Charlie's Center for the Arts is breathing life into the Charlestowne Mall and offering visibility for area artists at the same time.
Fourteen mall storefronts have been cleaned and converted into art galleries, studios, music venues, stages and theaters for a massive Pop-up Arts event that will run five weeks.
A gallery on the second floor showcases the work of professional and emerging artists in a juried show -- the return of the St. Charles Arts Council's original neXt gallery pop-up concept -- with several other converted storefronts run by partner organizations or independent artists.
Tom Hansen, a featured artist in the neXt gallery, worked a volunteer shift Sunday while visitors browsed the paintings and works of art, some making purchases.
"There are two things for any artist -- you want your work seen, and you want your work sold," Hansen said, adding that pop-up galleries give local artists a chance at both.
A group of six artists banded together to fill another storefront nearby, ARZ+5, which Pam Hamilton and Anne Ressman Zabinski also will use as working studio space.
Ressman Zabinski said she almost exclusively paints alone but will give visitors a chance to watch her creative process during the exhibition. She was at the mall Sunday -- without her brushes -- and said several people came for the arts event specifically but others stopped in because they were already shopping elsewhere. Ressman Zabinski hopes the convenient location will make art more visible for young people in the community.
"It opens things up for them in the future, and now," Ressman Zabinski said.
Charlie's Center for the Arts is a joint effort among the St. Charles Arts Council, Community Unit School District 303, the St. Charles Public Library, the St. Charles Park District and the City of St. Charles. The Arts Council has organized previous temporary, pop-up galleries over the last several years, with the current event an ambitious collaboration.
All of the storefronts have independent schedules with special events planned through Oct. 27. Poetry slams, free classes by the Fox Valley Repertory Performing Arts Academy, theater performances, live music, magic shows and a film festival are all on the calendar. For details visit stcharlesartscouncil.org.