Last summer, just as the annual Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival was getting underway, an installation by artist Amie Sell was removed from the fest on orders from the property owner who’d donated the space where it was supposed to be displayed. The property owner was Mark Fishman, who also happened to be a founder and board member of I AM Logan Square, the community organization that runs the fest.
The installation, “Home Sweet Home,” was critical of gentrification in the neighborhood, including properties owned or managed by Fishman’s firm, M. Fishman & Co. Although I AM Logan Square board president Geary Yonker said the group supported Sell’s right to show the work, they didn’t prevent its removal.
In August, Sell launched a petition at change.org asking I AM Logan Square to remove Fishman from its board. The petition had attracted 264 signatures when, earlier this month, it became moot.
On October 6, I AM Logan Square announced that Fishman had decided to retire from the board.
Fishman donated $50,000 to IALS when it was launched in 2010, and has been perceived to wield major influence over it ever since. But, according to the announcement, he’d been “considering stepping away” since last January, when he mentioned it to fellow board members.
Yonker says Fishman’s departure is evidence of the organization’s growing independence, thanks to the many volunteers who work with it.
But Fishman still provides I AM Logan Square with rent-free space for its office and gallery, several Fishman associates sit on its board, and the IALS website, until this week, looked mostly like an advertisement for the Fishman-owned Logan Theatre. When I asked Yonker about that, he said Fishman’s retirement is a “first step” in building an organization that will eventually stand fully on its own. He’s actively seeking new board members who want to help make that happen.
Sell’s censored installation, “Home Sweet Home,” can be seen starting this weekend at Grace Church of Logan Square, where she’s serving a three-month stint as the inaugural artist in residence. An opening reception is scheduled for 6 PM on Saturday, at the church, 3325 W. Wrightwood.