One recent morning, Angie Olson was surrounded by art.
And not just because she works at the Fremont Area Art Association.
Olson was straightening items in the FAAA’s new Art Emporium — a street-level gift shop.
The public is invited to the Art Emporium’s grand opening, which includes an open house from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. The emporium is at the west end of the FAAA building at 92 W. Sixth St., in downtown Fremont.
Cookies and hot cider will be served.
In addition, a children’s story time, face painting and crafts with Mrs. Santa Claus are planned from 5-7 tonight in Gallery 92 West (the FAAA building).
The activities are just part of the MainStreet of Fremont’s Annual Christmas Walk and Small Business Saturday. Several downtown merchants are providing treats and special sales.
MainStreet events also include music, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus and photo opportunities with live reindeer — all in downtown Fremont.
The Art Emporium features a wide variety of artwork — from paintings to greeting cards, photography, textile art, sculpted items and functional pottery such as mugs and bowls.
Olson said the gift shop has items for hostess, house warming and holiday gifts.
Someone looking to decorate a home or office might want to stop by the Art Emporium as well.
“Especially if they want one-of-a-kind pieces by local artists,” she said.
Plans for the new gift shop have been in the works for a while.
In the past, FAAA members sold their artwork in an area called, The Loft, on the building’s second floor.
The Loft was small and didn’t have proper lighting.
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What’s more, browsers and shoppers had to climb stairs to reach The Loft, which made it inaccessible to people with mobility issues.
The new Art Emporium — open to the public — is at street-level, so it’s accessible to everyone, Olson said.
Emporium hours will be from 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays — the same as the art galleries — with the possibility of expansion of gift shop hours at some point.
Art association members can bring their artwork to this new shop.
“It provides a space in Fremont for local artists — to not only display their pieces, but also sell them — and continue to create their works,” Olson said.
Artists are asked to be FAAA members and to work at least one shift a month in the Art Emporium.
The FAAA gets a small commission from the sales.
“The money goes toward keeping our doors open and keeping access free and open to the public,” said Olson, FAAA director of development and advancement.
Each month, the FAAA hosts two exhibits, featuring works by local, state and nationally known artists. In the past, the gallery also exhibited one of the works of the late Pablo Picasso, an internationally known artist.
“All of our gallery shows are always free and open to the public,” Olson said. “You don’t have to pay an admission fee to check us out.”
Upcoming exhibits include one by the Passageway Gallery of Omaha’s Old Market. That exhibit will be in the Hinds Gallery of the FAAA building. The Dugan Gallery will feature the Living Lace of Omaha exhibit.
An artists’ reception, free and open to the public, is planned from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 6.
In the meantime, Olson encourages area residents to visit the Art Emporium and Gallery 92 West.
“We hope everyone comes out for Small Business Saturday and shops downtown Fremont and while they’re down here, stop in to see the gallery space and find some really cool gifts in the Art Emporium,” Olson said.