Puerto Rican born, Chicago based artist, JC Rivera has become a well-known name on the street and in the studio over the last nine years. His character Bear Champ is recognizable on site. That’s one of the reasons he was chosen along with 19 other artists to participate in an online auction and sweepstakes of artwork with all proceeds going to support social justice organizations. The web platform, Future Galerie, was launched by CANVAS Chicago, a creative production and marketing company that concepts, develops, funds and executes, art-forward public initiatives, and immersive event experiences.
Under the direction of Creative Director Alaiia Gujral and Co-Curators Lonnie Edwards and Dont Fret, Future Galerie is set up so that each online auction lasts 8-10 days culminating with an Instagram Live Chat with the artist. In addition, select pieces will be available through a sweepstakes series for those that want to participate at a lower price point.
Future Galerie, CANVAS Creative Director and interdisciplinary artist, Alaiia Gujral, is no stranger to organizing art events in support of social justice causes. The Culture Curators asked her more about that, Future Galerie, and her work surrounding Black Lives Matter.
From Future Galerie
CC – On the galleries website it states that the organizations the donations will be going to were chosen because they are “taking deliberate actions to combat systemic injustices and create a more just and tolerant future.” Will you describe what that looks like as it plays out in the real world?
AG – These organizations are combating issues that have been around for decades and recent events have shed light on these issues once again. The organizations that were chosen are truly educating, creating opportunities and policy change. For example, Colour of Chance is actually on the forefront of policy chance, designing campaigns that are ending practices that unfairly hold black people back. I believe everything that we are achieving today will benefit our future children, hence why I feel we are working hard towards this change.
CC – You have been involved in other exhibitions that have donated the profits of sales of artwork to charity. Have you found that the art itself has ways of addressing the issues?
AG – Many of the artworks donated to us were created by artists who have consciously made art with social injustice in mind. Art has always been a visual language and a platform for people to express their thoughts and share their knowledge. When the protests took place in Chicago and all the storefronts boarded up their windows, I feel like artists took over and you saw this unified artistic voice on all these boards. it became a “city canvas” that everyone visually engaged with. Imagery is powerful and the power of artistic voice comes across heavily during hard times, in the past as well as today.
CC – Have you heard anything from those who have won a work of art or those who are bidding that this has helped them processing or healing from the effects of what is going on?
AG – The way people deal with these processes are personal and unique to each, we wanted to use our resources that we have as individuals to help in ways that we know how, people seem to be responding positively to our approach of making a better future thought art. Many people have reached out to us saying that they love the artwork and having the proceeds going to these organizations have helped them contribute in some sort of way as well as learn more about these powerful organizations.
Art Up For Grabs
The Culture Curators also had the opportunity to speak with artist JC Rivera. Rivera has been more than active during the Black Lives Matter movement from his participation in Future Galerie, to creating “Bear Bricks” and painting boarded-up windows. We asked him about the work he has been doing and why raising money for multiple social justice causes is important to him in a time like this.
CC – Why did you choose SkyArt as the organization to receive the donation from the sale of your work?
JC- Growing up in Puerto Rico I came from a low-income neighborhood where there was not a lot of resources. When I heard about SkyArt I thought it was important to give back. (SkyArt provides visual arts programming as a vehicle for young people to create, to communicate effectively, and to learn the essential skills and creative thinking needed to succeed. Artists Dont Fret and Adam Lucas both also chose this organization.)
CC – You made an Instagram post stating you were, “down to paint boarded ups” for local small businesses and you would provide all the materials. Was that specifically in response to Black Lives Matter?
JC – Yes, I thought it was a great way to show my support in a creative manner and knew it would uplift and put some positivity back in the community where there was so much negativity. I got an overwhelming response on Instagram, but I had to narrow it down based on my time.
CC – Are the principles behind the Black Lives Matter movement something that resonate with you personally as a BIPOC?
JC – As a minority and came to this country not even speaking the language I can resonate and relate to injustice that is going on.
CC – You’ve worked with a number of other galleries doing fundraisers for the Black Lives Matter movement that have benefited local charities. Can you talk about those works of art and those charities?
JC- All Star Press (Gallery) – I did a print release for the BLM movement that was sponsored by all the Chicago professional sports team(s). This was to help create more opportunity and education especially for… those who lack the resources and to help battle racism and social injustice with love and art. It was a limited edition print that I am very proud of and all the proceeds went to My Bock, My Hood, My City.
CC – Will you explain the meaning behind the Bear Champ bricks?
JC- It was just an idea that came to me when I was painting a mural and thought it would be fun to… tag a brick and make it like (a) mobile mural. Also thought it looked dope.
CC – You have just completed the B in a Black Lives Matter street mural. Who commissioned that and what was that process like for you?
JC- It was an honor to be a part of such a meaningful mural with such a creative group of people, it was curated by @drewinchicago and @exploreuptownchi
You still have time to catch some of the work for sale at Future Galerie. Works by Lefty Out There, Marco Miller, and Shaurya Kumar will be up for auction until the end of August. Head to www.futuregalerie.com to support organizations that are supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Check back with The Culture Curators for more from the art department coming soon!
Photos via Future Galerie