IN THE NOW: Pablo features new talent in emerging artists exhibit

Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

JUST HANGIN’ AT THE PABLO. Artist Holli Jacobson installs part of “NOW: Emerging Artists of the Chippewa Valley,” a new exhibit that runs through July 12 at the Pablo Center at the Confluence.
JUST HANGIN’ AT THE PABLO. Artist Holli Jacobson installs part of “NOW: Emerging Artists of the Chippewa Valley,” a new exhibit that runs through July 12 at the Pablo Center at the Confluence.

A confluence of foundation and innovation is taking place at the Pablo Center for the Arts this summer with two consecutive gallery shows. The first, which ran March 29 to May 17, was entitled “THEN: Founding Artists of the Chippewa Valley” and featured established artists from within the community. Now it’s time for “NOW: Emerging Artists of the Chippewa Valley” to take over the James W. Hansen Gallery, bringing with it a fresh, collaborative approach to curation and display.

Rose Dolan-Neill, visual and literary arts manager at Pablo Center, invited Kelsey Wenburg, visual artist and creator of the pop-up art gallery Artfly, to organize NOW. “She’s a person who has made such a big splashy impact on our community in the past two or three years, and I definitely wanted her input on this exhibit because I felt that if there’s somebody in this community who knows emerging artists, it’s Kelsey!” Dolan-Neill said.

“I didn’t curate pieces,” Wenburg said. “When I learned that I was going to be doing the show, I decided to curate artists instead.” She searched for artists who could collaborate with her and with each other to push the exhibit to its limits. She invited eight local artists to the white-walled gallery, where they discussed the space’s limitations and opportunities, and started to make a game plan for the show.

“We are a vessel,” Dolan-Neill said of the Pablo Center. “That white-walled gallery space, that is the perfect place for an installation artist to come in and go crazy.” She expects to see art creeping from huge paintings by Jaydn Alexander on the walls to creative displays by Hope Greene on the windows. The exhibit will include large cardboard sculptures built by Gabriel Fischer, and Serena Wagner will create a room-within-a-room where viewers may enter for an audiovisual experience. Other artists include Adam Stiglich, Lindsey Cherek, Holli Jacobson, and Thomas Gardner III.

While the artists work in extremely different mediums and take various approaches, both Wenburg and Dolan-Neill see common threads among the works that will be on display.

“The artists themselves really speak to what the people in our community value,” Wenburg said. “These artists really care about the community. They care about the people around them, they care about fairness, equality, and taking care of each other and where we live; and that’s expressed in the work.”

That expression is quite direct, Wenburg added. While the founding artists featured in THEN communicated their passions and values through technique and aesthetic, she found that the emerging artists of NOW use easily recognizable symbols and often words to communicate.

“If they’re not making a statement then they’re asking an open-ended question or they’re provoking some sort of thought and conversation among the audience members,” she said.

Wenburg is focused on creating an environment people want to spend a good deal of time in, she said. “I really want people to feel comfortable being in the gallery and taking time to consider the art and whether they like it or not,” she elaborated. Giving people the confidence to evaluate a piece and develop their opinion beyond a first impression is the challenge Wenburg assigned to herself as curator.

“As an emerging artist, this is an amazing opportunity to make that amazing thing that you always wanted to make,” she said. “I can’t wait to share what we can do.”

Participating artists (and include Kelsey M. Wenberg (@kelseymwenberg.art), Gabriel Fischer (@gabrielmfischer), Adam Stiglich (@groovyartcreamsocial), Serena Wagner (@sniffleparty), Lindsey Cherek (@lindseycherek), Jaydn Alexander (@jalala_zander), Holli Jacobson (@hollijacobson), and Thomas Gardner III (@thomas_gardner3).

“NOW: Emerging Artists of the Chippewa Valley” opened May 24. Visitors may view the gallery 10am-4pm Monday-Friday as well as two hours before Pablo Center events. An artists’ reception will be 5-7pm Wednesday, May 29. More information is available at pablocenter.org.

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