Grinnell College has leased the vacant main floor of the Masonic Temple at 928 Main St. in downtown Grinnell, for March, April, and May. During this time, art faculty members will teach several classes. Students will develop a variety of works and installations, then showcase them during pop-up shows.
The first pop-up show at Make/Shift Space will feature works by students in an advanced seminar on Site Specificity and in Intro to Sculpture. Set for Thursday, March 17, the event, which is free and open to the public, will run from 5 to 7 p.m.
The lease with the Masonic Lodge, which occupies the upper floor of the 99-year-old brick building, provides about 5,000 square feet. The new space will give students the opportunity to spread out and create installations and other large works that will not fit in the Art and Art History Department's current facilities in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.
"The Make/Shift Space offers students a valuable opportunity to have their work away from a formal academic setting and out in front of the public," said Matthew Kluber, associate professor of art and chair of the department. "It changes they way they see the relationship of their work and ideas to the wider world — they begin to see themselves as artists."
Additional pop-up exhibitions featuring works from an introductory course, a collage course, and other studio classes as well as free workshops for community members of a variety of ages will be scheduled throughout the rest of the spring semester. Possible workshops and demonstrations include 3D printing, "Re-Mix: Collage as Cultural Practice," screenings of videos made by art students, talks by student artists, and drop-in-and-draw sessions.
"It's exciting to gain such a large space downtown, where we will have high visibility on Main Street," said Jeremy Chen, assistant professor of art. "We are happy to be activating a quiet space that has been vacant for more than two years, and we want to involve local residents in this new venture.
"For example," Chen added, "we want passersby to stop and look into the large, storefront windows to watch students creating works of art. Having a public audience will inspire our students and elevate their projects."
All studio faculty and staff of the Art and Art History Department have been invited to make use of the Masonic Temple. In addition to Chen and Kluber, faculty and staff members initially working there will be Andrew Kaufman, associate professor of art; Lee Running, associate professor of art; and Andrew Orloski, studio art technician.
About four years ago Chen's sculpture class conducted pop-up shows at two downtown locations, 925 Broad St. and the basement of 800 Fourth Ave. The space was donated by Bill Rozendaal of Rozendaal Rentals and Bruce Blankenfeld of Westside Diner, and arranged through local real estate agent Matt Karjalahti. "It was a wonderful experience for the students," Chen recalled. "We had more than 100 people attend the show. We are eager to expand on that success in our new and larger venue in the Masonic Temple."
John Kalkbrenner, assistant vice president for auxiliary services and economic development at Grinnell College, negotiated the lease for the Masonic Temple space. Although no plan beyond the three-month rental has been made for a more permanent College space downtown, he said, "We are treating this as an experiment. The studio art faculty will be tracking usage and other factors that will help us determine whether this pilot program is successful."
Grinnell College welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Make/Shift activities open to the public all happen on the first floor of the Masonic Temple Building. Visitors are encouraged to use downtown street parking. Accommodation requests may be made to Grinnell College Conference Operations and Events.