JOLIET – Gallery Seven, the longtime local art gallery that lost its lease at the Rialto Square Theatre, will reopen January in Lockport.
The gallery is moving into the Gaylord Building with the support of the city of Lockport, which had staff at the Joliet location Thursday to help with the move.
“There’s a great amount of synergy with what we have,” said Lockport City Administrator Ben Benson, who was helping move some of the last of Gallery Seven’s belongings. “Lockport is an artist’s town.”
Gallery Seven had occupied its storefront space rent-free in the 2 Rialto Square Building for about nine years. The building, which also houses offices for lawyers and other tenants, is overseen by the Rialto.
Rialto had sent a notice in September informing Gallery Seven that it had to vacate by Dec. 11.
Gallery Seven President Richard Ainsworth said he appreciates the help the Rialto provided in the past, but noted that the space was vacant when they arrived.
“It was dark and dirty,” Ainsworth said. “When we moved in, there was one light hanging from wires.”
Gallery Seven installed lighting, built a wall to make the space more hospitable and added a heat exchanger to make the space warmer.
After news of its eviction, Gallery Seven received invitations to move to four other towns, including Plainfield, Peotone and Park Forest. Other downtown Joliet landlords also made offers.
Gallery Seven’s ability to pay rent is limited, however. It will not pay the rent at the new space for at least a year.
The first year’s rent will be covered through an arrangement between the city of Lockport, the Heritage Corridor and Visitors Bureau and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which owns the Gaylord Building. In the next year, Gallery Seven will try to become self-sufficient.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Ainsworth said.
He and fellow Gallery Seven member Jay Anderson expressed optimism that the new surroundings will be more supportive.
The Gaylord Building also is home to the Public Landing Restaurant, a gallery for the Artist Guild of Lockport, and a permanent exhibit of Illinois and Michigan Canal artifacts.
“Change always brings about opportunity,” Anderson said as he helped the gallery move out of the nearly empty space Thursday in Joliet. “I think this can be a very positive thing. The situation that we’re moving into is much more of an artists’ place. It’s a place where people come to think about getting something for their homes. Here, they’re coming to see their lawyers.”