In April of this year, downtown St. Cloud welcomed Heidi Jeub, a St. Joseph resident and Sartell high school graduate, as the new owner of an arts-focused business.
As an artist herself, Heidi is no stranger to the visual arts scene, so when the opportunity arose for her to feature local artists from the area, the response was easy.
It all started when Jeub was looking for storage space for his own artwork. In February of this year, Jeub started asking questions about storage spaces and what they might look like.
“I started asking questions,” Jeub said. “Can I have people here?” Can I have a key so that I can turn on the lights regularly? I’m the kind of person, give me an inch I’ll ask for a yardstick.
It was then that Jeub was advised to speak to an investor; they immediately hooked. When they got to the end of their conversation, Jeub was invited to view a space in downtown St. Cloud. She did not know at the time that it would become the future space of the Whit Gallery.
When she showed up, the space had been recently redesigned and the conversation turned to the idea of not only storing and presenting her work, but the work of other artists as well.
“To be honest, I thought they were going to take my ideas and give someone else space,” Jeb said. “I didn’t know it was going to turn into this. She remembers the times she spent as an artist when that was the case. It is not uncommon for your ideas to be taken and then passed on to someone else.
“Of course that would be a great gallery,” Jeub said. “And of course that would be handled wonderfully by someone like me.”
Jeub was not the only one to feel this.
Now these ideas are starting to come to life. For Jeub, presenting art is a matter of inclusion, and it can offer it to the community. What she wants people to understand the most, she says, is that this gallery is for everyone. 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 wasn’t brought up in this kind of place and didn’t feel like she could be here,” Jeb said. “So when I get the chance to bring someone here who’s never been to a space like this before, it’s really fun because they have to realize that I wasn’t still comfortable here either. “
Jeub knows that art can and should be appreciated by everyone. The gallery she provided shows this inclusion, as well as Jeub itself.
“A person can come in here and just walk around and be alone with [the art], said Jeub. “Being able to come in, look around and ask questions, that’s really the essential”
This is only the beginning of the Whit Gallery. Jeub intends to showcase not only the visual arts, but also local musicians and oral creation. She has a vision where artists and businesses will work together to deliver something different and special. Her hope is that she has created a space where everyone will feel welcome.
The Whit Gallery is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.