While the DePaul Art Museum remains closed for the next two weeks to install its upcoming contemporary art exhibit “On Space and Place,” a different set of artworks have also found their new home at the university’s Lincoln Park campus. In one of the largest donations received by the DePaul Art Museum, 114 different Chicago-related artworks donated by art collector Chuck Thurow not only add to the museum’s richly diverse collections, but also paint a picture into the extensive and flourishing art scene of this city.
“This gift supports the DePaul Art Museum’s vision to reflect the history of art in Chicago, from the modern era to the present,” said Julie Rodrigues Widholm, director and chief curator of the museum, in a statement regarding the donation. “Whether artists have spent their whole career here, studied here or were born here, we are interested in all of those scenarios in which Chicago is a touch point for artists.”
Made up of various works from 59 different Chicago artists, the donation by Thurow will reside in the museum’s permanent collection and include a number of paintings, photography, sculptures, drawings and other works on paper. And though many pieces of art from around the world have found their home in the university’s art center, the 75-year-old art collector said his gift to DePaul was far more than for exhibition space.
“These pieces of work are special — I’ve always been fascinated about how art connects with a city. Even before this gift, DePaul’s Art Museum had art from its local community and I wanted to build on that,” Thurow said. “I wanted to contribute and build on to a place where people from the community could come and look and connect with work from Chicago’s artists.”
Thurow first noticed some of DePaul Museum’s art holdings when they were lent to University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art for an exhibition.
His time in the art world helped him develop a keen eye for artistic details. Thurow served as the Executive Director of the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago from 1998 to 2010, and has staffed and curated a number of the center’s exhibitions throughout his tenure, along with overseeing the funding for center’s newest facility built a decade ago. And while his presence in the art scene is undeniably extensive, it wasn’t a path he ever imagined going down.
“When I was an undergrad in college, I thought I was going to be a comedian one day,” Thurow said. “At that age, I wasn’t totally interested in art collecting or anything like that. It’s actually funny, I was sort of dragged into this type of work when my friends asked me to join the Board of Directors at the Hyde Park Center.”
But while Thurow’s interest in the city’s art scene wasn’t immediate, he always considered himself an avid collector, a passion he found himself able to grow and pursue through artwork.
“I’ve collected many many things in my life; I have always been a natural collector,” Thurow said. “Any piece of art can catch my eye, but I’m always fascinated by contemporary art, or graphic design and art from other cultures — I’ve collected Mexican masks and textiles too.”
And as hundreds of works of art — collected over the course of a decade — make their way into DePaul’s Art Museum to be seen this fall, Thurow remains prominently in the Chicago art scene, one he said continues to grow every day.
“The artists and art work made in this city is thriving, it is a very collaborative community — and a very diverse one,” said Thurow. “Art is forever evolving in Chicago and it’s always interesting to witness that.”