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With ‘Multidimensional,’ ArtFly Brings Local Art Online

virtual exhibition of Chippewa Valley art runs through June 5

Rebecca Mennecke

Works by Eau Claire artist Holli Jacobson are displayed in a virtual gallery on Artsteps.com organized by ArtFly.
Works by Eau Claire artist Holli Jacobson are displayed in a virtual gallery on Artsteps.com organized by ArtFly.

Social isolation has forced many artists and creative folks to think outside the box – or outside of reality. In the form of virtual reality, that is.

Eau Claire-based pop-up gallery ArtFly has taken art to a new, digital format that can be accessed by a computer or smartphone in the new exhibition “ArtFly: Multidimensional” – ArtFly’s first show in virtual reality.

ArtFly founder Kelsey M. Wenberg said the COVID-19 pandemic “really put a strict leash” on how visual artists share and sell their artwork. With the temporary closing of Racy’s – where they usually display their work, switching it out every six weeks – ArtFly, like many artists and organizations participating in the recent Creative Economy Week, went digital.

“Limitations can really breed creativity,” Wenberg said.

Creative Economy Week, according to the Downtown Eau Claire Inc. website, celebrated the “blossoming” creative economy movement in Wisconsin, sharing and exploring “creative endeavors, successes, and processes” within the Eau Claire community.

“Our goal has always been to exhibit new art in untraditional places. You can relate to that work in a different way.” –Kelsey M. Wenberg, founder, ArtFly

The exhibition, featuring 11 local artists, went live on Friday, May 15, and concludes on June 5. Wenberg said she had previously heard of virtual gallery platforms and chose Artsteps.com because it is free to view and compatible with most devices, making it an accessible option; anyone in the world with Internet access has the ability to view the exhibition.

“Our goal has always been to exhibit new art in untraditional places,” she said. She offered the example of viewing artwork in a garage versus in a gallery or museum: “You can relate to that work in a different way.”

The online format also offered artists the ability to show art they otherwise wouldn’t be able to display, such as 3D sculptures. The biggest challenge for Wenberg, she said, was with the technology. Her background is with “real art objects,” so moving digital was a whole new experience for her.

“It was really fun to create something that went above and beyond our expectations,” Wenberg said.

After Wenberg put out a call for artists, Holli Jacobson – a local visual artist – decided to submit her current available work, which is featured in the exhibition.

“I thought it was a good, creative way to display art at this time,” Jacobson said.

About five of Jacobson’s pieces appear in the gallery. Her art, according to her website, references the “beauty of the natural world in a state of chaos due to human practices creating climate change. Colors are vibrant and acidic with dynamic motion and flow. Inspired by photography and travel, her art connects viewers to something familiar in a state of turmoil.”

Jacobson says the exhibition gives artists a brief glimpse of what art in the future might look like.

Wenberg also said 100% of sales from the exhibit are directed to the artists. “We understand how appreciative our visual artists are of financial support right now,” she said.


A link to the exhibition is available on the ArtFly Facebook page or through their Instagram page, @artflygallery.