Melinda Janssen has been obsessed with art her entire life. The 27-year-old recently started a business that allows her to showcase art to locals as well as have a space to create.
Welkin Art Gallery & Studio, 100 Water St., officially opened on August 28 in conjunction with the local art walk sponsored by the Greater Lake Mills Arts Alliance. Janssen and his partner Devin Maupin, who both live in the community, were asked to say if the gallery was interested in participating in the event and determined it would be the perfect day to open.
“It was a big event for a grand opening because everyone was looking at the art,” she said.
Currently there are around 14 artists with works on display in the store, plus a few pieces by Janssen and Maupin. There are a variety of mediums ranging from sculpture and photography to painting and woodcarving.
A call for applications has been posted on the Welkin Art Gallery & Studio Facebook page and the response has been incredible, said the gallery owner.
“Lake Mills has an incredible artistic community, just like the surrounding communities and small towns rarely get the representation they should for the art that comes out of it,” Janssen said. “We have some absolutely amazing artists playing.”
She said some artists might not get as much exposure if they didn’t have a place like Welkin to display and sell their work.
“As much as it is a gallery, it is also a store. We want to help artists gain visibility and money, ”Janssen said.
Welkin Art Gallery & Studio is not only intended to be an accessible place for artists to sell their work, but also offers buyers the opportunity to find amazing pieces at affordable prices.
“I know that, especially in galleries, art is not a commodity available to a lot of people to buy,” she said.
All artists are on consignment; the gallery receives a commission for each sale, with the creator receiving the rest of the money.
Having her own business has been appealing to Janssen since graduating from college, but she never had a specific orientation for the type of business she would run.
“I had a few different ideas. I do a lot of hand lettering, calligraphy, and hand painted signs and thought that someday I might have a store for it. It was a lot of ‘maybe someday’ situations, ”she said.
Now that “maybe a day” has arrived in the form of a shopping arcade, Janssen is already considering what Welkin’s future might encompass, such as organizing art classes led by herself, Maupin or another local artist.
“The pandemic has been so interesting because as much as there have been struggles that have accompanied it, getting this space would not have been possible without us being at home all the time,” he said. she declared.
The gallery also serves as an office and creative space for Janssen, who works as a graphic designer for a company located in Brookfield.
Janssen and Maupin acquired the space about a year ago. Their current owner owns the Water Street property and knew the couple were looking for a studio apartment.
“Almost everything you see was in our apartment before you got here,” she said, pointing to the studio and office part of the room. “We were both independent artists, we were constantly looking for studio space for ourselves. “
Janssen, from Cross Plains, attended Middleton High School and said the school had an amazing arts program that explored multiple mediums. She then attended UW-Stout where she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design.
“I put my hands up as much as I can learn. I love hand lettering and calligraphy… it has become a passion for me. I am also working on some oil paintings at the moment; I touch watercolor from time to time. Pottery, engraving, I could soon get into casting ceramics, ”she said.
The artist remembers enjoying learning from childhood, especially things that can be done by hand.
And while Janssen enjoys a career in graphic design, it cannot compare to the process of physically creating by hand.
“I love that I can make art with my hands,” she said.