A new art gallery is gaining momentum this year and will host its fifth art show Friday as part of First Friday in downtown Warsaw. The Ballroom Gallery sits up high on the third floor above Infinity Salon and MudLOVE Downtown at the corner of Market and South Buffalo streets. The massive room – once apparently used as a ballroom – features a tall Victorian-era pressed tin ceiling and a series of windows that provide plenty of natural light.
Alec Hoogland, an employee of MudLOVE, wanted to use the room for a photo shoot, but he and six friends soon began realizing the room had much more potential.The group received approval from the landlord and began cleaning up the room in February. They did some painting, cleaned up the floor and filled in a few holes in the walls. By May, it was ready for the first show.
Others in the group include Morgan Hoogland, Lauren Klusman, Rucel Martinez, Liz Palmer and Reece and Zoe Anweiler. Everyone is artistically inclined and some have related businesses. Part of the impetus behind the idea to establish an occasional event space stemmed from a college project in Marion roughly two years ago when Alec Hoogland, his future wife, Morgan, and Klusman were art students at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion and were among 20 students whose final art project involved renovating rooms in a downtown mall into individual art shows.
The idea was to spruce up the rooms to help market the property. It worked. The property has since been sold and is now used as office space, Klusman said. “We kind of took that concept and brought it here to renovate this space and keep people showing in hopes of someone saying you should do something with this,” Alec Hoogland said during a tour of the ballroom.
Stephanie McDairmant, a Warsaw resident who specializes in acrylic paintings, heard about the gallery from a friend and liked it even more after she saw the room. “You walk in and see the ceiling and the height and the history in the room,” McDairmant said. “They want to make it a space for the community and art and bring people together.” McDairmant’s latest work, a collection of 30 to 40 black-and-white abstract paintings, will be featured in a solo show Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the gallery.
The event will include snacks and kid-friendly activities. The event is open to the public and access to the gallery will be through a side door on Market Street. The art show coincides with First Friday’s theme, “Artober,” which will include other related events. McDairmant won’t be able to attend Friday’s event, but will return on Oct. 14, from 2 to 6 p.m., for an artist’s reception. Aside from art, The Ballroom Gallery also hosts other events. Organizers have hosted two comedy nights and have two more scheduled. An acoustic concert is set for Nov. 11. But art remains a central theme among the organizers.
Alec Hoogland and others in the group said they believe the art scene in Warsaw has been steadily growing. He said he could eventually see a group of artists working together to organize an art walk that would feature pieces spread around the immediate downtown area. “I think Warsaw is ready for more fine art. I think there’s a lot of creative people that live in the community and they are finding a place to go and things are just building up,” Hoogland said. To learn more about the facility, search The Ballroom Gallery on Facebook.