Broadway’s hip vibe is alive in art studios

March 30th, 2017

By Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette

Who’d have thought a few years ago that there would be a hip renaissance on Broadway, but it has come.

On Saturday, happy, art-loving crowds spent a relaxing evening visiting downtown Fort Wayne artists and galleries.

Art on Broadway was planned by oil artist Peter Lupkin, who opened up his apartment and studio above his father William’s stained glass atelier, and Julie Wall, owner of the Hedge found just a couple of doors down.

Both are in the 1000 block of Broadway where old buildings never saw the wrecking ball and kept that funky groove of old wood floors, uncommonly beautiful wood trim, exposed brick walls and artful entries that appeal to Fort Wayne’s young artistic set.

At Lupkin’s second story loft-like space, there were plenty of oil paintings and travel sketches from wanderings in Europe and Asia.

“They like these sketches better than a painting I’ve spent 100 hours on,” said Lupkin whose paintings now show in Chicago as well as In­di­anapo­lis. The Bishop Luers High School and IPFW graduate grew up helping his father in the studio, so it seems natural that he’d live there now for the last four years.

Nevertheless, his father can remember lonely days no less than eight years ago. His studio has been there for 24 years, he said.

“Everybody wants to be down here now, and I think it’s great,” William Lupkin said.

Peter Lupkin and Wall, a South Side graduate, met at IPFW, she said. She had her gallery in the Lakeside area but was drawn to downtown and needed more than the 600 square feet she had. Wall is known for her woodcuts that appear on paper goods such as greeting cards and other unusual items.

Abigail Shipley couldn’t resist a pair of moth wing earrings and a woodcut she found while visiting the gallery with her husband, Eli.

Lynne Gilmore, a 25-year resident of the Foster Park area who has always wanted the downtown to flourish, was selecting small, hand-pressed tiles she was thinking of using for a tryptich.

“I’m thrilled that Broadway is becoming funky and artsy,” Gilmore said.

More of that was evident in the next block where two more art galleries were open for the evening owned by artists Terry Ratliff and Alex Hall and, across the street, Fancy & Staple, a gallery shop owned by Taber Olinger.

Opened a year and a half ago, Olinger was so committed to the area that she persuaded the building’s owner to sell her the space, which is 2,000 square feet and has a basement.

Categorizing Fancy & Staple was difficult since it had a range of things to sell – home goods, jewelry, art cards, candles, clothing and art – a lot of it homemade.

“It’s fun stuff to look at,” Taber said.

Saturday, a macramé workshop was going on in an adjacent room and while local fiber artist Cheyenne Gonzales of Knotoday taught technique.

In the main shop area, Jane Heald, a cellist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, was swooning over loose leaf tea she found on a shelf.

“Smell it,” she said, holding “a field in Innsbruck,” a tea that smelled of the alpine forest. It was a rare Saturday off for Heald and she was delighted to come stroll through the galleries to support local businesses.

Outside the shop was a tapas truck showing just how sophisticated Fort Wayne has become. The truck used to sell hot dogs, an employee said.

“Seems like five to 10 years ago, there was nothing going on on Broadway,” said Ratliff who opened his studio on Broadway four years ago, moving it from his home in West Central.

But now it’s happening, with Alex Hall showing just upstairs, he said,  “and with whatever happens with the GE campus.”