Student-run art gallery provides studio and exhibition space to new artists

GVL / Matt Oberski
Shallows Art Gallery

GVL / Matt Oberski Shallows Art Gallery

Matt Oberski

The Shallows art gallery is more than just a new venue for sculptures and paintings – it’s a place for students to showcase their specific artistic talents.

The gallery opened in August, and owner Andrew Castagne has since been trying to spread the word to artists about the student-run space, located on Fulton Street in downtown Grand Rapids.

Castagne, a junior functional art sculpture student at Kendall College of Art and Design, has always dreamt of operating an art gallery.

“For years, I’ve wanted just that,” Castagne said. “And I finally got the opportunity. It finally happened.”

Patti Fey, who formerly ran the space as a gallery, was introduced to Castagne through a personal friend. Castagne decided to purchase the gallery after Fey started offering it up as studio space.

Through a Facebook page and by quick word of mouth, The Shallows filled with the artwork of students from Grand Rapids and it’s surrounding areas. The gallery currently has more than 60 pieces from many different mediums, such as ceramics, oil painting, jewelry and charcoal drawings – all of which are for sale by the artists.

Kendall sophomore Anthony Cairo is one of many students to have his work hanging on the walls at The Shallows.

“It’s cool,” Cairo said. “They’re really open to having student work shown, and it’s a good hang for kids to come in and chill out and make art.”

But the gallery is not only for displaying art. The space also transforms into a studio space and music venue.

Monday nights are “Open Mic Night” at The Shallows, and give aspiring musicians a chance to sing or play music from 8:30 p.m.-close. The gallery is open to anyone as a studio space on Tuesdays, letting students and artists work in an appropriate environment. The studio space can also be rented out at either an hourly or monthly rate.

The rest of the week, the gallery is open for visitors to browse the art, or purchase pieces before becoming a music venue Friday and Saturday nights. The gallery hosts a range of local acts, performing around 9 p.m.

Grand Valley State University music student Matt Finch recently played at the gallery with the local Grand Rapids band, Billy and the Impossible Creatures. He said playing The Shallows is different than other venues around downtown.

He said he “felt the audience more, and felt more of a connection with everyone. People being (there) made the show what it was.”

Castagne said he is working on getting an official website for The Shallows up within the month. He wants local artists to know more about the gallery to help get a range of different talents in the space, as well as trying to book bands weeks in advance.

Castagne said he strives to provide a space for students to showcase art and have it be sold.

“Some students don’t have places to display art for sale, so it’s kind of a nice twist,” Castagne said. “It gives people a chance.”

The Shallows is located at 1054 West Fulton St., Grand Rapids and is open to the public. For artists that are interested in having their work exhibited and sold at The Shallows, to rent studio space, or for bands wanting to play the venue, contact Castagne at [email protected] or (616) 776-3911.

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