Lemon Street Gallery opened in 1999 with 13 artists. Now the non-profit visual arts organization has grown into a visual arts center with 65 artist-members. A recent expansion allows even more work to be on display, including on a 6" x 6" Art Wall. What some people may not realize is that the gallery displays art throughout the community, and not just within its walls at 4601 Sheridan Road.
Melanie Hovey, Executive Director, has been with the gallery from its start. She shares how 100 linear feet of additional wall space has been added to the gallery. The office and classroom area were re-configured to add the additional wall space. The expansion was the brainchild of John Mazurek, who approached the gallery to be its business manager. It turns out he also became their "construction guy". A shop teacher at one time, he had some ideas to spruce up the gallery. Lemon Street bought the materials, and he donated his time. It took John, with the help of a few people, about two weeks to complete the job.
It was very important to Melanie to keep the classroom area open, without walls. She wants gallery visitors to be able to watch the art classes, to see that art making goes on there. It's part of the allure of visiting a working gallery. Thus, the classroom is still visible, behind the new 6" x 6" Art Wall. This 7' wall is dedicated to, just as the name implies, 6" x 6" art pieces. More than 60 of these small works can be displayed at a time.
One of the gallery's artists suggested this wall. Melanie describes it as an "ever-changing mosaic of mini-masterpieces." Each small piece is for sale for $25. Artists can choose to donate the piece to the gallery, or the standard commission rate applies. It's also an opportunity for non-gallery members to participate.
Then there's the new Collaboration Wall. This is another way the gallery continues to reach into the community to provide a venue for people to show their art; artists who are not necessarily associated with any gallery. The first display was the Yellow Bird Project. Five members who belong to their own critique group came up with the Yellow Bird project, and Lemon Street was given the first option to show it. Artists of different media, they each have created their own take on yellow birds. In the future, the display wall will continually change and display collaborative works, by three or more artists (not necessarily members). If there is not a proposed collaboration at any time, it will be used as another regular wall to display work.
Another new wall will feature work by the UW-Parkside Art Club members three times a year. It's a way to give college students a professional setting to display their work. Lemon Street has collaborated with Parkside for many years now in offering classes.
Another fairly recent addition to the gallery is Clayground. Open studio time in the clay studio is offered at various hours each week for people who want to work on clay projects. Participants do not need to be enrolled in a class or belong to the gallery to take part. Melanie says they are still developing a client base, with some people using it regularly.
There's always something new to see at the gallery, as its featured artist shows are changed each month, and then celebrated at a reception on Second Saturday. Each member is asked about every other year to be featured, Melanie explains. Art in the main gallery is changed each quarter.
Current classes offered at the gallery range from book binding seminars, artisan soap classes, and a home spa series to children's art classes, ceramics, and a stained glass seminar. Grants are obtained for art programs for children and women. Free wifi is offered in the gallery, as well as outside at Union Park. Lemon Street is the impetus behind the KenoshaUnionParkProject, which is Kenosha's emerging arts district development.
"We work really hard to make original, local art a part of everyone's daily lives," Melanie shares. The work of Lemon Street artists can be enjoyed throughout the community, and beyond. The gallery installs quarterly exhibits throughout the year at Harborside Common Grounds. "We have for 11 years. There are about 45 pieces in each show. Some people go to the cafe just to see the new art," Melanie shares. "That exposure is huge. They sell the artwork right off their wall."
The gallery also displays art at the Northside and Southwest libraries, WGTD, and Minuteman Press. Not only do the artists benefit with their work at additional venues, but also the businesses and their customers benefit. The businesses get fantastic art for their walls and are demonstrating they are community supporters, Melanie says. Each relationship is reciprocal with Lemon Street. Each business pays the gallery, or makes sales for the gallery, or offers in-kind services in return for showing the art. Melanie finds it very important to display original artwork in the workspace, and in any space where creative people gather.
Melanie also finds it important for our legislators to have their constituents' artwork hanging in their offices. Lemon Street artists' work is on display in the offices of Senator Wirch, Representative Steinbrink, Representative Barca, and Representative Kerkman at the Wisconsin State Capitol throughout the year. Melanie sees this as a reminder that "these creative people are vital to the whole fabric of our community," as well as our state and country.
Customer service is vital to Melanie, and she treats her customers like gold. She says service is the only way that small businesses can compete with the large, big-box competitors. She gets that same kind of service she values from the Kenosha Area CVB's team members. We respond to her quickly, with great ideas, and can put her in the right direction, she says. With Facebook, "quite literally I have a connection with the CVB every day and that to me is vital." She doesn't know what she would do without the Kenosha Area Visitors Guide as a resource. She uses it every day at work, as she makes sure her customers have one and refers them to other partners listed in the Guide. Congratulations, Lemon Street Gallery, on your expansion!
For more information: (262) 605-4745, www.lemonstreetgallery.org