Lemon Street Executive Director Shelby Nesmith embraces the creativity of the community!

Lemon Street Executive Director Shelby Nesmith embraces the creativity of the community!

With the recent well-deserved retirement of longtime director Beth Dary, Shelby Nesmith is excited to usher in a post-COVID art scene in Kenosha as the new director of Lemon Street Gallery & Art Space. Visit their website here to see more!

Q. How did you get involved at Lemon Street Gallery & Art Space?

A. I was at the first-ever Kenosha Art Market after graduating from UW-Parkside. Beth Dary saw my artwork and asked if I would be interested in teaching a bookbinding or printmaking class at Lemon Street. I said yes and taught at Lemon Street for about a year until Covid. The break from teaching revealed how passionate I am about the art community, so I asked if I could do more. I started as an administrative assistant, soon became a Development Coordinator, and now Executive Director!

I have become filled with passion and joy due to the outpouring of support since I took over this position. I truly feel welcomed and wanted in this position, which is vital for someone my age in a leadership position. Can’t wait for what’s to come!

Q. What are your short and long-term plans for Lemon Street?

Photo by Donny Stancato

A. My short-term plan for Lemon Street is to help the gallery re-establish its footing since COVID has shaken the foundation of not just the arts but the entire non-profit sector as well. My long-term goal is to bring Lemon Street from a level of maintaining and surviving to a level of thriving. I aim to show people how valuable art is to the community and what role Lemon Street plays in that.

Q. What are some of the new improvements you have already made for Lemon Street?

Photo by Donny Stancato

A. We have acquired two new staff members, Missy Isely-Poltrock and Dean Habegger, they have been doing a fantastic job! We have also been strengthening our Board as well as our community partnerships. We have a couple of improvements in our public clay studio that are underway that we can not wait to share with you guys!

Q. With Lemon Street being a non-profit organization, how can people help to keep it funded?

A. People can help out in so many different ways! You can attend our events, purchase art from our artists, take a class, sponsor programs/events, volunteer, or make donations.

Our community will thrive when we embrace creativity and support the arts – it enriches our lives, sparks imagination, and unites communities. No matter how big or small, your contribution helps culture thrive!

Q. What can you tell us about the art classes?

A. We offer a wide variety of classes such as printmaking, ceramics, stained glass, painting, crochet, and pop-up workshops. You can get more info and sign up for classes at lemonstreetgallery.org 

Q. What is this Little Free Art Gallery project in Union Park?

A. The Little Lemon Street Gallery is like a little free library but for artwork! The idea came out of the pandemic, and the basic idea is to create a small piece of artwork, leave it in the little gallery, and take a piece of art in exchange. It is an ever-revolving tiny art show that brings strangers together through the creation and celebration of art.

Q. Tell us about the monthly seasonal Kenosha Art Market?

Photo by Donny Stancato

A. Brenna Eaves and I went to college together, and I knew she would be perfect in the role of art market manager. I asked her if she would like to join the team, and of course, said yes! Brenna and I have been tackling this market season together, and I am so grateful to have her on the team.

Q. What are Second Saturdays at Lemon Street?

A.  Second Saturday is a monthly event held every second Saturday from 6-9 pm, where we hold a reception for artists who are showcasing work in our featured gallery, also known as the Brick Gallery. This is a great time to immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene of Kenosha, mingle with other art enthusiasts or artists, sip on some refreshments, and enjoy an evening of art and conversation.

Q. Can you talk about any collaborations or partnerships you’ve made for Lemon Street?
A. There is a long list of wonderful people and organizations we have partnered with as we head into our 25th year! Some recent partnerships have been with Love Your Community Inc., Kenosha Pride, Mahogany Gallery, and the Stella Hotel. We treasure our partnerships and the hardworking people that operate within them!

Photo by Donny Stancato

Q. How does Lemon Street Gallery select the artists and artworks to feature in exhibitions?
A. We have an application on our website that an artist would fill out and drop off 3-5 pieces of artwork at the gallery. We then have a committee that reviews the artwork. Once you become a member with us, you get into the rotation of featured shows, and your work will be displayed all year round in our main gallery and through our ArtCorp Program.

Q. What are your plans and aspirations for Lemon Street? Are there any upcoming exhibitions or projects you’re particularly excited about?
A. I am very excited for the future! We have a lot of projects underway that I can’t talk about just yet, but I know 2024-25 is going to be an impactful and important year for the arts in Kenosha. For things I can talk about, we of course have Artistree holiday event right around the corner, and that is always a fun time of year at the gallery!

Q. You and Jake Hoey have a hugely successful podcast, called the ArtSpace Podcast, where you interview all kinds of artists. Tell us how this idea came to be and a little about the show.
A. I was listening to some podcasts and noticed a trend that people really only interview big celebrities. Why not chat with a local artist, musician, performer, or author to get their perspectives on their process, struggles, and goals? I saw this lacking in the podcasting space, so I asked Jake, our board president, if he would do the podcast with me so we could provide a platform to local makers in the local art community. He said yes, and the podcast was born!
You can listen to the podcast where ever you get your podcasts! Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and our very own YouTube channel.

Learn more about Shelby, Lemon Street & the ArtSpace Podcast by listening to Shelby & Jake’s appearance on the Ktown Connects Podcast on • SpotifyApple PodcastYoutube
🍋Lemon Street Gallery & Art Space
4601 Sheridan Rd
Open Thursday – Saturday, 11am-5pm, Sunday 11am-4pm

Edited by Jason Hedman
Q&A and photos by Donny Stancato, who is also a Lemon Street Gallery board member, as well as a Kenosha Community Media board member.

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(This article first appeared in Vol 16. #3 2023 Go Downtown Kenosha Magazine)