Interactive art comes to Eau Claire

ArtFly brings its third exhibit to the art scene downtown

More stories from Alivia Kistler


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

Visitors were encouraged to interact with the art featured at the show.

A snowy exterior led into a busy coffee shop, which was full of both artists and fans, as the event inside was an ArtFly show. Artists explained the works around the shop as the fans immersed themselves in the touchable pieces. The coordinator for the event walked around the room and welcomed everyone in.

ArtFly is a company founded and run by Kelsey Wenberg. The company sets up themed art shows in unique locations around the urban Eau Claire area. Wenberg said she came up with the idea for ArtFly when she was studying art in Madison, Wisconsin. The pop-up style for each show was influenced by Wenberg seeing empty spaces around the city.

“Art students needed a place to show their art outside campus.” Wenberg said, “I walked past empty warehouses and thought the two would go together.”

Wenberg moved to Eau Claire a year ago. She said she felt Eau Claire would welcome ArtFly and this genre of contemporary art show.

Each show’s location is announced the day of the show. Saturday’s was hosted by The Shift, a combination bike repair and coffee shop, located near downtown Eau Claire. This show was ArtFly’s third; the other two were located at Volume One and in Wenberg’s garage, respectively.

The theme of this show was “Touch Me, Baby” and featured interactive work created by local artists. Unlike other art shows, art fans of all ages were encouraged to become a part of the displays. The pieces were made to be worn, created and listened to. Wenberg said she got the inspiration for this show after viewing a piece by Jared LeClaire, entitled “Isolation,” on Instagram. This piece was at the show and was made to be put on a visitor’s head to show how seclusion affects the mind and body.

The Shift also influenced Wenberg’s choice for a theme. The bicycle repair and coffee shop had asked for a show at their location, and Wenberg said the shop has many hands-on aspects to it, so the interactive art was the perfect fit.

Local artists are always invited to have their art in the show. One artist, Michael Peterson, said he got involved in ArtFly shows by walking up to Wenberg’s house, knocking on the door and showing her his art. She ended up liking his work, so she invited him to be a part of her second show. “Touch Me, Baby” was the second show Peterson has participated in. Peterson’s piece asked visitors to draw their own piece of art, then pin it to a cork board and take someone else’s piece.

Peterson, a UW-Eau Claire alum, featured some of his own work that was free to take. This included doodles he drew at work and had made prints of. He said he pursued art because he wasn’t good at anything else, and it was also a way for him to express himself.

“It’s fun to interact with art and touch it,” Peterson said in reference to the theme of the show.

Wenberg said the next ArtFly show is already in the works. It should be popping up somewhere around Eau Claire in the next few months.