The art world could use a Ruckus

Jon Piepho’s dream is to change the way we buy and sell art.

Ruckus founder Jon Piepho gestures to the artwork he's  selling for his art shop project on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 in Northeast Minneapolis.

Amanda Snyder

Ruckus founder Jon Piepho gestures to the artwork he’s selling for his art shop project on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 in Northeast Minneapolis.

Sarah Harper

Thanks to the Internet, artists can sell their work online without having to curry the favor of dealers and gallery owners, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Bryan Grose, a Detroit-area artist who has been working in Golden Valley, Minn., for about three years, has sold some work on Etsy and his personal website.

“I’ve sold some work [online], but more when there’s a gallery presence,” he said.

Now a few of his paintings are being sold by an art shop that has a local presence and a digital one, created by University of Minnesota alumnus Jon Piepho.

Piepho isn’t an artist, nor does he have any official training or education in art — he’s a merchandising operations manager at Target with a B.A. in economics.

“He has a good eye,” Grose said.

And Piepho’s post-college path is dotted with passion projects — “I’m somebody who gets excited quickly,” he said — including the Northeast Minneapolis-based art shop Ruckus.

Last summer Piepho created Ad Hoc Art, a downtown pop-up gallery that featured more than 80 artists. None of them were making a living from their art.

“That’s disturbing to me,” he said. He gestured around his studio space in the Waterbury Building, where he was arranging paintings and setting up locally made furniture for the shop’s launch. 

“Look around this room, right? People with amazing talent can’t make a go of it, and that seems super unfortunate,” he said. ”Now can I turn that around? No, probably not. But can I try and make some sort of difference? Hopefully.”

With Ruckus, which is mainly a solo effort and entirely self-financed, Piepho wants to help artists who may not have the time, resources or know-how to sell their own pieces.

“If I can use all of my history and my skill set to try and help them out, that’s a good goal, I think,” he said.

A 23 percent commission and the promise of promotion means artists don’t have to do much after they strike a deal with Piepho – they can sit back while he sells their work online and in events at the studio space.

“It’s a cool idea,” said Jon Reischl, a College of Visual Arts alum and painter who has submitted a few of his works to Ruckus.

“There’s lots of places online where you can go and buy art,” he said. “Having a space in the Waterbury Building helps legitimize what Ruckus is doing.”


What: Ruckus Opening
Where: Waterbury Building, 1121 Jackson St. NE, Suite 117, Minneapolis
When: 6-9 p.m., Friday
Cost: Free