The Accidental Gallerists

Some of our favorite sources for art also do brunch

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No one doubts the benefits of buying artwork at a traditional gallery—the connoisseurship and professionalism offered by a serious dealer are hard to beat. But if you’re looking for works by under-the-radar artists at an accessible price, take a look  at some alternative venues. We found original artwork by local talents everywhere from restaurants and cafés to a bank and a spa. For the artists, these venues are a good way to get  additional exposure, even if they are represented by a gallery; for the customer, it’s an easy way to shop for art casually—in many cases, while waiting for a meal to arrive.


Lula Café

“Armada,” Ben Brandt, oil and acrylic on canvas and panel, $3,200;
“Armada,” Ben Brandt, oil and acrylic on canvas and panel, $3,200;

It’s fitting that this Logan Square favorite always has interesting art hanging on its walls—from the experimental comfort food served here to the bohemian ambiance, it’s simply an arty sort of place. The exhibits, which rotate every three months or so, are curated by Anders Nilsen and Marianne Fairbanks (shown here), a former cook and waitress, respectively, and artists themselves. 2537 N. Kedzie Blvd., 773-489-9554


Chicago Diner

From the
From the “Five Versus Five” series, David Schalliol, limited edition photographic digital print on fine art paper, 13 by 20 inches, $275;

This Lake View veggie standby has been showing local artwork for years. The process is informal: Artists tell manager Del Nakamura that they’re interested in displaying their work, and he makes the call. “We generally accept human interest topics, nature, and animal themes—nothing too busy or controversial,” he says. Work stays up from one to three months and ranges from $100 to $500. 3411 N. Halsted St., 773-935-6696.


Jane’s Restaurant

“Study for the Easter Bunny,” Jeff Zimmermann, acrylic on canvas, 24 by 18 inches, $2,000;

This recently expanded Bucktown favorite displays pieces from local artists that range from $50 to $5,000. “We started doing it to change the look for the room from time to time,” co-owner Julie Greenwalt says. “It kind of gives us a new atmosphere every three months.” 1655 W. Cortland St., 773-862-5263;