Fat City Emporium, a new gallery and retail space at 2716 Atwood Ave., opened its doors last Friday, giving local art lovers another place to admire, display and purchase pieces they love. Artist Ryan Robinson, who creates work under the name Rirostro, conceived of the gallery after realizing that the near east-side building is unlike any other in town. He wants Fat City to be as unique as the space it inhabits.
"My opinion of the local arts scene is that it's just so-so," he says. "There are a few different groups that do a really good job of putting on events and showing off local artists, but my thought is there's just not enough of that in Madison."
Robinson hopes Fat City, which he founded with partners Todd Maahs, Neal Green and Allison Kattreh, will be a resource for artists first, and a venue for the art-loving public second.
The building formerly housed Warehouse Gallery, which frequently rented space to small, independent art shows. Robinson rented it three times for his own shows and felt it was underused. The space consists of two rooms with wood-beam ceilings, artist studios in the back and an attached frame store that is independently owned and operated.
On display are works by Fat City's 31 artists and vendors, including a variety of non-traditional items like ceramics, T-shirts and jewelry. There are also paintings and prints, most of which are priced at under $200.
Robinson found the gallery's artists through personal connections, by searching local shows and by advertising through various websites. Fat City artist Christy Grace met Robinson when they did a RAW: natural born artists showcase together. An abstract painter that also does face and body art, Grace's work at Fat City ranges from $25 to $500, in part because she wants to make it affordable to everyone. She says that Fat City is "beautiful and different than a lot of other galleries because of how much work is shown. The work goes right up the ceilings. Ryan's trying to get as much work there to give customers a good selection."
Unlike many galleries, Fat City doesn't take a commission on the works it sells. Instead it sells art on consignment, adjusting the retail price to cover administrative costs. Reynolds says Fat City plans to organize one big art event each month, which should help bring potential buyers to the space.