Algoma’s Art Scene: A Not-So-Off-the-Beaten-Path Destination for Art Enthusiasts

Algoma’s art and entertainment scene is fairly concentrated in a walkable area centered on Steele Street and the nearby waterfront, where Robert Ray Gallery, 520 Parkway St., is located in a handsome brick building. Christopher Baugniet and Dale Rustad opened it four years ago, and Baugniet, an artist himself, has run a gallery in Mishicot for 35 years.

“Algoma has been very supportive of the arts community,” Baugniet said. “Part of the city council’s long-term plan was to revitalize the downtown. They’ve embraced this idea that we can be a destination for tourists.” 

The featured June show at Robert Ray Gallery is Pointillism: Paintings and Drawings by Mark Roeder, which has been extended to July 31.

Kimberly Lyon runs Ladybug Glass Studio & Gallery at 219 Steele St. with her husband, John. She started by doing sculpted vases and fused designs in glass. Then in 2012, she said, “we discovered a new process of creating fused-glass discs, then photographing details within the glass with a macro lens.”  

Kimberly also creates metal prints, often from pieces of glass that are a quarter inch by a half inch, and John adds to the gallery’s offerings with his stunning astro photographs.

Prior to opening the Algoma studio, Kimberly did the art-fair circuit, but when she found this space in the building that also houses Clay on Steele in late 2020, it seemed to be the ideal time to put down roots.  

“After 30 years of selling glass art and photography through galleries and art fairs,” she said, “we decided to open a brick-and-mortar gallery in November 2020 – a pretty crazy thing to do in the middle of a pandemic. But why not?” 

It’s a classic example of Algoma art entrepreneurs’ high hopes, tempered by realism: an attitude that’s helping them to carve out their niche in northeastern Wisconsin’s art-destination landscape.

“It’s going to take people finding out about the high-quality fine arts we have here in Algoma,” Lyon said.

Yardstick Books – a sophisticated bookshop that also sells cards, toys and puzzles at 317 Steele St. – is another art-display venue. It has its own poetry-heady Instagram page and can be your source for Angela Davis’ autobiography or The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir.

Yonder, at 321 Steele St., is a print and design shop with an etching press and custom-printed T-shirts and sweatshirts. Its proprietors have also created murals on buildings in Algoma and Manitowoc and are designing a paint-by-number mural with nautical and agricultural scenes on Bayside Bargains in Sturgeon Bay, across from the granary. The mural will be open for painting July 28.

“The space is our studio as well, so there is an assortment of other creative works like paintings and sculpture on sale and available for viewing,” said Erin LaBonte, who runs the business with her husband, Don Krumpos. 

Because they’re working mural artists as well, most of the summer they will be “out of the office,” with the exception of Fridays and by appointment.

Bren Sibilsky, formerly on Steele Street, now runs her Bren Sibilsky Sculpture bronze-casting porcelain and clay atelier a mile out of town at Bren Sibilsky Sculpture, E5977 Fremont Road. The new location gives her more room for her 34-year-old practice, and she shows her work at her studio and at Raymond Ray Gallery.