The opening of the Auer Center for Performing Arts, 300 E. Main St. in the former Fourth Wave building, is helping bring to fruition the dream of an arts campus on Main Street. One of the main occupants is Artlink, Fort Wayne’s contemporary arts gallery, which opens its first show in the new space this month.
Deb Washler, Artlink’s executive director, said the new location has double the gallery space and also includes two classrooms and storage space and opens onto a loading dock, which will allow much larger art installations than the gallery’s previous location in the Hall Community Center on East Berry Street.
“We’re hoping we can do a little more installation work,” she said, “a little more of the unexpected.”
Artlink’s grand re-opening will be Oct. 21 with “100 Years of Connectivity,” an exhibit that celebrates George Kessler’s plans for the urban parks and boulevard system that has made Fort Wayne the beautiful city it has become.
Kessler’s plan connected the nine miles of rivers running through the city via parkways and boulevards. Landscape artists George Kessler, Arthur Shurcliffe and Adolphe Jaenicke connected Fort Wayne’s neighborhoods, parks, rivers and trails system allowing them to become the urban landscape they are today,” according to the Artlink website.
Kessler’s plan “is the reason we have the trails (and) the parks that run along the rivers,” Washler said, adding that Artlink is working closely with ARCH, the historic preservation organization, in developing the multimedia exhibit.
“It’s a nice big community show to open” the new gallery, she added. The grand opening runs from 6-10 p.m., and will feature a gallery walk-through and talks by some of the participating artists followed by live music by Whisky Hollar and U.R.B.
“We’ve got the quiet part and the loud part,” Washler said with a grin. Refreshments will be provided by the Pembroke Bakery, another new tenant in the Auer Center, which is operated by former ARCH executive director Angie Quinn.
During a pre-opening tour, Washler said the two classrooms both have running water, a vital element for teaching art, and that she plans to offer yoga classes in the gallery. Parents wanting to practice yoga would be able to bring their children, who could take art classes in the classrooms.
In addition to the main gallery, there will be a smaller side gallery similar to Artlink’s Hallway Gallery, so the gallery can host more than one show at a time.
“The increased visibility will benefit the artists who display work with us and should increase Artlink’s overall membership. The location on Main Street is easy to access and will feature two classrooms allowing Artlink to offer community workshops,” Washler said. “Members will have more exhibits to participate and will have a selection of workshops to broaden their art knowledge.”