Artless Bastard becomes a nonprofit gallery, plans artist assistance
The De Pere art gallery looks forward to the future and plans to support regional artists through classes and an expanded location
By Rachel Sankey
Artless Bastard is making moves in De Pere. The gallery has achieved a new milestone as a nonprofit organization.
“I’ve got big ideas of how to help artists in the area,” Owner Alexis Arnold said. “I want to give people these opportunities so they know they can stay in their home base and not feel like they need to go to a big city to make a living at their craft.”
After taking ownership of Artless Bastard (353 Main Ave) in November 2019, Arnold was faced with the mounting challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The gallery was shut down for a total of three months. Before the pandemic, Arnold said Artless Bastard had been booming and gallery shows were packed.
“There was that momentum of going up and then it was like, you’re climbing up a hill and you’re really close to seeing the top and then all of the sudden you just slip and slide down to the bottom,” she said.
Arnold said she thought of transforming the gallery into a nonprofit organization before the thrust of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the daily slog of operating an events and arts space during a global health crisis took precedence.
The De Pere gallery was able to stay afloat with grant funding from the De Pere Chamber of Commerce and the state of Wisconsin. After the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the De Pere Chamber of Commerce offered small business grants to local businesses, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000 depending on the size and scale of the business.
It wasn’t until spring of this year that the idea of turning artless Bastard into a nonprofit resurfaced. Arnold submitted for verification in May and the gallery and she was granted the 501(c)3 in August.
“Things are still going to be the same but the nonprofit opens up the opportunity for fundraising and to connect with people who believe in the arts as well,” Arnold said.
Arnold said the nonprofit transformation for the art gallery is another step forward for the entire art scene in the greater Green Bay area, but more work needs to be done to support the growing arts community.
“We need more,” she said. “There’s so much talent here. But there’s always more that can be done. And that’s something we hope to do too now that we’re a nonprofit. Like, ‘Hey, let’s provide opportunities for artists, whether it’s public art or helping them with grants or an artist residency.’”
In addition to the nonprofit confirmation, Artless Bastard has recently expanded its location into its neighboring building. The gallery opened the Artless Bastard Annex with funding for the expansion provided by a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Main Street Bounceback grant.
This grant program provides $10,000 to new or existing businesses and nonprofits who expand or relocate into vacant properties in downtown and commercial corridors throughout the state, such as Artless Bastard’s previously empty neighboring building.
“That space is going to be for teaching, workshops, and education, and we have a lot of ideas for that, which ties into part of our mission, which is learning.” Arnold said.
The Annex will be a spot for children and adult art classes as well as a place for local artists to learn self-reliant business skills such as writing artist statements and promotion.
“I’m excited because I love teaching,” Arnold said, “and I feel like when you get to a certain level, of whatever craft or skill set you have, you’ve got to give back.”
To support its operations and celebrate organizational growth, Artless Bastard is hosting a masquerade-inspired fundraiser on Saturday, Nov. 13. More information about the event, ongoing exhibits and classes can be found at www.artlessbastard.com.
Rachel Sankey is a senior earning her BFA in Writing and Applied Arts and Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She has over four years of publishing experience for literary journals. Her work can be seen in MUSH and Northern Lights. She is passionate about the arts, poetry and all things coffee.