Easels Under the Big Sky

Nowadays, successful art galleries are thinking outside the box – or gallery. Such is the case with the successful Missoula, Montana based art gallery, Dana Gallery.

pop up art gallery

Candace Crosby, Dudley Dana, Lori McNee

Each summer, Dana Gallery strategically travels to affluent mountain towns and converts empty retail shops into pop-up art galleries.

Awarded the distinction of Missoula’s top art gallery, Dana Gallery was founded in 1996. Co-owners and husband and wife team, Candace Crosby and Dudley Dana, are accustomed to creative marketing. “Montana is a large state with seasonal clientele,” states Candace, “we think of the pop-up as marketing.” 

Last week, I was one of 12 artists who participated in the gallery’s successful, Easels Under the Big Sky, Montana plein air painting event.

Candace and Dudley chose a perfect location between popular restaurants and retailers. The empty space had once been a framer’s shop, complete with lighting and plenty of exhibition walls.

 

pop up art gallery

Setting up the ‘pop-up’ art gallery

Banners and posters announcing the 4-day event were hung around town. During the four days, the artists were expected to bring studio pieces and then paint plein air (outdoor painting on location) scenes of their choice – I even spent a day painting in beautiful Yellowstone National Park.

artist painting in yellowstone

Lori painting in Yellowstone

The nationally recognized artists together with the temporary pop-up art gallery created a sense of urgency and a buzz around Big Sky and the surrounding area. The event culminated with a gallery exhibition, and artists’ reception that showcased the fresh plein air paintings. Local art enthusiasts and tourists traveled from near and far to buy art – I sold 7 paintings within the first hour!

pop up art gallery

The trend of pop-up retail shops, or flash retailing has evolved into a useful tool for both landlords, real estate companies and proprietors. Some of the biggest brands including Target, Kate Spade, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Gucci have used pop-up shops as part of their campaigns.

Short term leases for events like Easels Under the Big Sky help to revitalize neighborhoods in a down economy, and offer unique branding opportunities for both the gallery and its artists. It’s a lot of work, a lot of fun, and worth the effort.

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PS. You might like to see this video I made in Yellowstone…from the safety of my truck!