Corbett vs. Dempsey LLC was founded by Jim Dempsey and John Corbett and opened its space on North Ashland Avenue in September 2004.
Since opening, Corbett vs. Dempsey has presented a range of international artists and artists connected with the historical and contemporary legacy of Chicago. The gallery's mission has included extensive exploration of widely known artists including Ellen Berkenblit, Brian Calvin, Arturo Herrera, Charline von Heyl, Dick Higgins, Rebecca Morris, Albert Oehlen, Joyce Pensato, Arlene Shechet, and Christopher Wool, supporting emerging and mid-career figures including Christina Forrer, Gabrielle Garland, Magalie Guérin, David Hartt, Carol Jackson, Celeste Rapone, Rebecca Shore, Lui Shtini, Cauleen Smith, John Sparagana, Omar Velázquez, and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, and championing artists of critical significance to post-war Chicago including Margot Bergman, Dominick Di Meo, Edward Flood, Philip Hanson, Thomas H. Kapsalis, Robert Lostutter, Christina Ramberg, Diane Simpson, Karl Wirsum, and Jimmy Wright. Creative music has always been a feature of the gallery's activities; in addition to having its own record label, CvsD is proud to represent Peter Brötzmann and the estate of Sun Ra.
Corbett vs. Dempsey's record label features a mixture of new recordings and CD reissues of out-of-print LPs, CvsD's offerings focus on jazz, free jazz, and improvised music; occasional rock and rock-related noise; artist-related projects; sound art; and some experimentally minded dub. Many of the releases continue the archival work that John Corbett did with his Unheard Music Series, released under the Atavistic label starting in the late '90s, with Peter Brötzmann, Joe McPhee, Tom Prehn, and Sun Ra being carry-overs from UMS. Corbett's commitment to the Joe McPhee legacy led to CvsD's acquisition of McPhee's legendary Hat Hut tapes, along with the label's cache of recordings by Steve Lacy, Jimmy Lyons, and various other artists. The label's more recent offerings are packaged in tipped-on mini-LP covers, lovingly designed to reproduce the original LP packaging, as well as CvsD's first vinyl LP.
Corbett has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) since 1988. He was artistic director of Berlin JazzFest 2002, co-curated the Empty Bottle Jazz Series from 1996 to 2005, and was co-curator of Pathways to Unknown Worlds: Sun Ra, El Saturn, and Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground, 1954-1968 (Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, 2006; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, 2009; Durham Art Guild, Durham, North Carolina, 2009). For over 20 years, Dempsey was the house manager and occasional programmer at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago. He is an alumnus of SAIC. Together Corbett and Dempsey have been involved in many independent curatorial projects, including Big Picture: A New View of Painting In Chicago (Chicago History Museum, 2007), Touch and Go: Ray Yoshida and his Spheres of Influence (Sullivan Galleries, Chicago, 2010), and Private Eye: The Imagist Impulse in Chicago Art (Newfields Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana, 2021).
Corbett vs. Dempsey is currently located on the ground floor of 2156 West Fulton Street in Chicago. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm, and by appointment.
Corbett vs. Dempsey is a member of the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA).