In April of this year the downtown St. Cloud area welcomed Heidi Jeub, a St. Joseph resident and a Sartell high school graduate, as a new business owner whose focus is on the arts.
As an artist herself, Heidi is no stranger to the visual arts scene, so when the opportunity arose for her to showcase local artists in the area, the answer was easy.
It all started when Jeub was in search of some storage space for her own artwork. In February of this year Jeub started asking around about storage spaces and what they might look like.
“I started asking questions,” Jeub said. “Can I have people in here? Can I have a key so I can turn on the lights regularly? I’m the type of person, give me an inch I’ll ask for a yard.”
That’s when Jeub was advised to speak to an investor; they hit it off right away. When they got to the end of their conversation, Jeub was invited to look at a space in downtown St. Cloud. Little did she know at that time it was to become the future space of the Whit Gallery.
When she showed up, the space had been newly remolded, and the conversation turned to the idea of not just storing and showcasing her work, but the work of other artists as well.
“To be honest, I thought they were going to take my ideas and give the space to someone else,” Jeub said. “I had no idea it would turn into this. She remembers times in the past as an artist when that was the case. It’s not unusual to have your ideas taken and then given to someone else.
“Of course this would be a great gallery,” Jeub said. “And of course this would be wonderfully managed by someone like me.”
Jeub wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
Now those ideas are starting to come to life. To Jeub, showcasing art is about inclusion, and she gets to offer that to the community. What she wants people to understand the most, she says, is that this gallery is for everyone to enjoy. She remembers a time when even as an artist herself she didn’t feel comfortable in an art gallery.
“I’m not the only person who was not raised in this kind of place and didn’t feel like they could be here,” Jeub said. “So when I get a chance to bring someone in here who has never been in a space like this before, it’s really fun because they have to realize that I wasn’t always comfortable here either.”
Jeub knows that art can and should be appreciated by all. The gallery she has provided shows that inclusion, as well as Jeub herself.
“A person can come in here and just walk around and be by themselves with [the art],” Jeub said. “Being able to just walk in, look around and ask questions is really the whole point”
This is just the start for the Whit Gallery. Jeub has plans to showcase not just visual arts but local musicians and the spoken word as well. She has a vision where artists and businesses will collaborate to offer something different and special. Her hope is she has created a space where all will feel welcomed.
The Whit Gallery is open from 4-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.