by BARB BERGGOETZ
In a small basement on Bloomington’s Near West Side, a group of 20-somethings has created a gallery where aspiring artists can gather. It’s a space where they can display their work and showcase talents that might otherwise remain unknown.
The Power Plant Collective, housed in the I Fell Building at 415 W. 4th St., hosts shows featuring a variety of media, including paintings, ceramics, photography, sculpture, and interactive videos. The group also puts on fashion and comedy shows. One of the organizers, Francesca Hanson, 24, says the collective focuses on giving opportunities to marginalized people who might otherwise have limited opportunities to exhibit and sell their work.
“Our mission is to collectively create a diverse space for sharing art, knowledge, and skills that are often inaccessible to people,” explains Duck Groves, 24, another organizer who plays cello in the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. Among those served are people of color, queer people, and those struggling financially. One gallery show displayed work by current or former prisoners.
The collective’s name, Groves explains, comes from the idea that a power plant generates energy. Another organizer, Sibley Herzog, 27, adds, “We want this to be a place where people can grow and harness their power and have a space to do that.”
AB Scherschel, an artist who works in ceramics and other media, hosts a Sketchy Queers monthly event that provides models for people to draw. “We work to make this a safe space for anyone who is queer,” Scherschel says.
After leasing 700 square feet of industrial-type space in May 2018, the group held its initial First Friday gallery that October. Organizers who invest their time and money often receive a portion of artists’ sales and charge admission to events. Late last year, the City of Bloomington Department of Economic and Sustainable Development awarded the collective a $999 grant to help cover expenses, Herzog says.
The Power Plant Collective, with an entrance accessible from the alley east of South Rogers Street, is open on First Fridays and at times announced on Instagram @pwr_plnt. People interested in showing their work or donating can email firstname.lastname@example.org.