This spring, empty storefronts will start to be filled with art.
Plans call for the first phantom art gallery to open Memorial Day weekend in the former Office Outfitters and Lighthouse building, which is located on the corner of Main and Fulton streets in downtown Waupaca.
The idea behind phantom art galleries is to fill the windows of vacant buildings with the work of local artists. Such galleries are not open to the public; rather, people view the art through the windows. In the evening, lighting calls attention to them. These galleries are popping up throughout the country. It is a creative way to promote both art and available business space.
“They’re living galleries,” said Theresa Drinka, a local artist who is also serving on a steering committee that is getting the project started.
It was around the first of the year that City Administrator-Clerk Henry Veleker learned from the Wisconsin Arts Board that a grant was available for phantom art gallery projects.
Representatives of the city, Waupaca Community Arts Board, Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, Waupaca Area Public Library, Waupaca Fine Arts Festival, Hidden Studios Art Tour, local artist community and business owners quickly came together to submit a grant application, which took about a month.
While its application was not chosen, the group decided to continue with its plan to open phantom art galleries here in spite of not having any funding.
During a March 31 meeting, the local steering committee discussed how it will market the galleries, possible sites for the project and fundraising.
The anticipated start-up costs for the project are between $300 and $500.
That estimate includes materials, such as construction supplies and lighting. Building owners will also have to be reimbursed for any costs associated with the galleries.
Monetary donations are being accepted. The committee also appreciates the donation of old wooden chairs and doors, hardware and paint.
Committee member Adriana Koll said how the art will be displayed will depend on what type of art it is. For example, some items could hang from ceilings. Backdrops will also be designed, which is why the group is searching for old wooden doors.
The group is working on what it wants to call the galleries, and committee member Marci Reynolds said the goal is to help fill empty buildings.
They believe that in Waupaca, phantom art galleries can also make the area an arts destination, bring more retail traffic into the area and sell individual artwork.
Reynolds said there is evidence that these types of galleries do help local economies.
Shows will change approximately every eight weeks, and people will be able to purchase art that they see in the galleries.
Anita Olson owns Embellishments and is also a member of the steering committee. She said her store and Framing by Preston will be set up to handle transactions.