For local photographers Sarah Thielke and Stephanie Slate, art is a stimulus—a rapid stream of influence in their daily lives. After all, the lineage is there: Slate, a native of Florida, is the granddaughter of a professional photographer, and painters thrived in Theilke’s New Jersey-bred family.
“[Art is] just something that’s always been around us and that we are passionate about,” the duo, who met while attending Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, told West Philly Local via email.
It’s a passion that’s amassed to Gush Gallery—a West Philadelphia interactive art gallery, community center and boutique Slate and Thielke hope to open in April with the help of donations through their Indiegogo fundraiser, which ends next month. So far, since its launch, Slate and Thielke have raised $1,315 of their $8,500 goal, which will go towards repair costs and equipment for their space (a lease is not signed at the moment; the pair are considering spots on the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue and the 4700 block of Spruce Street).
Once opened, Gush will be an epicenter of sorts, serving an eclectic lot of emerging and underground artists from a hodgepodge of disciplines and styles—a call back to the gallery’s moniker, synonymous with “enthusiasm” and “torrents”—ultimately catering to a community rich with creativity but lacking in resources to foster it. At the start, Thielke and Slate will run Gush, curating the exhibitions, designing the annual Gush “yearbook” of shows, and leading the photography-based workshops for members and non-members alike (membership fees are three-tiered and start at $25 per year). Services like printing, scanning, film processing, alternative process printing, and digital workstations are also available through Gush at an hourly rate plus use of materials (discounted for members). And, as Gush evolves, the pair hope to bring on local artists to teach workshops in their respective field (like painting, illustration, or sculpture), bring on interns and possibly a small staff, offer a free monthly critique, and classes for children.
But Gush Gallery’s reality isn’t driven by hard numbers. The Indiegogo campaign the two 27-year-old artists are running is flexible, meaning if Thielke and Slate don’t meet their goal by February 7, they will still receive the funds they did raise. In addition, they’re researching grant opportunities for the arts and small businesses, as well as possibly brainstorming brick-and-mortar fundraiser events to help push Gush from concept to tangible.
Still, they say, “if we don’t make our goal but raise enough to open, we’re going to do just that. We want to open Gush as soon as we can.”