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Pop-Up Art Gallery prepares to open on West side of Madison

A local artist and business owner are teaming up to provide a space for artists to showcase their work
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 9, 2021 at 7:09 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - It was over the course of coffee runs for her usual iced decaf lattes that artist Isabel Rafferty OP met Michael Dix, the owner of Michael’s Frozen Custard in Madison.

Rafferty, a former instructor in the art department at Edgewood College, got to talking with Dix about her paintings. That’s when Dix, who owns property on the west side of Madison, came up with an idea. Next to his Michael’s Frozen Custard location on Schroeder Road is another building he owns, which currently does not have a tenant. Dix offered up the empty space to Rafferty, for free, for her to start a pop-up art gallery.

“There’s so many artists that really would benefit from having an opportunity, a space in which to show their work,” Rafferty said. “He’s donating the space, he’s paying for the electricity.”

The space at 5606 Schroeder Road used to be a restaurant. Rafferty and some friends have been cleaning it up, giving it a fresh coat of paint and cleaning the floors to make it look more like an art gallery. It’s all in an effort to be ready to open doors on July 23.

“I have contacted four artists who are willing to show their pieces and the first show will open on Friday, the 23rd of July,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty plans on having the gallery open on weekends, and potentially host art groups inside during the week. She has selected four artists for the first show, with new artists cycling in after a month. Rafferty also said this gallery will not be taking commission from artists on any sales they make of their work.

“One of the things Michael and I have talked about, there’s real estate all around town that’s not being used,” she said. “Michael wants to encourage other landlords to look at those spaces and see if they can open it up to a local artist as pop-up galleries, so it will give people the opportunity to benefit from the beauty that they’re creating.”

Dix told NBC15 that he has always been a lover and supporter of the arts, and he thinks fostering the arts is important in communities. He said he hopes that these pop-up galleries can gain popularity throughout Madison in empty storefronts.

“Our world needs a lot more beauty and art, especially after this long time of confinement,” Rafferty said.

The gallery will open Friday, July 23, at 5606 Schroeder Road in Madison.

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