A Dozen Local Artists Work to Open Downtown Chippewa Falls Gallery

Tom Giffey

INSIDE IS ARTSIDE. The Valley Art Gallery Co-op in Chippewa Falls features work by 12 regional artists.
INSIDE IS ARTSIDE. The Valley Art Gallery Co-op in Chippewa Falls features work by 12 regional artists.

What began as a pre-Christmas pop-up store for a handful of artists in downtown Chippewa Falls has evolved into a permanent space designed to promote and inspire creativity.

The Valley Art Gallery Co-op, 304 N. Bridge St., currently features the work of a dozen artists in nearly as many mediums: Inside, you’ll find acrylic and watercolor paintings, thrown pots and pasteboard jewelry, knitted scarves and carved gourds.

“We just think having an art gallery in a community just gives it some added value,” says Kris Crowe, president of the Valley Art Association and one of the artists whose work can be found in the gallery. But this isn’t just a look-and-don’t-touch gallery: The work here is on sale, ready to bring joy to your home and your life.

The gallery opened in December when Steve Rasmus offered an empty storefront to the Valley Art Association as a temporary retail space. After the holidays passed, some of the artists decided to keep the store open. It’s now run as a co-op, with the 12 exhibiting artists staffing the space and splitting the rent.

While the store has been discovered by many locals as well as visitors to Chippewa Falls’ picturesque downtown, the artists plan to promote themselves even more with the help of an open house on Saturday, June 18, from 10am to 5pm. The day will feature refreshments, drawings (each artist has donated a piece or two to give away), as well as make-and-take art projects.

The gallery itself is small but chock-full of two- and three-dimensional artwork, which you’ll find on walls, shelves, and free-standing displays. Painted caribou antlers share space with flower vases, wool bags, and scenic photographs. “It just attacks your senses,” Crowe explains. “It’s just a lot of color. It’s bright.”

Soon, the Valley Art Gallery will help people try their own hands at art. Beginning later this month, the gallery will begin offering classes ranging from Zen doodling to nuno felting to creating a journal. (For details on these and other classes, see the contact information below.)

Crowe hopes that the gallery can make a permanent home in downtown Chippewa Falls, either in its current storefront or in another one. (The building’s present location is slated for remodeling.) She says the store complements the revitalized downtown, which draws visitors with its shops, eateries, and attractions: The gallery is just across the street from the Mason Shoe Outlet Store and just down the street from the Chippewa Candy Shop.

Just as a new piece of artwork can enhance a room, the Valley Art Gallery Co-op is helping downtown Chippewa Falls look and feel even better.

Valley Art Gallery Co-op • 304 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls • Hours: Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 10am-5pm; and Thursdays 10am-6pm • for details on classes, call Kris Crowe at (715) 271-0607