Photos by Hillary Ehlen
For the past decade, ecce gallery has been curating community in Downtown Fargo. Since its conception, ecce has been a gathering place for established artists, emerging artists, patrons, collectors and spectators alike. In November 2017, gallery director Mark Weiler announced to a receptive audience that ecce would be relocating from Broadway to the historic Loudon Building before finally transitioning into their new space in Roberts Commons. On April 12, 2018, the beloved art gallery celebrated the opening of its RoCo location with a group exhibition titled “Look Both Ways.”
Preparing for the Group Exhibition Opening
Ecce gallery’s new location opened on the evening of Thursday, April 12, 2018 with a group show featuring works by local artists Andrew Stark, Dan Jones, Jay Pfeifer, Mike Marth, Tessa Beck, Bob Crowe, Meghan Duda, Mollie Douthit, Zhimin Guan, Warren Kessler, Kelly Thompson, Pirjo Berg and Zoran Mojsilov.
On the day of the exhibition, Weiler seemed calm and collected, though his composure contained a hint of excitement as he and his assistants prepared for the event. We had previously enjoyed an exclusive meeting with Weiler, during which he provided insight into the meaning behind the name of the exhibition, “Look Both Ways.”
“The location is opposite of where ecce used to be, so it’s symbolic in that way. The show is about looking at things from different perspectives and understanding things from different points of view. It is also a bit of an ironic play on the alley being a one-way,” Weiler explained.
Enjoying The Evening of the Event
Not long after the gallery name and hours of operation were posted in vinyl lettering on the glass door, guests began to trickle into the 500-square-foot space. Before long, it was filled from wall to wall with familiar and new, but curious, faces. Interestingly enough, the close quarters encouraged people to converse, regardless of whether or not they had known each other for many years or were only meeting for the first time. Unlike some shows during which guests keep respectful distances from each other and whisper in quiet tones, conversations were taking place, in some cases with the artist themselves participating in the discussion.
Making Local Art More Accessible to All
Though the new location is a bit of a departure from ecce’s record of calling historic buildings home, the clean walls and concrete floor create the perfect setting for future exhibitions. “With ecce, we’ve always had these majestic spaces-big, decadent spaces. I wanted to go a complete 180 and do something succinct, modern and bright,” Weiler said.
Having a smaller physical footprint will allow ecce to focus on making local art accessible to more people. Tessa Beck, longtime assistant at ecce gallery said, “I feel so good about this space and the new direction we are approaching. With downsizing, we’re looking for mobility and flexibility. Sizing down is going to allow us to be much more selective with the works that we choose. We can do smaller shows that rotate more frequently.”
Weiler will also have the ability to devote more time and energy to expanding ecce’s online archive. By visiting eccegallery.com/artists, the public can browse through all of the artists ever featured at ecce and see high resolution images of their current and past works. The website also provides key information about each piece, including its title, year made, medium and exact dimensions. Patrons can view specific pieces in person by setting up an appointment.
“The space itself feels so active and so warm. It’s going to feel that way for each opening just because of the space reduction. It is nice to see so many people out supporting us already. These last six months have been a lot transition-wise, and we’ve been lucky to have such a supportive group around us,” said Beck. This was the first time her work as a photographer had ever been featured in an exhibition at ecce.
At the height the event, Weiler gave a brief talk thanking everyone for coming out to celebrate the opening of ecce’s new RoCo space and “Look Both Ways.”
New Neighbors and Upcoming Exhibitions
With their new flexibility, Weiler would love to be able to travel with shows to expose even more people to local artists and their work. He is also looking forward to welcoming their new neighbors, as ecce was the first to open in the building. “The idea was to connect all of these businesses within a hundred feet,” Weiler said. We, for one, cannot wait to grab a cup of coffee and experience ecce’s upcoming exhibitions.
208 Roberts Alley, Fargo