RENSSELAER — Rensselaer has been a small art hub where artists teach and exhibit their work for the last few decades. Because those artists have shared their talents, they have influenced countless other artists, and Rensselaer is starting to see the art grow into businesses.
Markit Arts is one such business. Owned by Ryan and Lindsey Preston, hometown artists, and Cameron and Crystal Moberg, from San Francisco, California, Markit Arts is located at 108 W. Washington St. in Rensselaer. The sister company is Talking Walls Arts in San Fransisco, which is owned by the Mobergs.
Cameron and Crystal have visited the area for the past several years while creating murals in Rensselaer. A partnership began between the couples, and the idea of investing in a building was formed.
Ryan and Lindsey dream of owning a place to teach and encourage artists. The two have taught at various schools but decided the traditional classroom wasn’t their style.
“We both realized that we are primarily makers. Ryan is a builder and renovator of these downtown buildings, and he sees the potential. I realize I’m a maker no matter what medium, whether it’s gardening and plants or if it’s my hands in clay,” Lindsey said. “I like to help other people and do some education, but as a public school teacher, it was not a good fit for us.”
The two learned from the experience of being a public school teacher and from the various jobs they have held, including retail. Dabbling in multiple things has allowed them to grow and discover what fuels their passions.
“We feel that with this space and after all the murals and the art and Cameron and Crystal coming to town, we realized our place in this big community puzzle by bringing art experiences to this community and the surrounding area,” Lindsey said.
The couple wants to bring art education or coaching to the community through fun experiences and opportunities.
“This is about the experience and what you can do with it rather than I’m going to copy a painting and make it look like it,” Lindsay said.
When the couples thought about a name for the business, it came down to the idea of leaving a mark.
“We wanted it to be an art market and a place where you would go to leave your mark,” Ryan said. “This is a place where we can bring our own artists up with a little bit of coaching.”
Lindsey noted that Rensselaer has always been a place with a lot of artistic talent. She was part of the first Art Camp held by the Prairie Arts Council in 1993, and Lindsey also took classes downtown from Sherri Hudson in the ’90s.
“She had us doing some fabulous big projects,” Lindsey said. “When we got this space, I started thinking about all the fabulous artists that I grew up with, and they were major, positive, super-strong influences.”
The influences came from many female artists, including Hudson, Bonnie Zimmer, Kelley Spurgeon, and Doris Myers. Zimmer, Spurgeon and Myers have all taught at Art Camp and are active members of the Prairie Arts Council.
Ryan and Lindsey are planning on several upcoming events, including kids’ classes that will start in April. The workshops will be small in size and after school. Markit Arts will also have several workshops at Art Camp.
For adults, Ryan and Lindsey are planning on adult events every couple of months. One such event was held on Valentine’s Day and featured creating a pop-art-inspired painting. Small private and birthday parties can be held at the business also.
“It won’t be just Lindsey and I teaching classes. We expect to find other people who want to teach a workshop,” Ryan said.
“We want to have the experts teach the workshops,” Lindsey said.
The events and classes will be a wide variety of mediums, including textiles, collages, drawings and altered books. Ryan used the example of Cameron and street art. Cameron is not formally trained as an artist but is an expert at street art.
“Making it fun and having a high energy is important to Cameron,” Ryan said. “For him, it’s not about the traditional classroom.”
The downtown building also offers a place for art and crafts to be sold. Ryan and Lindsey are creating a retail area that will open on April 22 on Earth Day. The couple’s work will be for sale, along with some from other local artists or designers.
For more information about Markit Arts, visit its social media pages.