Students create ‘pop up’ gallery to display artwork

Six art students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point are gaining experiences as professional artists by creating their own show at a “pop up” gallery in Stevens Point. 

“Pop up” galleries, popular in big cities like Chicago, are temporary spaces for art exhibits. The Ignition Gallery at 2425 Main Street, Stevens Point, is the site of the former Music Quest store. It now features the printmaking, mixed media sculpture, photography, ceramics and metal work of Tarin Baldauf, Allyssa Burch, Heather Carey, Codey Stange, Stacey Strupp and Jeff Tomlinson. 

From writing a grant to fund the project to renting, painting and lighting the space and curating their work, the students gained valuable professional experience. 

“This was the real life experience I wanted,” said Baldauf. “We all want to know what it will be like as artists when we graduate, so this is just a preview of what we can do.” 

Baldauf and Carey first began talking about the project last fall. With a large number of graduating art students, less exhibit space is available in the Edna Carlsten Art Gallery on campus for larger print pieces and mixed media projects. That helped draw in the others. 

The students worked with Lisa Theo, head of the UW-Stevens Point Student Research Fund, to write and win an Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Grant. With additional help from the Department of Art and Design, the students had a $3,500 budget to pay for rent, utilities, construction items, paint, lighting and marketing materials. 

“This experience helped me learn a lot about the business side of being an artist,” Strupp said. “Working with different people to find and manage the space is something you can’t learn in class.” The support of their adviser, Art Professor Bob Erickson, was essential, she added. “He was always there to answer questions and offer moral support.” 

Burch took advantage of the large space to create two rooms to display her wet-plate photography and glass work in a mixed media installation. 

“This was a chance to be my own curator and try something risky,” Burch said. “The Art and Design Department has been so willing to help us go that extra mile.” 

The students’ real-life experiences included the challenges of dealing with electrical issues and flooding after a pipe burst, in addition to balancing the project with work and school. 

“We all work when we can to make it happen,” said Baldauf. “We work, we go to class and we work on our art as well. We don’t sleep very much. But the end is in sight, and that keeps us going. We are all very excited to have the senior show we all wanted. That makes it all worth it.” 

The free exhibit in the Ignition Gallery continues through May 5. The gallery is open to the public Tuesday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday, 12-4 p.m.