Rensselaer – For the past few decades, Rensselaer has been a small art center where artists have taught and exhibited their work. Because these artists shared their talents, and they influenced countless other artists, Rensselaer began to see art grow into a business.
Markit Arts is one such business. Owned by hometown artists Ryan and Lindsey Preston and Cameron and Crystal Moberg from San Francisco, California, Markit Arts is located at 108 Washington Street in Rensselaer. The sister company is Talking Walls Arts in San Francisco, owned by Mobergs.
Cameron and Crystal have visited the area over the past few years when they were creating murals in Rensselaer. A partnership begins between the husband and wife, and the idea to invest in a building is formed.
Ryan and Lindsey dream of a place to teach and encourage artists. The pair have taught at different schools but don’t think traditional classrooms are their style.
“We both realized we were mostly makers. Ryan was a builder and renovator of these downtown buildings and he saw the potential. I realized no matter the medium, whether it was gardening and plants, or my hands in the clay , I’m all a maker,” Lindsay said. “I love helping people and getting some education, but as a public school teacher, it’s not for us.”
The pair learned from their experience as a public school teacher and from the various jobs they worked in, including retail. Being involved in multiple things allows them to grow and discover what sparks their passion.
“We felt that with this space, after all the murals and art and Cameron and Crystal came to town, we realized our place in this larger community conundrum by bringing an art experience to this community and the surrounding area,” Lindsay said.
The couple hopes to bring arts education or mentoring to the community through fun experiences and opportunities.
“It’s about the experience and what you can do with it, not that I’m going to copy a painting and make it look like it,” says Lindsay.
When the couple considered a name for the company, they thought about making a mark.
“We want it to be an art market, a place where you can go and make your mark,” Ryan said. “It’s a place where we can develop our own artists with some mentoring.”
Rensselaer has always been a place full of artistic talent, Lindsey noted. In 1993, she attended the first art camp held by the Prairie Arts Council, and in the 90s Lindsey took classes in downtown Sherri Hudson.
“She got us to do some great big projects,” Lindsay said. “When we got the space, I started thinking about all the great artists I grew up with who were major, positive, super-influencers.”
Influences came from many female artists, including Hudson, Bonnie Zimmer, Kelley Spurgeon and Doris Myers. Zimmer, Spurgeon and Myers have all taught at art camps and are active members of the Prairie Arts Council.
Ryan and Lindsey are planning several upcoming events, including a children’s class starting in April. Seminars are smaller and after school. Markit Arts will also host several workshops at Art Camp.
For adults, Ryan and Lindsey plan to host an adult event every few months. One such event took place on Valentine’s Day to create a Pop Art-inspired painting. Small private and birthday parties can also be held in-store.
“It’s not just Lindsay and I teaching the class. We want to find other people who want to teach the seminar,” Ryan said.
“We want experts to teach workshops,” Lindsay said.
Activities and lessons will be in a variety of mediums, including textiles, collages, drawings and revised books. Ryan uses examples from Cameron and street art. Cameron has no formal artist training, but he is an expert in street art.
“Making it fun and having high energy was important to Cameron,” Ryan said. “For him, it’s not about the traditional classroom.”
The downtown building also offers a place to sell arts and crafts. Ryan and Lindsey are creating a retail area that will open on Earth Day, April 22. The couple’s work will be sold alongside works by other local artists or designers.
For more information on Markit Arts, visit their social media pages.