Ryan Robinson is curator at Fat City Emporium.
When a neighboring art gallery and a brewery collaborate on a special beer, you know you're in fertile creative territory -- like Madison's near east side.
The owners of Fat City Emporium, 2716 Atwood Ave., believe in collaboration, and so are teaming up with Next Door Brewing, 2439 Atwood, to create a pumpkin lager that will feature a label designed by Fat City artists. They're also seeking a name for it from fans on their Facebook page; winner gets a complimentary growler.
The beer/art pairing's not the only thing that's different about Fat City.
Partner and curator Ryan Robinson says he may have dreamed up the "Fat City" part of the name from some distant memory of a head shop his parents took him to during his childhood in Michigan. Calling it an "emporium," however, was completely intentional. While the space could fit under the category of art gallery, Robinson's aim is to also maintain a gift shop feel. This is especially true when it comes to prices, which can be as little as $3, though also upwards of $1,000.
"We try to limit the intimidation factor that some people have around artwork," says Robinson. "We try not to be a traditional gallery, which doesn't feel comfortable all the time, even for artists.... We want to be a place people want to come in."
Customers will find a wide range of art pieces at Fat City, many of which stray from traditional two-dimensional art: Sculptures, handmade fabric pieces, recycled art and jewelry are all a part of the collection. And even some of the two-dimensional pieces are breaking their boundaries. On my visit there were several 2-D pieces that included a pair of 3-D glasses for your viewing pleasure.
Customers can get some real kitschy bang for their buck with items like clay pigeons repurposed as vintage art, for $6.
Robinson says the emporium is always trying to get new artwork. Most of the artists are local to Wisconsin, excited to be promoting their artwork in the space.
Fat City hosts solo shows every other Friday night from 7-11 p.m., dedicating an entire wall to one featured artist who will be on hand to talk about his or her work. Next up on Oct. 3 is Jon Paul Christman's solo work along with a Candles and Pathways CD release and listening party.