When Carolyn Albracht and her husband, Wayne, made the move here from Aurora, she knew an art gallery was going to be in her future.
After running an art center and gallery in Aurora for more than a decade, the Albrachts moved here so that she could begin work as a professor in the art department at Wayne State College. They found a building to their liking at 114 West Third Street and have spent the past two years renovating it into their home and the recently-opened Blue Cat Gallery & Studio.
“This was something that, when my husband I moved here a couple of years ago and we found this building, I knew I’d be doing something of this nature,” she said during a break in preparation for last week’s Chicken Show opening, called “Chickens And Other Signs Of Rural Life.”
Albracht opened her art gallery in Aurora in 2003 and began work on her masters and doctorate degrees at University of Nebraska-Lincoln about a decade later. She got a teaching certificate to teach art and spent some time as an art teacher with Hampton Public Schools, which really sparked her interest in teaching.
“That was a great fit for me, and I thought I enjoy teaching so much that I might as well get the certificate and add credibility to my skill set,” she said.
Her husband is also a teacher, teaching online college courses in psychology for Ashford University in San Diego, Calif.
The move to Wayne to teach at Wayne State College offers an opportunity for her not only to teach art, but to bring more of it to the community as well – a balancing act that she’s looking forward to executing.
“The college does a great job with the art department and theater and music, so there already is a cultural presence here,” she said. “My main mission is to provide another cultural venue for Wayne America. They were looking for somebody who could help bridge and build relationships between the campus and the community, and having an art center in a small town is how I’ll be able to do that part of the job that I was asked to do.”
Blue Cat Gallery & Studio – the name a mashup of the mascots of Wayne High School and Wayne State College – will be open Fridays and Saturdays and will have new exhibits every two months, some of which will include some of her contacts within the education field and the community of Wayne.
The current show runs through the end of August and features nine artists, including Albracht and two with Wayne connections, Megan O’Connor and Pearl Hansen.
“With this first exhibit, I intentionally sought out a variety of artists,” Albracht said. “I wanted people who came to this first show to walk away thinking they would find something they liked, so I have a print maker, several painters, a photographer . . . I wanted a big variety for everybody to enjoy.”
The September show is called “Urban Dreaming” and there are plans for a salon show in November and a show of Albracht’s work in January.
For Youth Art Month in March, Albracht hopes to work with art educators in Nebraska to set up an invitational type of show where teachers and one of their exceptions students can take part in the show.
“I’d like to set it up to where it might be an invitational that shows the value and worth of art education in our schools and our community,” she said. “I want to impress the idea that we need to keep art in our schools and support art in our communities, because it does play a valuable part in peoples’ lives.”
Her plans for a May 2018 show includes artists from central Nebraska, and she is working on a juried exhibit for next July’s show where artists submit entries and have them judged as a competition exhibit.
The exhibits in the current show at the Blue Cat Gallery & Studio are available for sale for those interested in purchasing the artwork. Albrecht said she charges a 25 percent commission – significantly smaller than in other art galleries – and is running the gallery as more a labor of love than a money-making venture.
“I do it because I love it and I think it’s important to have something like this, especially in a small town.”