Curator's Corner: Interview with Andrew Rehs and Rachel Lechocki
“Blnk’’ is named to reflect the wide array of mediums represented in the collective and the community we were reaching; to fill in your own blank… it was created to be an inclusive safe space to express and heal through art"
- [blnk]haus co-owners Rachel and Andrew
From a 200 sq. ft space in Zhou B Art Center (Bridgeport) in 2017 to a collective of artists, community, and events in Logan Square in 2018 (joining Matt Adelman at the Idealty space), [blnk]haus has grown. In 2017 [blnk]haus had over 12 shows while at Zhou B Art Center, including a fashion show. This is where I first learned about [blnk]haus I was modeling for my friend’s fashion line and got to learn all about what Blnk stood for. I was immersed in the community and a wide array of creative minds, essentially, I was hooked and knew it would be something big.
I watched them add more yoga classes, music events, and community engagement grow to the Blnk that stands today. It’s been a beautiful thing to see from a gallery that is inclusive, raw, and welcoming. I mean what’s more welcoming than Jub Jub the iguana who chills in the front window and will actually leave to go use the toilet like us, then returns to his spot.
[blnk]haus is co-owned by Rachel Lechocki, an artist herself, and curator Andrew Rehs, also an artist! Just like at SoldMag how we represent artists supporting artists, it’s what Blnk is all about too. So a feature was an obvious move.
Here is some of Andrew's incredible woodworking:
And some from Rachel's lovely style:
(more pieces are scattered through the article)
Blnk’s owners Rachel and Andrew were kind enough to do an interview all about the background, message, purpose of Blnk and the recent This is America exhibition by John Yaou. The exhibit takes a view at the polarizing sides splitting political views in America and reflecting on this in conversation, openness, not rage.
GXM: What does Blnk mean?
BLNK: “Blnk’’ is named to reflect the wide array of mediums represented in the collective and the community we were reaching; to fill in your own blank… it was created to be an inclusive safe space to express and heal through art.
GXM: How long has Blnk been around now?
BLNK: For a year and a half [blnk]haus has served as a community space for over 10 rotating art exhibits and a wide range of interdisciplinary events and performances from live impromptu modern dance, album release parties to monthly open mics.
GXM: What's the reception from the Logan Square community been like?
BLNK: Since moving to Logan Square, we've experienced an overwhelming reception from the community and intend to continue to bring unique art and cultural events to the city, including not only established but emerging artists as well. Andrew is a licensed counselor and Rachel is an art educator/certified yoga teacher; these values are an important pillar in the gallery’s motivation.
GXM: For someone who has never walked in Blnk or heard about it, what would you want them to know?
BLNK: “[blnk] represents the underrepresented.” “Art is _________.”
These are some of our mottos and beliefs that construct [blnk]haus gallery. Coming from a collective background of mental health, yoga and education, [blnk]haus believes in the importance of creating an approachable and welcoming space to display your art and network with others while contributing to the movement and development of urban contemporary art culture.
Two important aspects of our motivation are to make ownership of original art more affordable and make availability to de-stigmatized healing resources more accessible. We want to utilize the platform of the gallery not just to display art but to nourish the roots of our community.
GXM: How did the show with @drakesuno (John N Yaou) come about?
BLNK: Andrew had approached John in early 2019 after the completion of John's third piece to the series, knowing this would be more than an art show but an experience. It is important to [blnk]haus to draw attention to important issues in human development as well as political movements that impact our own communities; it was clear that John’s current series, This is America, exceeded these areas and had an important message we wanted to help get out.
John once told us that this series was for him, but it is apparent that this series is actually for everybody. His way of staying unbiased in his execution of the series as well as his artist statement is both uncanny and intriguing. Taking a direct and quite intrepid pace to his work made it all the more intriguing and left us wanting more.
Seeing the series evolve to incorporate so many important faces, some jarring even, in many American political movements from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Kanye's Trump era to the infamous iconography of the KKK. The use of the American flags made the point that much more poignant and only made us want to represent it more.
GXM: What did you think of the end result of This Is America?
BLNK: We thought the theme represented important elements of fear, hope and community while also evoking real emotion because regardless of whether you have chosen a stance on what is going on around us politically, it is very much going on. John has expressed from the beginning, it was never about assigning sides or a biased view but rather the authentic truth of our current American condition. It's up to the viewer to assign emotion and how they would want to be moved. Because [blnk]haus has always been a safe space that encouraged expression, we knew the fit was perfect.
GXM: How was the opening and reception for the show with the community?
BLNK: We have had some incredible contributions from other artists while the show has been up. Another talented artist and friend of blnk, Laura Catherwood held a fundraiser Pop-Up for Raises, an organization out of Texas that provides relief to those seeking asylum. Local artist, activist and friend Josh Harks provided footage (accompanied with jars of broken glass labeled from various different DC storefronts) from the Trump inauguration protests. It has been extremely rewarding to see other artists from the community raise their voices during the run of this show.
GXM: What was the reception to the show like online?
BLNK: It has caused a bit of backlash from the keyboard warriors, but it only further drove John's original and primary intention of sharing these works with the public, raw and emotional discussion about the current state of the American experience. Despite his own cultural and military background playing a role in his own expression, his decision to stray away from this in the discussion of the series was bold in order to commit to the original purpose of the message. We are happy to stand behind John in give him a platform to educate those willing to listen.
GXM: What’s up next for [blnk]haus that we should look out for?
+ DECEMBER 21st (Saturday) Partnering w/ Olivia Gallery for a Holiday Pop-up
February 29: “Pilates+Art+Coffee”
Partnering w/ Logan Square Pilates includes an art talk w/ Rachel Lechocki of [blnk]haus
March (TBA): 3rd Annual Womxns Show
Thank you to [blnk]haus co-owners Rachel and Andrew for their time
[blnk]haus is a lovely art gallery, community space, and overall collective of inspiring art from a myriad of creatives. You’ll find your place there in Blnk’s community. Cheers!