Pop-Up Gallery Brings Art to the Masses

Five friends started a one-night art show that’s turned into a great opportunity for local artists to showcase their work in unexpected places.

Illustration by Zachary Ghaderi

It began as an excuse for five friends to get together for a one-night art show,but Pop-Up Gallery has grown into something much bigger: An opportunity for local artists to show their work to audiences who wouldn’t otherwise get to see it. We talk to one of Pop-Up’s founders, Sara Cole, ahead of its An Ode to Bill Murray show (which, in the spirit of Bill Murray’s many characters, doesn’t really have a theme at all) on February 8 at Artifact in Newport.

Why the pop-up format?
It’s exciting. It gets people walking around the neighborhood to come and see what’s new. There’s built-in foot traffic. All of our promotion is on us—by word of mouth, or friends. If you were to go down to one of our shows you’ll see us out on the street with flyers, pulling people in.

What spaces have you popped up at?
We’ve done shows at BRICK Pop Up Shop in Over-the-Rhine, which is a great space that allows anyone to set up for a weekend or even a month. They also have a secondary space we’ve talked about expanding into. We’ve held shows at Artifact in Newport, which always feels a little more like a party. We’ve also done small shows at Braxton Brewing Company and Roebling Point Books.

What are some of the struggles artists can face when trying to show their work?
Just getting it in front of people. Your art might fit in one gallery but not another.

How is Pop-Up Gallery breaking down those barriers?
It gives people a chance to meet the artists making art, hear the story behind a piece, and have that interaction. We’re all right there.

How did you find each other?
We’ve all met doing different shows or festivals, just trying to promote our work. It’s always nice to have other artists to talk through things with. Who we have in our pop-ups changes every time, but it creates a community.

What’s next for Pop-Up Gallery?
We want to engage with even more artists, different genres. We already have a lot of artists coming up to us at shows asking to get involved, but don’t know where to start. We’ve even talked about looking for a more long-term space where we could rotate artists.

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