By Kate Atkinson’15
A building once home to the likes of Bell Telephone Company (you can still see the carved stone bell above the door) and an Elks Club is now an incubator for artistic endeavors.
Located across from the Hendricks Center at 520 East Grand Ave., the Beloit Fine Arts Incubator is a 501c3 non-profit organization that supports emerging local artists by offering gallery and studio space for an affordable price. The goal of the Incubator is to give artists a place to create, exhibit, and sell their art, and to connect with the local artist community. BFAI is run and staffed entirely by volunteers and has been at its current location for more than a decade. Though they don’t pay rent on the space, which is owned by the Beloit Economic Development Corp, they still have to fundraise to pay for utilities and upkeep.
President of the BFAI Jerry Sveum calls the Incubator “a gem for our community.” As he walks around the well-lit gallery, pointing out paintings and giving background on the artists who created them, it is very apparent that the BFAI supports a close-knit yet diverse community of artists. The current exhibit showcases the art of 21 artists who were involved in the creation of the Incubator and includes watercolor, oil painting, pastels, ceramics, photography, and more.
But there is more to the BFAI then the gallery. The basement of the building houses a ceramics studio, complete with four wheels and five kilns. A table outside of the studio displays beautiful ceramic fish and other wares created by local artist Susan Swedlund. The space is also shared by the Beloit Ceramics Club. The second floor consists of a large, high-ceilinged room partitioned into studios and office space, a kitchen, and a classroom. Studio space can be rented for as little as $100 a month, and the BFAI has offered classes here in watercolor, photography, and ceramics.
Jerry is enthusiastic about collaborating more with the college and inviting students to take advantage of the resources BFAI has to offer. “If you’re interested in art, this is a great place to see it. We’d love to have more students involved.”
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a gallery opening on the first Friday of every month which includes complimentary refreshments. The next gallery opening falls on Friday (Dec. 7) from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. as part of Beloit’s Holidazzle celebration. The featured exhibit will be art by Paul Pinzarrone, a local artist who creates computer-generated art.