By Lukas Eggen
Ely Times Staff Writer ARTBANK1

The Ely Renaissance Society celebrated the grand opening of the Art Bank, located in the old bank building in downtown Ely, last Friday. The Art Bank showcases work from local artists and is a venue the ERS hopes becomes a staple in downtown Ely.

“The grand opening was very good,” Lorraine Clark said. “We had more than 150 people come by to see the Art among the Aspens. We made several sales, which pleased the local artists very much.”

The Art Bank, which is open daily from 1 to 4 p.m. during the Christmas shopping season, saw a positive response from the community who attended the grand opening.

“The response from the guests was one of surprise,” Clark said. “One person said, ‘I came prepared to be amazed but I am totally overwhelmed at the quality of the art and the displays.’ Many commented on the need for such an art gallery in Ely and the opportunity artists now have to show their work.”

Local artists were on hand to discuss their work with interested patrons. The Art Bank will also provide artists a chance to show and share their work, not only with the community, but with other artists as well.

“The artists are very pleased,” Clark said. “For some, it is the first chance to show and sell their work. The artists will be able to meet with each other to discuss technique and share experiences. This will be a learning and teaching opportunity for all involved.”

The Art Bank will expand its use beyond displaying art. Special events, special exhibits and more will be a part of the Art Bank’s future, Clark said.

“We plan to offer art classes, speakers, exhibits and special events as well as the art,” Clark said. “Projects like the Renaissance Village, the sculpture park and now the Art Bank add to the attractions Ely has to offer for both locals and those who come to visit Ely as a destination. There is plenty for people to do over a weekend or for several days. The most heard comment, we get from people here is we had no idea there was so much to do here. We have to come back for the special events or to see the national park or ride a specialty train.”

For the ERS, the Art Bank and the Renaissance Village represent a chance to add things to the community to make Ely stand out to tourists. And, after a long process of getting the Art Bank building ready to open, Clark said everyone involved is excited for the future of the building.

“Being open is everything we hoped for and then some,” Clark said. “We already have exhibits planned and are working on a schedule for being open.”
With the Art Bank officially open to the public, Clark said the ERS is hoping it becomes another staple in the community to make Ely more attractive to residents and tourists alike. And while its opening was popular, the ERS hopes it will continue to draw in people.

“The Art Bank will become one of the main attractions for Ely and particularly the downtown area,” Clark said. “The Art Bank will function as a gallery, a unique shopping experience and a place for local artists to sell their work in a quality setting. Speakers, art classes and workshops can be offered for those who want to add more culture to their life style as well as a place to come for exciting events. Just as the Renaissance Village has become a place to bring friends and family, the Art Bank will be a place to come.”