went to my first Th!nkArt event this past Friday, and for the event Laurie Glenn, founder of Th!nkArt, hosted an "Aparté," which in French means "something that is apart." This event seemed to have no primary focus, the large scale paintings by local artist Larry Roberts, did not have any more significance than did the opportunity to talk to others, or the ability to hear a brief speech by Senate hopeful Cheryle Jackson. These events are set up with the intention of creating discourse, and it did that quite well.
I find it hard to talk about Th!nkArt because it is kind of complex. Laurie has built Th!nkArt within a vision, and even though I can tell that vision has continuity, it is hard to pin it down to something short and sweet. One thing you can't escape is the French feel. Th!nkArt has a partnership with the Paris-based Friedland Rivault Gallery and works in conjunction with a number of other French Institutions both here in Chicago and abroad. For instance, at the event I attended, Laurie introduced a France Delegation of 10 emerging elected officials of color who were visiting Chicago. This alone was done in conjunction with Chicago United, United Congress, The Sister Cities International Program of Chicago, and Groupe Professionnal Francophone. So you see, reaching out and creating discourses is something that Laurie truly believes in, its not just another buzz word for her.
Laurie has a long history with art, artists, politics and France. This history has created a rich experience that she can't help but infuse into everything she does. Laurie's approach is quite simple; get your hands dirty and keep an open mind. Th!nkArt is not just a Gallery, and you will not understand what Laurie is trying to achieve by attending one event. I had to talk with Laurie, who is very approachable, in order to get an idea of what the underlining themes of the event were and how everything was tied in together. As I mentioned earlier nothing was any more significant that anything else throughout the evening. So Larry Roberts' paintings, as well as the music and the French delegation, aided the experiences by creating a launching point for discussion, as well as places to rest. Laurie has been laying the groundwork for Th!nkArt since 2006 and I am excited to see what the future of Th!nkArt is going to be.