New gallery and live music venue showcases outsider art

Intriguing exhibits and musical performances planned for small space on Albert Street

  • Kristel Jax and Mark Wohlgemuth are the owners of Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner, a new art gallery and live music venue on Albert Street. – Cindy Titus

  • The work of Rhode Island illustrator William Schaff will be featured in an upcoming exhibit at Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner.

When you’re in the Exchange for this year’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival, be sure to walk south down Albert Street at some point, past the Royal Albert to Winnipeg’s newest art gallery and live music venue, Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner.

“We’re really excited about Fringe time,” says Mark Wohlgemuth, 26, who owns and runs the gallery with Kristel Jax, 23. “We’re looking to be open a lot, especially at night, so we hope people will check us out then.”

Since opening near the end of April, Freud’s has already seen a lot of action. Wohlgemuth and Jax have hosted two art exhibits - a solo exhibit by local painter Kelly Ruth and a ghost-themed group show featuring more than 10 Winnipeg and Montreal artists - and a handful of music performances.

The response from the arts community has been positive.

“Generally, people are just excited this space is being used, and being used for a good purpose,” Wohlgemuth says of the small storefront space that’s barely 10 feet wide.

“People see the sign and are intrigued,” Jax adds. “A lot of people are surprised it’s a gallery.”

The name might have something to do with that. Freud’s is neither a bathhouse nor a diner.

“I used to joke around that I was going to start a bar called Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner,” Jax explains. “When I was younger, I had an idea for a comic with this hilariously named bar where they only serve orange juice.

“When we were thinking of names for the gallery and couldn’t think of anything better, it stuck.”

Wohlgemuth says he likes the name because it fits the feel of what he and Jax are trying to do - showcase outsider art.

Generally, people are just excited this space is being used, and being used for a good purpose.

Mark Wohlgemuth, co-owner, Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner

“We mostly look for things that interest us,” says Jax, who is also a visual artist. “We look for things that are a bit more experimental and a bit more serious.”

On display at Freud’s until Saturday, July 10 is Sugar and Watermelons, a summer group art show featuring the work of Chilean born illustrator Rodrigo Pradel; photographer Tyler Funk; mathematician/video artist Clint Enns; and at least 15 others.

From Thursday, July 15 to Saturday, July 31, the gallery will be exhibiting Dying Alone or Bust, made up of comic artwork by Dottie Jax.
Then, from Thursday, Aug. 5 to Sunday, Aug. 29 will be I Know What My Weaknesses Are, Probably Better Than You Do, a group exhibition of zines including indie comics, micro press publications, pamphlets and handmade books.

One of the participating artists is Rhode Island-based illustrator William Schaff, whose artwork has been used for albums by Okkervil River and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

“I’ve been a friend of his on Flickr for a long time,” Jax says. “He’s just an amazing artist who makes himself accessible. … We just message artists we like and respect, and see if we can set something up with them. In this case, we were able to.”

When they started Freud’s, Wohlgemuth and Jax told themselves they would work at it for a minimum of two years. They are hoping someone will move in to the space next door to bring even more life to their area of the Exchange.

“We’ll have to brighten up this corner of Albert Street,” Wohlgemuth says.

Freud’s is located at 42 Albert St. For more information, including gallery hours, visit www.imtrying.net/freuds.

Published in Volume 64, Number 27 of The Uniter (June 30, 2010)

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