The sheer amount of passionate artists and talent in this community is enough to fill hundreds of pages, and we can only wish we had enough to showcase them all. We talked to a handful of visual artists and those deeply involved with local organizations and galleries to highlight their unique roles in the growing art scene, and to find out why the arts are so important for our community.
SHEER ART ATTACK
Photos by Paul Flessland | Feature photo is of current member artists at Gallery 4. Back Left to Right: Dennis Krull, Kathryn Luther, Jon Offutt, William Damon, Doug Stuckle. Front Left to Right: Karman Rheault, Connie Riedman, Barbara Benda Nagle, Elizabeth Schwankl. Not pictured: Scott Seiler, Marcy Dronen, Carmen Bruhnr
Gallery 4, Ltd. was founded 42 years ago and is currently the longest consecutive-running cooperative artist gallery in the country. But what you’ll find at Gallery 4 is more than a room full of art and a longevity title. Gallery 4 is a family, and one of artists who truly care about the community and keeping its art scene alive.
“They’re Here” by Connie Riedman, acrylic
Local artist Dennis Krull, Gallery 4’s current President and owner and operator of 5foot20 Design Lounge in Moorhead, and local photographer and gallery member, Scott Seiler, filled us in on how Gallery 4 works, what makes it an important piece of the local art community and why they love being a part of it.
Being the longest consecutive running cooperative artist gallery in the country, Gallery 4’s longevity is special.
The gallery opened in the fall of 1975 in the Block 6 (former deLendrecie’s) building on Main Avenue and Seventh Street as a space for artists to regularly have a place to show and sell their work. By 1981, the gallery had expanded to over 30 artists and moved to the main floor of the building.
“Woman Rider” by Kathryn Luther, mosaic
Three years later it moved to the historic Black Building in Downtown Fargo before it moved to the Moorhead Center Mall in 1989. In early 1995, Gallery 4 relocated to a spot off of Main Avenue downtown and then moved back to the Black Building in 2003, where it currently resides.
“Fields of Winter” by Barbara Benda Nagle, acrylic on Gessoboard
Scott Seiler: “I don’t think you can be in business for over 40 years and not adapt to the changes and not have a market that’s out there. That’s sort of the exciting part, because throughout all of these different years there have been many artists that have brought a unique perspective. Some are great at being artists, some are great at the business aspects and some are great at educating us on what we need to do at different shows or creating that customer experience.”
As a true coop gallery, it’s owned and operated by local member artists.
There are currently 12 member artists at Gallery 4. Each member artist pays a monthly rent–with a six-month minimum–to be a part of the gallery and have their work displayed, and each puts in two or three days a month working at the space.
“Shrouded Sentinal” by Dennis Krull, photographic encaustic
When the gallery is looking for more artists, those interested in being a member submit their work for review by the other members before being accepted. Aside from being a gallery and art retailer, Gallery 4 also participates in many downtown events and does art swaps with the Bismarck Downtown Artist Cooperative.
“Elise” by William Damon, acrylic
Dennis Krull: “We’ve had as low as eight members but 12 in this space gives everyone just enough to showcase their work properly. Right now we’re happy with 12 even though we could probably go bigger.”
You can meet any of the artists on any given day and talk to them about their work.
DK: “Art in general is important for any community to prosper and grow. As for us, compared to other galleries, you actually get to meet the artists that create the work that’s hung up here and such.
“Karman Vortex” by Karman Rheault, steel
“I think part of the gallery’s longevity has to do with the fact that Gallery 4’s current member artists. Back Left to Right: Dennis Krull, Kathryn Luther, Jon Offutt, William Damon, Doug Stuckle. Front Left to Right: Karman Rheault, Connie Riedman, Barbara Benda Nagle, Elizabeth Schwankl. Not pictured: Scott Seiler, Marcy Dronen, Carmen Bruhn we’re all local artists and established artists in the area.”
By Jon Offutt, glass blowing piece
Everybody works together like a family.
SS: “I’m one of the newer members of the gallery and I think for me, it’s been great just because I’m able to work with more experienced artists who have a variety of mediums. One of the things I like best about this gallery–being that it is a coop so it’s a little different from other galleries–is that all of the artists work together.
“Tree of Life” by Scott Seiler, black and white photography on canvas
“They’ll give you feedback or if you need a pep talk, they’re there for that. We all take turns working on the show’s floor and everyone is willing to pitch in our help out if you can’t make it. It’s not a competitive nature, and more of a growing educational type of art.”
The gallery benefits its artists on multiple levels.
SS: “I’m part of The Arts Partnership and FMVA (Fargo Moorhead Visual Artists) but I also do art trade shows in North Dakota and Minnesota. I’m reaching a different audience with those shows and I’m reaching a difference audience with the gallery.
“Round And Round We Go” by Marcy Dronen, acrylic
“It’s great because I can provide artwork and different levels, and it’s nice to have another outlet where I can showcase my work outside of trade shows. It’s great to hear all of the feedback and know that you’re on the right track.”
“Introrse” by Elizabeth Schwankl, acrylic
DK: “I like being a part of it because you get a lot of diversity and a lot of different media and people. You get a sense of where everybody comes from and their background with what they create.
“Prairie Sunset” by Doug Stuckle, oil
“And I think with this gallery, part of what makes it special and beneficial is that we’re community members and from around the area, so we have that kind of community feel with our art. We all care deeply about this community.”
“Red Frog Beach” by Carmen Bruhn, 18” x 24” acrylic