Tucked in a once-abandoned building in downtown Clare, just a cinnamon roll throw from Cops & Doughnuts is a very remarkable art gallery. It’s not the beautiful yet unpretentious art that makes the gallery remarkable, the affordable prices, or the fact the gallery gives back a portion of its proceeds to the community–although all these things do play an important role. What makes the 515 Gallery really remarkable is the fact it is run by a small group of Clare High School under the direction of their teacher.
The 515 Gallery is owned by Kim Kleinhardt, an artist and art teacher at Clare High School. According to an article in CMU (Central Michigan University) Public Radio News, Kim and her husband purchased the building at 515 McEwan in downtown Clare, Michigan about five years ago to use as an art gallery. Feeling that running an gallery would make for a nice class project, Kim approached her principal who gave his blessing. Now students in her Gallery Management class handle everything from generating exhibits to hosting them. Student responsibilities include graphic design, working with artists, setting up contracts, handling accounting and even updating the gallery’s business plan.
The gallery hosts several exhibits and openings each year. The current exhibit, which runs Nov. 9, 2013 – early Jan 2014, is called Tree-Scapes and includes the varied media of three artists around a common theme: Wendi Johnson uses mixed media including latex and spray paint; Sam Soet creates abstract wood sculptures; and Susan Wright Who manipulates clay to capture the beauty of nature. Prices range from $100 to $2,000. Photos can be seen on the gallery’s website.
This past summer the gallery hosted a quilt block competition to benefit an old railroad depot in Clare that is undergoing restoration. The show consisted of railroad-themed quilt blocks created by students and members of the community. The winning design is being made into a 8 x 8 foot quilt block and will be displayed on the depot. The students also voted to donate $250 to the depot from the sale of the sculpture the gallery exhibited and then auctioned off last summer.
For Christmas 2013, the gallery asked artists to create a set of limited edition “Art-aments” that are being displayed and sold at the gallery. Prices range from $5 to $20 and can be purchased during the gallery’s open hours of 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
To learn more, go to 515gallery.org/ or read the article in the CMU News at wcmu.org/news/515-art-gallery-connects-students-with-professional-artists/.