© 2024 WXPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Antigo Visual Arts new home makes art more accessible for the community

Katie Thoresen

In recent years, you may have noticed more public art throughout Antigo.

Danna Gabriel
Antigo Visual Arts

The murals and sculptures have, in large part, been created because of the work of the Antigo Visual Arts [AVA].

Artist and AVA Gallery Director Vicki Eldridge is one of the people creating that art. She recycles plastic like bottle caps to create murals and sculptures.

One of her pieces is the resting flag behind Bradley’s Funeral Home on Superior Street.

“I would say 100% of my work is repurposed and to be able to put art out and have people see they don’t need a lot of supplies or expense to make something is worth it,” said Eldridge.

The group’s goal is to make art more accessible in the community.

Local businesses, churches, and organizations can reach out to the group with project ideas.

AVA Member Julianna Bauknecht is working on a project right now for a local church.

She’s painting giant canvasses to look like storefronts for an event.

“We have a bunch of AVA members working together to create semi-realistic, where it looks as if you're walking into just an old Wisconsin downtown,” said Bauknecht. “It's nice that we can contribute to the community and doing some of those bigger projects and kind of integrate ourselves like that.”

The AVA now has a new space to create projects like this.

The new Antigo Visual Arts Art Center is a small, simple space, but much like the art the group plans to create within it, the possibilities for space are endless.

“Hopefully, that people will come here and grow and find out, surprise themselves,” said Marie Benes. She’s the AVA Board Treasurer and one of the main reasons the AVA now has a studio space to work out of.

Prior to this year, the group had a space downtown that they worked out of, but it didn’t have heat and was mainly used for storage.

They also have a gallery at the Langlade County Historical Society.

Now, in addition to those, they have a newly built space that’s part of a new affordable housing complex, Aspen Village.

Benes says the former city administrator made it part of the contract for the complex.

AVA Art Center has the space for a $1 year for the next 10 years.

Bauknecht says the low overhead cost, location, and community support through grants and donations makes art all that more accessible for the community.

“I think it's a really nice way for us to be so implanted in, quite literally, the community and being in a development of where we can do so much outreach in such a small space, but also make it so open where anyone can find it, anyone can come work, and help it grow within the community,” said Bauknecht.

Katie Thoresen

The AVA Art Center has a small gallery to display artwork, it’s available for people to bring in what they’re working on during open studio, and AVA plans to hold classes in the space.

It’s all part of the AVA mission to get more people to explore, experience, and develop an appreciation for the visual arts.

Something that AVA Board President Danna Gabriel says is made easier with this new space.

"Here, it's just calm. You can just be like, 'Yeah, this is how I do it. You can do it how you want to do it'. Nobody does art same. I just like to see that people in our group are able to teach here and feel comfortable.” said Gabriel.

Gabriel and other AVA member stress that art is for everyone and it’s never too late to start.

“I didn’t start doing art until I went through a divorce. It was extremely healing to me. It helped me so much. It really taught me that there’s just more to life,” said Gabriel.

Mary Hayes, AVA Secretary, says there was a lack of art in her life between elementary school and retirement.

“I took up art as a retirement hobby and I found out I really enjoyed it and loved it,” said Hayes.

Discovering their love of art led both Hayes and Gabriel to the AVA.

"It's been really exciting to know all these people and to expand into the community is wonderful because we're positive people that want to have a positive influence, rather than the opposite," said Hayes.

Whether it’s expressing yourself through art or appreciating the various public art displays that have been popping up in the city, these AVA members hope more people will discover the same joy through art as they have found.

The AVA Art Center is holding a grand opening on June 22. It’s located at 1350 Hogan Street. It’s in the same building as the Aspen Village housing office next to Remington Lake.

You can keep up to date with AVA on the organization’s Facebook page.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
Up North Updates
* indicates required
Related Content