Beautiful Kismet: ArtReach St. Croix opens pop-up gallery

A customer checks out what ArtReach St. Croix's new pop-up gallery on Main Street has to offer on opening day, Nov. 29 (Gazette photo by Avery Cropp)
A customer checks out what ArtReach St. Croix’s new pop-up gallery on Main Street has to offer on opening day, Nov. 29 (Gazette photo by Avery Cropp)

Kismet is fate or destiny. Which is just what ArtReach St. Croix Board Chair Danette Olsen would call the organization’s new pop-up gallery located near the corner of Olive and Main.

The opportunity fell into ArtReach’s grasp a little more than two weeks ago when Jeff and Jennifer Anderson of 45 Degrees offered the now-empty Bronze storefront to Guillermo Cuellar to display his pottery work during the holiday season.

“[The Andersons] thought that to have an empty store front during Christmas was just silly,” Olsen said. “So they asked Guillermo, but he wasn’t able to use it, though he offered up ArtReach St. Croix, thinking maybe we could help.”

Olsen said she never expected an opportunity like this to be given to ArtReach.

“When we heard about it we had to move quickly,” Olsen said. “Heather called me and told me we’d have a very unexpected item on our board agenda, and we were all shocked. It was just too wonderful an opportunity to pass up. We were just trying to figure out the best way to make this happen.”

So ArtReach St. Croix Executive Director Heather Rutledge, Program and Marketing Manager Syndie Sorenson and the visual arts committee started getting the storefront in tip-top shape.

“Our staff, volunteers and artists have really been great about getting together and working with us to get it all organized,” Olsen said. “They’ve provided a lot of the fixtures and everything.”

The response to ArtReach’s call for artists was quick, resulting in a variety of artists putting their work in the store representing various mediums and age groups. The community was also quick to respond when the pop-up gallery opened on Friday Nov. 29.

“We’re really excited about the opening today,” Olsen said on the 29. “We’ve only been open a couple hours, and we’ve already had sales.”

Artists works represented include sculptures, 2-D work, lots of pottery, paintings, glass items, jewelry and even handmade ornaments.

Olsen added that the group hopes to get some artists to have live art in the store during the week with music or literary readings.

The latest case of kismet has played well into ArtReach’s aim to work toward raising regional awareness of art in the community. A recent grant has helped make that possible going forward, but to start something like this in downtown Stillwater during the holiday season can only help, according to another ArtReach board member Karen Johnston.

“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity for us and our artists to be in downtown Stillwater during the holiday season,” Johnston said. “It can only help our artists, and we’ll have unique and interesting gifts that people can’t find anywhere else.”

The experiment, as Olsen calls it, could also provide the organization with powerful information.

“It will let us know if this is something we can do more of and determine if there is a different way to harness all this energy,” Olsen said. “Can we tell someone now that if you give us five to eight weeks that we can put together a great gallery? For municipalities in the area, are we able to help them fill their empty storefronts that they may have.”

Olsen added that she felt the timing was just right for the organization. With the addition of Rutledge and a focused mission to raise awareness regionally, she’s expecting big things to happen at ArtReach over the next year.

“If you put the puzzle together properly we can make amazing things happen,” Olsen said.

The gallery will be open four weeks. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays most weeks. ArtReach will host a hot chocolate open house at the gallery 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.


Contact Avery Cropp at [email protected]