It was Joanne Kennedy’s first art auction.
After nearly a year as an art gallery owner in the Oak Park Art District on Harrison Street, Kennedy handled the afternoon auction solo, like she does her business. The Oak Park resident is the sole employee of “Just One More” gallery, 203 Harrison St.
The pieces up for bid Saturday included paintings, illustrations and stained-glass designs. But there were other items for auction, including sports memorabilia, comic books and sports jerseys from the likes of Chicago Bear players Brian Urlacher and Devin Hester and Alex Ramirez of the Cubs, donated by a Chicago company. In all, 142 items were up for bid. About 30 items were sold Saturday. While most of the items went unsold, Kennedy stressed the main goal was to highlight local artists and the arts district.
Most of the artwork came from Kennedy’s regular gallery artists. By the time the auction got going, around 1:30 that afternoon, the gallery was packed with buyers and a few of the artists. Jer Kuszak, a photographer and Oak Parker, had some of his photos on display. The medical professor has been a digital photographer for five years now, and using a computer, cuts and pastes images together. Most of his photos Saturday featured flowers.
Kuszak, a professor of pathology at Rush University Medical Center, said he didn’t get involved to sell his work.
“The whole point of art is to share it,” he said. “It’s food for the soul. It’s not about the money; it’s about the comments people make.”
Kennedy recruited Kuszak and many other artists for her gallery. The atmosphere Saturday-relaxed, causal sociable-represented what the gallery is all about, she noted. The pieces up for auction also reflected her philosophy.
“I wanted it to be so diverse because art is subjective,” she said. “You may love this piece but somebody may walk in and hate it. So there’s something for everyone in here.”
Next month, the gallery will celebrate its one-year anniversary. Kennedy comes from a family of artists. Her husband, Mark, paints, but he’s “an anonymous artist,” she noted. Several watercolors of horses located near the rear of the gallery were painted by Kennedy’s 81-year-old mother-in-law.
Kennedy previously worked in corporate America. The Brookfield native scouted other suburban locations before a friend suggested Harrison Street.
Along with running the gallery, Kennedy is a project coordinator for a construction company. She dabbles in art herself, designing jewelry and clothing, but she has little time for it.
She plans to hold another auction, hoping to draw more people to Harrison Street. When she bought her place a year ago, a few shops had already moved out, but others soon replaced them. Kennedy predicts a boom for the arts district within the year.
“I would like to see people who don’t visit Harrison Street-who only use it to get on the expressway-to stop in the stores and see what we have to offer,” she said.
What’s in a name?
“Just One More” gallery was inspired by Kennedy’s husband, who’s a collector. After he brought home yet another collectible she now can’t remember, she asked, “What is that?” and her husband said, “Well, it’s just one more.”
Kennedy said, “That’s it.”