After traveling around the world and working in several galleries, Maggie Wolszczan has accomplished her dream of owning her own art gallery in State College.
Upon walking inside, people enter a bright, open space with white walls and large windows. People are able to walk around the gallery and observe a variety of different pieces, some of which are Wolszczan’s and others belong to local artists.
The Fraser St. Gallery used to be in the same building as Studio 2 Photography, a local photography studio, on 123 S. Fraser St. In order to make the gallery its own entity, Wolszczan acquired the lease and separated the space into two parts, one part for Studio 2, and the other for her gallery.
Earlier this month on Oct. 3, Wolszczan hosted a reopening reception to celebrate the relaunching of her gallery. She said separating the gallery from Studio 2 enabled her to create the atmosphere she imagined for her gallery.
The gallery’s scene replicates the galleries in California that Wolszczan used to work in, she said. Wolszczan wanted her gallery to be a warm space that would give people a light and airy feel, especially during the cold winter months, she said.
Although originally from State College and the daughter of a Penn State professor, Wolszczan spent about 10 years growing up in Puerto Rico, she said.
On the far side of the gallery, several of her own paintings hang on a wall. The bright, tropical paintings are Wolszczan’s way of expressing her nostalgia of her childhood days in the tropics, she said.
Along with her own artwork, Wolszczan said she is hoping to include many pieces from local artists such as abstract paintings and sculptures, in order to show a variety of work. The gallery takes submissions from both local artists and Penn State students, she said.
“Students tend to have a fresh take on their art and creative experiences, so they liven up the space,” Wolszczan said.
Wolszczan is planning to host numerous events at the gallery such as poetry readings, lectures and musical performances. She also invites students and professors to use the space for meetings or social gatherings.
“We want to offer the space for things that aren’t necessarily fine arts,” she said.
However, the gallery will still host many events for the art community such as opening receptions for new exhibits, she said.
Wolszczan said they typically host openings during every First Friday event that takes place on the first Friday of every month.
Executive Director of the State College Improvement District George Arnold said events such as The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and First Fridays are a great way to showcase local artists and their work. It’s also a good way to spread awareness about the state College art community, Arnold said, because he feels there are many people who don’t know about all the artists and downtown art venues.
Arnold also said that downtown State College itself has become like an art gallery due to the large murals on display that were painted by local artists.
The ultimate goal of the gallery is for it to be an interactive space for both the community and Penn State students, she said. Wolszczan said she hopes community members will come to the gallery’s events and that artists will want to show their work at the gallery and interact with the people who come to see their art.
“We want people to come out and support local artists, support artists in general and therefore support the gallery because without the support of the community, this gallery won’t survive,” Wolszczan said.
Tom Fountaine, State College borough manager, said art plays a very important role in the community because it adds a distinct element to downtown that could not be achieved otherwise.
Art provides unique places for residents to enjoy, helps the economy and compliments other creative downtown venues, he said.