VIBES Art Gallery, and a Q&A with Nathan Ehrlich

UMN student Nathan Ehrlich discusses his successful first art gallery

Photographer: Dana Strachan

Photographer: Dana Strachan

There’s no better way to spend a Saturday night than at an art gallery and house show. The night’s event was called VIBES, an art and music collective hosted by Nathan Ehrlich, a junior at the University of Minnesota studying architecture. Ehrlich opened the doors and walls of his humble abode, displaying multiple art forms, such as photography, sculpting, painting, printmaking, drawing and music. A $5 donation was suggested upon entering the gallery, with the proceeds going to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Hundreds flocked to the Marcy-Holmes home on the mild November evening after what had been a long and stressful week for nearly everybody. The art was dispersed throughout several rooms, with the artists present to talk about their work. A bonfire in the backyard kept attendees warm as they waited for the music to start. All in all, it was a very chill and laidback atmosphere.

Photographer: Dana Strachan

Photographer: Dana Strachan

As the first band, Stone Arch Isles began playing, the cozy living room was jam-packed with eager listeners. The indie rock band, which describes itself as making “Music from the water, music from the sky,” transformed the vibe from a quiet home art gallery to a rocking concert venue. The lack of a stage certainly left those of short stature (myself included) wishing for more height, however, the hardwood floors and intimacy of the room created the perfect live music experience. The second band, Goodnight Gorillas, a Radiohead-esque alternative band, continued the great vibes, and put a cherry on top of what was a fantastic night of art. Before we knew it, the show was over. Everyone was left wanting more, so Goodnight Gorillas delivered a scintillating encore to send us off on our Saturday night endeavors.

I had the opportunity to speak with the host, here are some things he had to say about VIBES:

What inspired you to create and host this event?

When I first decided that I wanted to do this, it was to bring a community of artists and musicians together to have a DIY event. I wanted to do something that wasn’t a formal gallery space but allow artists to show their work and listen to great local bands. The charity aspect came after the presidential election. It was our way of responding to the outcome of the election. I was interested in “what is the way that I can make the most impact in a positive way?” After this election a lot of people felt that they don’t have a voice and this was a way of creating a voice for myself and for the artists and musicians involved.

How did you orchestrate it all?

Really it started with a few artists that I knew I wanted to invite and I was lucky enough that everyone I asked to show their work was able to. And really it was friends and friends of friends. That was what contributed to such a positive atmosphere. There were people from completely different social circles that may never have seen each other’s work unless there was this event. I was lucky to have help and support from everyone involved with the event. And once I decided to donate to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund I got a lot of love from people that I had never met before and it was really cool to see so many new faces at the show.

Photographer: Dana Strachan

Photographer: Dana Strachan

What did you like best about VIBES?

Obviously I get so much joy out of knowing that I can contribute to women’s health with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. But I think what I enjoyed most was just talking to people that I had never met before. Everyone was so incredibly supportive of what we were doing and it made me so happy to see everyone enjoying themselves while knowing their support was going to a great cause. Another thing I loved most was how willing and supportive that all the artists and musicians were. When I proposed that we donate the money instead of get paid ourselves, everyone was on board without hesitation. So I am so incredibly thankful and grateful for them.

Why are events like this important for the local art community?

Events like this are incredibly important to build a sense of community of people who make and love art of all types. But in the bigger sense I hope this event fosters a grassroots culture of activism. I’m a poor college kid but $5 to see art and music and donate to an amazing organization is reasonable. I had no overhead because it was in my house. So really anyone can do this. And seeing that I can do this is hopefully inspiring to create change among others.

Do you plan on hosting more events like this?
Yes, 100 percent. After the success of this event I wish I had the time to do so many of these. I got so much more love and support from everyone who saw the event than I could have ever hoped for. In reality this was one of 1,000 charities or organization that I could have donated to to positively counteract the election results. So there will definitely be more and I hope to be able to contribute so much more to many more charities and organizations. So keep your eyes peeled for more events.