ArtStart: A New Center for Cultural Growth in Rhinelander
by Breanne Sommer, Arts Wisconsin Communications Intern
What does one do with an old abandoned Federal building in the center of town? Turn it into an art gallery of course! This is just what Ken Juon, President of ArtStart and the other leaders behind the non-profit accomplished in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. ArtStart’s webpage illuminates how this restoration process began when “The City of Rhinelander voted to purchase the building from the Federal Government for $1 and lease it to our non-profit organization.” Here, ArtStart begins its journey to provide an ideal downtown community arts center.
The first phase of this renovation was completed for the July 19th opening of the gallery, which will remain open for the rest of 2012. However, Juon has plans for a second phase of building renovations in 2013 as well “a full exhibition schedule and youth arts.” During this second phase, the organization will transform the entire first floor into a complete art gallery and will expand their education classes and activities to specific classrooms in the building.
The next exhibit features artists from the School of the Art Staff in Rhinelander, opening on July 23-27. However, the ArtStart gallery does not simply feature local creativity, but will expand to inclue artists from all areas of the state and nation, such as in an upcoming exhibition that will display Veteran art from across the country, entitledImpact: Experience of Service. Check out this exciting exhibit in early October!The gallery was inaugurated on July 19th with the opening exhibition featuring six artists who participated and were awarded for their art at the Wisconsin Triennial Exhibition at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. While the gallery technically opened with the Contemporary Artists exhibit, ArtStart held an official opening fundraiser, called the Pink Flamingo party, on Friday, July 27th. This party served as the main opening of the gallery for the community, with artists from the Contemporary Art exhibit in attendance, as well as leaders of ArtStart and prominent community organizers.
ArtStart is currently an all-volunteer effort, signifying the community’s strong dedication to the organization’s mission: “to be a community crossroads, bringing people together by engaging and inspiring them through high-quality curated visual arts exhibitions, cultural activities and arts education.” Within the next year, Juon and other organization leaders have hopes of hiring an executive director to help advance ArtStart’s plans and programs.
The organization has much more to offer than just a beautiful space to display art. ArtStart also offers several “cultural activities,” such as art education. The first education session, the Art Fusion Project: An Artist and Student Exploration, will be offered October 12, 2012 – December 23, 2012.This program places students with already established artists, providing an interactive teaching atmosphere for each individual to grow in their artistic abilities. The art created by the teams will be displayed in the ArtStart gallery. The organization states that “the purpose of this program is to provide students with a unique opportunity to interact directly with working artists representing a variety of visual arts media and participate in an exchange of knowledge, inspiration, and hands-on learning experiences.” These organized activities are growing to offer more cultural involvement for the Rhinelander community. Juon illuminated that the staff is looking for instructors in the future based on the “need in the community for youth oriented art instruction.”
Juon states that ArtStart is “primarily interested in the community development aspect” of what the organization offers. With high hopes and standards for the organization, one will surely see this non-profit grow to be a prominent outlet for cultural expression as well as a strong contributor to the creative economy in the near future.
Read more about ArtStart’s wonderful creative opportunities and gallery events here!