WATERLOO — Janice Marin missed the vibrant Chicago art scene when she moved back to the Cedar Valley after graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. What the area really needed was a commercial gallery that focused attention and excitement on fresh, innovative work by local artists.
Then she had an epiphany. “I thought, ‘I can do this. Why not make it happen?’”
And she did.
The Marin Gallery, a new contemporary and experimental art gallery, has been established at 615 Sycamore St., in downtown Waterloo. An opening reception for the first major exhibition takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday.
Now through Jan. 15, “Objet ? petit a” will feature digital images by interdisciplinary artist Jake Platt of Milwaukee, in collaboration with excerpts from “Prophet Noir,” an album by sound artists Shawn Reed, a University of Northern Iowa alumnus, and Derek Maxwell, both of Minneapolis. The series of printed color digital images and a sound installation with headsets playing two tracks on loop present a tension between persistent unrequited desires and the immediacy of sound.
“I want the gallery to be inviting, not intimidating. I want people to be inspired by work that you won’t see in other local art venues. I’m finding out that we have a lot of local artists who are making good work, who have had no venue to show their work,” says Marin.
With its clean and sparse black façade and sparkling display windows, the Marin Gallery itself makes an artistic statement. Built in 1911 as a hotel that served as short- and long-term housing for Waterloo’s railroad traffic, the New Plaza Hotel closed and fell into disrepair in the 1970s. JSA rehabilitated the building in 2015 into eight residential lofts and a ground floor commercial space with the original tin ceiling and hardwood floor.
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“The bones and structure of the building and its aesthetics definitely were part of my inspiration,” says the first-time business owner. “It opens itself up to displaying larger works.”
A native of Canada, Marin originally moved to Cedar Falls with her husband. After their divorce, she decided to remain here with their two children. She will not exhibit her own work in the gallery.
“It’s a touchy subject when you own the gallery to show your own work. Then it becomes a vanity gallery. Part of showing work in a gallery is that it gives prestige to an artist, and you’re saying you believe in their work and want to sell their work,” she explains.
“And to be honest, all of my creative energy is going into planning shows. It seems I’m getting into curation instead, and I love that niche.”
Her vision is to “exhibit emerging and mid-career artists, emphasizing art that is conceptual and/or socially-politically aware. It strives to provide a platform for the artist’s voice and a bridge between the artists and the community.”
UNI alumnus James Lange has joined the team as assistant director and project manager.