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Long considered by many as the creative hub of the North Shore, Highland Park is now home to Laughlin Gallery, a space causing a stir with an approach to selling art that relies more on matchmaking than retail transactions. 

The gallery opened its doors in January 2022. Its founding partner, Lauren Laughlin, a Chicago born, now North Shore resident and longtime arts advocate, collector, and advisor was inspired to open a gallery space to fill what she believed was a need in the local art scene. 


Located just 20 miles outside of the city, Lauren says she wanted to provide a more urban art experience in the suburbs with a non-intimidating, low-pressure space for looking at art.  The gallery is located in a historic Prairie-Style commercial building built in 1926 by Architect John S. Van Bergen. The building also houses The Vault Creative, a design collective Lauren Laughlin co-founded with four other women in the creative field to provide a full service design-centered shopping experience.

The approach is the same whether the gallery team assists experienced art collectors or curious newcomers. Laughlin Gallery is a space where art is celebrated and everyone feels welcome and respected. Laughlin Gallery takes a more collaborative approach because they want their clients to get excited about their art, to really love it & connect with it. Building trust and relationships takes precedence over sales.

The Laughlin Gallery community grows through connections, and to illustrate those connections would require a matrix of a hundred stars colliding and connecting at just the right time. From Laughlin meeting a Chicago art academic at Art Basel Miami, who connected her to an undiscovered artist, to meeting interior designers who connect the gallery to homeowners, the draw is always strong and always benefits the clients and artists. 

When choosing artists, stars also need to align. Seventy percent of the artists at the gallery are women, and most have not had gallery representation. “Under the radar” applies here, and the joy of discovery serves the clients well. Visitors to the gallery can expect to find a fresh variety of work, from abstract expressionism to photography. Beyond talent, Laughlin must also feel a connection with each artist.  Its community of fans and supporters, clients and artists, continues to grow organically, as one would expect from a gallery founded on connecting and matchmaking and a bit of stardust.

Words by Carrie Lannon

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