [manuscript] of marks on top of marks that build a history and leave residue of past memories.”
A group show called “Multitaskers,” celebrating artists who work and create art full-time, will open May 14.
Graffiti artist Won Kim is curating the show, with works by Brian Morris, Lisa Gray, Anne Heisler, Katherine McCarthy, Raul DeLeon, Sammy Faze and Kevin Demski. John Simmons, a DJ, will be the musical guest.
“Let’s Get Funky,” an arts and blues jam named after a song by Hound Dog Taylor, will take place on June 12 from 6 to 10 p.m.
Larry Taylor and Melody Angel will perform live music, and artists Tim Anderson, Paul Branton, Dalton Brown, Roger Carter, Edo, Jon Langford, Blake Lenoir, Paul Natkin, Dana Todd Pope, Dorothy Straughter, Raymond Thomas and Martha Wade will display their works.
Branton, who is co-curating the show with Campbell, painted a blues mural on Nickey’s garage exterior, as did artist Phil Cotton.
Campbell said she and Alliance Co-founder Monica Wilczak, who works for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, previously toured the city’s famous blues landmarks and want them to receive the attention they deserve.
“There’s so much incredible history,” she said. “This is where rock ’n’ roll got started. And yet, there’s been decades and decades of disinvestment, so all those places are gone.”
Donations will be accepted at each event, with proceeds from the blues fest benefitting Chicago Blues Revival and the Bronzeville Blues Collaborative to support up-and-coming musicians.
Campbell said The Alliance is “trying to, in our own little way, right a wrong.”
“I think people think of blues as being past tense or something,” she said. “There’s a lot of exciting music happening in blues and jazz. We’re just kind of calling attention to it. We just know a lot of artists that could really emphasize that theme.”
The gallery is in keeping with Nicky’s support of the arts, as several artists created murals inside the new location.
Kostopanagiotou, who operated his restaurant at 103rd and Western for over 20 years before opening his new location in January, said he’s proud the site has been transformed from a former landscaping garage to a space highlighting the arts.
His new restaurant also has an outdoor dining space, and for the blues fest, the entire parking lot will be used.
“We’ve been playing the blues for years at the restaurant,” Kostopanagiotou said. “I’m just excited that Sal and the artists have this space. It’s good. It’s good for the neighborhood, quite honestly.”
The six-month gallery is one of several events that The Alliance has planned in hopes of a return to normalcy during the pandemic.
The Summer Solstice Uprising Market will take place June 19 along the business corridor near 103rd Street and Longwood Drive, with highlighted areas in the parking lots of Beverly Bank and Trust, 1908 W. 103rd St., and the Givins Castle, 10255 S. Seeley Ave. About 40 vendors will participate.
The Beverly Art Walk, the premiere event for The Alliance, is scheduled for Sept. 18. Organizers said they aren’t sure how the annual event will be conducted, but they plan to host it in a safe and healthy fashion.
The event has traditionally included dozens of area businesses and hundreds of artists, and they can participate for free this year.
Last year, The Alliance hosted the “Alt Walk,” in which art was displayed at local businesses for several weeks and visitors could view the art indoors or outdoors.
For more information about The Beverly Area Arts Alliance, visit beverlyarts.org.