What makes Rabbit run?

A traveling gallery alights at Marshall Fields

Erin Adler

Art can be intimidating.

Even the word “gallery” evokes visions of pretentious, wine-swilling elitists waxing poetic with highbrow commentary.

Two local artists said it doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, making visual art accessible to anyone who has an interest in it was a principal goal for Jamie Lang and Tippy Maurant, co-owners of the Twin Cities-based Rabbit gallery.

“It might sound cliche, but we wanted to bring art to the people, in a way that wasn’t pretentious,” Lang said.

The pair’s discussion of starting a gallery began more than a year ago at the Northern Clay Center, where Lang and Maurant work. Maurant, who already owned a gallery in Wisconsin, knew an immediate challenge would be the cost of renting a space.

The concept of a traveling gallery then took shape. Renting different community spaces for weeklong stints would cut costs and allow access to a variety of audiences.

“While changing venues allows us to limit the cost of rent, it also challenges us to determine how our vision can happen in a new space,” Lang said.

The accessibility goal extends to local artists. Each time Rabbit has a show, different artists are involved.

“We are also excited about providing a place for artists to show their work,” Lang said. “Despite having the Walker and the MIA, (Minneapolis and St. Paul) don’t really have an established gallery system to support emerging artists.”

Department of art

Rabbit’s next show opens at Thomas Pink, a London-based designer clothing store within Marshall Field’s downtown store. The opening marks Rabbit’s second show and its first in a retail environment.

The show’s theme is Blush, in keeping with Thomas Pink’s signature pink color.

Lang said the setting will expose Thomas Pink shoppers to art they might not have otherwise seen. Conversely, art aficionados attending the opening will get a chance to see the Thomas Pink store, whose clothing constitutes a different sort of art.

Locals only

The Blush show will feature the work of four local artists using a variety of media. With the exception of Lang, the other three artists are University alumni.

Lang’s minimalist work, mostly in clay, references architectural structures. It poignantly explores issues of time, memory and control. One recent piece, tentatively called “Sixth Floor,” is modeled after a display of chairs he saw on the sixth floor of Marshall Field’s while arranging the Thomas Pink show.

Jennifer Davis uses acrylic, collage images and graphite in her work. A notable piece is “My Decision,” which simultaneously evokes conflicting feelings of isolation and whimsy through use of space and color.

Painter Ashley Billingsley works in watercolors and oils. Her paintings reflect her interest in illustration and juxtapose landscape elements with unique uses of space and inanimate objects.

Todd Cameron, a glassworker, has bowls, vases and other pieces in the show. While he works with delicate glass, the intense color combinations lend a substantiality rarely found in the medium.

Lang said he is thrilled to work with each of the artists.

“Hopefully, Rabbit is a good experience for the artists, for us and for visitors,” he said.