New Open Produce exhibit Saturday

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Assistant to the Editor

Hyde Park grocer Open Produce, 1635 E. 55th St., will hold an opening reception for its new exhibit of Chicagoland photographer Chris Trott’s work from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m, Saturday, Oct. 5.

The show is part of a series that kicked off in the space last July with photographs and paintings by Chicago artist Fanta Celah. Since then, work by two photographers, John Lodder and Cris Gans, and one painter, Zac Franzoni, have graced the store’s walls.

Employee and show organizer Sean Nicholson said the new exhibit’s more than 10 photographs — which she reviewed with Trott in advance — emphasize rural subjects.

“They’re a little sad, but the colors and the landscapes are really bright and emotional,” Nicholson said.

South Side native Trott, 41, lives in Lansing, Ill., less than 10 miles away from where he grew up. He was first drawn into photography while at community college, in 1990, beginning with his mother’s 35mm Minolta. Now, armed with a Cannon 60D, Trott called the Open Produce exhibit his “first official showing.”

“I always wanted to be a photographer but I was steered against it to do something more practical,” said Trott, who studied industrial technology at Northern Illinois University. “I’ve had different jobs through my career, and now I’m trying to get back into photography, and trying to kind of show my photography off more.”

Nicholson, who brought up with her colleagues the idea of exhibiting art at Open Produce earlier this year, graduated in 2012 with a degree in art from the University of Minnesota. There, she organized art shows with such groups as the school’s Women’s Student Activist Collective. Nicholson calls it her “career goal” to organize such events, “especially in a non-profit setting.”

“Open Produce is not a non-profit, but it does have a strong community focus,” she said.

Open Produce owner Steven Lucy, who calls his store “a social hub,” says they’ve “always been considering ways to display art in the space.”

“Sean basically convinced me that it was possible and I told her that we should then do it,” Lucy said.

Open Produce will exhibit work by professional artists in November and December, and display art by students at Kenwood Academy High School, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave., from January through May. Nicholson estimates around 20 students are interested in participating.

Saturday’s opening will feature refreshments as well as yarn and stamps by craftsperson Maya Pillai. To learn more about Trott or see more of his work, visit wreckageyears.com. Trott’s photographs at the store will be on sale.

j.bishku@hpherald.com