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The 100 block of State Street has been teeming with activity over the past two years. First came the Fountain in late 2011, which quickly added concerts, poetry readings and sing-alongs to its menu. Then came 100State, a place for entrepreneurs and creative types to brainstorm and collaborate. Now a visual-art venture -- Yellow Rose Gallery -- is preparing to join this mini-community. Its doors will open in late March, according to founder Miles Kristan.
Though many know Kristan as a sidewalk-chalking activist who once doused Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) with beer, he's also a serious photographer and filmmaker. Before moving back to Madison in 2010, he ran the Foxglove Gallery in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood.
"For the last 10 years, as long as I've been protesting, I've also been running around with a camera," he says. "I've always done very political artwork."
Kristan says Harold Langhammer -- owner of 122 State St., which also houses the Fountain -- cut him a deal on the 1,500-square-foot space, waiving the security deposit and utility bills. Located upstairs from the tavern in Suite 201, it contains about 10 rooms, some of which Kristan hopes to rent out to photographers and screen-printers who need studio space. He wants to fill the gallery space with sculpture, paintings, photography and more by artists from Dane County.
"It can be anything from physical art to video shows," he says. "The idea is to have a real community art gallery that does a couple of events, like gallery nights, every month."
So far, Kristan has received submissions from about 50 local artists, mainly through Craigslist and a Facebook group. If all goes according to plan, Yellow Rose will host a gallery-night event on March 20.
Kristan wants Yellow Rose to be more of a grassroots venture than other local galleries. Though other State Street art spaces tend to have a strong retail component, he plans to keep the focus on the artworks themselves. There will be art for sale, but don't expect to find much jewelry or home decor. Kristan also plans to keep exhibitor fees low, around $50 per month, which may help newer, less-established artists build their careers.
"I want to make it really accessible for people to come in and look, or to show artwork. Other galleries tend to draw an older crowd, but I think there are younger people interested in art, too," he says.