A piece of art, whether created on canvas, on a potter’s wheel, through an instrument, by placing words on a page or through any other medium, represents a small piece of the artist’s soul. Sometimes, that’s obvious in the brushstrokes. Other times it’s barely noticeable. Either way, each piece of art represents a secret fragment of the creative person’s backstory.
Jessica Shafer, the owner and art director at Rochester’s newest art gallery, The Native Nook, strives to give local artists – or “Creative Natives” – a chance to bring those secret fragments to light, both by showcasing their art and letting them tell their story.
In college Shafer got a taste of the camaraderie artists often share. After moving back to Rochester, she was determined to expand the artistic culture in her hometown. Her efforts began by sitting on a board that established a makerspace – a place where people can test out their creative abilities across multiple mediums.
“We started meeting artists and creative people, and the network grew,” she says. “Now that we’re all more connected, even just within this community, everybody is really pushing new ideas and events.”
Around the same time, Shafer established Digital Wolf Network, a local independent publishing company that produces a magazine and podcast featuring stories about local Creative Natives. For her, this is another way to create deeper connections within the local art community.
The Native Nook provides a way to expand Digital Wolf Network’s influence on behalf of local Creative Natives, most of whom live within an hour of Rochester.
“You can read, you can listen, or you can now view the stories and pieces of the Creative Natives,” Shafer says.
Being able to interact with Creative Natives is Shafer’s favorite part of the business, especially when it comes to seeing what they can create.
“I’m a graphic designer, so my job is to always get someone’s information or story out there, or share a message,” Shafer says. “I’m always interested in what kind of message these people are sharing within their artwork.”
Most of the pieces in the art gallery are for sale, although some are for display only.
“I really want to help this community to help grow in the art aspect,” she says. “There’s now a place for these people – their stories – to go.”
People in the area with a creative hobby are more than welcome to email Shafer about getting involved at The Native Nook, whether to appear as a guest on the podcast, to offer a piece for the magazine or to join as a member of the art gallery. Those who join the gallery receive perks like membership discounts, free venue rental space and exclusive previews.
As a unique space, The Native Nook also offers venue rentals for local art shows.
“You can rent it out for two to five hours in the evening or some time on the weekend,” Shafer explains. “I’ll help advertise for you, get posters and encourage people to come to the event.”
The community is always welcome at art shows at The Native Nook, some of which feature nationally acclaimed artists.
“We had a guest artist from Seattle who traveled through,” Shafer says. “He set up a display for three days, and then we had a meet-and-greet.”
As The Native Nook grows, Shafer is looking forward to expanding her outreach to more artists, and even opening up for less common artistic events like book signings and poetry readings.
“I’d love to meet new people and write more stories about local or nationwide artists,” she says. “I think there are more stories out there.”
The Native Nook is located at 616 Main Street in Rochester. Hours of operation are Mon. through Fri. 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and it will be open on weekends for local festivals and in-house events. Contact them by calling 574-780-6144.