Wendy Westlake has a big vision for 535 Gallery, her new Rochester art gallery.
"The concept is for large-scale contemporary pieces as a service for designers and the general public looking for a distinctive statement piece to make an impact in a large space," explained Westlake, as she took a break from converting a former industrial space into an art gallery.
With the help of her gallery director, Nick Sinclair, Westlake is working on the new gallery at 535 Sixth Ave. N.W. in Rochester's artsy Cooke Park Design District. The more than 2,000-square-foot gallery will share the block with the funky Dwell Local art and antique shop as well as Fox & Fern Floral and A Beautiful Soul, a New Age Boutique and healing store.
They hope to open the doors some time this summer. Realtor Dylan Carty, of Rochester's Realty Growth Inc. (RGI), handled the deal to line up that spot for 535 Gallery.
Westlake's 535 Gallery is located between the imported car repair shop, Werkstatt 533, and Auto Refinishers Plus.
"We think this Cooke Park area is a good place for us to be. We like what it is becoming," she said. "Though it is kind of a strange place to be sandwiched between two auto places."
Westlake and Sinclair caution that people should not expect a gift shop or even a place like the recently closed SEMVA (Southeastern Minnesota Visual Artists) gallery. It will specialize in paintings and mixed media pieces with interior designers in mind, though it also will be open to the public. They envision the large artworks in both local residences and commercial spaces.
They are adding a designer's room to the gallery for meetings with interior designers and their clients.
"It'll be a nice space where we can show them our catalog of art," said Sinclair.
The plan is to host 10 exhibitions featuring two local or regional artists every year.
SEMVA, which was downtown near Mayo Clinic, was popular with visitors. Westlake expects 535 Gallery to serve a different group of customers, because of the size of its art and its location.
"We want to be an art gallery for Rochester," she said.