The Journal Gazette
Thursday, July 11, 2019 1:00 am

Hanging out with art

Local work connects with public's eyes in wide range of places

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

Art is a growing movement in northeast Indiana, and area artists have many options to show their work, from traditional galleries to some less-obvious choices.

Nina Bennett manages the Auburn Atrium MarketPlace, 106 W. 6th St. in Auburn, and owns Expressions Gallery, one of several businesses operating inside Atrium.

Most of the about 40 artists she represents come from within a 60-mile radius in and around DeKalb County. She also has books from local authors and CDs from musicians in her shop, which also sells art supplies and does custom framing.

Bennett requires that work in her gallery be original in design and concept, and she has artists from a variety of styles including painting, fiber, glass and pottery.

“My goal to start with was to kind of educate the public that art is more than just what you hang on the wall,” she says. Bennett, who is an artist herself, has been in business for 15 years at different locations in Auburn.

Her current location includes a balcony with studio spaces rented by five artists whom the public can watch work. They also sell pieces out of their spaces.

The Atrium is open Tuesday through Saturday, and the artists are present in the balcony Thursday through Saturday. Go to for hours and more information.

Bennett says some of the artists she represents have a passion for art but also have full-time jobs, so her gallery is a good option for them.

“They could never have a festival booth,” she says. They also might not have as many pieces as a different type of gallery may want.

Other galleries in the area include Castle Gallery in Fort Wayne and Crestwoods Frame Shop and Gallery in Roanoke. Several churches and colleges have gallery spaces as well.

Look through The Journal Gazette's Art Exhibits calendar each Friday in Weekender and you will find many exhibitions going on in the area. In addition to galleries, there are a number of restaurants and businesses that offer space for artists to show work.

The Fort Wayne Artists Guild's Exhibitions Program offers its about 130 members the chance to show their work in a variety of spaces, including nursing homes, doctor's offices and other businesses.

At each of the guild's meetings, exhibitions chairperson Nancy Longmate puts out a board that lists the venues and the available space in each. Members are invited to sign up to show work in spaces they can fill, and some team up to show in a larger space. Each exhibition runs two months, and an artist can sign up for two exhibitions a year.

The guild requires works for the program to be family-friendly and framed as if they were being entered in a juried show. Most of the artists are painters.

More than a dozen venues are part of the program. Interested venues contact Longmate, who then assesses them for lighting and security. She says she has never turned a venue down.

There is no cost to the venues, which are not involved in the actual sale of artwork and do not take commission. But they get a regular rotation of fresh art for their patrons to view.

Longmate says she sees the program as a learning opportunity for new members or artists who haven't shown work before.

“They learn that they need to present their art well, so they have to have it framed nicely,” she says.

And they get experience with the process of hanging their work and getting reaction from the public. The next step might be entering a juried show.

Local art lovers know to keep an eye on these nontraditional spaces, too.

The Heritage Pointe of Fort Wayne retirement community has a gallery where the guild puts together group and individual shows. The residents come around to look at the art, but Longmate says she recently sold a piece to a man who visits the venue specifically when he knows a new exhibit has gone up.

Artists do make sales through their exhibits, though Longmate says some venues are better for that than others.

One is Visiting Nurse & Hospice Home, where art is hung in the hallways.

“What (a buyer will) tell us is, 'I looked at that painting the whole time I was there, and it just gave me such pleasure and I just want to buy it and take it home with me because it is a good memory,'” Longmate says.

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