On Saturday night, friends gathered at The White Page gallery on Cedar Avenue to celebrate a milestone.
“Five years!” yelled Andy Delany, throwing both arms into the air. “Five years!” yelled back Alanah Luger-Guillaume and Kate Sheldon, smiling ear to ear.
Delany and his wife Lauren Flynn have known about The White Page gallery since it opened in 2013.
In 2014, the couple was part of The White Page’s residency program. That was back when the gallery space was on 42nd Avenue.
The nonprofit gallery, studio space and residency program was the brain child of Luger-Guillaume, Sheldon, Rebecca Spangenthal and Alexis Stiteler. Stiteler has since moved on to focus on solo projects, but the other three still operate the gallery.
It was a coincidence they ended up in Minneapolis. Luger-Guillaume and Sheldon both attended Alfred University in western New York. Spangenthal, 28, went to the Pratt Institute in New York City, but her childhood best friend went to Alfred and connected her with Luger-Guillaume and Sheldon.
The artists, fresh out of undergrad, decided they needed a studio space for themselves and their friends.
“We really didn’t have a different format to model ourselves after. We weren’t setting out to make money or become a commercial gallery. We were making it exactly what we would want,” Luger-Guillaume said.
“We just wanted to help people like us who were sort of in this awkward gap after you have a BFA but you don’t really know what comes next,” Sheldon said.
Today, the gallery's residency program is still in full effect. Artists, both local and from out of state, come to learn and work in Minneapolis for roughly six weeks at a time, producing a show at the gallery by the end of their residency.
“Starting out, we were reaching within the pool of people that we had connections to. A lot of them were the same age as us but that’s changed since we’ve gotten older,” Luger-Guillaume said. “And we just know more people now and more people know us. More people can apply … people we don’t [know] personally, which is part of the aim we were going for.”
Through a friend, they were led to their current location: a large space with high ceilings, white walls and an attached garage for extra studio space and storage.
For the past five years, the gallery has been transformed by different residents. In 2017, artist Gudrun Lock created a gigantic heap of found materials that nearly reached up to the ceiling.
This summer, Linda Moncada converted the gallery into a sea green dream space. The floor was painted a celadon hue with a dizzying white line spiraling from the corners of the space to the center. Small objects with red accents were placed around the room.
Oakley Tapola created a trippy yellow and white wallpaper for her exhibition, which served as the background for her surrealist paintings.
Saturday, the space looked like the “fresh sheet of paper” the gallery promises to provide each resident artist with upon their arrival.
Friends of the three founders and past resident artists filtered in to celebrate The White Page’s fifth anniversary with copious amounts of LaCroix, a live DJ, a raffle give-away and a playlist with hits by Madonna and Drake.
“It’s a light nautical theme,” said Andy Sturdevant, a member of The White Page’s board and artist resources director at Springboard for the Arts. Sturdevant was dressed in a ship captain’s outfit, completed by his bushy ginger beard.
Sturdevant was the party’s unofficial captain, manning the raffle give-away table. He became a board member when the gallery became a nonprofit two years ago, but he has known the co-founders since they created a Kickstarter back in 2013 for The White Page.
“They’re all brilliant. They’re all so sharp and have such a clear vision for what they want to do, and [they have] a remarkable ability to follow through with that vision,” he said. “Being on the board doesn’t involve a lot of the artistic direction — and it doesn’t need to. You just know that every time you come to a show here, you’ll see something really fascinating.”