Some new aspiring artists have taken up space on the walls of A Center for the Arts with the unofficially titled gallery “Women That Create,” organized by AC4TA gallery curator Kris Warhol and local artist Phena Keil. “Women That Create” showcases eight artists from the area, including five aspiring professional artists who have never shown in a gallery setting before. “It’s to try to give novice artists mentors and a way to get out there and have that experience without being in a huge gallery right away where they’d have to have 40 plus pieces just to be in a show,” says Keil. “This way they can get a feel for it and know what to do next time, how to present themselves as professional artists and stuff like that, too.”

Warhol was having difficulty finding artists to fill in the space during the holiday season and reached out to Keil, who recently concluded her own gallery showing at AC4TA, “Art Heals.” 

Keil, who has worked at Kaddatz Galleries and teaches art journaling classes, says, “I knew a lot of artists and I felt that it would be a great place to showcase some artists that have never shown with some artists that have shown before. So I went through my list and basically went on Messenger and texted everybody, messaged everybody, ‘Hey, Kris said it was OK to have two pieces in the show, great place to have your first pieces,’ and so I got eight ladies together, three of them are known artists in town and the other five are novice artists who have never shown before in a gallery setting.”

Keil, who knows all the artists either through her time at the Kaddatz or through her art-journaling classes, recognized this as an opportunity for those five new artists (Amy Erickson, Kelly Maxwell, Susan Smith, Norma Otterstetter Carlson, Tracy Williams) to get valuable experience in gallery showing without too much pressure. “Over the next two weeks I basically just fostered and professionally guided those five into how to display the art, how to present the art, how to get it up, how to get it ready for the show because there’s not really any place in town that shows you all those steps that I learned at the Kaddatz when I volunteered and worked there through work-study,” she says

Keil hoped the three well-known artists who had agreed to include their art in the gallery (Erika Frikken-Smith, Karla Gallagher and Karan Ouren) would bring people in through name recognition, where they could then see everyone’s artwork. It also served to introduce the five novice artists to three established, local artists that, if things worked out, they could have as mentors in the future.

“Women That Create” will be at AC4TA until Dec. 31. There’s an artist reception at AC4TA on Saturday, Dec. 7 during the Over The River Holiday Festival, with all eight artists in attendance.


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