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home : most recent : arts December 16, 2018

4/22/2018 12:47:00 PM
Arts district continuing to develop west of downtown Bloomington
I Fell Gallery in Bloomington on Friday, April 6, 2018. Staff photo by Jeremy Hogan
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I Fell Gallery in Bloomington on Friday, April 6, 2018. Staff photo by Jeremy Hogan

Jenny Porter Tilley, Herald-Times Arts Editor

Something’s brewing around the corner of Fourth and Rogers streets — and it’s not just the locally roasted Hopscotch Coffee served at Rainbow Bakery.

Nestled between Prospect Hill and the Near West Side, just a few blocks from downtown Bloomington, organizations focused on the arts have found common ground. Once-vacant historical buildings are now being reimagined as spaces to create, explore and gather.

The I Fell Building on the southeast corner of Fourth and Rogers, formerly a car dealership, started the migration of the arts to the area. The building now includes galleries and artist studio space. Patricia Cole, who has a studio there, said she likes being close to other working artists. 

“I’m a painter, and that can be a very solitary activity,” she said. “You’re in your studio alone for the most part, so to even have other people just out in the space working, it’s nice to know there are other human beings around.”

I Fell also encompasses Rainbow Bakery, where art is displayed alongside vegan treats and beverages. Erin Tobey, who schedules the exhibits at the cafe, said with the extended community of artists connected to the business, it was natural to include art. The original owners sold the shop to her husband, Jeff Grant, and his partner, but from the beginning, art was always a focus.

“It felt right to kind of contribute to the vibe,” Tobey said. “The original owners were both visual artists, and I’m a visual artist.” Because the space had been used for temporary installations by I Fell artists, the east-facing wall was perfect for exhibits.

Tobey and Grant live nearby, so they know the area and wanted to continue Rainbow’s contributions to a new arts corridor. Rotating exhibits in an eating establishment, rather than sticking with permanent decor, keeps things fresh and interesting.

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