Founded in 2009, the Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) is an emerging arts non-profit exhibition space and creative-use organization. Serving as a creative hub and a community, cultural institution, this mixed-use center promotes the works of contemporary artists, community organizations, creative-sector groups and arts practice and production.
CUAS has been a trailblazing organization operating exhibition spaces in industrial warehouse buildings in the East Pilsen Industrial Corridor and the first visual exhibition anchor tenant located in the city’s arts district - Cermak Creative Industries District and, in the Historic Manufacturing District of the McKinley Park and Bridgeport communities.
CUAS aims to not only cultivate curatorial practice through exhibits but, offer innovative teaching and learning opportunities, and non-traditional venue space, CUAS is by nature cross-platform and establishes its credibility through creative juxtapositions. Supporting a hybrid community-cultural model, CUAS has always welcomed creative activists and practitioners, emerging art administrators, and innovative ideas in the incubation stage.
Founders and siblings, Peter Kepha and Lauren Pacheco are third-generation Mexican-Americans born and raised in Brighton Park, a community on Chicago’s southwest side and proud Chicago Public School graduates. Their history runs deep in Chicago's communities having parents hailing from Taylor Street/Pilsen and LeClaire Courts public housing in Archer Heights.
Both, former operators and founders of 32nd&urban, an alternative visual art exhibition space in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood from 2006-2009. 32nd&urban was nominated twice for “Best South Side Gallery You Might Miss", "Best Contemporary Art Gallery", and “Freshest Gallery" among several significant exhibition write-ups.
LAUREN M. PACHECO (Executive Director) holds a degree in social work from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago and, is the recipient of the prestigious New Artist Society Merit Scholarship from the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) Masters of Arts (May 2015), Arts Administration and Policy program. She is currently enrolled at Northwestern University, School of Communications and Media Studies (MS 2016).
Under Lauren’s leadership, the Chicago Urban Art Society has become a resource to policymakers and has helped engage in the public dialogue about issues that impact artists and creative enterprises. She has consistently taken the initiative to strengthen and unite Chicago’s diverse arts community. She has worked hard to bring the arts to a broader audience and bridge cultural sector programming. Lauren serves as a board member for Pilsen-based youth arts organization - Elevarte Community Studio. LINKEDIN
PETER KEPHA (Gallery Director) has a BFA in oil painting. A freelance graphic designer and illustrator with his design firm, DetourStudio he serves as principal Curator and Gallery Director of the Chicago Urban Art Society. Kepha has also curated other traditional exhibitions in gallery settings as well as pop-up exhibits in vacant storefronts and incubator-type settings. A former arts educator and muralist, Kepha is a practicing mixed-media artist and has exhibited in Chicago galleries. Currently, Peter Kepha is interested in subculture genres including the intersection of vintage, art and vinyl. Slated to open winter 2015, Kepha's brick and mortar store - Shady Rest Vintage & Vinyl - will open at 18th Street and Throop Street in Pilsen. Website