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Community artists provide support and venue for New London-Spicer, Minn., art students

Kristin Allen is a member of the New London Arts & Culture Alliance and co-owner of the greenwater garage + gallery where the New London-Spicer Senior Art Show will be hosted Friday evening. (Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange)

NEW LONDON - A group of artists from New London is giving a financial and moral boost to New London-Spicer art students and the district's art program.

The New London Arts & Culture Alliance, a newly-incorporated organization made up of professional artists, is hosting an art show from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday for NLS senior art students at the greenwater garage + gallery in downtown New London.

New London potters are donating handmade bowls that people can purchase for $20 and fill with ice cream and toppings during the art show, which will showcase the capstone work of 15 NL-S art students who are graduating this year.

All proceeds will benefit the NLS arts programs.

With education budget cuts, the department has struggled to find funds for the "extras" for art students, like transportation to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Art, said Kari Lindquist-Weber, NLS High School art instructor.

The Alliance wants to help raise "seed money" that can be used as matching funds for grants the district may obtain for events that are outside the classroom, said Kristin Allen, a member of the New London Arts & Cultural Alliance.

Another local art group called Creating Art Together - or CAT - that meets every week in New London, has volunteered to help serve the ice cream.

Lindquist-Weber said she's excited that the young student artists will have the opportunity to collaborate with professional artists for the show.

The show will feature a variety of student work, including sculptures, mixed media and paintings. Some of the students have taken art classes for four years and their selected pieces will reflect their growth during that time, said Lindquist-Weber.

"They'll be showing their best work from ninth grade," she said. "Some of these kids are doing things that are surprising."

The show is not competitive but it's being treated like any professional art show that requires students to write short descriptions and their intentions for each piece.

"It's just a way for the kids to show off what they've done and celebrate the hard work," said Lindquist-Weber. "We're going to jam the gallery space."

The event will also reinforce the importance of having a strong group of professional artists in the community, she said.

"It's a collaborative effort to support young artists and established artists," said Lindquist-Weber. "It brings these two groups together."

Allen, who co-owns the greenwater garage + gallery with her husband Ryan, hosted the NLS senior art show last year,

The students "really liked having an off-site gallery show," said Allen. "It was great fun and we had a terrific turnout."

That show inspired the New London Arts & Culture Alliance to take action to implement goals of fostering the town's art community.

Sponsoring the student 2013 show is the group's inaugural event, said Allen, who has already met with the students who spent some time earlier this year to survey the gallery display space.

They are "very motivated" to present their best work in this venue, said Allen. "They are totally excited about it."

Greenwater garage + gallery

The greenwater garage + gallery was built in the 1930s as a Ford car dealership and operated as a service station for more than 80 years.

The Allens purchased the building in 2011 and turned it into a gallery and office space for Kristin, who is an acrylic painter who also works as a professional contract designer for a wholesale gift company.

Allen said she wants the space to be used for a variety of community events that are creative in nature, like poetry readings, small group music events, book clubs, business retreats, as well as visual displays.

She envisions a place where "creative conversations" can take place.

Arts & Culture Alliance

Because of there's a significant number of professional artists living in New London, that early conversation resulted in the formation of the Arts & Cultural Alliance.

Allen said the goal of the Alliance is to provide organization to a group of people who are artistic - but necessarily organized.

They want to help the NLS School District and their hometown capitalize on its reputation for being "an artsy village" and provide website information and a telephone number to call for people to find out about the arts events happening in town, said Allen.

The group will be attending the Rural Arts and Culture Summit June 5-6 in Morris that's billed as an opportunity to leverage arts and culture to build thriving communities.

The Alliance members are also members of the Willmar Area Arts Council as well as the larger Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council. But Allen said the New London artists wanted create a "sister organization" in order to address some of the special needs of the town and align their energies with the local school district.

"This allows us to do that," said Allen.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750