Local artists find home at Fulton Street

Aspiring artists and creative thinkers have notoriously struggled to find space that is affordable and reasonable enough in size to help pursue their passions. Thankfully, the hard work being put forth by the Fulton Street Collective over the past decade has provided a stepping-stone for the development of the artistic community.

“All artists need four basic things to succeed: a place to work and showcase their work, opportunities, ongoing education, and a community to flourish in,” Joe Lanasa, one of the collective’s founders, said.

With high hopes of transforming that dream into a reality, singer-songwriters Anna Fermin and Lanasa founded the collective in 2002 out of a small rehearsal room in the back corner of a print shop business. Since then, that small corner has transformed into a 10,000 square foot haven for ambitious artists to come, rent and utilize the space available. In addition to the vast amount of working room, the collective has also developed a gallery exhibition space to showcase the work of many up and coming and established artists situated in the Chicagoland area.

On the surface onlookers might have developed the belief that this artistic center was nothing more than just that; however, the mission behind the vision of the founders has extended far past just providing space. It’s not necessary to look any further than the mission statement that was established by the founders to see the true driving force behind the creation of this co-op.

“Through private and shared studios, exhibition space, diverse public programs and performances, FSC creates an environment that incubates artistic vision and provides access to necessary tools and resources to help artists thrive,” Lanasa said.

The Fulton Street Collective announced plans to hold their annual fall open house last weekend Oct. 19, located at 2000 W. Fulton St., at the corner of Damen Avenue and Fulton Street. Contrary to past events, this open house is officially a represented party of the Chicago Artist’s Month (CAM). The CAM was presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and is utilized to showcase the many talents of Chicago based artists through several different curated and non-juried events and programs.

If you find yourself wondering how to get involved with something as special as this, the answer can be found for as little as $10 a month. In accordance with its flexibility towards offering artists with the space and time desired, the Fulton Street Collective offers private and shared studio spaces, on top of diverse classes, workshops, lectures and seminars used to develop the artists involved completely and to their full potential.

Accommodating the needs of the artists has remained a top goal for the leaders heading the collective.

“We’ve been trying to form relationships with the surrounding universities that have art programs such as DePaul, Columbia and SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago),” Lanasa explained.

Whether looking to become fully engulfed into the artistic community that surrounds the city of Chicago or just trying to get your feet wet, the Fulton Street Collective has developed a plan to offer unique, affordable opportunities for all skill levels of artists. This thriving community of up and coming as well as established creative professionals has the ability to transform once lofty dreams into a reality.

“It’s my contribution to the world, to surround yourself with all of these creative artists is really enjoyable, it’s the least I could do.”