With Anais Daly "50 Bathroom Keys" in the Milwaukee Ave. Window Gallery

Curated by R&C all star interns: Marcel Alcalá, Arend deGruyter Helfer, Kate Ruggeri, & Lauren Taylor; Featuring work by: Lex Brown, Sara Condo, Olivia Coran, Chelsea Culprit, Brandon Drew, John Edmonds, Kirk Faber, Cullen Faber, Anneli Henriksson, Brook Hsu, Dani Levine, & Elle Perez

10 Years at Roots & Culture Pt. 2

The internship program at Roots & Culture is our backbone, certainly in terms of labor– week after week, turning on the lights, typing up exhibition checklists, watering the plants. Our interns are also integral members of our community, representing of a huge chunk of our demographic– students from the Chicago area’s world class art degree programs ~which are breeding grounds for the talent that directly feeds our programming. So for the second part of our 10th Anniversary programming, CULTURE, I thought we should hand over the curatorial reins to a crew of four of our most committed interns* over the years, giving them the opportunity to tap their art-networks and envision what the future of Roots & Culture might look like.

Some words by Kate Ruggeri:

Seven years ago, it was the end of a crazy, wild summer at Ox-Bow (School of Art in Saugatuck, MI) when Eric, then head chef, asked me to intern at Roots. I didn’t even flinch.

At the time I lived down the street from the gallery, next to my favorite hole in the wall (for greasy late night chow) Super Sub, where customers order from behind bullet-proof glass. It’s uncanny that Eric loved the place even more than I did, frequently ordering 100-piece trays of chicken wings for after-opening parties. I couldn’t believe that anyone else I knew actually went there. And that’s what Roots has always been to me: a haven for everything I love.

While galleries often see young art students as a nuisance—guzzling up free booze and clearly not there to buy anything– Eric embraced us. Roots is first and foremost, dedicated to young, emerging artists. A lot of galleries like to claim that, but Roots takes great pride in showing work that is fresh, curious, and inspired. Roots wants to be different, and is different.

I remember one year, helping install the gallery’s booth at the MDW fair, and we were blasting a new mixtape of Eric’s. Another gallerist walked by and said, “Looks like you guys are having fun.” We were. We were always having fun.

And though we had fun, I don’t want to discredit the fact that Roots has not only survived ten years as a gallery, but thrived. Its impact and contribution to the Chicago art scene is without question.

Everything about the space feels inspired and it’s been a pleasure to watch all of Eric’s brain children come into the world. Roots’ passion is infectious.

When I left Chicago two years ago for grad school, I had to adapt to a new community. And now I return to the Roots crew. As past interns and friends of R&C, half of us still in Chicago, half of us elsewhere, we hope this anniversary exhibition continues the gallery’s lineage. And as always, we had fun working together.



* These four each put in time and energy beyond the single-semester timeframe of the typical internship. Certainly not to discount the work of all our interns over the years. Deepest gratitude to: Danny Zaretsky, Marco Braunschweiler, Mari Miller, Hee Jung Park, Michael Thibault, Elena Schtern, Christina Michelon, Alice Feldt, Nicolette Caldwell, Betsy O’Brien, Cristl Casper, Patrick Sarmiento, Laura Volkert, Stevie Johnson, Maria Avila, Olivia Blanchard, Trevor Dean, Yetong Du, Maya Gendusa, Christina Warzecha, Allison Cheung, & Fanghzi Zhao.