Chicago Truborn prides itself on being an anti-gallery art gallery. This does not seem to make sense, but this is one of the things that makes this organization unique. Creator Sara Dulkin explains, “The term ‘anti-gallery’ stemmed from the desire to break down the traditional sense of what many think a gallery is. Our goal is to create an approachable environment where folks who may have never stepped into a gallery before can walk in, enjoy the work, ask questions about it, and of course afford it.”
The Truborn is indeed a gallery, and a good one at that. In 2016, it was voted Best Established Gallery, Best Public Artwork, and Best Advocate for the Arts by the Chicago Reader. It goes beyond that though, encompassing a movement of Chicago artists who love the city and gain inspiration from its diversity. It promotes artistic collaboration, social responsibility, and empowerment, all with the goal of continuously improving Chicago by sharing the things that make it great. This involves providing a platform to Chicago artists, especially street artists, who represent the spirit of Chicago that both natives and residents who call it home experience. The storefront features a boutique in addition to the gallery, making the work more accessible to viewers who may not typically appreciate this art or who cannot afford a full piece. Dulkin has also been involved with the creation of the West Town Public Arts Committee, which is responsible for putting up murals throughout the neighborhood.
Sara, however, is not really an artist and is not from Chicago. She is a preschool teacher from Michigan. Her creativity comes in filling a void in the gallery scene by representing Chicago artists who make the city unique, but don’t fit into traditional artistic spheres. She initially developed an interest in urban art when she was a teenager growing up in southeast Michigan, where she would frequently visit Detroit and see the huge graffiti art scene there. This background had her paying attention to Chicago art while she was teaching, and soon she was getting to know artists and watching them work. Many of them were not looking to sell their work, and she wanted to create a platform for them to gain legitimacy in what they were doing. This started as an Instagram account in 2011, and gained the physical storefront in 2013. She wants to continue working with urban artists to become full-time artists, which usually involves moving them from strictly public art to galleries.
This unique and unrelated background speaks to the natural development of Dulkin’s creative work. She slowly began the project because it was something she was interested in doing. She worked hard on it, but not because anyone else told her to or so that it would be financially successful. All of this speaks to Collins and Amabile’s writings on motivation for creativity. Dulkin is intrinsically motivated by her love for Chicago and the art that she collects, and her passion for helping to get artists to get on their feet. While this is also her livelihood, these extrinsic effects support her intrinsic motivation instead of overwhelming it by supporting her “sense of competence” about what she is doing.
The Truborn is unique both for the artists who benefit from the platform it provides and the viewers who can experience the city they love from a new angle because of it. Dulkin’s passion is evident, and her contributions to the Chicago art scene are one-of-a-kind.