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Artists putting up a front for new downtown Elgin gallery

Owners/Directors Tanner Melv(left) ErReherg are opening new art gallery called SideStreet Studio Arts March 1st 15 Ziegler Ct. downtown Elgin.

Owners/Directors Tanner Melvin (left) and Erin Reherg are opening a new art gallery called SideStreet Studio Arts March 1st at 15 Ziegler Ct. in downtown Elgin. The gallery will display artwork of different mediums including performance art. February 20, 2013 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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About Side Street Studio Arts

15 Ziegler Court, Elgin


Regular business hours

Wednesday and Thursday: Noon to 7 p.m.

Friday: Noon to 8 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Or by appointment

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Updated: March 26, 2013 6:11AM

ELGIN — Tanner Melvin and Erin Rehberg walked past the old storefront at 15 Ziegler Court dozens of times and saw the “For Rent” sign in the window, dreaming about the possibilities within.

The two — one with a dance and media arts background, the other from theater and visual arts field — eventually decided to take a look.

“Let’s hate it and move on with our lives,” was what she was thinking, Rehberg said. “We fell in love with it immediately.”

That love for the building, combined with love for the arts and arts education, led the two into remaking the space into Side Street Studio, a first-of-its-kind gallery and arts performance venue for downtown Elgin.

The gallery is to open March 1 with its first exhibition, called “Reveal: Ten Essentials.” The exhibit will feature work from 10 Chicago-area artists, all working in various media.

Opened as a nonprofit company, plans are to have not only an art gallery in the space but also a storefront performance space for everything from dance to sculpture, theater to educational programs.

“It is a great little nook” of a location, Rehberg said. “A week or so ago, all of the art was up, the lights were on at night, and we stood in the street. It was the most beautiful thing” looking inside the space, she said.

The name Side Street Studio is particularly apt. The building is tucked away behind the old railroad/trolley line, south of Chicago Street and right off Spring Street. But mobile map apps might just send the driver to the hardware store down the street.

But as it is, Rehberg and Melvin think it is the perfect location for Elgin’s art scene.

“The interest of its location, next to ArtSpace and Al’s (Creamery) … it is nothing but good for everyone” who stops in, Rehberg said. As time goes by and people know about the space, it will get more use, she added.

Last week, Melvin was sanding and re-staining the building’s original hardwood floors. Those floors — and the storefront’s wide-open feel — will be perfect for dance or theater troupes looking for performance space, she said.

As a nonprofit, performance space will be rented at a minimal cost for groups, much like Elgin’s Art Showcase at the Professional Building, 164 Division St., also downtown.

They do not see themselves as competing with the city-operated Art Showcase, Rehberg said, just offering a lower-cost option for groups just starting out, or without the budget for bigger rentals.

“We are coming at it from a different niche … more fringe versus mainstream,” visual and performing arts venues, she said.

“Young artists can show their work, get it out there. I wish I had places like that when I was a young artist,” Rehberg said.

Plans now include holding a summer workshop for children, performances during an upcoming dance festival, and to be a location during Walkabout Theater during the summer’s Art and Soul on the Fox festival.

Those looking to secure space can also pay a monthly fee for that option, she said.

Their first exhibit, for the grand opening, is being curated by Steven Lockwood, co-founder and gallery director Batavia’s Water Street Studios.

“He has helped us find the artists” to display. All of the art there will be for sale as well, Rehberg said.

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