ELKADER, Iowa — A new Elkader art studio and gallery is giving artists a chance to work together after a year of the pandemic prompted them to work from home.

The Collective, 115 N. Main St., opened recently as a place for artists to show off and sell their work. The space previously housed G’s Closet and Gallery, which sold local artwork in addition to boutique items.

However, Jillian Webb Herrmann and Rabecca Hennessey, local painters and two of The Collective’s founding partners, said the new gallery is run completely by the artists selling pieces inside. They currently have 15 artists who pay membership fees, give advice to one another and take volunteer shifts to run the space.

“Especially after being home for a year, it feels so good to work together in a public space again and just be able to come back together and offer the ability to see art in person,” Webb Herrmann said.

She added that having the artists work shifts running the gallery allows for community members to hear more about the pieces from the direct creator, which isn’t a typical opportunity in a gallery.

At the gallery, artist members also can reserve classroom space to offer classes on their particular art medium. There is also a Pilates and yoga studio in the back of the gallery, which Webb Herrmann noted is a form of art in itself.

“We have a great variety, from photography, abstract painting, watercolor, fine art oil painting, jewelry, basket weaving, ceramics,” she said. “There’s a little bit of everything for everybody.”

Since opening, Hennessey said the community support for The Collective has been amazing. The gallery’s opening coincided with an Elkader Area Chamber of Commerce event, she said, and 80 people visited the space that day.

“I was amazed when we put that out there to people we thought would want to contribute, right away, they were on board,” Hennessey said. “I think that enthusiasm we rubbed off on each other, and I think the community senses that.”

Looking toward the future, Webb Herrmann and Hennessey said they hope to feature a guest artist from time to time, as well as host live musical performances and poetry readings.

The gallery’s artists also got the ball rolling on a “First Friday” gallery crawl. On the first Friday of every month from May to November, The Collective and some other businesses will stay open later to let people enjoy an evening of art. The other businesses currently on board are Sharp Art Iowa gallery and Twisted Alley.

Webb Herrmann said she has loved being part of a town that welcomes and embraces the arts. She said several small northeast Iowa towns, including McGregor and Guttenberg, also are great places for artists.

“People see how much art is in the community and how it lightens and brightens everything, and we’re keeping that momentum going,” she said.

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