Vertical Gallery in Ukrainian Village has a plain, unassuming storefront: beige stone, a single door with a black metal cage and two large windows separated with black trim.

The inside is minimal too, with white walls and tan hardwood floors. It doesn’t matter though, because the important part is not what is permanent about the place, but what is temporarily there. The three-year-old gallery has a new exhibit every month featuring a large range of contemporary, urban street style art, from many international as well as local artists.

Vertical-21 copy“I get people who are on buses or in cars pulling over to stop and come into the gallery because there’s something that caught their eye,” owner Patrick Hull said. “Two weeks from now, the gallery is going to look completely different. Same white box space, but the work on the wall is what defines what we’re doing.”

During the month of May (7-28), they are featuring the work of internationally recognized Dutch artist Collin van der Sluijs. He’s been creating the body of work for his U.S. debut for over a year now, when he was asked to do a show at the gallery. He will also be creating a wall mural on a building that Hull arranged for him to work on and speaking on a panel to Columbia College students. The plans of his visit are what Hull is hoping to continue with more artists that travel to Chicago, by arranging for them contribute to public art in the city while they are in town exhibiting urban street art styles in the gallery setting.

Vertical Gallery’s focus on street to contemporary art was born out of Hull’s love of the style and his many years of collecting the art himself.After 20 years of a marketing career, which gave him the chance to see street art and galleries showcasing urban art all over the world, he decided he wanted to open a gallery of his own. Despite not being classically trained in art, his background as a collector and in marketing provides him many strengths. He’s been following many of the artists for years and constantly researches and reads everything he can to stay in the know, always on the lookout for new artists to reach out to.

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“I think I’m bringing the business perspective into a category of art that’s still a rather new category, this urban street art category,” Hull said.

Hull doesn’t even try to be a salesman however, as that’s never really been his strong suit or what he finds most important to the success of the gallery.

“I can tell you everything about this artist and their background and why I think they’re a great artist,” Hull said. “But it’s really up to you, the buyer, the collector, to decide if you love it or not. That’s really your choice. And from a marketing perspective, that’s what you’re really doing, you’re telling the story.”

Drawing from his own experience as a patron of galleries for many years, Hull’s goal is to make the experience unintimidating and inclusive to all. This includes partnering with the Wabash Arts Corridor on their project to connect with artists to develop street art murals in the South Loop, which he thinks is important in creating greater “synergy” with the public.

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“The art that we’re doing on the streets is free,” Hull said. “It’s a free gallery on the street. I feel that there’s kind of a barrier between collectors, people who are just interested in art, museums, galleries … I just feel that there’s a way to make art more welcoming, more inviting, without having to be a purchase.”