After five years, collections are just as eclectic at Elliot Park’s Gamut Gallery
In any given month, Gamut Gallery might host glitch sound artists, art inspired by beer cans or paintings exploring the depths of the human psyche.
The art that gallery owners Jade Patrick and Cassie Garner bring in is eclectic — it runs the gamut, they say — with pieces from young creatives to seasoned commercial artists. The gallery, located in Elliot Park for the past two years, has come a long way since its days as a collaborative art night in Patrick’s party space to show more than 400 artists at dozens of exhibitions in its five-year history.
Since its inception Gamut Gallery has been a place for various art styles presented without pretense. Inside its original home in the historic Handicraft Guild Building at 10th & Marquette, the gallery didn’t even have access to electricity and was forced to run its operations on extension cords, Patrick said.
A proposed redevelopment of the building meant the gallery had to move out of its “incubator” space,” Patrick said. It relocated seven blocks eastward in 2015. While Gamut works with collectors, the larger, more open space is especially popular with people who don’t have collections at home.
“We’re still definitely the place for first-time art buyers. We’ve been able to make them regular art buyers,” Patrick said.
To celebrate its fifth birthday, Gamut built out a storefront gift shop, started online sales and began regular hours outside monthly exhibitions. Fans of the gallery can buy $50-$250 memberships that come with free admission to all openings and finales, discounted tickets or exclusive invites for other events, and discounts on artwork.
“It just makes total sense for us to strengthen the community of people who are here and focus on our collectors too,” Patrick said.
While other downtown art galleries have closed in recent years, Gamut has diversified its business by hitting on lower prices to bring in first-time art buyers, hosting unique, art-driven events and expanding its retail sales. The gallery offers a pyramid of price points, Patrick said, with original pieces running for several thousands of dollars to just $25 or $50 for small pieces.
“You’ve got to make yourself a destination. It doesn’t matter where you’re located — Downtown, South, Elliot Park, Northeast. As long as you’re doing something people want to come to, they’re going to come,” Garner said.
A major part of Gamut, Patrick said, is curating unique experiences inside the gallery. For the “Glitch Art is Dead” exhibition earlier this year, Gamut had a curator put together a night of noise art combined with visual art. A closing reception this past winter for “Valure,” a mixed-media exhibition of feminist pieces, featured a dance performance from Ghostbridge Theatre. Garner said the ticketed shows get people to check out exhibitions and connect with the art.
“People, when they come to our openings or finales, they hang out. It’s not like they just come in [and] take a spin around… They hang out in the back courtyard. They meet new people here. We provide a really fun experience for people,” Garner said.
If there’s a key element to Gamut’s success, it’s that art can co-exist together. Whether there’s lowbrow work or fine art on the wall, Patrick said it doesn’t really matter. Often the gallery juxtaposes professional artists with several shows under their belt with new and local artists showing work for the first time.
“We’ve literally had a 17-year-old and a 70-year-old in the same show,” Patrick said. “You can’t really tell who’s who once you get the art up on the wall.”
Next up for Gamut is “Art is My Weapon,” a local version of the national “Guns in the Hands of Artists” collection. The exhibition, curated by Nikki McComb of Pillsbury United Communities and John Schuerman of the now-closed Instinct Art Gallery, features pieces made from guns collected through a City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Police Department buyback program last year. It opens Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. with a spoken word performance from Chadwick “Niles” Phillips of Avant Garde.