By Lauren Brocato By Lauren Brocato | March 1, 2023 | Lifestyle
Chicago gallery Western Exhibitions teams up with new vintage design resource Who Modern to open an artful hub in downtown Skokie.
The chic curation inside Who Modern includes this Davide Balliano artwork and a red Olivier Mourgue seat.
This month, a 40-foot shipping container filled with eclectic works from Italy by designers like Mario Ceroli, Enzo Mari and Ico Parisi will arrive on the North Shore after a long journey across the Atlantic. And it’s Donald Schmaltz, partner at Skokie’s new vintage store Who Modern, who’s to thank for bringing this batch to the community.
An installation view of works by artist Geoffrey Todd Smith at (northern) Western Exhibitions.
The opening of this midcentury modern-focused shop is exciting collectors, but what makes it a unique addition to the area’s cultural scene is its close connection—both in proximity and in operation—with (northern) Western Exhibitions, the sister space to 20-year-old downtown Chicago gallery Western Exhibitions, both of which are owned by former artist Scott Speh. “Art collectors and design enthusiasts tend to be one and the same,” says Schmaltz when asked what makes the contemporary gallery and antique store a dynamic pair. “Speh and I have been friends for over 20 years,” he continues. “He introduced me to art collector [and Who Modern partner and owner of the Skokie building] Zach Williams when they started coming up with a plan for the space. We all share the same passion for art, architecture, good design and sourcing that perfect piece for our clients.”
Geoffrey Todd Smith, “Various Precarious Areas Around a Nefarious Carcharodon Carcharias” (2022, gouache and ink on paper)
In the shared space, visitors can easily bounce between Who Modern and the gallery inside the newly renovated, single-floor bow truss building in Skokie’s bustling Lincoln Avenue district, where Schmaltz oversees day-to-day operations at (northern) Western Exhibitions and curates furniture and design objects for Who Modern. “Collectors from the North Shore and other surrounding areas can access the contemporary gallery and curated design store within a quick drive,” he says of the decision to set up shop in Skokie, adding that the space offers the arts crowd outside the city a place to engage with contemporary art and vintage design under one roof. On view through May 6, Miller & Shellabarger: Photography, features imagery by married Chicago-based artists and collaborators Stan Shellabarger and Dutes Miller. Looking toward the future of this artful pairing, Schmaltz shares that a few special vintage finds and exhibits that expand on the gallery’s 20-year history are all on the drawing board, and it’s a future he’s excited about. As he puts it, “My favorite part of my job is having the opportunity to travel the world, handpick museumworthy items and create connections.” 7933 N. Lincoln Ave., Skokie
Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO BY JOHN MALOOF/COURTESY OF WHO MODERN; PHOTO COURTESY OF WESTERN EXHIBITIONS; PHOTO COURTESY OF WESTERN EXHIBITIONS; WHO MODERN PHOTO BY JOHN MALOOF/COURTESY OF WHO MODERN