donna fischer | the artist next door | may 2018
De Pere's new art gallery is called Artless Bastard. With a saucy name and a calendar full of juried art shows, it promises to be the talk of the town in 2018. The brainchild of four artists who want to help emerging artists find their audience, Artless Bastard borrows heavily from the gallery model found in larger metropolitan areas. The founders, Shanna Koltz, along with Casey and Timothy Jelinski, and their daughter Aisling, feel that having a gallery featuring regular juried shows, along with smaller shows mixed in, will be just what the area needs.
For Koltz, a professional photographer, it's all about using art for personal growth.
“First of all, the mindset of our area isn't as broad as it should be,” she states. “Art helps broaden that. Art helps you see things in a different way; it helps you reflect on your own feelings. It's sad that we haven't had that. I just think that it's missing, and it's important because it keeps everybody in touch with themselves. You don't have to be an artist to like art, you just have to be open to it.”
Initially established at 320 Main Avenue in De Pere, the gallery got off to a promising start with a show in February.
“At first we wanted to see if the community would respond to it, if pieces would sell, if artists would submit, how it would go,” explains Casey Jelinski. “We did a call for art and it went viral. We got submissions from Iran, France, Germany, Brazil, Columbia. It was crazy! I think it's because our daughter is in charge of social media and it just spread.”
They noted the lack of local artists responding to their call for art but then were pleased when the second call brought in replies from numerous local artists. Jelinski, however, is clearly enthusiastic about Artless Bastard's potential.
“We picked the right town and the right time! And I want that message to go to the artists. You don't have to go to Chicago to find good art and more importantly you don't have to go to Chicago to find good artists; they are here in the Green Bay and De Pere area. And so we are really excited about that.”
And when it comes to setting up an art gallery, De Pere may be an ideal zip code.
“We should not forget to mention how amazing they have been!” says Jelinski. “Definitely De Pere and the Main Street programs and everything they've got going on. We probably would not have taken the plunge on the new space had we not had city officials and people from Tina Quigley's organization (Definitely De Pere) attending our events, asking us, 'What do you need from us?'”
After testing the waters in February, the founders are now setting up in their new digs across the street at 353 Main Avenue, formerly occupied by The Green Room. May's juried show, Wanderlust, focuses on the emotions involved in moving out into the world.
“We're very excited for our move,” says Jelinski. “My husband is the muscle in the organization and he is doing the painting and the sheet-rocking right now because our May show is another large group show.”
Jelinski and Koltz carefully explain how they have done extensive research to come up with their business model. Their ultimate goal is getting art out in front of people while helping artists find the platform they need to show their work.
“We also pride ourselves on having a place where emerging artists can affordably find new audiences,” Jelinski states. “When someone submits for a group show, they pay a small submission fee, a juror's fee. We have that fee because we've done a lot of research and talked to a lot of gallery owners, and basically once an artist has to put a few dollars down to show that they're interested in a piece they're suddenly invested in a project. Our artists name their own prices for any of their own pieces.”
She notes that artists keep 85 percent of every sale.
“We just want to keep the lights on in this space; no one's trying to retire off this gallery.”
It's evident that the founders have put a good deal of thought into the operation and the mission of Artless Bastard. While being sensitive to the more conservative sensibilities of the community, they also seek to shake things up a bit.
“We are reminding ourselves not to water our artwork down, but we're also continually reminding ourselves that this is the Green Bay, De Pere area,” Jelinski says. “You also don't want to alienate anyone as you are warming them up to the idea of it.”
Could De Pere become a destination for art lovers? Jelinski points out that any additional galleries would be welcome.
“We have the luxury of being that one industry where the more that come and follow this model, the better it is for everybody.”
Expect the unexpected from this group of artists and their audacious new endeavor.
For more details on Wanderlust visit ArtlessBastard.com.
Donna Fischer is an avid fan of music, film and art. When she's not writing on these subjects you'll find her gardening or snowshoeing around Green Bay.